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FOCUS December 2008 Volume 54

Tragedy of Finding Peace


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported on its website that "around 300 patients, accompanied by 18 ICRC staff, fled Puthukkudiyiruppu Hospital in northern Sri Lanka after it was shelled repeatedly." Neither the shelling of a hospital in time of war nor the forced stranding of thousands of civilians in a place where fighting is taking place can ever be justified.

Another human tragedy is unfolding right before the eyes of the whole world. So far, there is no ceasefire in this current Sri Lankan fighting, even for the sake of getting helpless civilians out to a safe zone. The same story has been happening in other places of armed conflict; Mindanao is an example.

Behind this tragedy, and many other armed conflict situations in Asia, is a long history of discrimination and other forms of human rights violations. In such situations, the use of violence became the means to gain justice despite the high costs in terms of loss of life and damage to property.

To obtain peace, there must be respect for human rights. To respect human rights, there must be peace. Otherwise, the undesired resort to violence remains an option for those whose rights have been trampled upon.

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