Tuesday, 07 May 2019 06:51

Diffusing Tensions in the Wake of Easter Sunday Attacks

District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs) in 15 districts across the country began working immediately after the Easter Sunday bombings to diffuse ethnic tensions and prevent a backlash against the Muslim community.

Under NPC’s project, Consolidating Ongoing Multi-level Partnership Actions for Conflict Transformation (COMPACT) funded by MISEREOR and CAFOD), DIRCs held several awareness meetings, visited government leaders, held press conferences, displayed banners, condoled with relatives of victims and planned future activities.

  • Kandy DIRC members visited high ranking police officers and government officials to discuss steps taken to ensure the security of the public. DIRC members visited churches and sympathized with victims. They conducted a press conference to urge the public not to fall prey to extremist opinions or engage in retaliatory violence.
  • Galle DIRC members met government officials to discuss steps taken to provide security and maintain the peace. They visited Christian churches to express their sympathy. DIRC members planned to conduct a press conference to highlight the need for ethnic harmony and also planned to hold a commemoration for victims of the attacks.
  • Kurunegala DIRC held a press conference and displayed banners in Kurunegala town to express their sympathies and to condemn the attack. DIRC members planned to visit community leaders and religious leaders to motivate them to intervene in reducing tensions and also planned to hold a conference on reconciliation with religious leaders.
  • Nuwara Eliya DIRC members visited Christian churches and Hindu temples to express their condolences and to listen to people’s concerns. They held a press conference to appeal to the public not to engage in violence against other communities. Members planned to visit community leaders and religious leaders to motivate them to intervene in reducing tensions and also planned to conduct a meeting with religious leaders.
  • Monaragala DIRC displayed banners to condemn the attacks and condoled with victims. They organized a meeting with police officers, civil society leaders and religious leaders to diffuse tensions. They planned to organize a press conference with the Muslim community.
  • Ratnapura DIRC members visited churches and mosques. The Moulavis expressed their sympathies to Christian priests. DIRC members met community leaders to share their concerns.
  • Anuradhapura DIRC members participated in a meeting to discuss security in the area. A lamp lighting prayer gathering was held.
  • Matara DIRC members visited Christian churches to express their sympathies and share their concerns. They also visited the Muslim community. A meeting was held with religious leaders, police officers, government officials, civil society organization and media personnel to discuss steps to reduce tensions and protect the Muslim community from any attacks. DIRC planned to organize a press conference with the participation of Muslim religious leaders.
  • Badulla DIRC members met local government leaders to discuss action taken by the police to protect religious places and the Muslim community. They planned to display banners expressing sympathy and urging people to avoid violence.
  • Batticaloa DIRC members met church leaders to express condolences. They visited the Government Agent to discuss the role of the civil society and religious leaders in reducing the tension and promoting ethnic harmony. A press conference will be held shortly.
  • Vavuniya DIRC members met the Government Agent to discuss security issues and the role of civil society. They visited places of worship and also condoled with victims. A notice will be placed in newspapers urging people to provide information to authorities.
  • Hambantota DIRC members talked to Muslim and Christian religious leaders about preventing conflict. They visited places of religious worship as well as Muslim homes. They planned to have a prayer service in a church in one month.
  • Puttalam DIRC held a press conference where religious leaders expressed their views on reducing tensions. They discussed steps to minimize the critical situation in the area. A peace protest will be organized demanding government action to punish the offenders.
  • Polonnaruwa DIRC members had a meeting with religious leaders, Sinhala and Muslim community leaders and high ranking politicians about preventing any conflict in the area. They planned to hold an awareness meeting in the near future.
  • Kegalle DIRC members visited Christian churches to express their sympathies. They planned to conduct a civil society meeting to discuss ways to ensure the security of the Muslim community and reduce tensions.