Shreen Saroor Short Documentary

INTERNATIONAL: Women: Leaders of Peace

Shreen Abdul Saroor has experienced war and forced displacement. She grew up surrounded by violence in Sri Lanka, where Tamil militants expelled Muslims from the north in 1990, forcing her family to escape their Mannar Island home.

She understands the costs of war and, in particular, the vulnerability of women.

“The safety of women and girls has been one of the casualties of the long war in Sri Lanka,” she has said. “Soldiers and members of paramilitary groups rape women with impunity. Rape has been used as a tool to torture political detainees.”

Not one to sit by idly, Shreen formed two organizations to assist women affected by conflict — and, by extension, to help the population at large: Sri Lanka’s Mannar Women’s Development Federation, which provides microcredit and education to Muslim and Tamil women, and Mannar Women for Human Rights and Democracy. Shreen knows that there cannot be true, lasting peace without the participation of informed and civically engaged women.

On September 21, World Peace Day, we at Search for Common Ground saluted Shreen along with three other women — Indonesia’s Electronita Duan, Nepal’s Purna Shova Chitrakar and Timor-Leste’s Filomena Barros dos Reis — who are receiving this year’s inaugural N-Peace Awards. Search for Common Ground is working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to implement these N-Peacehonors — recognizing those who “Engage for Peace, Equality, Access, Community and Empowerment”– which were established to acknowledge that women are often in the frontlines of conflict, but rarely make the headlines. Their efforts toward building peace and creating cohesion in their communities are too many times overlooked.

Today, we want these women in the headlines.

Electronita has been involved in numerous programs to empower women in Indonesia and helped develop Politeknik Perdamaian Halamahera, an institute of higher education for those whose studies were interrupted by conflict. Electronita knew that normalcy could never return to conflict zones without a skilled and educated population.

Purna, among other activities, created the Ban Landmines Campaign Nepal (NCBL) in 1995 to promote an international ban on the use, production, transfer and stockpile of landmines. Purna worked to teach families, students and teachers about the risks of landmines in their communities, especially in rural areas. She often had to struggle to reduce mines in the face of opposition, continued conflict and arson. She worked tirelessly to outlaw these indiscriminate weapons of war and in June of this year Nepal was declared landmine free.

A human rights and justice activist, Filomena is a project coordinator for peace building development with the Asia Pacific Support Collective in Timor-Leste, a country that is continuing to rebuild and overcome its tragic history. Even before Timor-Leste secured its independence, she worked tirelessly to ensure a credible truth and reconciliation process for her country and to ensure that human rights are protected, sometimes dressing as a nun and carrying religious material to protect her true purpose in documenting horrific human rights violations.

Each of these women has helped her community get closer to peace, security and normalcy. Moreover, they have empowered more women to do the same.

At Search for Common Ground, we believe strongly in the positive roles that women can play in their communities and in compassionate leadership for the whole. SFCG recognizes that war has a disproportionate impact on women and girls, and their potential for sustaining peace often goes unrealized and untapped.

Working with governments, women’s organizations and individuals to expand women’s political participation throughout the world, particularly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, we are training women politicians in leadership skills and use of media, and women mediators for peaceful settlement of election results. We are encouraging women to engage as local and national leaders through economic training, participatory theater, peace forums and dialogues. In addition, we convene women for conferences on empowerment, bolstering local, national and regional networks of women dedicated to conflict transformation.

Women, who tend to be more inclusive in their approach and represent slightly more than half the world’s population, are essential to lasting peace and secure communities. It is only by empowering women and giving them a place at the table that we can hope to find solutions to conflict that last.

Source: Huffington Post Date: September 26, 2011

Theme: Participation – General, Violence Against Women – General

Connections | October 03, 2011

– Connected by the day and for life: Communication Bureaus, Marriage Makers and Travel made easy.
– Insight on the migrant experience from Tanuja Thurairajah
– Project Belonging: Photomontages of Sri Lankans living in Switzerland

සබැඳියාව | Connections (Sinhala)

– රටේ සංවර්ධනය වෙනුවෙන් ලොවපුරා ලාංකික ප්‍රජාව – ආචාර්ය හරේන්ද්‍ර විදානගේ අදහස් දක්වයි …
– ලංකාවෙන් මඟුල් තුලා සොයන විදෙස් ගත ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයන්ට ආරංචියක්…
– කරුණාව දයාව හා මනුෂ්‍යත්වය බෙදා දෙන – ගුණ ජය සතුට පදනම…

Women and Media Collective Press Conference – 17th August 2011

The Women and Media Collective held a press conference to address the incidence of violence against women with respect to the ‘grease devil’ phenomenon. The Collective also stressed that the press conference would be an opportunity for a ‘clear dialogue’ to be formed about the issue.

Watch the video here 

Sri Lankan Tamils after the war

Gordon Weiss, Former UN Sporksman In SRI LANKA – Interview with ABC

Gordon Weiss was spokesman for the United Nation’s humanitarian mission in Sri Lanka during the civil war.

GORDON WEISS: Well I think that the decisions over the war and the execution of the war come down to a very narrow circle of people that surround the Rajapaksa family. The Defence minister was a Rajapaksa, the president was as a Rajapaksa, there was a range of Rajapaksas in the administration, but also people like Palitha Kohona, who was the secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there.

ALI MOORE: Who also has Australian citizenship.

GORDON WEISS: Who has also Australian citizenship. And these were the people who were busy pedalling the notion to the rest of the world that there was nothing very untoward happening at all, that the war was going along merrily and ultimately that the war was won without a drop of civilian blood being spilt, which the Government maintains to this day, despite all this evidence to the contrary.

“Your Excellency return us to paradise, return us to paradise”=Attorney George R. Willy=

Full text of speech delivered by Houston-based Attorney George R. Willy, during a recent event in Houston, Texas, USA, welcoming President Mahinda Rajapaksa:


Your Excellency, Mrs. Rajapaksa, Hon Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Sheila thank you for making this, really appreciate this and Consul General Arora, Consul thank you for making this.

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome Your Excellency to this great city. If you can ignore the oak trees and the mockingbirds you could easily mistake this for Sri Lanka.

It is in Sri Lanka that I was born, and my mother and the parents of my wife Shanthi, our grand fathers and grand mothers are all buried under the sacred soil of my motherland. I grew up Your Excellency, in Jaffna and moved to Colombo when I was only 10 years old. My wife is from Badulla, grew up in Diyatalawa where her dad was a well a respected captain in the army.

I have smelt the sweetness of Magosa trees in Jaffna and taste of the Red Jumbu fruits that left red stains on my white shirt as I walked to school in Colombo. I know the allure of Jack fruits ripening on the trees as crows begin to break them open.

I have seen the bright colour of pandals during Wesak and shamelessly ate food at Dansala meant for the poor. And I have heard the chanting of Kovils and inhaled the smell of jasmine and Joss sticks. I’ve heard the bell of All Saint’s church as I assisted Father Herath during Mass.

But since I left Sri Lanka in 1975 there has been such pain, such sorrow and such agony. The mighty Mahaweli Ganga that usually brings its sacred waters to the paddy fields spat out blood. Both the Sinhalese and Tamils. From up here in the United States I have watched the land of my forefathers descend from paradise deep into hell. No one can say with certainty who is to blame but the time for blaming is long gone.

Your Excellency, your power be descended from Dutugemunu and my people from Elara. Remember how Dutugemunu fought Elara on his Elephant Kandula and killed Elara. Dutugemunu of course is still remembered for uniting Sri Lanka for the first time. But he is also remembered for something else. After defeating and killing Elara he built a monument for Elara out of respect for his worthy opponent. He ordered all the citizens of the land to stop, dismount and pay respect to Elara. In so doing he not only showed what a great noble man he was. But also proved to be a great politician. He knew that He had to rule the Tamil people too after the defeat of Elara.

Your Excellency, faith and fortune and your great political skills have placed you at a unique point in history.

Children years to come, will read in their history books, that a great leader, a great warrior by the name of Mahinda Rajapaksa finally defeated the rebellion after nearly 25 years when several before him failed. They may even say that you are Dutugamunu of the 21 century. But if you want to wear Gemunu’s mantle, Your Excellency, you will have to build a monument too. That monument does not have to be a Dagoba or a building. It will have to be new policy backed by laws with teeth to enforce.

Do not make the mistake that started 58 riots. Do not hold back Tamils who want to get into Universities. Do not make the Tamils feel like they are second class citizens. Respect their religion, and respect their language. There is something about the Tamil people you need to know Your Excellency. To them their language is God. There are only few cultures in the world which has such devotion to the language.

You were trained as a lawyer and in your early career you were a formidable defender of human rights.

Now you have the popularity, you have the power of a hero, like Julius Caeser, returning to Rome from his conquests. No one can deny what you ask. Ask the parliament to pass some entrenched clauses; you and I read in law school. Then we have had to study the Soulbury Constitution. If you need my help I will give it free like many in this audience would. The Tamil people are naked and hungry looking for you to assure them that there is a place for them.

Make sure they have one. You killed one Prabhakaran but do not let another grow. You cannot prevent another one with swords and guns. You can only do that with your heart and wisdom. Compassion, truth and justice, you learnt from Buddha are the only weapons you will need. According to Dhamma Pada, Buddha said that hatred does not cease by hatred at any time. Hatred cease by love. This is an old rule. That’s what the Buddha said.

Your Excellency, as you leave this fair city and return to Sri Lanka, promise me that a 10 year boy walking to school tomorrow in his white shirt will have no other red stain than from the Jumbu fruits. The morning crow will not open anything other than the jackfruit. That there will be nothing else hanging from the Magosa trees, than the fruits I smelt.

Your Excellency return us to paradise, return us to paradise. Thank You

 

Read in Sinala _PDF : Hier

Political Future of the New Constitutional Reform

Political Future of the New Constitutional Reform Interview by Dr. Pakiyasothy Saravanamuttu

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