10 April 2002
Mr. Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary General
Mr. Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister of Israel
Mr. Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian People's Liberation
The Christian Conference of Asia, a fellowship of 121 member councils
churches in Asia, with a membership of more than 55 million individuals,
writes to express its grave distress at the horrifying escalation of
violence in the Occupied Territories.
As Christians who revere Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus the Christ,
hence, the city that symbolizes the advent of "peace on earth and good will
to all," we express our disgust and horror because of what is going on there
that contradicts peace and good will among the races and peoples of the
We join with our member councils and churches, the Middle East Council of
Churches, and the World Council of Churches in decrying the most expansive
military operation in the Occupied Territories since 1982. The level of
destruction of human life has been termed by the General Secretary of the
Middle East Council of Churches as "genocidal."
The invasion of refugee camps, killing of innocent people, reoccupation
West Bank towns and cities, withholding of access to basic facilities such
as food, ambulances, access to hospitals and safe passage to bury the dead
are deeply shocking.
Closure of areas such as Ramallah to press scrutiny and refusal to
facilitate the presence of international peace monitors ignites fears that
dastardly deeds may be being done with impunity. Surely all this is a
violation of the will of God, the Creator and Lord of the universe!
We urge that the United Nations immediately implement the UN Security
Council Resolutions 1397(2002) and 1402(2002), in order to effect immediate
ceasefire, withdrawal of occupation troops from Palestinian cities and
resumption of the peace process.
We express our solidarity with all peace-loving people of the region,
Israeli and Palestinian. It is our prayer and hope that "justice will roll
down like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (Amos
5:24). This means recognising the rights of the Palestinian as well as the
Withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders and recognition of a Palestinian state,
dismantling of settlements on Palestinian land, together with acceptance of
the status of the recognised leader of the Palestinian people, Yasser
Arafat, will form a sound basis for peace not only in Israel and Palestine,
but will benefit the whole region and the world. Achieving this will
require international monitoring and supervision by the international
community as a whole.
Terror begets terror; murder is a spiral which destroys democracy and
decent human values. A political solution needs to be urgently found. Every
burst of gunfire, every aerial bombardment, every death of an innocent child
will make the inevitable political compromises more difficult to achieve.
We hope and pray that a just peace will be found. We pray with the psalmist:
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for God will speak peace to God's people, to God's saints,
to those who turn to God in their hearts.
Surely God's salvation is at hand for those who fear God,
that glory may dwell in our land. (Psalm 85:8-9)
May we all pray and work and live for God's own glory!
Ahn Jae Woong