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Inter-religious Council (IRC) Sri Lanka and Thailand encourage religious leaders to build peace PDF Print E-mail

Inter-religious Council (IRC) Sri Lanka and Thailand encourage religious leaders to build peace

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 Bangkok: Research Center for Peace Building with cooperation of The World Conference Religious for Peace (WCRP), and Inter-religious Council of Sri Lanka and Thailand have organized an inter-religious conference in Bangkok Thailand during October 29 , 2009 at Tawanna Bangkok Hotel.

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There were more than 150 participants from several religious groups in Sri Lanka and Thailand shared their experiences and opinions regarding the roles and participation of religious leaders in conflict transformation and peace building.

 

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Phra Rachawarachan the President of IRC Thailand addressed that “peace and peaceful means would be achieved only under the condition that the religious people intend, dedicate, and sacrifice themselves in order to deliver preachment and develop the religious notions for the benefit of peace. We must try to avoid negative occurrences by being with our full conscience. We must take into account and aware of our scope of perception and continue to develop peace in ourselves, our education process, and our society”.

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Rev. Kiyochi Sukino the Secretary General of WCRP addressed that “IRC Sri Lanka and Thailand have shared several common principles of which both organizations emphasize on the grassroots level, and give the priority to empowering religious institutions to play the role of an important social mechanism.

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The participants agreed on the role of religious leaders to deliver positive religious aspects for the purpose of reconciliation and emphasize on the sustainable peace building. Referring to the establishment of IRC in several countries facing protracted social conflict such as Bosnia and Iraq, the religious institutions in these countries have been playing roles of conflict resolution, in which it could be a good example for IRC Sri Lanka and Thailand to learn from them.

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Theera Salukpetch the Minister of Culture of Thailand, a keynote speaker addressed that the suitable way to achieve sustainable development in Thailand would rely on the human development in accordance to the development of social mechanism, environment, and technology. The influence of capitalist system has eliminated peace culture in the country. Self-sufficient economy would be the most appropriate way to regain the self sustaining, and living condition under the norm of moral. It would not be too difficult to implement self-sufficient economy in Thailand.

 

He expects that religious institutions could once again become the pillar of intellectual notions, and social stability. The most concern regarding the southern insurgency is the mechanism to reestablish the confidence in justice and the principle of peace. The religious leaders are the hope to bring back the peace notions to people in the society.   

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Jaturon Chaisang former member of National Reconciliation Committee (NRC) addressed that, the context of conflict in the Three Southern Most Provinces of Thailand is not religious issue. However, the religious characters have been used abusively to justify the conflict.

 

The misunderstanding of religious principles and the undermining of religious diversity bring about the possible violence especially when it is presented by the inefficient in justice mechanism.

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The religious leaders have to join hands in finding the facts and evidence of inefficiency in the juridical process and deliver the precise information to the authorities in order to improve the system, and prevent the misinterpretation of information that usually leads to undermining between religions. The complication of southern insurgency is under the web of conflict, and these factors are interconnected with each other. The integrated policy is required for the state agency in order to battle with the confronted situation, and bring about peace and peaceful society.

The integrated policy could be initiated by creating the respect for the ethno-religious diversity and enhancing people participation in development and decision making process, thus the policy will include religious context and local culture.  

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Gothom Arya Director of Research Center for Peace Building, Mahidol University addressed that the conflict in the southern most provinces of Thailand and the northern provinces of Sri Lanka is basically ethnic conflict, but the religious contexts have been used to encourage people. The people who hold the different faith are unable to address the issue concretely. It is always better to let the religious leaders to talk about the issue.

 

Under the opportunity that several religious leaders are gathering together in the name of Inter-religious Council for Peace is a remarkable factor to bring about peace and prevent the violence. However, it is necessary to understand the local religious leader that they might not feel comfortable to speak out all the issues. Thus, this dialogue is difficult and requires time and serious dedication of all the IRC members.

 

 

It is too optimistic to expect an immediate result from the discussion, but we have to prove ourselves by dedicating and being patient in order to achieve the conflict resolution by peaceful means.  

 

The overall atmosphere of the conference was delightful by the interesting participants. We are pleased to be honored by Rev. Noriko Saki the president of Asset Office of Richo Kosiki represents the religious leaders for peace from Japan and Rev. Webjohn L. Horsfjotd General Secretary,European Council of Religioun Leaders to be our keynote speakers.  


FINAL COMMUNIQUE

 An Encounter of Religious Leaders from Sri Lanka and Thailand   29 October 2009 | Bangkok Thailand   

 

About 120 senior religious leaders and others representing Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and other traditions from Sri Lanka and Thailand gathered in Bangkok on the 29 October 2009 to present their unique initiatives in building an inter-religious instrument for high-level advocacy and action to resolve conflict and advance peace.   

 

As majority Theravada Buddhist countries, both Sri Lanka and Thailand are endeavoring to overcome challenges arising from social political situations and other tensions.  To address such challenges and to advance national unity, fostering mutual trust and cultivating a habit of common action among different ethnic and religious communities are urgent.  Religious leaders and their communities have an important role to play in this process.        

 

The encounter between Sri Lankan and Thai religious leaders was organized by the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP/Religions for Peace), the world’s largest multi-religious organization accredited with the United Nations and headquartered in New York.  Religions for Peace has facilitated the building of mechanisms for multi-religious cooperation for peace called “Inter-religious Councils (IRCs)” in many countries affected by conflict.  Such an IRC led by senior representatives of religious communities serves as the multi-religious voice of the country, offering the possibility of mediation, rejecting extremist tendencies, and educating the public on the positive, socially transformative power of religions and their close collaboration.

 

The Sri Lankan delegation represents the IRC Sri Lanka and the local host is the IRC-Thailand. So today meeting is in fact the first encounter of IRC-Sri Lanka and IRC-Thailand augures well for the cooperation of the two IRCs in their efforts bring peace through religions in their respective countries.

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Research Center for Peace Building (Old) Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University
999 Puthamonthon 4th Road, Salaya, Puthamonthon, Nakornpathom 73170 Thailand
Tel: +662 849 6072-5 Fax: +662 849 6075
Email: pewww@mahidol.ac.th