Archbishop of Colombo blames government for 'grossly misleading' distortion

[TamilNet, Sunday, 27 July 2008, 07:03 GMT]
Archbishop of Colombo Most Rev. Dr. Oswald Gomis, in a press statement issued Saturday blamed the Sri Lankan department of government information for attributing him in a "grossly misleading" way with a news headline, 'Military defeat of LTTE pre-condition for peace'. The title was a "complete distortion," the Archbishop said in his statement adding that he doesn't share the opinion, which most of the people were thinking that has become a common opinion, that the LTTE must be crushed in order to have a peaceful solution.

Full text of the press statement follows:

Press Statement from the Archbishop of Colombo
On the Vatican Radio news report published locally

Press statement by the Archbishop of Colombo
Press statement by the Archbishop of Colombo
The response I gave to some questions addressed to me by a reporter of Vatican Radio have been completely distorted in a news bulletin released by "The Official Government News portal of Sri Lanka" - dated 24.07.2008 and quoted by several other news agencies and websites, adding a completely misleading title "Military defeat of LTTE precondition for peace - Archbishop Oswald Gomis".

In summary, the Vatican radio reporter asked me whether the war had escalated in Sri Lanka and whether there were any prospects of peace.

In reply I admitted that the war had escalated and said that there were many who today believed that war was the only solution to the conflict because peace talks have so far not been successful and a war mentality is in vogue. Accordingly, I said the belief of many today was- "first of all you must crush them (the LTTE) if you want to have a peaceful solution. That's what most of the people are thinking that has become a common opinion" and added very clearly "not that we share it" (this opinion).

This portion in emphasis also appears quoted in the very bulletin aforementioned attributed to me. Therefore, how could the statement "Military defeat of LTTE pre-condition for peace" be attributed to me in the bulletin? It is an obvious contradiction and distortion. On the other hand, as reported in the same news bulletin, I mentioned- "the ideal would be if they could come to terms..." which meant that a negotiated political settlement would be the best in my opinion.

On the matter of peace talks I said that according to news reports the Government had announced it was ready to talk provided the LTTE laid down arms; but the LTTE had responded that it was not ready to do so. "So it‚s a stalemate there". I further added that in these circumstances there were no hopes of peace talks in the immediate future.

I trust the above makes my position clear. The news headline is a complete distortion of my responses to the Vatican Radio reporter, and is grossly misleading.

Oswald Gomis
Archbishop of Colombo

26th July 2008


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