In the aftermath of the thirty year war against Tamil separatism in 2009 and the Easter bombing by suicide bombers from the Muslim community who were influenced by international Islamic ideologies in 2019, the containment of extremist ethnic and religious minority influence has become an important part of state policy. There has been a rise in insecurity amongst the ethnic and religious majority population. However, the lack of minority representation in the new and ad hoc institutions of governance can itself be a cause for disaffection that the government intends to contain. If sections of the people feel that they are not being included in decision making, and that decisions being made exclude them, there can grow an alienation of heart and mind that cannot be stopped by more security measures and more intelligence gathering alone.
It is in this political context that land is being transferred from minority usage to be used to protect ancient archaeological sites. The National Peace Council is concerned about potential flashpoints such as in Pottuvil, in the Ampara district, where the dispute over the Muhudu Maha Vihara temple land could increase in intensity as it has the potential to lead to the displacement of Muslim communities living in the contested areas. We believe that if the presidential task force has been appointed for the purpose of problem solving in the Eastern province, then it needs to have more non-partisan professional Muslim and Tamil representation, and in more than token numbers, if its recommendations are to be seen as based on objective truth and unbiased. Failure to do so will be seen by the affected minority communities that this is another ethnic nationalist agenda thereby creating another flashpoint further damaging inter-ethnic relationships.
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.