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The White Bird of Peace Fled Far Away

Fires of war burn
Everywhere in the world
The White Bird of Peace
Has fled far away
Why torture the mothers
By taking their sons to the land of death?
Why have mothers, who gave love and care,
Been made to cry by torturing their sons to death?
Pearl-like little brothers
Now we little ones are lost
The world beautiful once
Disappeared before us
Love and kindness
Fled away
In human hearts and minds,
Hatred and a desire for revenge arose
Please allow us to be;
Please allow us little ones to be
By doing wrong things again,
Do not destroy the world
That once was beautiful

Malushika Sandeepani Perera
Grade 6

Give Us Protection

Who do we belong to? who do we belong to?
Who do we belong to? who do we belong to?
Kindly find for us documents,
If there are any documents,
Showing in which land we were born
Where is my mother?
Where is my father?
Where is my friend?
Why alone
Am I now?

We do not have our parent’s love
Please give us protection
If you do,
May merits shower on you
Until your death

Grade 3

Such a Mountain of Sorrow

In the middle of the night yesterday,
I saw my father in a dream
Keeping my head on his lap,
Slowly he stroking my head

Opening my eyes, I looked around,
But alas, it was only a dream
I felt so sad
I sobbed and wept

Ghosts came one night
And took away my father,
And he was never seen again,
Says my mother often

Such a mountain of fire
Should not fall on anyone
Let no one in the world
Lose their father

Let us all get together
Let us also tell our big people
To be united
Let us protect our right to life

W. Chula Vimukthini Perera
Grade 6

Separation of a Father

Though the Asela moon had risen that night,
Though the Amawaka moon peeped through at times,
On a night little stars felt fear,
The world was consumed in a dark sin

Though the moon did not visit my house,
The joy did fill the house
Placing a fire barrel on my chest,
A hangman took that joy in his hand

The only comfort I had in the world
Why did you enemies take my heavenly joy?
The service done to the country is not little
Why such raw sorrow given to a family with children?

You shot and killed me before my time
Why did you destroy my bird’s cage?
The services I had done were not considered
I was sent out of the world abruptly

I now live sadly in heaven
Why was I not allowed to live?
I cannot understand why people are so cruel
When will I meet you again, my son?

Though I am separated from my son’s world,
I see my golden little son in dreams
If peace descend on a future date,
I will willingly be born in my country again

If reborn one day, let us unite
And spread peace with kind feelings in the mind
Let us not separate again
The tragedy that fell on us should not fall on others

Buddhika Gayani Ranaweera
Grade 12

Is My Son Also Sleeping under the Mara Tree?

My little son,
I can wait
Till I am tired, seated at the doorstep of the house
Inside the lonely mind,
Kiri kokku (white storks) are crying
Come back home again,
My little son
It is to erase the tears of the leaking roof
Of the wattle and daub home from which the son flew
Who there, anne (Oh, my goodness), told my son
To break mahamera (heaven’s) walls?

In the midst of fires,
The irony I do not feel in the world
Of the milk pot that moved in the river
Is my son also sleeping
Under the mara tree?

Warm tears fill both my eyes
Now, son, who am I to feed
The warm rice cooked on the three cooking stones?
Come, even in a dream,
And wave your hand
I still have more tears in my eyes
To shed

W. P. Ruwani Wanniarrhchi
Grade 10

Tearful Poems of a Mother

The day your were conceived in my womb as my first
A thousand flowers bloomed in my mind, my son
The first day your milk-mixed eyes saw the world
In my mind the Poson full moon appeared

When with childish smiles you were walking in front of
the house
And in my warmth you curdled and dived into the dream
There was no one so fortunate as myself on the earth
Hundreds and thousands of times my mind murmured in

My son grew in intelligence and good habits
Who did not see my golden son’s value?
Though not rough and hard, you, my son, appeared a
Who then didn’t see my son’s value?

As the Asala moon was rising, murderers entered my
Despite thousands of pleas to the heart, away they
took my son
Hearing the fire of the gun’s barrel, my mind went far
To which world was my golden son taken away?

W. M. Gayathri Priyakari Gunasekara
Grade 12

Let Us Make Peace Reign Every Day

May calm and cool as then spread on all areas
The virtues overflow of Buddha the father who is
The moon which had absorbed these rays is appearing
Today is the Asela full moon Poya Day

With two nelum flowers in both hands,
Disciplining the heart and concentrating the mind of
dhamma (doctrine),
The virtuous monk went forward to the Lord
A van came suddenly and stopped far away

A group of people took away the monk at once
The sweet smell of the dhamma that was spread left
that moment
Colossal rains fell immediately, surprisingly
The noise of lighting was heard from all sides

The monk was taken to his death
The body of the monk was found by the roadside
The people who did this do they have hearts?
The voice expressing the monk’s fear of death is heard
even now at the roadside

In a world of thick darkness full of sorrow and
Let us make peace reign every day
Let us live without fighting and killing
Let us protect the right to life every day

Ohshani Nilushika Mendis
Grade 10

Introduction by Basil Fernando

Asian Human Rights Commission | Tel: +(852)-2698-6339
Unit D,7 Floor,16 Argyle Street,| Fax:
Mongkok Commercial Centre, | E-mail:
Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR | Web:

A Suitable Message for Children’s Day, Nov. 20, 2001

November 20 is Universal Children’s Day. Generally, it is a day where there is an outpouring of rhetoric. This may be a way of covering up commissions and omissions against children throughout the year. The rights of most children in the world is not part of this discussion, however. The children who can afford to have comfortable lives and dream of butterflies and golden fairies have their rights observed anyway whether there is any discussion about children’s rights or not. How about the scavenger’s child in the Indian caste ghetto though who may be dreaming about shit all night as that is what she or he sees their parents carry all day? How about those who experience hunger and also see the hunger of their sisters,
brothers and parents? How about the children whose father or mother is extrajudicially executed? Do they also dream of butterflies and golden fairies?

In Sri Lanka too, discussion about child rights is a good field in which much rhetoric is sown. The children of the disappeared, of dead soldiers orrebels, of refugees, of malnourished children, of plantation workers, hardly get any mention. Inaddition to this neglect, there is also the talk of government ministers and bureaucrats about the responsibility of families to realise the rights of their children, thus, washing the hands of the State from their responsibilities for the nation’s children. What families though do the refugees and others
mentioned above have to rely on? How do the children of unemployed parents guarantee their children’s rights? Even those who are employed, how many have a salary that can provide them more than their minimum survival requirements? The simple question then
arises: Are children’s rights only affluent children’s rights?

To avoid mere rhetoric, it may be better to let children themselves speak, not prepared speeches to suit the occasion, but an outpouring of the heart which expresses their real experiences. We reproduce here translations by Basil Fernando of seven poems from a collection of 83 Singhalese poems of children from Grades 3 to 12 from the anthology Kadulu Mathakayen Obbata, or Beyond the Memory of Tears. The collection is a selection from a large number of poems sent to the poetry competition that is held to commemorate disappearances in Sri Lanka, an annual event organised by Kalape Api and the Asian Human
Rights Commission (AHRC) on Oct. 27 at the Monument for the Disappeared at Raddoluwa Junction in Seeduwa. These poems were written for the occasion in 2000.

Poems show children in a different light. They see dreams about their lost father; they keep the memory of the monk who was killed; they try to understand the feelings of the mother whose child was killed; they speak of their pearl-like little bothers who are no more. The loss of their little worlds is a common theme. However, these children are compassionate unlike the political leaders of the country. When these children speak, their words are opposed to hatred and a desire for revenge. They are perplexed by violence and ask why such cruelty is taking place. They do not ask for the moon, but they do want the moonlight of the Poya Day; they want respect for human life.

These beautiful poems come from children who carry a lot of pain in their hearts, but they carry their pain with compassionate hearts. One poem ends with the lines “I still have more tears in my eyes / To shed.” This year let us not have a lot of speeches on Children’s Day. Let us listen to these pearl-like poems.

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