Sri Lanka: A Statement issued by the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka on the kil

General February 22, 2008


On
the 17th of February 2008, Pastor Neil Edirisinghe was killed by gunmen outside his home in Ampara. His wife was also shot, causing critical injury. She was carrying their baby son at the time she was shot.

We are deeply saddened and shocked by this act of senseless violence. We pray for the pastor’s family and especially for his wife, for healing of her physical wounds and the deep emotional pain caused by the murder of her husband.

Whatever religion or race we belong to, all of us who live in this country must hang our heads in shame; for we have created a society where human life has been devalued so much that human beings have become a dispensable commodity and a mere statistic. It is high time that we as a nation realize that differences between individuals and communities cannot be resolved with extreme and violent reactions.

The District of Ampara has been experiencing religious tension and some incidents of religiously motivated violence such as acts of arson, threats and intimidation. The killing of Pastor Edirisinghe which was the culmination of these unchecked incidents has raised concern as to the safety of the small Christian community in Ampara. We call upon the IGP to ensure that Christians in Ampara are free to exercise their faith and engage in worship without fear or intimidation.

Organized attempts by any individual or group to breed religious tension and incite religious hatred - be it in Ampara or anywhere else, must be condemned by all right thinking people irrespective of religious affiliation and calls for urgent action by the Government to put a stop to this ugly trend.

It is disturbing to see the widening gulf between the ethnic groups in our country confounded by the erosion of trust between religious communities. Recent media reports on the arrest of a Pastor for alleged involvement in LTTE activity has seen a veil of suspicion drawn over Christians. It is the sacred duty of the Government and the law enforcement authorities to conduct impartial investigations and deal with any guilty party under the law and release without prejudice those who are found innocent.

We strongly condemn the murder of Pastor Neil Edirisinghe and the attack on his family. We call upon the IGP and the Police force in Ampara for immediate and impartial investigation whereby those responsible for this crime will be dealt with under the law.

We pray for the restoration of peace and understanding between communities and individuals in our nation.