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STATEMENT ON THE CURRENT NATIONAL SITUATION BY THE HEADS OF CHURCHES of the The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) 30th July 2021

Amid a further deterioration of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the Churches affiliated with the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) wish to alert the nation and its political leadership to the burning needs of particularly severely affected social groups as well as certain national challenges that need urgent addressing. After more than one and a half years of this pandemic, the failure to adequately manage this public health disaster has reduced some already disadvantaged social groups of our nation to conditions of bare physical survival. Meanwhile, whole younger generations continue to suffer from extended interruptions of their life nurturing growth due to a continuing lack of alternate educational facilities. In previous news media briefings, the Heads of Churches of the NCCSL have already commented on the main aspects of the current national situation.   Special attention of the government and the whole nation must be drawn to the predicament of the Hill Country Estate Community, isolated as they are, in the plantations. Despite being one of the greatest ever contributors of export income to the nation, the Estate community has remained the most disadvantaged social group of our nation. It is, therefore, most vulnerable to the multiple shocks of the current pandemic crisis. The nation though overall having moved into the ‘middle-income’ bracket in the world community, the Estate community still lacks even the minimum access that all other communities enjoy not only to public health facilities but also to most other infrastructure, be it education, social services, utilities and communications. Thus, discriminated against, marginalised in the economy and lacking educational qualifications, many of the Estate community’s younger generations migrate to low-grade livelihoods in urban areas far from their homes and with none of the protections of formal employment. Unused to multi-cultural and urban environments, they continue to suffer a similar disadvantage even in these new livelihood sectors. The cruellest predicament has been the channelling of under-age children into domestic work in urban middle class homes of all communities throughout the country. This uncivilised exploitation of child labour has often also seen violence against and abuse of these children.  We call on the Government, the Business community and Civil society to respond to the urgent need for special attention to ensuring the Estate community’s access, on an equal level with other communities, to easing economic pressures and severe educational hardships intensified by the pandemic. Greater protections are also urgently needed for internally migrant labour and monitoring of child labour for future eradication. The inequities in access to pandemic mitigation also must be redressed without delay. Special action programmes are imperative to halt more victimisation of the Estate community as the pandemic spreads. We are confident that the UN and the international community will respond to such national initiatives. We are disappointed that in the present crisis of Education, the Government is focussing on a controversial single venture that undermines the University Act; a national consensus on principles of higher education and continues the disturbing trend of militarisation. The proposed Kotalawela Defence University Bill raises many matters of concern that at the very least should be discussed further with all relevant stakeholders. We request the Government to do so. In the context of the country’s prolonged public health crisis, what is needed is that the national education sector includes a full sectoral mobilising and concentration of all relevant resources, institutional facilities, telecommunication infrastructure, equipping of teacher and administrative personnel and medical protection for the student population among other related aspects. All policy and actions must be done in adequate consultation with health and educational professionals. This coordinated effort must include both the State as well as private -sector education systems. Once again, we urge the government and all leadership sections of our island society to ensure that the COVID 19 Vaccination programme is done in the most coordinated and equitable manner possible. We reiterate that full transparency is needed to reassure the nation that vaccine procurements and calibrated distribution are done according to expert advice being tapped nationally and assisted by The World Health Organisation. We pray that our nation overcomes this calamity with the least possible suffering. Signed: Download the Sinhala Statement here Download the Tamil Statement here

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HEADS OF CHURCHES OF THE NATIONAL CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF SRI LANKA URGE DUE PROCESS AND SAFETY FOR ARRESTED JOURNALIST

The Heads of Churches of The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) take serious note of the recent arrest of Lanka E News Journalist Mr. Keerthi Ratnayake, by the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) over the news attributed to Mr. Ratnayake, of an alleged attack on a foreign diplomatic mission in Colombo. Taking into consideration the recent chain of events of arbitrary arrests, abductions and imprisonments, we call upon the President, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Inspector General of Police and other officials, to uphold the Rule of Law and ensure that due process of law is applied in this matter. This includes the protection, safety and well-being of the journalist in question. We are concerned at the recent trend of silencing persons who dissent or who are critical of the government; for the right to dissent is an essential feature of a free and democratic society. On Behalf of the The Heads of Churches of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka Reverend Maxwell DossGeneral SecretaryNational Christian Council of Sri Lanka 19th August 2021 Download the Sinhala Statement here

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NCCSL STATEMENT IN THE PRESENT NATIONAL CRISIS

The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) is deeply concerned about the existing plight of the Sri Lankan citizens due to the economic crisis in the country. Sri Lanka is currently facing one of the worst economic crises in the recent decades due to the lack of foreign currency reserves. There has been a lack of food, medicines, LP gas, fuel and various other essential goods with inflation reaching an all-time high. Cuts in electricity generation have resulted in people only having 11 hours of power a day as of recent, and for weeks there have been long vehicle queues outside fuel stations and people standing in line to buy kerosene for their cooking and fuel for their generators and vehicles.  The daily wage earners have been the hardest hit with most losing their livelihoods due to the shortages and four deaths have been reported due to exhaustion in the queues. Token increases in salary, even where they have been implemented have had little or no effect due to the spiraling cost of living. Successive governments over time have failed to address Sri Lanka’s deep rooted economic crises. Even though the President and the Government have informed the people that this is due to the lack of tourism and foreign remittances following the Covid19 pandemic and the Easter bombings, it has been quite evident that Sri Lanka’s larger issues of mismanagement of finances, weak government policies, corruption, placing the country in debt due to unsustainable prestige projects and ill-timed tax cuts have greatly resulted in the current situation. Unequal access to essential items is exacerbated by unequal treatment in the response to the crisis with several reports indicating that many areas in the country where influential politicians reside, including the MPs Quarters in Madiwela, have uninterrupted power during a time where people have had to go through 13-hour power cuts a day. The Council is disappointed and deeply disturbed that the government continues to be unempathetic to the people’s cries. With the growing frustrations and anxiety, people have spontaneously come on to the streets protesting against the government and all in authority to take responsibility for this crisis and step down. The immediate labelling of these protestors as ‘extremists or mischief makers’ without proper investigation, coupled with the restrictions on the use of social media sites and messaging platforms and indiscriminate use of the Public Security Ordinance to stop people’s protests have aggravated an already volatile situation. Hence, The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls on the Government of Sri Lanka, to act empathetically and responsibly towards its citizens at this time of crises and to immediately ensure equal access to essential items without favoring the affluent. The NCCSL also calls on the government to immediately make measures to bring together professionals, intellectuals and persons who are knowledgeable, irrespective of political backgrounds to manage this crisis. Signed: The Commission for Justice and Peace (CJP) of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka -NCCSL Rev. Ebenezer Joseph Mr. Ravi Algama Rev. Maxwell Doss Chairperson – NCCSL Chairperson – CJP, NCCSL   General Secretary – NCCSL 02 April 2022

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STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF SRI LANKA (NCCSL)

ON SRI LANKA’S CURRENT CRISIS – 10th May 2022 The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) unreservedly condemns the cowardly and brutal attack against the peaceful civilian protests at both ‘Temple Trees and Galle Face Green’; which injured and hospitalized many, including the ‘religious’ – a monk and two Christian clergypersons. While disapproving of any act of violence against peaceful gatherings of civilians, we call for an immediate investigation and for due punishment in terms of the ‘law’ against those who purposely planned, instigated and promoted such illegal act infringing the democratic rights of the citizens of the country. We also call upon the Police, the Special Task Force (STF) and the Tri-forces to uphold the ‘right’ for peaceful protests which have been democratically continuing in all parts of the country and at the Galle Face Green for over thirty (30) days. We do not condone any act/s of violence in whatever form it takes. We acknowledge the anger and pain for the people who retaliated against the violence perpetrated against the peace-loving citizenry. However, we call upon all people to refrain from causing harm and damage to human life and property which will lead the country into a deepening crisis.  We welcome the resignation of the Prime Minister and call upon the President to follow suit. We call for the establishment of an ‘Interim Government’ with the participation of respected and untainted political leaders and committed professionals to initiate the process of addressing the unprecedented economic and political crisis of our country, constitutional reform and a General Election bearing in mind the widespread demand for a ‘system change’ in the governance of the country. In conclusion, it is our fervent prayer that ‘change’ will be achieved through peaceful means. We call for calm, restraint and patience among our people in this very tense and delicate situation. Signed: 10th May 2022 Heads of Constituent Churches Rev. Ebenezer Joseph, Chairperson, National Christian Council of SL/President, Methodist Church of SL. Rt. Rev. Dushantha Rodrigo, Bishop of Colombo, Church of Ceylon,Rt. Rev. Keerthisiri Fernando, Bishop of Kurunegala, Church of CeylonRt. Rev. Dr Daniel Thiagarajah, Bishop of Jaffna, Church of South IndiaRev. Heshan De Silva, President, Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya Rev. Saman Perera, President/Moderator, The Presbytery of LankaRev. Shirley Faber, President, Christian Reformed Church,Col. Nihal Hettiarachchi, Territorial Commander, Salvation Army SL,Rev. Dr Chrisso Handy, General Superintendent/Chairman, Assemblies of God of CeylonRev. Harim Peiris, Acting President, Church of the Four-square Gospel in Sri LankaRev. Maxwell Doss, General Secretary, National Christian Council of SL Constituent Ecumenical Organizations Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Young Women’s Christian Association  (YWCA),Ceylon Bible Society,Christian Literature Society, Student Christian Movement (SCM), Back to the Bible Broadcast, Theological College of Lanka http://nccsl.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Statement-Sinhala-May-22-1.pdf

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STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF SRI LANKA (NCCSL)

ON THE PREVIALING POLITICAL CRISIS IN SRI LANKA 14th July 2022 The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) is highly disturbed by the unfolding events in our country, which apart from the economic bankruptcy, is moving the nation toward a deep political catastrophe. Taking serious note of this disastrous development, we the Heads of Churches of NCCSL. wish to explicitly state the following- It is our fervent hope and prayer that Sri Lanka as a nation will collectively face, address and overcome the challenges of this unprecedented crisis of a ‘fallen state’, and to this extend be assured of our solidarity, support and cooperation. Signed: Heads of Constituent Churches- Rev. Ebenezer Joseph, Chairperson, National Christian Council of SL/President, Methodist Church of Sri Lanka Rt. Rev. Dushantha Rodrigo, Bishop of Colombo, Church of Ceylon Rt. Rev. Keerthisiri Fernando, Bishop of Kurunegala, Church of Ceylon Rt. Rev. Dr Daniel Thiagarajah, Bishop of Jaffna, Church of South India Rev. Heshan De Silva, President, Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya Rev. Saman Perera, President/Moderator, The Presbytery of Lanka Rev. Shirley Faber, President, Christian Reformed Church Col. Nihal Hettiarachchi, Territorial Commander, Salvation Army SL Rev. Dr. Chrisso Handy, General Superintendent& Chairman, Assemblies of God of Ceylon Rev. Harim Peiris, Acting President, Foursquare Gospel Church Rev. Maxwell Doss, General Secretary, National Christian Council of Sri Lanka Constituent Ecumenical Organizations – Young Men’s Christian Association Young Women’s Christian Association Ceylon Bible Society Christian Literature Society Student Christian Movement Back to the Bible Broadcast Theological College of Lanka http://nccsl.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/NCCSL-STATEMENT-ON-PRESENT-POLITICAL-CRISIS-SINHALA.pdf

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STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF SRI LANKA (NCCSL), ISSUED ON 20 JULY 2022

The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) acknowledges the decision of the Parliament to elect Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe as the President to complete the presidential term. Taking into consideration the dire political and economic situation of our country and in heeding the voices of the People, we the Heads of Churches; In conclusion, we the Heads of Churches of The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) will continue to stand with the movement for change that has developed in the country. Signed:   Constituent Churches: Rev. Ebenezer Joseph, Chairperson-NCCSL/President Methodist Church of SL Rt. Rev. Dushantha Rodrigo, Bishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Keerthisiri Fernando, Bishop of Kurunegala, Church of Ceylon Rt. Rev. Dr. Daniel Thiagarajah, Bishop of Jaffna, Church of South India Rev. Heshan De Silva, President, Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya Rev. Shirley Faber, President, Christian Reformed Church Rev. Saman Perera, Moderator/President, Presbytery of Lanka Col. Nihal Hettiarachchi, Territorial Commander, Salvation Army SL Rev. Chrisso Handy, Superintendent/Chairperson, Assemblies of God Rev. Harim Peiris, Acting President, Foursquare Gospel Church SL Constituent Ecumenical Organizations Young Men’s Christian Association Student Christian Movement Young Women’s Christian Association The Ceylon Bible Society  Christian Literature Society Theological College of Lanka Back to the Bible Broadcast. Sinhala Statement : http://nccsl.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/NCCSL-Statement-21-7-2022-sinhala.pdf Tamil Statement : http://nccsl.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Tamil-statement-21.07.2022.pdf

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STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL CHRISTIAN COUNCIL OF SRI LANKA (NCCSL) ON THE ATTACK AND ARREST OF PROTESTORS AT GALLE FACE, COLOMBO 03  

We the Heads of Churches of The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) are deeply shockedat the attack and arrest of peaceful protestors at the Galle Face – Gota Go Gama, by the Army andPolice.We are equally disturbed that the attack against the peaceful protestors was planned and executedin the early hours of Friday 22 July 2022, while preparations were in place to peacefully withdrawfrom the protest venues.Therefore, in the light of this dangerous trend of political violence, we unequivocally condemn thisdastardly act and call upon the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to upholdand respect the right of peaceful protest and for democratic governance.Signed: Heads of Constituent Churches: Rev. Ebenezer Joseph, Chairperson-NCCSL, President, Methodist Church of SLRt. Rev. Dushantha Rodrigo, Bishop of Colombo, Church of CeylonRt. Rev. Keerthisiri Fernando, Bishop of Kurunegala, Church of CeylonRt. Rev. Dr. Daniel Thiagarajah, Bishop of Jaffna, Church of South IndiaRev. Heshan De Silva, President, Sri Lanka Baptist SangamayaRev. Shirley Faber, President, Christian Reformed ChurchRev. Saman Perera, Moderator/President, Presbytery of LankaCol. Nihal Hettiarachchi, Territorial Commander, Salvation Army SLRev. Chrisso Handy, Superintendent/Chairperson, Assemblies of GodRev. Harim Peiris, Acting President, Church of the Foursquare Gospel SL Constituent Ecumenical Organizations: Young Men’s Christian AssociationStudent Christian MovementYoung Women’s Christian AssociationThe Ceylon Bible SocietyChristian Literature SocietyLanka Theological CollegeBack to the Bible Broadcast Sinhala Statement : http://nccsl.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/NCCSL-Statement-22-7-2022-sinhala-new.pdf Tamil Statement : http://nccsl.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Tamil-Statment-22.07.2022-pdf.pdf

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Christian Unity Prayer Service – Gallery

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