A Voice for Peace

BBC photo: Dr. Jehan Perera
BBC photo: Dr. Jehan Perera

“At this time when attention has been focused on the last phase of war and on the humanitarian crisis in the north, there is another less publicised crisis that requires urgent attention. This concerns the breakdown of law and order and the spate of kidnappings, murders and extortions taking place in the east and other parts of the country.” –Dr. Jehan Perera, National Peace Council

Sharif Abdullah writes:

A quick update: according to both Sri Lankan government sources and Tamilnet, the LTTE (also known as the “Tamil Tigers”) have been militarily defeated. Vellupalai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Tigers, has been killed, along with all senior LTTE leaders. The government reports that all Tamil civilians formerly used as human shields by the Tigers are under its control (although TamilNet reports many civilians still hiding in bunkers).

For an in-depth analysis, please see the excellent article by my friend Dr. Jehan Perera of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka.

I want to take a second to acknowledge Jehan for his courageous and consistent voice for peace in the face of the drumbeats of war and violence. Right now in Sri Lanka , people who speak out against the violence have been beaten and killed. (The infamous “white van gangs”, mobile death squads that no one can seem to find, will stop at home or office, beat or kill journalists or other public figures, then speed off. There’s never been an arrest.)

It takes a clear sense of mission and a lot of personal integrity to be a voice for peace and nonviolence. In these times, silence can be construed as complicity. It takes real guts to say not just what is popular or what is politically expedient – to say what is true.

As I think about Jehan, my thoughts go to another Harvard-trained lawyer, this one from Chicago. I think about the Chicago lawyer speaking out for peace at a time when the drumbeats of the Iraqi War drowned out all reason in America . Once Americans woke up from our orgy of violence, once we saw the true costs of the war (in dollars, blood and spirit), we turned to him and made him our President.

So, Jehan, keep speaking out. Stay as safe as possible. “Temple Trees” (the Sri Lankan Presidential residence) awaits.

[For more on Jehan’s work and writings, click here.]