In Pictures: Symposium of Religious Leaders for Peace

By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

The National Peace Council of Sri Lanka has organized a Symposium of Religious Leaders for Peace along with National Conference on Religions for Peace and Sri Lankan Movement for Justice, Peace and Reconciliation. It was held at the BMICH (Bandaranaike International Memorial Conference Hall) o June 28th 2007. Religious dignitaries belonging to Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity gathered to show their united support for sustainable peace in Sri Lanka.

The following resolution was endorsed by the Religious Leaders for Peace at the symposium

Reverend representatives of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity denominations in Sri Lanka assembled on June 28th 2007 at the Bandaranaike Memorial Conference Hall, Colombo, and guided by the higher principles and ideals of their faith to:

*Urge the Government and the LTTE to take steps towards the initiation of a cessation of hostilities upon giving serious consideration to the immense material and psychological damage caused to innocent and helpless civilians belonging to different ethnic communities of our nation. The religious leaders underscore the futility of war

*Call upon all parties and stakeholders involved in the ethnic conflict to resolve the fundamental issues through concrete negotiations. The religious leaders especially emphasize on the cooperation and cohesion of the various political parties

*Request the international community to exert pressure on both the Government and the LTTE to expedite the languishing peace process in order to achieve a final, irrevocable solution acceptable to all ethnic communities of our country. Both parties should put forward reasonable proposals for a political solution.

“I got displaced ten times in my life. I lost my lovedones and belongings due to war. I neither want to witness nor go through the same agony again” said Subramaniya Sharma, a Hindu priest from Chavakachcheri in Jaffna

Religion has played an important yet ambiguous role in tnternal conflicts wordwide

“I have proposed to the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) to have a religious summit in Jaffna with all the religious leaders from all over the country to take part. The committee gladly welcomed the proposal. There are 4.8 million people in the world, who embrace religion. The religious leaders in Sri Lanka can get together and work towards permanent peace” said Kyoichi Sugino, The Director of World Conference of Religions for Peace

Female religious leaders have played an important role in resolving several internal conflicts around the world

“The prime time for peace has come. We all should work together towards peace. We must raise our voices for peace, not war” said Reverend Sister Angela Fernando, a Catholic Sister of Colombo

The space is being created for the religious leaders to have constructive dialogue on peace and reconciliation

Some religious leaders in Sri Lanka have come forward to create the space for compromise, peace and reconciliation

“The people live in border villages have suffered severely during war. The war must end. We as human beings understand other communities and their needs and respect them. People are afraid to travel now due to the current security situation” said Valimapothana Piyarathna Thera, a Buddhist monk from Horowapothana

The participants felt the need to understand the differences with respect

Ash- Shaikh T. Haider Ali meets the Buddhist monks

“The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has dragged for more than two decades. All communities have suffered during the war. We should not let the war to ravage our lives and country. We have to join hands to stop” said Moulavi Azwar, a Muslim Moulavi from Colombo

Constructive dialogue for peace needs to continue

Source: humanityashore

Contact: Dushi.Pillai@gmail.com

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