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A glimmer of hope from Sri Lanka


Dishani's correspondence from Sri Lanka.

  • Published

    18 May 2009
  • Written by

    Peace Direct

As the death toll continues to rise and the UN talks of a ‘bloodbath’ in Sri Lanka, it’s hard to believe that local peacebuilders are continuing their work amid the carnage. Peace Direct’s partners in Sri Lanka speak of their frustration at government propaganda and media censorship but also of their determination to try to keep the seeds of peace alive such as the Young Visionaries project where initial cynicism has been overcome. For the first time, religious clergy and the Young Visionaries have met to discuss the escalating conflict.

Peace Direct’s correspondent in Sri Lanka reports:

To begin with the Young Visionaries had little enthusiasm for peace. Since the workshop, they’ve been very enthusiastic and have set up ‘peer groups’ in each of their communities. Each peer group is made up of around ten other people from the village. Together they discuss what the Young Visionaries have learnt from their training and share knowledge. Much of what they do is to analyse the conflicts and identify a cause of conflict that they feel is important to their community. Together they set about designing an initiative to address that cause. The next phase of the project is to support these local initiatives and to strengthen the peer group exercise into something more organised.

Running parallel is the Centre for Peacebuilding & Reconciliation’s (CPBR) project with the religious clergy and for the first time, CPBR brought together the clergy and the Young Visionaries to discuss the conflict. Although there was a difference in language and some of the young people blamed the older generation, there was also broad agreement on many areas. The Tamil Young Visionaries were amazed to be in the same room as Buddhist monks and kept touching and holding the monks’ robes, saying they thought the monks were all the same (ie extremist protagonists of violence) and they never imagined meeting a monk in this way.

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