Sri Lanka: New phase of civilian killing must be stopped forthwith

South Asia Citizen's Wire
The crisis in Sri Lanka has reached a new phase with the targeting of civilians for large scale killing and the accompanying denial of responsibility for such atrocities.
The claymore mine attack on a civilian bus in Anuradhapura, suspected to be by the LTTE, killed over 60 adults and children and injured over 70 others.
This incident is a grievous escalation of an already terrible conflict in which civilian casualties have been overtaking those of armed combatants. The National Peace Council condemns this attack and condoles with the bereaved families of the victims.

We condemn all actions that lead to civilian casualties. A strategy of targeting civilians cannot be justified under any circumstance and is morally reprehensible. In the immediate aftermath of this attack, the government has sent its air force to bomb targets in the LTTE-controlled areas. A strategy of retaliation may not only cause serious damage to those who are locked in combat, but also to innocent civilians, and will do little to address the root causes that led to the conflict. On the other hand, a bold and non-violent political initiative may generate a positive response which will help move the country out of its tragic and doomed path.

NPC appeals to the government and LTTE to be mindful of the sufferings that are being heaped upon the people, and not to abdicate their responsibilities by them. Even as our country continues to slide worse towards a war-like situation, with tragic events that must shock our conscience, we believe it is time to pause, and to re-think, what path we as a nation must take.

The European Union and the donor Co-Chairs have recently issued statements that contain guidelines for a successful peace process. We call on the two parties to immediately meet with each other at the negotiating table with a vision for a shared future rather than on a battlefield in which innocent civilians are being called upon to pay the greater price.

Executive Director
On behalf of the Governing Council