Tuesday, 10 May 2022 09:51

Engaging Youth in Peace Building and Preventing Hate Speech

Two youth friendship camps called Youth Peace Park were conducted in Monaragala and Galle under NPC’s Plural Action for Conflict Transformation (PACT) project. They were part of a series of activities targeting youth including workshops on countering false narratives and hate speech and effective use of social media and friendship camps.

Today's youth are more interested in issues relating to good governance, democracy and financial corruption than ever before. Racism and religious extremism are rejected by them. They play a major role in building peace and reconciliation.

Events at the camps included sports and arts towards building reconciliation and discussions on democracy, good governance and inclusion as well as a cultural event featuring a variety of performances.

The youth who participated in the camps initiated a social media campaign to condemn hate speech and false statements. They also created different peace messages for building reconciliation. These were uploaded on their Facebook page along with the hashtag #YouthPeaceParkLK, which was created under the PACT project.

"We are eight young people with disabilities who attended the camp and we were anxious because this is the first time we had attended a camp with young people with no disabilities. We thought we could not interact with young people who were not disabled and that they would not accept us. But they behaved well and helped us to participate in the games," a participant said.

"Four others and I came from Batticaloa. We cannot speak Sinhala. We thought the Sinhalese would not care about us but that did not happen. I met a Sinhalese friend. My Sinhala friend had to learn 10 Tamil words from me and I had to learn 10 Sinhala words from her. Language was not a big obstacle to our relationship. We are organizing a camp in Batticaloa with Sinhalese youth with the support of NPC," a participant said.