District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs) in all districts condemned the brutal killing of Sri Lankan Factory Manager Priyantha Kumara in Pakistan and religious extremism and organized activities to counter hate speech.
NPC held six training sessions to capacitate District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs) and Local Inter Religious Committees (LIRCs) on Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) using resource people and civil society members. A total 201 DIRC and LIRC members participated in the Mannar, Vavuniya, Ampara, Batticaloa, Kandy and Kurunegala Districts under NPC’s project Prevention of Violent Extremism - Capacity Building in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
NPC’s Social Cohesion and Reconciliation Activity (SCORE) conducted training sessions for government officers and local government authority representatives to eliminate discrimination in the delivery of government services to the public in Batticaloa, Mullaitivu, Jaffna, Kandy and Trincomalee.
Four orientation meetings were held for the Local Inter Religious Committee (LIRC) members in Beruwala, Negombo, Akurana and Weligama under NPC’s project Action for Religious Coexistence (ARC).
NPC conducted a session with university academics to develop a certificate course to promote the concept of pluralism among government officers through its Freedom House funded project Sustainable Peace through Pluralism and Inclusive Service Delivery.
Under NPC’s Technical Assistance to Justice Institutions in Sri Lanka project, 100,000 face masks were distributed in 25 districts to people facing economic hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic with the message “No hate speech”. The masks served the dual purpose of reducing the chances of infection and carrying the message that hate speech should be prevented. They were distributed to government officers and to children in rural schools in collaboration of District Coordinators of the project and members of the Local Inter Religious Committee and District Inter Religious Committee.
Ideally speaking governmental decision making needs to be pluralistic on both symbolic and substantive matters of importance to the minority communities. More often than not this has not been the case due to the structures of the state failing to discourage ethnic majoritarianism whether at the central level or provincial level. There is the need for a new understanding of democracy as being a consultative process with all of the citizenry and not just with the majority who have voted the government to power. It is this unresolved problem that has made the minorities question their status in the country which needs to be resolved early for the progress of the country.
In the recent years, tension among religious groups has risen considerably. The lack of knowledge and misconceptions about other faiths have caused mistrust and fractured relations among religious groups. Identifying and addressing existing issues are important in preventing escalation into a deep rooted conflict. Local Inter Religious Committee (LIRC) members have a responsibility to address these issues to strengthen religious harmony. Under NPC’s Collective Engagement for Religious Freedom (CERF) project, Mannar and Rakwana LIRCs took initiatives to mitigate ethnic tension in their communities.
Under NPC’s project Technical Assistance to Justice Institutions in Sri Lanka funded by Legal Action Worldwide (LAW), Training of Trainers on prevention of hate speech was conducted for district coordinators and master trainers from 12 districts.