Many think that modern slavery and human trafficking happen only in third world countries. However, if you look beyond your closest circles, you might realise that these issues are just at your doorsteps.
In Sri Lanka, there are 250,000 workers in tea sector, and 60 percent of them are women. They are descendants of indentured servants brought from India by the British over a century ago to pluck the lucrative tea leaves.
[ePrayer – Pray for Justice and Peace in Sri Lanka]
5 years ago, Sri Lankan Government forces overwhelmed the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), ending a brutal civil war that wrought a death toll estimated at about 80,000. But the mayhem-filled final few months of the 26-year-long conflict, and its lingering violence continue to haunt the country, amid accumulating reports of human rights abuses targeting the Tamil minority. Tensions between the Tamils (Hindus by religion) and the Sinhalese (Buddhists) dominated Government date back to 1948 when the island gained independence from Britain. A separatist movement, agitating for a Tamil homeland in the north and east, began in the 1960s. An all-out war exploded in 1983. The LTTE started a violent fight against the Government. In 2009, Government forces launched a major offensive against the LTTE. The LTTE, along with about 300,000 civilians were pushed into ever-decreasing parcels of land. Conditions were dire and the UN estimates that some 40,000 civilians lost their lives. On 17 May 2009, the Government declared victory.
In recent years, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has twice urged the Government to independently and creditably investigate violations of human rights law. The Government has, however, failed to do so.This March, UNHRC resolved to request the High Commissioner for Human Rights to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged abuses of human rights by both parties in Sri Lanka at the end of the war. Sri Lanka has said that it will not cooperate with the investigation.A UN report affirmed that the Government forces shelled civilians indiscriminately during the conflict, indulged in summary executions and committed rape. Since the end of the war, there have been widespread allegations of repression, torture, and a culture of impunity. The Government has flatly rejected such charges.Opponents talk of government surveillance of telephones and emails, and of the omnipresent unmarked “white vans” suspected of being used in abductions.
There are reports of sexual violence against Tamil women detainees. The alleged perpetrators included army personnel and police officers. Available information seems to point to a systematic campaign. Most recently, a report described 40 Tamil refugees who had allegedly been tortured and raped in custody since the end of the war. Half had attempted suicide (Sri Lanka has one of the highest suicide rates in the world—every year, nearly 100,000 people try to take their own life). The perpetrators of the violence had not attempted to hide their identities, adding credence to the notion of impunity.
Underpinning all this is the Government’s continued use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which authorizes detaining people for 18 months. Meanwhile, the 2010 amendment to the constitution vastly expanded the powers of the executive. Military men occupy key administrative positions. In terms of its indicators of economic growth and health, Sri Lanka does very well. Literacy rates and immunization coverage are excellent. However, there are persistent health disparities between different regions and ethnic groups for indicators such as maternal mortality and infant nutrition. Health infrastructure in the northern and eastern provinces most affected by the conflict needs urgent restoration. [LANCET#1] [LANCET#2][HRW]
Meditation on Scriptures:
‘He will be gentle to those who are weak, and kind to those who are helpless. He will persist until he causes justice to triumph.’ Matthew 12: 20
Jesus is the protector of human rights and defender for the weak and helpless. He stands in the midst of the forces of darkness to set them free by His radiating light, and to give comfort and support to the defenseless.
Pray for for Justice and Peace in Sri Lanka:
Pray that UNHRCcan effectively expose the truths about human rights abuses in the country, let more people aware of these violations and give help to the victims;
Pray that the Sri Lankan Government will stop all violence against the innocent and peacemakers;
May God give comfort and healing to victims and grant them real peace and protection.
[ ‘SHARE’ Nov-Dec 2013 – Life Impacting Life ] CEDAR’S BLOGGER
Author> Alice Kwan, Senior Education and Promotion Officer*
When I gave birth to my first child, friends would ask, ‘What expectations do you have for your child?’
As a mother, I hope that my two sons will be Christians who care for the world.
I first stepped into CEDAR’s office twelve years ago, and the words ‘Eyes on His world’ caught my attention. To Hong Kong people who have easy access to global news and information, it seems to be no challenge for us to learn about the world, and we even think that the world revolves around us! But this is not so. Once, when I was to write about Afghanistan I realized that I knew nothing about it apart from ‘911’ and ‘Taliban’. When I participated in outside conferences, people talked about years of civil war in Sri Lanka and yet I was confused with the names of the warring parties and could hardly take in the torrent of data and information.
In order to encourage my children to have a global view, every time before a trip abroad I would sketch a simple map so they would have an idea of where their mother was going. I also find interesting newspapers reports around the world and share with them so that their world is not confined to the small screen before their eyes.
Recently I tried to talk with the children about the damage caused by the two-year old civil war in Syria. Military use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians aroused international concerns and denunciations and many nations considered sending troops to Syria. Yet, neighbouring countries warned of attacking Israel should Syria be threatened. How should I explain such complexities to my children? Who is the hero and who the villain? I could not say. Just when I was battling inside, my children prayed in their innocence, ‘Dear Father God, please protect the Syrians, they need You, please love them. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.’ Isn’t that the purpose of God willing us to set our eyes on His world? I thank my children for reminding me of this.
CEDAR’s ‘Eyes on His World’ reminds us that we are to set our eyes on Father God’s world. May we start to nurture this mentality in our children from a young age, to keep Father God’s will.
* On 15 October, Alice finished her long stint at CEDAR, she joined a new ministry with her husband and two little sons, to continue caring for the world and the poor.
[ePrayer – Pray for the school children in Sri Lanka]
Nearly one million school children – about a third of the school-age population in Sri Lanka – do not have safe sanitation, due to lack of toilets or without water supply in their schools.
’There are schools where children are advised not to drink water to avoid visits to toilets. In 13 years of schooling, children sow seeds not for education but for renal failure. … Girls are regularly discouraged from using toilets and suffer the most and are compelled to absent themselves from school during menstruation.’ said a local NGO.
A local mother said, ’My daughter is about to reach puberty. I am worried about her personal hygiene because the school, despite our complaints, has still not managed to get water supply to the toilet. …In fact, the teachers’ toilet suffers the same plight.’ [IRIN]
Pray for the school children in Sri Lanka:
May the local government cooperate with NGOs, to find out a better solution to solve the school children’s sanitation problem.
May the communities, families and children acquire enough knowledge in basic health, and have the common goal of reaching a better human health.
May the people extend their concern from merely a health issue to renewing human dignity values.
[ ‘SHARE’ Sept-Oct 2013 – Myanmar – A Beam after the War Flame ] FOCUS ~ Country Development
The Lisu pastor serving the displaced in the camp
Author: Lisa CHAI, Senior Programme Officer
Habakkuk 1: 2- 3
How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. (NIV)
For decades the Myanmar government armed forces and opposing non-state armed groups have engaged in armed conflict. The frequent occurrence and brutality of reported human rights violations by these armed forces caused us to cry out like Prophet Habakkuk. Why do the innocent suffer and perish? We ask God to intervene yet violence and abuses prevail. Over the years CEDAR has supported partners operating in conflict affected areas in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, just to name a few. I am reminded by the book of Habakkuk that in face of conflict situation, we may be perplexed yet God is continuing His work. In the midst of violence and destruction, development is possible.