Sri Lankan cardinal calls for peace

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

COLOMBO - A newly appointed Catholic cardinal called Wednesday on the Sri Lankan government to speed up a search for a political solution to the country’s long-standing ethnic tensions, which led to a 26-year military conflict.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, testifying before a commission investigating alleged war crimes committed at the end of the conflict, said that although the fighting between the government and Tamil separatist rebels has ended, only a political solution would help to fully resolve the conflict.

“It is only a political solution that will help to eliminate the root causes of violent insurrection, ethnic disharmony and suspicion and mistrust between communities,” said Ranjith, who was appointed last month.

“We believe that the search for a political solution to the ethnic conflict must be intensified,” the cardinal said.

Government troops defeated the rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May last year, but no progress has been made since then on finding a political settlement to the conflict.

The cardinal traced back the conflict between majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils to the 1950s, soon after the British ended their colonial rule over the island nation.

He said a law introduced in 1956 paved the way for the dominance of the Sinhalese, raising tensions in the multicultural society.

The LTTE claimed it was fighting for an independent homeland for Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the country over what it said were injustices committed against the ethnic minority.

Tamils account for about 20 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people. More than 70 percent are Sinhalese.

Filed under: Religion

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