Speech on International Day of Peace

The Chairman of this event Mr Sameer yoonus, The chief Guest, Guest of Honors, Excellencies and Distinguished Guests from Sri Lanka, India, Maldives and Australia.

Ladies and Gentlemen, friends,

A very good Evening to all of you!

It gives me great pleasure indeed to welcome you on behalf of myself and my colleagues, and to express our deep gratitude for your presence here today, for without and support this could not have occurred.

I’m so delighted and grateful that we have all gathered to commemorate the International Day of Peace day 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. I would like to thank the team of Centre for Peace Studies, for their diligent promotion of peace all year long, and for their partnership in organizing this special event each year for Peace Day. My warm thanks to visiting dignitaries from Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, United Kingdom and Australia, who have journeyed far to be with us today. Finally, I thank each of you for joining us to commemorate International Day of Peace.

The theme for today’s celebration is “My Quest for peace in Sri Lanka,” and the UN celebrating under the theme of “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for all. We are a country with a long history where we saw the reign of 182 kings who ruled with pride and honor for that extended more than 2,500 years. This is a country where kings such as Dutugemunu, Valagamba, Dhatusena and Vijayabahu defeated enemy invasions and ensured our freedom.

The LTTE began the march to own half of this country, having assassinated the Mayor of Jaffna in 1975, and I was born in the same year in the east, Kalmunai.

Even the powerful countries of the world showed fear before the terrorists; some countries were shaken and went on their knees in the face of terror.

Our people began to face a defeatist mentality, whether we could face up to a problem that many countries in the world the world did not seem able to face. Terrorism is like a venomous serpent that draws the most dangerous qualities from politics, economics, science and all subjects in the world.

I express my heartfelt condolence to the death of innocent people killed by a gun man in Las vegas in the United States on Sunday 01st of October.

The killing fields are still too many, the causalities and suffering seem endless, most recently in Burma’s Rohingya Muslims. We Sri Lankans have suffered in a culture of war and violence.

Why the western world considering the Muslims as terrorists?

One of the German Muslim scholar replies on TERRORISM. I liked the answer of this German Muslim scholar when he was asked about terrorism and Islam. He said.

"Who started the first world war? Not Muslims!! Who started the Second World War? Not Muslims!! Who killed about 20 millions of Aborigines in Australia? Not Muslims!! Who sent the nuclear bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Not Muslims!! Who killed more than 100 millions of Indians in North America? Not Muslims!! Who killed more than 50 million of Indians in South America? Not Muslims!! Who took about 180 millions of African people as slaves and 88% of them died and were thrown overboard into Atlantic Ocean? Not Muslims!! No, NOT Muslims!!

First of all, you will have to define terrorism properly. If a non-Muslim does something bad, it is crime. But, if a Muslim commits the same, he is a Terrorist. So first remove these double standards.

The challenge for us will be to prevent the human mind from becoming consumed by ignorance, fear, violence, fratricide and intolerance. We have seen in the past century, or even in the first years of the new century alone, what these can do to undermine the progress of the human race.

We have seen war, intra-state conflicts, endemic violence and social strife. We have seen ignorance and fear erode our values.

We have seen worst forms of intolerance in racism and xenophobia. We have seen widespread deprivation, conflict over scarce resources and suppression of human rights.

The observance of the International Day of Peace provides a valuable opportunity for us to assess our progress in the peace, and to resolve to do more. It reminds us that in our current day and age of immense scientific progress and global development, peace is still a fragile dove. It reminds us that our precious dove still needs much more care and protection. And it reminds us that conflicts can only be solved in a sustainable manner if we address root causes, and that these root causes often relate to unfairness, injustice, poverty and inequality, disempowerment, disrespect, and a “me and mine” attitude rather than a “we and our” mindset.

Today’s observation of the International Day of Peace is very special because it unites Sri Lanka with many South Asian and European Countries. I spent most of my professional life working for the Peace through Centre for Peace Studies, so it means a great deal to me personally. Each country in this region was built on ancient civilizations, inspired by the world’s great religions and philosophies that remind us that peace begins at home, in the recesses of our hearts.

Peace Ambassador Project

The Peace Ambassadors project has been a flagship project of the Centre for Peace Studies (CPS). As such, it was first defined by the CPS. It was carried out to promote and support the role of people in peace‐building activities that contribute to living together in dignity and dialogue.

CPS firmly believes that Peacebuilding in the world is not an easy target to achieve through the agreements or negotiation without the contribution of the people. It’s the prime duty of each and every individual. Every Sri Lankan should become Peace Ambassadors to create a peaceful world in collaboration with International community.

The Peace Ambassadors are people from across the world, active in civil society organizations and projects. Participants have been chosen due to their motivation to build a better world where a different peace is possible.

During the project, they learn about peace and human rights, they develop local projects for peace, and they advocate for human rights and dignity. Participants are also committed multipliers involved in an organization or network, institution and/or informal group. They thus act as ambassadors for the values of human rights, peace, and intercultural dialogue, and they will also bring these values to youth work and to youth initiatives in their communities.

The conflict situations addressed by the participants are those where communities are experiencing or recovering from armed conflict, frozen conflicts, racism and aggressive nationalism and hate speech. Discrimination and human rights violations experienced by communities or young migrants and internally displaced people are also covered by the project.

With such a wealth of wisdom and commitment to peace represented in this room today, we are well placed to raise the bar in our peace endeavors, and to imagine better ways to achieve deeper, lasting peace. We are also well placed to infuse our lessons learned into the global multilateral arena. After all, the tectonic plates of geopolitical power are shifting, and many say the shift is back to Asia. An Asian 21st century is a wonderful prospect indeed, but only if it makes for a better century than the ones that preceded it. And, I personally believe, that a better Asian Century can only be realized if Asian countries infuse their domestic, regional and global interactions with the values of peace, fairness and human dignity.

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if the Asian 21st Century came to be known as the century of deep and lasting global peace! There is no good reason why this cannot be. All the resources for a peaceful Asian 21st Century are at our disposal. The only real obstacle is our old and narrow habits of thinking and response. In closing, let us all resolve to be better students in the school of peace, so that our homes and neighborhoods, our countries, and our 21st century can radiate peace.

I wish you all a very meaningful and inspiring International Day of Peace!

Thank you very much.