AN APPEAL TO CONTACTS IN INDIA TO EXPRESS COMPASSION BY CONTACTING THE SRI LANKAN AUTHORITIES FOR THE RESPECT OF HUMANITARIAN LAW
Sri Lanka : The Last Round ?
With the Sri Lankan government troops closing in to the remaining Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) stronghold, it looks as if this is the last round of a military struggle that began in 1983 but whose roots go back at least to independence in 1948. The ongoing conflict between the Sinhala and the Tamils that has ebbed and flowed derives its emotional force, in part, from competing beliefs that began during the colonial period about legitimate rule, economic wellbeing, and sacred authority.
The Office to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens has had a long-standing concern with the conflict in Sri Lanka and has made frequent calls for good-faith negotiations on the political and administrative structure of the State. I had thought that reason would win out over the irrational drive to settle complicated issues of social-political structures through armed violence. I seem to have been wrong since both the government and the LTTE gave up negotiations in exchange for a military ‘solution’. A military victory seems now possible for the government forces.
There are two short-term dangers. There are some 200,000 people trapped between the LTTE militias and the government troops. There have been appeals from the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross for a cease-fire so that civilians, especially the sick and wounded, can leave the fighting area. As this is being written (11 Feb. 2009), there is no cease-fire and none seems in view.
There have been calls from the Government to the LTTE leadership to lay down their arms and end the fighting. Again, this is a logical possibility, but given past LTTE willingness to fight to the bitter end, a massive rendition seems unlikely. Thus, there may be a heavy loss of life of those caught in the cross-fire.
The second danger is revenge killings on a large scale. The Tamil-Sinhalese conflict has been extremely bitter. Many families in both communities have lost kin. Although binding up the wounds of war should be the first priority, there is always a danger that revenge killings take place. Logically, the establishment of social cohesion — that is, an ongoing process of developing a community of shared values and opportunities based on a sense of trust, hope and reciprocity — should be the prime aim of government policy. However, there are small groups of violent individuals who may be ready to kill for revenge or to get rid of rivals.
Therefore, the Office to the UN, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens has sent a three-point appeal to the President of Sri Lanka, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa:
1) calling for the respect of international humanitarian law as expressed in the Red Cross Geneva Conventions;
2) appealing for the protection of all civilians both during the on-going conflict and especially in the period following the end of armed conflict during which there is a danger of revenge killings. We are sure that Sri Lanka will respect universally-recognized human rights standards;
3) appealing further that serious consultations on the governmental and administrative structures of the State be undertaken so as to facilitate national unity based on the respect of individual views and aspirations.
Wide support for these three aims would be welcome. Letters could be sent to the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York:
H.E. H.M.G.S. Palikakkara
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka
630 Third Ave.
New York, NY 10017, USA
Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
I think U intrest in peace.i'm a graduate in Peace & conflict Resolution in University of Kelaniya In Sri lanka.Then i studied in Internatioan Relations,Human Rigts,Counselling Psycology Diplomas.my last job is Youth national coordinator in anty war front in Sri Lanka.
Now i work in Human rights NGO.We help marginalized people in Sri lankan Conflict.
So we can share our peace knowledge
So I like read Ur view bbout peace.If U have any free time plz join my discussions in my page.
U R welcome
I am pleased to send you an article on the need for reconciliation bridge-builders in areas of tensions and conflicts as in eastern Congo. Just as world citizens had pushed in the 1950s for the creation of UN Forces with soldiers specially prepared for peace-keeping service, so now we are again pushing for a new type of world civil servant. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have all contributed actively to military-peacekeeping forces. Perhaps these same countries can take a lead in forming reconciliation teams. Your support and advice would be most appreciated. With best wishes, Rene Wadlow
East Congo — Need for Reconciliation Bridge-Builders
On bridges are stated the limits in tons
of the loads they can bear.
But I’ve never yet found one that can bear more
than we do.
Although we are not made of roman freestone,
nor of steel, nor of concrete.
From “Bridges” – Ondra Lysohorsky
Translated from the Lachian by Davis Gill.
Violence is growing in the eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, basically the administrative provinces of North and South Kivu. The violence could spread to the rest of the country as Angolan troops may come to the aid of the Central Government as they have in the past while Rwandan and Ugandan troops are said to be helping the opposing militia led by Laurent Nkunda. While Nkunda and his Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) say that they are only protecting the ethnic Tutsi living in Congo, Nkunda could emerge as a national opposition figure to President Joseph Kabila, who has little progress to show from his years in power.
There is high-level recognition that violence in Congo could spread, having a destabilizing impact on the whole region. UN diplomats, led by Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, have stressed that a political solution — not a military one — is the only way to end the violence, and they are urging the presidents of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania to work together to restore stability. The instability, along with Congo’s vast mineral and timber riches have drawn in neighboring armies who have joined local insurgencies as well as local commanders of the national army to exploit the mines and to keep mine workers in near-slavery conditions.
The United Nations has some 17,000 peacemakers in Congo (MONUC), the UN’s largest peacekeeping mission, but their capacity is stretched to the limit. Recently, the General in command of the UN forces, Lieutenant General Vicent Diaz de Villegas of Spain resigned his post after seven weeks — an impossible task. Their mission is to protect civilians, some 250,000 of which have been driven from their homes since the fighting intensified in late August 2008. The camps where displaced persons have been living have been attacked both by government and rebel forces — looting, raping, and burning. UN under-secretary general for peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, is asking for an additional 3,000 soldiers, but it is not clear which states may propose troops for a very difficult mission. While MONUC has proven effective at securing peace in the Ituri district in north-eastern Congo, it has been much less successful in the two Kivu provinces.
The eastern area of Congo is the scene of fighting at least since 1998 — in part as a result of the genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994. In mid-1994, more than one million Rwandan Hutu refugees poured into the Kivus, fleeing the advance of the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front, now become the government of Rwanda. Many of these Hutu were still armed, among them, the “genocidaire” who a couple of months before had led the killings of some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda. They continued to kill Tutsi living in the Congo, many of whom had migrated there in the 18th century.
The people in eastern Congo have lived together for many centuries and had developed techniques of conflict resolution, especially between the two chief agricultural lifestyles: that of agriculture and cattle herding. However, the influx of a large number of Hutu, local political considerations, a desire to control the wealth of the area — rich in gold, tin and tropical timber — all these factors have overburdened the local techniques of conflict resolution and have opened the door to new, negative forces interested only in making money and gaining political power.
UN peace-keeping troops are effective when there is peace to keep. What is required today in eastern Congo is not so much more soldiers under UN command, than reconciliation bridge-builders, persons who are able to restore relations among the ethnic groups of the area. The United Nations, national governments, and non-governmental organizations need to develop bridge-building teams who can help to strengthen local efforts at conflict resolution and re-establishing community relations. In the Kivus, many of the problems arise from land tenure issues. With the large number of people displaced and villages destroyed, it may be possible to review completely land tenure and land use issues.
World citizens were among those in the early 1950s who stressed the need to create UN peace-keeping forces with soldiers especially trained for such a task. Today, a new type of world civil servant is needed — those who in areas of tension and conflict can undertake the slow but important task of restoring confidence among peoples in conflict, establishing contacts and looking for ways to build upon common interests.
Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
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