Saturday, 20 October 2018 04:01

Religions to Reconcile

In 2010, NPC set up eight District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs) to address an increase in inter religious and inter ethnic disharmony at the end of the war. Through a project entitled Religions to Reconcile, NPC is continuing its work with new members of six existing DIRCs and two DIRCs established specifically through the project in the Northern Province.

The project is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Government’s development agency, and is being implemented in partnership with Generations for Peace (GFP), an international peace building organization based in Amman, Jordan. GFP specializes in peace building and conflict transformation training and will assist NPC in building and establishing a cadre of peace delegates to support future project activities.

The UN Peace Building Fund, under its Gender and Youth Promotion Initiative (GYPI), has awarded a grant to NPC for a project to promote gender-responsive and youth-inclusive peace building in Sri Lanka.

The project, Youth and Transitional Justice for Long-lasting peace in Sri Lanka, will run until May 2019 in collaboration with the implementing partners, Legal Action Worldwide, Harvard International Human Rights Clinic, the Universities of Sri Lanka.

The Accountability Through Community Engagement and Initiatives for Transition (ACE–IT) project began in February 2018 and has three objectives: to mobilise civil society to utilise available mechanisms, new and existing, to hold the state accountable and vindicate the victim rights; to have orient targeted state institutions and actors in ethos for change; and to advocate for continued state action on accountability. 

The project is being implemented in 11 districts of Gampaha, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Moneragala, Badulla, Nuwara Eliya, Jaffna, Mannar, Batticaloa and Trincomalee over 30 months in partnership with Right to Life Human Rights Centre.

Despite the end Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war, the underlying causes of tension have not been addressed. While seen mainly as a conflict between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils, religion has also been used by politicians and others with vested interests to stoke up communal fears and create insecurity and mistrust.

The latest target of radical Buddhist priests and hard-line Sinhala Buddhists has been the Muslim community, which is being subject to violent attacks on people and property, including mosques. In many instances, the police have stood by and watched instead of protecting the victims, in response to orders from high level government officials. In addition, allegations of conversions by Christian groups have led to violence at the local level against small Christian churches. Again, police failed to act because local people were in support of the attacks.

The Initiating Multi Level Partnership Action for Conflict Transformation (IMPACT) project builds on the EU and SPICE/USAID supported project Reconciling Inter Religious Differences (RIID), which operated from 2010 to 2016. It is expanding the target groups beyond the religious clergy to reach out to influential civil society groups such as academics, entrepreneurs and provincial media. IMPACT, which began in 2015, is funded by MISEREOR and CAFOD.

The project directly targets university academics, journalists, professionals, members of civil society organizations (CSOs) and national level religious leaders and district level religious leaders, the communities that they serve, members of the public and youth.

In collaboration with Legal Action Worldwide (LAW) NPC is implementing a project called Technical Assistance to Justice Institutions in Sri Lanka.

The overall objective of the project is to contribute to an effective transitional justice process through the provision of tailored technical assistance and capacity building to key institutions and actors using a beneficiary-led approach.

Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts, where Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims live side by side in many areas, have been identified as potential hot spots for ethnic and religious conflict. There is higher possibility that these tensions could erupt with proposed government reforms such as truth and reconciliation mechanisms and constitutional reforms including power sharing.

NPC’s project, Inter-faith and Inter-ethnic Dialogue in Sri Lanka, is supporting inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue to reduce ethno-religious tensions and ensure that national reconciliation processes and policies take account of ethnic and religious viewpoints. Religious leaders in the Trincomalee and Batticaloa Districts are being empowered to better understand and contribute to policy advocacy at the local and national level.

Sunday, 05 July 2015 15:31

Strengthening Survivors of Torture

Incidents of torture are widespread and recurrent in Sri Lanka despite there being constitutional protection against it and the adoption of the International Convention against Torture. The Government of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report contains key provisions related to combatting torture at all levels. However, these provisions are yet to be implemented in Police stations and Army camps around the country.

NPC commenced work on a EU-funded project to strengthen survivors of torture by promoting accountability and preventing torture. Asian Justice and Rights (AJAR), an NGO based in Indonesia, selected NPC to be its partner in Sri Lanka, together with partners in Myanmar, Aceh and Timor-Leste. NPC is implementing the two year project with selected local partners who specialise in the field of supporting torture victims.

Sunday, 05 July 2015 15:31

Healing the Wounds of War

Although they make up over half of the population and live in the country that elected the world’s first woman prime minister, women in Sri Lanka are poorly represented at the top of the decision making process. While often bearing the brunt of the country’s 30-year civil war, they are not consulted in post conflictpeace building activity.

In order to bring women’s perspectives into the national reconciliation process, NPC is implementing “Post-Conflict Healing: A Women’s Manifesto” with funding from FOKUS Women. FOKUS consists of 74 women's organizations from Norway that share a vision of women united to change the world, in which women's organizations form the basis for egalitarian societies free from oppression.

Sunday, 05 July 2015 15:31

Reconciliation Through Writing

Write to Reconcile, a fiction writing project supported by NPC in conjunction with the internationally renowned Sri Lankan author Shyam Selvadurai, went into its second year after a successful first year.

The project brought together 24 emerging Sri Lankan writers who were interested in writing fiction, memoir or poetry in English on the issues of conflict, peace, reconciliation, memory and trauma, as they related to the civil war and the postwar period.