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The violence in Sri Lanka continues, and Christians are often targeted because of the association of Christianity with Western culture.

Clergymen Urge Tamils to Return to Talks

Krishan Francis

The Associated Press (12/30/05)

COLOMBO , Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka ‘s Christian clergy Friday urged Tamil Tiger rebels to return to peace talks with the government and end increasing violence in the northeast which is threatening to throw the country back into civil war, a pro-rebel report and a priest said.

The 10 bishops and pastors from the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Methodist churches met S.P Thamilselvan, the Tigers’ political chief, in the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi on Friday.

“The bishops raised the issue of increasing violence here and the plight of the people and asked the parties to implement the cease-fire,” said Rev. Roshan Sebastianpillai who took part in the meeting.

“This was a common invitation to both sides,” he told The Associated Press.

The Christian clergy has been a vocal proponent of peace in Sri Lanka , where Tamil Tigers have been fighting the government for over two decades for an independent homeland for the country’s 3.2 million ethnic Tamils.

Their perceived neutrality has allowed them greater access to the rebel leadership and they were a key link between the government and rebels before a 2002 cease-fire.

“Proper implementation of the cease-fire and bringing back normalcy, immediate resumption of negotiations were the request of the bishops,” Thamilselvan was quoted as saying by the pro-rebel Puthinam Web site.

The cease-fire has come under increasing pressure since rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran threatened to step up their violent campaign for independence if the government did not address their grievances.

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