By Phurbu Thinley
His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet (Photo: Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL)
Dharamsala, April 13: Welcoming the New Year holiday truce declared in Sri Lanka with great relief, exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Monday expressed hope that the move would offer an opportunity for Sinhalese-Tamil relations to further take a new and more constructive direction.
“It is with great relief that I welcome the truce that has been declared in the Sri Lankan conflict to mark the two-day Sinhala and Tamil New Year holiday,” the Dalai Lama said in a statement
posted on his official website.
“I pray that this New Year truce may offer an opportunity for Sinhalese-Tamil relations to take a new, more constructive direction,” His Holiness added.
The Sri Lankan government on Sunday ordered a two-day “pause” in fighting. It coincides with the ethnic Tamil and Sinhala New Year. The truce which came into effect at midnight (1830 GMT Sunday) is meant to allow civilians to leave the conflict zone safely, BBC reported.
An estimated 100,000 ethnic Tamils are reportedly trapped in the deadly and shrinking patch of land in northeastern Sri Lanka, where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or Tamil Tigers, have been for a separate independent homeland for ethnic Tamils for 25 years.
“I share the widespread international concern for the welfare of civilians caught between the warring parties and welcome the opportunity this respite offers for them make their way to safety. May they be able to do so,” said the Dalai Lama.
“Both sides in this conflict, despite their resort to the use of force, come from Buddhist and Hindu communities respectively that have ancient, deep-seated respect for the principle of ahimsa
or non-violence,” His Holiness said.
“Now that they have reached a pause in their fighting, I appeal to both sides to extend it and build on it by reopening dialogue together,” he added.
“In the long run, genuine dialogue is the only way to resolve even the most intransigent conflicts,” the 73-year old Tibetan leader, who was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1989 for his efforts to achieve a non-violent solution to the Tibetan problem through dialogue with China, said.