From the Church of the American Ceylon Mission (CACM), Sri Lanka
Freedom of the Religions and rights of minorities Church of the American Ceylon Mission, St John’s Mission, Uranee, Batticaloa
Tension between the Muslim and Tamil community escalated after the suicide attack on Easter Sunday that killed more than 30 persons including 17 children and wounded more than 75 half of them critically in Batticalao. Remains are being handed over to the families, and the remains have been buried with the religious observances. There are three remains still laying in the teaching hospital due to an issue with identification.
The Muslim community feels fear and guilt from the incidents and Tamils are in a retaliation mood but the victims’ family want to forgive and forget. There are a few remarkable efforts taken by religious leaders in Batticaloa to minimize the tension between the communities during these three days which are the highlights.
On Monday, April 22, a group of Christian religious leaders known as the Ministerial Forum for Freedom of Religions, Church of the American Ceylon Mission comprising of members Vicar General of Batticaloa Diocese and representatives from the Batticaloa Christian Union. The leaders met at Bishop House and briefly discussed the situation and agreed to meet again and give a joint media statement to minimize the ethnic tension.
On the same day, this group called other religious leaders who are part of the Batticaloa interreligious symposium and everyone agreed to meet within a couple of hours’ time and finally gathered at St. John’s community Hall, CACM, Uranee, Batticaloa at 10:00 am. Five Muslim representatives from Kathankudy and Batticaloa, a Hindu Priest, Christian priests of both Roman Catholic and non-Roman Catholic assembled. Together, with leadership from chair Fr Alex Robert, who is in charge of EHED/Caritas Batticaloa and Rev Rohaan, Coordinator of Forum for Freedom of the Relations, passed the bellow resolution.
- The killing of innocent people is terrorism, which brutal activity cannot be justified under any religious faith.
- Mawlawi volunteered to meet the victims’ families and church members to meet with the group of Mawlawi to publicly pardon on behalf of the Muslim community. And provide any support to bring their life back to normalcy at any cost.
- In order to minimize the tension, all the religious leaders decided to work collectively.
- Meeting the Bishop of Batticaloa who is the Chairperson of the Inter-Religious symposium and conduct a press release at the earliest.
Based on the resolution, they were able to conduct the press release at 3 pm under the leadership of the Bishop.
On Tuesday, April 23, the Forum of the Freedom of the Religions, CACM initiated a discussion with pastors of free churches regarding mutually, Christian community networks, and forgiveness. Most of the pastors have expressed their interest in working together for Christian Fellowship as well as stopping violence, hate speech, and discrimination in name religions and beliefs. The Tamil Theological Forum has come forward to empower and strengthen the Christian community on freedom of religions and networking amidst Christians.
At, 12:00 noon, the Forum of Freedom of the Religions organized worship at St John’s Uranee. After the worship we had a discussion on rebuilding relationships between Christians and Muslims around the Batticaloa district. Rev Rohaan and Mawlawi Elias led the discussion.
Ministerial Forum for Freedom of the Religions and Rights of Minorities. CACM, Sri Lanka