‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’

The ceasefire agreement between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has just completed its 8th month. Though many instances have been reported on the violation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), by and large both sides have abided by their commitments laid out in the MoU.

As the National Student Executive Committee of the Fellowship of Christian University Students (FOCUS) we would like to show our appreciation to the Government of Sri Lanka, the LTTE and the Government of Norway for the great commitment and restraint that they have shown during the past 8 months.

Many reasons have been attributed by the press, political parties and the public at large as to the underlying reasons for the two warring factions to agree on a ceasefire. These include the high cost (financial, human etc.) of the war depleting the resources of both sides, the need to show their supporters their commitment to reach a peaceful end to their struggle and the events of September 11th causing the world community to be more aware and proactive in the fight against terrorism etc.

Whatever the perceived reasons are, the decision to come to a ceasefire by both parties was a brave one and should be applauded.

The ceasefire has brought about a number of benefits to the public so far. These include

• A sense of security without the constant worry of bombings, harassment etc.

• The reopening of the A9 and A15 giving access to people of the South to meet their brothers and sisters in the North and East and to share in their lives and culture and vice versa.

• The removal of land mines which had cost the limbs of thousands.

• The removal of checkpoints and barriers on roads aiding in the ease of travel.

• The possibility for some refugees to return to their own homes.

• The withdrawal of troops from schools and places of worship contributing to the return of a semblance of normalcy for those living in the North and East.

• The opportunity for both sides to witness and understand the "human face" behind the person that they were fighting against a few months earlier.

• A sense of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as to what it means to live in a peaceful society.

• Above all the building up of trust and understanding between all the communities.

We are aware that the road to peace is a long and arduous process. As Christians we believe that the quest for a true and lasting peace goes hand in hand with justice. However a sense of compassion whilst seeking justice is critical since we are all fallen human beings asking justice only for our communities or ourselves without accepting the truth that the "other" is also made in the image and the likeness of God.

Thus it is imperative that the "other’s" differences and basic needs too need to be met, just as our need be. We appeal to all citizens of this land to exercise compassion for we know that failure to do so would result in the non-achievement of true peace.

Therefore we encourage the government of Sri Lanka, the LTTE and the government of Norway to continue striving for the goal for peace since the majority of Sri Lankans are behind you, even though they may not express their support proactively like the extremists do.

The road to peace might be littered with hardship and provocation and compromises will have to be made by all concerned. However if both parties are sincerely committed to achieving a true and lasting peace then any obstacle along the path could be faced and overcome successfully.

So let’s all join together to ensure that this opportunity to bring about peace in our "teardrop" island is not squandered but brought to fruition. This may be our final chance.
National Student Executive (NSE)
Fellowship of Christian University Students (FOCUS)