Written by Gregg Brekke
A letter penned by Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ has been sent to President Barack Obama and cabinet members urging action regarding ongoing violence in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lanka government has conducted a month-long operation against the separatist forces of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This offensive has forced the displacement of at least 250,000 civilians in addition to reports of extensive property damage and civilian casualties.
Expressing solidarity with partners in Sri Lanka and concern for the many civilians caught in the violence, the letter says, "Hundreds of civilians have been killed and thousands wounded from aerial bombing and repeated shelling by government forces. Pastors of our partner churches have been wounded by shelling while in purported safe areas."
Senate foreign relations committee chairman, John Kerry, and ranking committee minority member, Senator Richard Lugar, issued a statement on Tuesday (Feb. 3) expressing concern about the deteriorating security situation in Sri Lanka.
Kerry said, "Senator Lugar and I are greatly concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation, including the challenges facing approximately 250,000 internally displaced persons trapped in a 100-square-mile area by fighting in the Vanni area of Sri Lanka. This weekend's repeated shelling of a hospital, in which several civilians were killed, is only the most recent of many attacks on noncombatants. We urge the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to immediately take all necessary steps to protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian access."
An ecumenical letter along similar lines was issued to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by Miriam Young, Director of US Advocacy for the US NGO Forum on Sri Lanka & the International Working Group on Sri Lanka. This letter is availabe online at <Young-Ecumenical-letter-to-Sec-Clinton.pdf>.