Participants learnt about the actors and drivers of extremism, push and pull factors, the context of post independence politics, JVP insurrections, Tamil minority alienation, Easter Sunday attacks and planning for PVE intervention activity.
During group activities, participants identified the issues polarising different religious and ethnic communities including drug use, unemployment, social media narratives, child abuse, land encroachment and the cost of living.
Participants recommended activities to counter these issues such as video campaigns on social media and information sessions.
“Young people are the backbone of society. They have the power to change the future but they did not realise it. With the right education and awareness, young people can be saved from taking the wrong path. These programmes make a contribution to that. As young leaders, we have a responsibility to work to prevent violent extremism. The knowledge we gained can be passed on to our other members,” said Kavidu Perera from the Kandy District.
“Ethnic and religious conflicts in society are created based on political factors that have turned religion and nationality into weapons to create violence. As young people, we can make a positive contribution to build a counter narrative to prevent violent extremism, especially through the use of social media,” said Mohamed Azwer from the Vavuniya District.