People for Harmony
People's Network to Promote Sustainable Social Harmony
58, Chinna Kulandai Main Street, Maduma Nagar, Perambur, Chennai-600 011, India
Passionate plea to Rajapakse works, at least momentarily
While political parties vie with one another in condemning the Sri Lanka government in strongest terms, a non political people’s forum has made a passionate plea to President Rajapakse to end hostilities and to protect the Tamils in the island nation.
In a message addressed to the President of Sri Lanka on February 3, People for Harmonyforum stated “we are disturbed and distressed to hear news reports that hospitals and civilian areas are being shelled by the security forces resulting in loss of lives of medical staff and civilians”.
“Through this appeal, we request the President of Sri Lanka to take all necessary steps to protect civilians at all costs, wherever they are. We need not emphasize the fact that it is the responsibility of the government to protect its people. After all the Tamil population is also the citizens of the country”.
Referring to shelling hospitals and civilian areas, the message said only terrorists resort to such inhuman acts and that they hope these reports are not true.
“Even if they had taken place, we assume that these calamities take place without the active consent and knowledge of the President of Sri Lanka and do hope and pray that he will issue immediate orders ensuring the safety of the innocent people of his own country”.
Stating that in a normal situation the citizens will try to save their life by going to the Safety Zone but if they are not, it could be only due to reasons beyond their control, the Forum claimed. “We therefore appeal to the President of Sri Lanka to protect the lives of his own people at all cost. We make this appeal since it is a humanitarian problem needing immediate attention”.
As if responding to this appeal, in a surprise melt down move, during his nationally televised address on the country's 61st Independence Day on February 4, President Rajapakse broke into Tamil, assuring the people of the community in the embattled north and other parts of the country of their well-being and equality in status.
”We all were born to the same mother”, he said indicating that everyone, including Tamils were Sri Lankans first”
"It is my responsibility as the head of the state to take care of all sections of people," he said.
People for Harmony forum has also appealed for UN intervention in its message sent to the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Though the President’s speech is encouraging, reports and images of civilian casualties, particularly women, children and the aged are distressing and does not reflect the assurance of the President to ‘take care of all sections of people’, according to M. J. Ruben, Convenor of People for Harmony forum. In solidarity with all the Indians, the forum wishes for peace and harmony to return in Sri Lanka.
People for Harmony forum was formed in the wake of atrocities against Christians in Orissa (India) in August 2008 by a few social activists including Cardijn Community International.
M. J. Ruben
February 6, 2009