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Just Peace - A Documentary

The beginning of the end of war

When Rev. Paul "Chip" Jahn arrived in Sri Lanka in 1993, he found the streets of Columbo deserted, except for a heavily-armed military presence.  Just prior to his arrival, the president of Sri Lanka had been assassinated by rebels who controlled the area that housed the church he was supposed to visit.  Rev. Jahn’s tiny parish in Lamar, Indiana, had a long-standing relationship with a Sri Lankan church in the Jafna Diocese, and he had been asked to come witness what the ongoing war had done to the Tamil people, and to tell the world about their suffering.  Access to the Tamil region in the north of Sri Lanka had been severed by government troops, but Rev. Jahn was determined to get there. “That I was a pastor from a small church in Southern Indiana often played well.  No one was particularly interested in me,” said Rev Jahn. “I could cross from government controlled areas to Tamil controlled areas without much scrutiny,”

He wasn’t quite certain what he’d gotten into. He had planned on being home in Indiana for his son’s confirmation, but instead found himself trapped in a war zone after his boat was engaged in a deadly gun battle and the shipping lanes shut down.  After seeing first-hand the danger that the Tamil ministers faced on a daily basis, Jahn decided he needed to be willing to take risks as well. 

This unique relationship between a small-town minister and a church in a region controlled by the infamous Tamil Tigers set the stage for a personal mission to end a decades-long war that had claimed a hundred thousand lives, and displaced millions of innocent civilians.

When Chip reached out for U.S. and international support, the Tigers’ branding as a terrorist group prevented direct contact because of the “no negotiation” policies of many governments - including ours.  But as Chip convinced them that neither side in this war were the “good guys,”  and showed the possibilities for a negotiated peace, people began to listen, and become involved – although often through a veil of secrecy.  For several years Chip’s tiny church office in Lamar, Indiana fielded calls from the U.S. State Department to transmit and receive messages from the Tamil Tigers.

With the help of his team from the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of UCC, Chip's relentless engagement of American and foreign leaders succeeded in bringing international attention to the conflict. After years of dedication to the practices of Just Peacemaking, something occurred that most had thought an impossibility: A ceasefire in the brutal war, during which the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers sat together in peace negotiations.

What will you see in the film?

Chip’s journey will be depicted through video and stills he captured during the conflict, from 1993 – 2010. In addition to interviews with Chip and members of his Sri Lankan team, we will also be interviewing Dr. Glen Stassen and Susan Thistlethwaite of the Just Peacemaking Initiative. 

Also agreeing to participate in this film is former U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton.  Hamilton was a member of Congress from 1965 to 1999, and was Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission.  He served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and is currently a member of the CIA advisory board as well as the Homeland Security Advisory Board.  Hamilton was Chip Jahn’s primary ally in Washington as the peace initiative in Sri Lanka was taking place.

Another major participant in this film will be Visvanathan Rudrakumaran (Rudra), the exiled Prime Minister of the Provisional Government of Tamil Eelam.  Rudra became the default leader of the Tamils after the Tiger commander, Prubhakaran, was killed by the Sri Lankan army.  With Chip’s encouragement, he became the representative for the Tamil Eelam during the peace negotiations with the Sri Lankan government. 

President Barack Obama explicitly advocated the ten practices of Just Peacemaking during his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize.  His speechwriter has confirmed that the Just Peacemaking Initiative was the source of his information.  Obama’s foreign policy has demonstrated Just Peacemaking Theory, even as his policies are attacked by his opponents.  We are attempting to solicit President Obama’s involvement in this film also.

The dramatic story of Chip’s involvement in Sri Lanka will be framed in the context of the key points of the Just Peacemaking strategy, showing how each was systematically employed through Chip’s actions.  For the principals in this story, the gripping saga of Chip’s courageous journey is seen as secondary.  Their primary goal is to publicize the Just Peacemaking process and show how it can successfully be used in conflict resolution of every sort, from terrorism, crime and gang violence to business and economic strategy, political stalemate, even in domestic conflicts.  It is truly a universal and workable paradigm that must be publicized.

For those familiar with the Sri Lankan war, it’s no spoiler to say that negotiations didn’t lead to a final peace. It was close enough to taste. The events that led to the rapid collapse of the peace process demonstrate how the combatants' abandonment of Just Peacemaking practices caused its sudden demise. The complexities of this conflict make it a perfect framework for scrutinizing the philosophy of Just Peace. Every ongoing conflict, or potential conflict, in today’s global arena involves elements that were present in the Sri Lankan war: Government backed genocide, religious crusade, a fight for independence, war crimes committed both sides, terrorism, third-party manipulation of the warring factions, and distraction from the primary issues of the conflict by money from external sources. The lessons learned from Just Peacemaking in context of this war are universally applicable.

What is Just Peacemaking?

The existing ethical paradigms of Just War, Pacifism and Crusade have proven to be unsatisfactory in reducing and/or eliminating war and oppression.  As the danger to the world as a whole grows with each new military and political conflict, the search for a new model is crucial to our survival as a species. Just Peacemaking is a new philosophical framework for the ethics of war and conflict. 

Just Peacemaking Practices were originated by Dr. Glen Stassen. Dr. Stassen holds degrees in nuclear physics, and Christian Ethics. Just Peacemaking is not a religious paradigm. It is a pragmatic paradigm that parallels the values and morals of Christian ethics to promote transformative initiatives for peace. The practices of Just Peacemaking were used to bring about treaties to end nuclear atmospheric testing and to begin the movement toward nuclear disarmament.  Dr. Stassen has refined Just Peacemaking Theory over the years into its current form, which was recently endorsed by President Obama in his Nobel Peace Award address.

 

The Impact

Is there anything more valuable than the ability to make a difference?  In a society where it sometimes seems only the wealthy and powerful hold the reins of control, what could be more empowering than proof that a small group, or even one individual, can create positive change in the global arena?  The individual in our story is not a superman – he’s a minister from a rural town with a population of a few dozen - and the same techniques he used in Sri Lanka can be used by any of us to bring positive change to our personal relationships, our communities, businesses, and political organizations.  These are the techniques of Just Peacemaking.  This is the beginning of the end of all wars.

This is a film about empowerment.  It’s much more than just a story of one man’s empowerment – it demonstrates a path to empowerment for all of us.  As much as we all love the story of a hero, how many films show us how we can each become heroes? Through this new philosophy on conflict and peacemaking, each of us can plant the seeds of healing into situations ranging from a troubled marriage to a national political deadlock.  We’ve all heard the words, “It only takes one person to make a difference,” without being given a blueprint for action.  Here, the blueprint is demonstrated by a courageous small-town minister and his team who engage world powers in a united peacemaking effort.

Even though our story shows the impact of Just Peacemaking Theory on a long and devastating war, the paradigm isn’t confined to conflict on the global stage. This film shows how these practices can be applied to conflict at every level, from situations of domestic violence, to gang warfare, to racism, to breaking the political deadlocks that stagnate the pursuit of the American dream. It’s vital to get this message to the public. The paradigm’s proof of success not only shows that seeking an optimum solution for all can bring peace, but that the process can be initiated by anyone holding the intentions of bringing peace. It could be a major political movement, a small community or church group, or it could be one man.

Other ways to help

Whether you're in a position to financially contribute, or not, there are many important ways to be a part of this movement and help us get this film made. 

Share - Share a link to this page on all your social media.  Tell all your friends to visit this page, as well as our blog, to see why this project is so important.  

Talk about us - Get the word out.  Make some noise about peace.  We know it's important to you.  Let everyone know that there is a group that is not only talking about peace - they are creating it.  Ask them to be a part of the movement.

Thank you for being a part of The Beginning of the End of War!

 

Our Just Peace Team:

Larry Peter (Director)

Director/Cinematographer/Producer Larry Peter has been in the film industry since 1985.  His first project was a documentary on the renovation of Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, “Urban Eden.”  This film won the Gold Award at the Film Festival of the Americas.  Between 1985 and 1993 he produced national commercials for Coca Cola, Crisco, Anheuser-Busch, Yamaha, Popeyes Chicken and scores of other national and regional clients.  Also produced were documentaries on llama farming in the South and on the work of renowned artist/jewelry designer, Mignon Faget.  Larry’s work has been the recipient of dozens of ADDY and TELLY awards.

He was voted New Orleans’ Advertising Person of the Year in 2001. In 2005, following hurricane Katrina, he moved with his family to Indiana and in 2008 returned to his first love – documentary production.  Along with projects for local businesses and New Orleans clients, he produced a documentary in 2010, “The Art of Living,” currently airing to rave reviews on PBS stations, with strong DVD sales. In 2012 he produced a series of incredible oral histories of one of the oldest river towns on the Ohio, Cannelton Stories. His 2013 documentary, They Wore the Red Suit, was featured in the  Indianapolis International Film Festival, receiving audience reviews of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

Zack Ecuyer (Assistant Director, cameraman)

Zack began his career as an assistant cameraman on the documentary The Art of Living.  He was soon handling Assistant Director and cameraman duties on commercials, industrial films, and music videos.  He was the primary camera operator on They Wore the Red Suit

Zack also handles duties of audio engineer in Power Plant’s studio, producing radio commercials, jingles as well as producing independent musical artists and songwriters.  His audio expertise won him the job of post-production mixer on They Wore the Red Suit.

Production Company – Power Plant Productions (www.powerplantonline.com)

Reverend Paul “Chip” Jahn

  Paul “Chip” Jahn grew up in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis.  He married his high school sweetheart, Gayle Morley in 1975 after graduating from Southwest Missouri State University with a B.S. in Psychology.  In 1979,Chip received a Master of Divinity degree from Eden Theological Seminary and was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ. He then became pastor of St. Peter’s and Trinity United Church of Christ in Spencer County, IN. 
He began building the foundation for his peacemaking work in Sri Lanka in 1988, and spent over twenty years devoted to peacemaking initiatives in that country.  He received his Doctoral degree in 1996 with a thesis chronicling his work in Sri Lanka. From 1992 to the present Chip has served as Chairperson of the Indiana-Kentucky Conference Sri Lanka Partnership Committee.

Chip continues to serve the two churches he was first called to after ordination.  These congregations continue to be engaged in a variety of meaningful ministries.

Dr, Glen H. Stassen

  Dr. Stassen received his BA in Nuclear Physics from University of Virginia, BD from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York and his PhD from Duke University.  He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, Duke University, Columbia University, and the University of Heidelberg in Germany.
Stassen has held teaching posts at Duke University, Kentucky Southern College, Berea College, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (at SBTS for 20 years).  He is currently the Professor of Christian Ethics and the Executive Director of the Just Peacemaking Initiative at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Stassen is also contributor to Sojourners Magazine and has frequently appeared in the media, including the Los Angeles Times and The O'Reilly Factor.
Stassen has been recognized for his excellence in teaching with Fuller’s 1999 All Seminary Council Faculty Award for Outstanding Community Service to Students, as well as the Seabury Award for Excellence in Teaching at Berea College and the Weyerhaeuser Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Susan Thistlethwaite

  Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. She is also Professor of Theology at Chicago Theological Seminary and its former president between 1998 and 2008. An ordained minister of the United Church of Christ since 1974, she is the author and/or editor of numerous books, and has worked on two different translations of the bible. She writes a weekly column for the Washington Post “On Faith” online section and is a frequent media commentator on religion and public events.

Her previous works include Interfaith Just Peacemaking: Alternatives to War, edited with Glen Stassen (United States Institute of Peace, 2008); Adam, Eve and the Genome: Theology in Dialogue with the Human Genome Project (Fortress Press, 2003); Casting Stones: Prostitution and Liberation in Asia and the United States with Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock (Fortress, 1996); and The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Translation (Oxford University Press, 1995).

Thistlethwaite currently serves on the advisory Board of Trustees at the Center for American Progress, and also on the boards of Faith in Public Life, the Interfaith Youth Core, and the Medill Center for Religion in the News Media. She has a Ph.D. from Duke University, a Masters of Divinity (Summa Cum Laude) from Duke Divinity School and a B.A. from Smith College.

U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton (retired)

Lee Herbert Hamilton (born April 20, 1931) is a former member of the United States House of Representatives and currently a member of the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council. A member of the Democratic Party, Hamilton represented the 9th congressional district of Indiana from 1965 to 1999. Following his departure from Congress he has served on a number of governmental advisory boards, most notably as the vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

Lee Hamilton graduated from DePauw University in 1952, where he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, and from the Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington in 1956.

Hamilton was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat as part of the national Democratic landslide of 1964. He chaired many committees during his tenure in office, including the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Joint Committee on Printing, and others.

On March 15, 2006, Congress announced the formation of the Iraq Study Group, organized by the United States Institute of Peace, of which Hamilton is the Democratic co-chairman, along with the former Secretary of State (under President George H.W. Bush) James A. Baker III. Hamilton, like Baker, is considered a master negotiator.

Since leaving Congress, Mr. Hamilton has served as a member of the Hart-Rudman Commission, and was co-chairman of the Commission to Investigate Certain Security Issues at Los Alamos. He sits on many advisory boards, including those to the CIA, the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council, and the United States Army. Hamilton is an Advisory Board member and Co-Chair for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy. He is previously the president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and was appointed to serve as the vice chair of the 9/11 Commission. In 2000-2001, he served as the American member of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which prepared the U.N policy of Responsibility to Protect, adopted in 2005. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors of Albright Stonebridge Group.

Hamilton serves as a co-chair of the National Security Preparedness Group (NSPG) at the Bipartisan Policy Center. He also serves as an Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America.

Visvanathan Rudrakumaran

Rudrakumaran is the Prime Minister of the Provisional Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, which aims to create a separate Tamil homeland called Tamil Eelam in the island of Sri Lanka. He was the former legal advisor to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). By profession he is a lawyer in the United States. He is currently a US citizen and lives in New York.

Rudrakumaran is the son of the former Jaffna Mayor Viswanathan. He studied at Jaffna Central College and Colombo Law College.

Prior to the military defeat of the LTTE, he was the international legal advisor to the organization's supermo Velupillai Prabhakaran and in charge of its international & diplomatic affairs. Rudrakumaran made valuable contributions to the LTTE, including coordinating lawyers in the defense of Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, assisting in Suresh Manikkavasagam trial in Canada and challenging the U.S. decision to name LTTE as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 1997. He has represented the LTTE in several peace talks with the Government of Sri Lanka.

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