OMI Bishops will help PM in healing process

Certain steps taken by the new government are commendable in that they create the correct atmosphere for the government and the LTTE to enter into dialogue that could pave the way for a negotiated settlement to a conflict that has continued for the past two decades. The destruction caused to life, property and to the country’s economy affected people in all segments of society, especially the poor, is too well known and need not be repeated here, says Very Rev. Fr. Bernard Quintus, OMI, Provincial of Oblates of Mary Immaculate Province of Sri Lanka (Colombo) and Very Rev. Fr. A. Jeevendra Paul, OMI, Provincial of Oblates of Mary Immaculate Province of Sri Lanka (Jaffna) in a joint letter addressed to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

"The LTTE’s one month cease-fire and the government reciprocating this gesture with a cessation of hostilities, the Prime Minister’s visit to meet India’s political leaders to obtain their concurrence in resolving Sri Lanka’s crisis, inviting the Norwegians to reassume their role as facilitator in the proposed peace negotiations and the assurances given at the recent SAARC meeting in Nepal to support all initiatives towards a settlement of the national crisis have rekindled hopes for peace in the hearts and minds of people, the letter said.

Furthermore the decision to lift the embargo and send medicine and other essential commodities to the North, the removing of barricades in the main cities, an eyesore that fostered a fear syndrome in people, and the relaxing of restrictions that prevented people from the South to meet their brothers and sisters in the North, are indeed brave decisions that argue well as pace setters for a sustainable and honourable peace in this war torn land, it said.

The path to peace, as you are well aware, is fraught with difficulties, dangers and disappointments. There are those who would attempt to frustrate all peace effort to satisfy their vested interests. Notwithstanding those drawbacks, it is always important to bear in mind that the mandate of the people given to this government is to restore peace to our country through a process of negotiation, however tedious and tight-knotted this may turn out to be. Every effort should be made not to allow the peace process breakdown or drag on indefinitely." It further said: "As Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, working both in the North and the South of Sri Lanka, particularly among the poor, we wish to assure you and your government of our support in the deliberations and decisions you will have to take in ensuring peace to the people of all communities. We also wish to affirm our willingness to participate in the healing , confidence building and reconciliation work, which must necessarily be an important component of the peace process.

We wish to spell out this commitment in more concrete terms. When the work of resettling the internally displaced and refugees commences we shall, in consultation with the authorities concerned and within the limits of our collective potential, make personnel and funds available for this humanitarian task. We are conscious of the fact that the children’s education, particularly in the North and the East, has been directly affected by this war. Bearing this in mind, we wish to make available a number of scholarships to students education has been hampered as a result of this war.

In conclusion, we wish to commend all efforts towards the establishment of peace to Our Lady of Madhu whose shrine served as a haven to all those who sought her refuge in times when peace seemed elusive and the ravages of war covered the entire land."

Copies of the letter had also been sent to Foreign Affairs Minister Tyronne Fernando and Rehabilitation and Refugees Minister Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena.