01: As part of its peace-building program, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide assistance to create the Center for Peace-Building and Reconciliation.
CPBR will serve as a language and IT resource center to train 400 Buddhist monks in English and Tamil languages as well as in peace-building techniques. The project is meant to make better use of Buddhist ethical principles (non violence) in an attempt to find solutions to the conflict with minority Tamil groups in Sri Lanka. It will be both a place for training and a forum for discussions. Some Buddhist monks agree with the need for knowledge of computers as well as languages: the language barrier (lack of knowledge of the Tamil language by the Sinhalese) has tended to keep communities apart, they say.
On their side, US diplomats have identified monks as “natural peace brokers.” Researchers such as Iselin Frydenlund (The Sangha and Its Relation to the Peace Process in Sri Lanka, Oslo, International Peace Research Institute, 2005) had emphasized the lack of attention paid by some Western diplomats to the role of monks in recent attempts to find peaceful solutions on the island, where monks have for long been respected advisors.
(Source: Asian Tribune, July 25; Ministry of Defense, Public Security, Law and Order; http://www.defence.lk)
— By Jean-Francois Mayer