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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1916

Sunday Celebrity: David Selvaraj works to transform conflict into peace

By Gopal Ethiraj

Bangalore, 14 June, (Asiantribune.com): Here is an ambassador of peace, civil rights. He is leading a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), creating awareness on civil rights, sensitivity and democracy, et al. He mostly hops between and Myanmar and India, trying to convert conflict into peace. His work is among the global youth. His name is David Selvaraj, a personality with undaunting spirit, based in Bangalore.

A human rights scholar-activist David Selvaraj, makes the voice for freedom for Aung San Suu Kyi echo right in Bangalore, heard everywhere.

Recently, five Myanmarese students completed a course on ‘Conflict and Peace’ at the School of Peace, which is part of his NGO Visthar , at Bangalore. Visthar is a secular non profit organization committed to a process of enabling people achieve the full realization of their rights as human beings a process of attaining and sustaining equitable and dignified ways of living, Selvaraj says and adds “We are simultaneously involved in academic and non-formal courses and community centered advocacy.”

The Founder Selvaraj says: "We look at transforming conflict into peace. Students learn issues relating to conflict, peace and justice. They've had conceptual training on conflict scenarios and should be able to train others in Myanmar." They will now work with civil society groups back home to establish democracy, he said talking to the Asian Tribune.

Selvaraj will soon join the students and other peace groups in Myanmar to help displaced people. "Our focus is largely humanitarian. There are many people displaced within Myanmar. There are refugees in India too, mostly Mizoram. We try to create awareness on rights, sensitivity and democracy."

Getting a visa to the military- run Myanmar is not easy. "There were questions about my earlier visit. The seminary that helped me has taken a risk. It's not easy to get in there."

Selvaraj conducted a week-long course on gender and rights on his earlier visit. "Such courses are risky, considering the military regime. Yangon is relatively more fortified. The army is everywhere, but rural Myanmar is less affected."

The Myanmarese government has `worked out' the students, he says. The institutions/colleges are far in between. "They've set up colleges at fairly large distances from each other. They don't want students to come together. That's why you'll find students even in remote places."

Selvaraj conducts two different courses broadly on Social Justice, Peace and Development for the university students of USA cum Minnisotta and for Asian students coming from conflict zone—Nepal, Myanmar, Loas, Cambodia. The School of Peace focuses on the conflict American centered view to golabal citizen.

When asked why not include Sri Lanka which is limping back to normalcy after prolonged war situation, Selvaraj said that would be his next task.

His institution is accredited with the universities of USA and Minnisotta and also with the TATA Institute of Social Science in Mumbai and the Xavier Institute of Social Sciences, Ranchi

Talking to the Asian Tribune, David Selvaraj said his work is not connected with the state organizations, but civil society organizations, and he is working the way up to see how these could influence their respective governments. In short, his mission is training and capacity-building of civil society organizations.

Selvaraj is also conducting four courses connected with Globalisation and Ethical Development; Environment, Ecology and Living way; Identities, Resistance and Liberalisation.

He aims to build global citizenship, a plural society which helps understand to live with differences.

- Asian Tribune -

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