A statement on the current situation in Sri Lanka
By Thomas Kemper
The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church is deeply and prayerfully concerned about the current political crisis in Sri Lanka. We extend our pastoral solidarity to all peace-loving communities of all faiths and ethnicities and to our mission partners in the country, an Asian democracy still emerging from civil conflict officially ended in 2009.
The new troubles arise over the office of prime minister. On Oct. 26, 2018, President Maithripala Sirisena named a replacement for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in violation, many feel, of the Sri Lankan constitution. The effort to seat Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister caused chaos in the country. The resulting political impasse can likely be resolved only by convening Parliament to deal with the matter, an action the president has resisted.
Global Ministries has strong bonds with a range of Christian (Methodist and ecumenical) and other religious communities in Sri Lanka as a result of humanitarian and mission partnerships over the years.
Sri Lanka as a nation suffered 26 years of war due to the ethnic conflict and war that ended about a decade ago. Since then, various peace-loving and democratic movements, including the Christian churches, continue to engage with the people of Sri Lanka in the work of reconciliation, healing and national unity, along with socioeconomic development. The country is working toward a new constitution in which rights of all communities will be safeguarded. The people of Sri Lanka elected a new government in 2015 with the hope of establishing lasting peace, development and protection of the human rights of all.
As steps toward peace in the current crisis, Global Ministries:
• Urges the president and legislative leaders to convene the Parliament and resolve the matter of the prime minister by peaceful means
• Urges the government to respect the mandates of the democratic change enacted in 2015;
• Urges all people of Sri Lanka to affirm their commitment to democracy and justice by peaceful, nonviolent means; and
• Urges responsible authorities to protect the freedom of expression and the media.
We join with colleagues and partners in Sri Lanka as they share the message of Jesus in Matthew 5:9, NRSV, which reads, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
*Thomas G. Kemper is the General Secretary of Global Ministries.