children want no toys for Christmas - peace and quiet will do
Marisa de Silva
Nita (12), a child of tortured parents
was found in a refugee camp in the North and was re-united with
her 3 1/2 year old little sister, Mala, by chance. She had reported
the relevant description of her younger sister who was separated
from her earlier on to an authority of the camp, and was lucky enough
to find her. For her, peace meant seeing her sister again.
who was torn open from chest to thigh
(8) was holding a little toy gun in her hands, (a gun toting tot
in the 'gun-culture' she has had to get used to). She was displaced
by attacks on her village in Jaffna and is yet to be re-united with
her family. These are everyday stories for the workers of the Family
Rehabilitation Centre (FRC), as these are the people they meet day
in and day out. People displaced by the war, torture victims, their
families and others affected by the war are the average clientele
of the FRC. This institution specializes in rehabilitating those
exposed to armed conflict through holistic care.
Perera, Head of Information, FRC, enlightened me on how things were
in the war affected areas. He explained the FRC's role in the lives
of these people and what their mission was. These people have been
affected by the war, which has been a way of life for them for so
long, that it's almost impossible for them to get back into the
community. "Only when you see them will you understand what
they've been through and their struggle to come to terms with this
'unusual bout' of peace" he added.
to lead a normal life
remarkable story of Rajan (11) is a perfect example of how helping
another living being at some point in your life has the strangest
way of coming back to help you. Before Rajan was caught in a bomb
blast, he had helped save a dog that had been run over by a vehicle.
He had collected all of the animal's organs that were hanging out
and taken him to a vet. When ironically he was in a similar situation,
where he was torn open from chest to upper thigh, he followed the
same procedure and awaited help. The dog had survived and so did
he. Healing the wounds of war doesn't end at rehabilitating and
restoring the lives of those who sacrificed themselves for our country
but those who were caught in the middle as well. Who are these people?
The children and adults who were victims of terror and torture from
both sides of the line. Who thinks of these people at Christmas?
residing in these areas have been severely affected, both physically
and mentally. The FRC staff try to make their lives just a little
more 'livable' by helping them cope with issues like bereavement,
displacement, torture etc. They have taken on a mammoth task and
it cannot be done alone. The co-operation of all involved parties
and the community is definitely an essential part of this process.
and relevant authorities should take the initiative to either ensure
the betterment of these people or they should aid those already
experienced in the field to do their job better. Rehabilitating
and re-building the lives of those most affected by the war should
be of primary concern.
a struggle for them. They have to fight their fear, their sadness,
their pain; they have to fight for survival. The hopelessness they've
felt over the years and the helplessness to do anything about their
plight has to be overcome. This is no easy task, says Mr. Perera.
They could use all the help they can get. True peace will only be
obtained the day these children get their childhood back, and all
these people can go back to living instead of merely existing.
From a personal
encounter at a children's workshop conducted by the FRC, Mr. Perera
related a touching, thought provoking incident that took place.
He explained how they had fathered the children into little groups
and asked them to answer a simple question, "What do you want
most for Christmas?" Expecting the average child's answer of
either dolls, cars, books and the like, he was taken aback by the
nearly unanimous response he got of "Saddha nathuwa jeevath
wenna..." (To live in peace, without noise). Can we help make
their Christmas wish come true?
A new evil imperils
Islamo-facism has ended our post-Cold War complacency.
With September 11 the Pollyanna Decade died. For me, the recognition
that some new malevolent spirit was abroad came not only when the
World Trade Centre was destroyed but when I heard, a month later,
the political sermon on its meaning delivered by Osama bin Laden.
I was born
to Jewish parents who fled from Nazi Europe and thereby escaped
death in an extermination camp. In my early life I was preoccupied
by the Holocaust. When I heard bin Laden's post-September 11 sermon
it came from a voice altogether too familiar to me. Like Nazism
and communism the ideology of bin Laden divided the world into two
camps, between whom an Apocalyptic battle would be waged. For bin
Laden the struggle was religious - between what he called, in his
sermon, the camps of faith and unbelief.
fantasies concerned not merely the destruction of Israel or the
humiliation of the United States but the defeat of the infidel and
the victory of fundamental Islam on a worldwide scale. The enemy
he wished to destroy was not the US or Israel but "Americans"
Now that Islamo-fascism
has made its rather spectacular appearance on the stage, there can
be no serious doubt that it must be fought. The far more difficult
question is in what manner and by what means.
the US is involved in a fundamental debate about the strategy by
which the novel military threat of Islamo-fascism - a potential
nuclear or chemical or biological weapons attack on the US - can
be overcome. Two parallel strategies have been devised. One involves
the creation of a worldwide counter-terrorist coalition aimed at
destroying al-Qaeda and its associates. The second involves, in
addition, US preventive wars against "rogue states", like
Iraq or North Korea, which are thought to be stockpiling weapons
of mass destruction and which, it is feared, might ultimately either
attack the US directly or pass weapons of mass destruction to an
Islamo-fascist terrorist group.
I believe that
the first aspect of this strategy must be supported and the second
aspect opposed. The advocacy of preventive war is based on an implausible
estimation of the likely behaviour of rogue states, whose leaders
are brutal but by no means suicidal or mad. In defence of unilateralism
and preventive war, the US is likely to destroy the unity of the
counter-terrorist coalition and to undermine the most fundamental
idea of international law.
as with Nazi Germany, wars cannot be avoided. Yet under contemporary
conditions war must always, in my opinion, be a policy of last resort.
In war the human costs are terrible. In war, moreover, the political
consequences simply cannot be foretold.(Sydney Morning Herald )