Tuesday, 10 July 2018 06:55

DIRCs Coordinate with Government Authorities to Prevent Violence

Two meetings were held in the Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts under NPC’s project, Inter-faith and Inter-ethnic dialogue in Sri Lanka, for DIRC members, local politicians, police officers and government officials to discuss common concerns and issues causing religious and ethnic tension in the areas.

DIRC members shared their experiences of early warning and early response mechanisms, which led to an exchange of ideas and opinions. A total of 168 participants attended the meetings.

Since government officials and local politicians were responsible for maintaining law and order and protecting civilians, NPC recommended that DIRC members liaised with the relevant authorities to solve identified issues.

In the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts, where the three major ethnic groups - Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims - lived in close proximity, there was a high risk of ethnic and religious conflicts, which occur both within and among communities. While inter community tension arises due to issues relating to religious beliefs, cultures and tradition, intra community conflict occurs due land issues, sharing of resources, political affiliation and employment opportunities.

Batticaloa District Secretary Mr. M. Uthayakumar welcomed DIRC’s attempts to bring religious harmony to the district and pledged his full support for its activities.

Three main issues were identified as potentially dangerous - land disputes over illegal ownership and encroachment, repaying micro finance loans given by finance companies and high alcohol and drug use resulting in domestic violence, school dropout, poverty and robbery.

Trincomalee Additional District Secretary Mr. N. Pratheepan stressed the importance of DIRC’s efforts in the reconciliation process and pledged his support for its activities.

The main issues identified in the Trincomalee district were missing persons and what the Office of Missing Persons could do for victims, Transitional Justice education for students and how to support the police to reduce ethnic and religious tension.

Among the recommendations put forward during the meetings were that DIRCs should work jointly with other committees such as District Reconciliation Committees and Mediation Boards, invite the committees to DIRC monthly meetings, refer certain issues to relevant authorities and train newly elected local government representative on conflict sensitivity.