17th August 1997


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Directory of Fatal Child Accidents

Children, for no fault of theirs, face accidents, at times, leading to loss of limbs and even to their death. Causes for these if known, could be made use of, to prevent such incidents in the future.

The Foundation for Civillian Bravery has decided to publish a Directory of such events. Such a publication will be useful for parents as an eye opener. Knowledge of how various unfortunate incidents have taken place will certainly help parents to look after their loved ones.

In order to commence this exercise the foundation requests public to write in such known incidents. Parents' request not to mention their names will be accepted. They wish to point out that if any child is saved due to your information, it apart from being a great contribution to the society, will bring merit to the child who was so affected.

Write to: Kusum P. Chandraratne


Foundation for Civilian Bravery,"Kalyari", Bekkegama Rd.,Walana, Panadura.

London Buddhist Vihara - Esala Festival

On July 20,full moon day, the London Buddhist Vihara celebrated the Dhammacakka Festival, commemorating the Buddha's First Sermon.

As on many previous commemorations, it was blessed with excellent weather throughout the day. The colourful Budhist flag was hoisted by the Venerable Bellanwila Dhammaratana Maha Thera, the Incumbent of Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya. The ceremony was led by Most Venerable Dr. Pandith M. Vajiragnana and Venerable Monks of the London Buddhist Vihara and was attended by many white-clad devotees.

The Eight Precepts Anusasana was followed by meditation instruction from Venerable Bhikkhu Seevali.

The theme of the Buddha's First Sermon was explained by Most Venerable Dr. Vajiragnana, with a talk entitled "The wheel set in motion".

Lessons from the Sri Lankan Peace Process

[Image]Ven. Wellawatte Gnanabhiwansa Thero, Chief Incumbent, Suvisuddharamaya, Colombo 06 delivered a lecture on the theme of Negotiating Peace - Lessons from the Sri Lankan Peace Process at Luzern, Switzerland last month at a meeting of the International Alert Organization.

The ethnic problem in Sri Lanka has been studied by a number of scholars, experts and statesmen from various angles and expressed diverse views from time to time. At the beginning, it was a liberation struggle led by the LTTE. But later it was termed a communal fascist movement because it gunned down even the Tamil leaders who did not agree with their views. Today, it has grown up to be a powerful guerrilla army which fights against the Army, Navy and Air Force of Sri Lanka. At the same time, they fight other Tamil political groups continually.

Now more than a decade has elapsed for this warfare. More than tens of thousands of human lives have been lost and crores worth of public and private property has been destroyed in vain. At the same time, the illwill, wrath and hatred that arose in the minds of Sinhalese towards Tamils and that of the Tamils towards Sinhalese has been growing as a result of the massacre and devastations etc. caused by both sides. This situation of course, is highly alarming and the building up of a Sri Lankan nation seems to be in doubt.

When we consider Prabhakaran's stand that he is for a separate Eelam State and nothing less, and it is the one and the only way the Tamil people could get their grievances redressed. This thinking he has impressed upon his people. Some parents have allowed their children to get enlisted in Tamil Tigers' army while many Tamil youths have joined it voluntarily. Not only a separate state, but the devolution of power even on ethnic basis in a small country like Sri Lanka would be disastrous and the entire country will be in danger in time to come, is the opinion of many politicians and intellectuals. Sinhala and Tamil people who want to live in harmony do not clamour for a separate State.

Today, peace loving people are highly perplexed and alarmed about the blood-bath in the north and east. War of course is nothing but disaster in every sense. So they want to see an end to the war situation without delay. But with whom could negotiations or a peace process be started, is the question. The present government started negotiations with the Tigers as soon as they came to power. There was a cease-fire for some time. But unfortunately, the effort ended in failure, and it was the LTTE which is responsible for violating the cease-fire. The country went through similar experiences on several previous occasions, and imediately after that the LTTE massacred quite a number of army and police personnel and civilians and destroyed a number of aeroplanes, helicopters and ships. By these incidents, it is evident that negotiations with the LTTE do not bear positive results. Hence, both Sinhala and Tamil people who wanted to live in peace and harmony are highly alarmed and disappointed.

At present, the government of Sri Lanka is fighting with the LTTE while offering a political package to the nation, which is fed up with war. The main aim of the package is devolution of power on a provincial basis. But with regard to northern and eastern provinces, there seems to be devolution on an ethnic basis which I feel, would be detrimental to the unity of the Sri Lankan nation. Our aim should be to unite and not to disunite or to disintegrate.

In the most recent negotiations, it was quite clear that those who took part in them, did not have sufficient responsibility to enter into an agreement, satisfactory to both parties. They did not spend enough time over the issues involved, so the LTTE blamed the government for the disillusionment, they experienced. Thereby, they lost faith in the present government too, though they said that they earlier believed the Chandrika Government was capable of relieving the plight of the Tamils.

But peace-loving sections expect to see an end to this war soon. For that to happen, both LTTE and the government should come to a conference table. But at the present juncture, it seems quite improbable, as both parties do not place their trust in each other.

Appointments of provincial Chief Ministers, Chief Justices and IGP's and so on would be detrimental. What some of these sections contemplate is a monarchic state of the Sinhalese! But the circumstances are quite different. Almost all the leaders of our country spoke about an era of the common man, because they were obliged, to please the common man in order to gain political power. Leaders like Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and Mr. J.R. Jayewardena changed their religion in order to please the majority community. In their political process, they always tried to please the majority and ignored the promises given to minorities. In the recent past, Mr. J.R. Jayewardene promised to the Tamil leaders on the eve of 1977 general elections that he was aware of their grievances and when he came to power, he would summon a round table conference and resolve them. Although the Tamil community extended their whole-hearted support to the U.N.P., Mr. J.R. Jayewardene failed to keep his promise. It was he who sent the forces to suppress an uprising in the North. That too, ended in failure. It was only after that failure, he summoned the All Party Conference which could not bring about any useful result. But however, the bloodshed is continuing ever since.

So, I feel, the leaders of the majority community should take the blame for what is happening particularly in the north and east, for more than a decade.

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