Bishop Duleep de Chickera urged the warring Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tigers to return to the negotiating table.
Church leaders in Sri Lanka who organized a march in the island nation’s capital, Colombo, have urged the government and Tamil rebels to resume peace talks, which were suspended in April.
More than 2,000 Catholics and Protestants took part in the three-kilometre procession on Aug. 22 from the Roman Catholic church of St. Mary in Bambalapitiya to the Methodist church in Kollupitiya, in Colombo.
The event was organized by the Roman Catholic church and the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, which comprises eight Protestant denominations.
“ There is an impasse [in the peace talks] and the people are getting anxious,” said Anglican Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo, who headed the march with leaders of the Salvation Army, Roman Catholic, Methodist and other Protestant churches.
“ We wanted to tell the government and the LTTE [Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Elam, known as Tamil Tigers] to return to the negotiation table at the earliest.”
The rebel Tamil Tigers withdrew from peace negotiations with the government in April, citing a lack of progress. The rebels have demanded a plan for power-sharing with the government. Six rounds of peace talks have been held since a cease-fire agreement was reached in February 2002.
“ This was a visible manifestation of our commitment to peace,” said Bishop Chickera, explaining the purpose of the march.