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.
Providing inclusive service delivery is necessary to ensure the quality of the public service sector. Discrimination in the service sector based on gender, ethnicity, language or any other factor can hamper strengthening social cohesion and reconciliation.
District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs) conducted several actualisation activities promoting the message of pluralism to support the peacebuilding and reconciliation process for selected target groups under NPC’s Plural Action for Conflict Transformation (PACT) project. Anuradhapura DIRC organized a Deepavali celebration at a kovil for children to experience the traditions associated with the festival. The Chief Priest explained the practices of Hinduism to the children.
GOVERNMENT COMMENCES ENGAGEMENT WITH CIVIL SOCIETY ON PTA REFORM
The Ministerial Subcommittee on amending the Prevention of Terrorism Act met with members of the Sri Lankan Collective for Consensus (SLCC) on to discuss the current state of their proposals. SLCC consists of individuals drawn from civil society organisations that have reconciliation, human rights and peace building aims in their work.
NPC’s Collective Engagement for Religious Freedom (CERF) project conducted a programme to share lessons and values of living peacefully in a small village named Sigram in Batticaloa, which has a multi religious and multi ethnic background. The village was selected considering the unity and harmony among the villagers who are from different ethnic, social and religious communities. The programme was conducted to explore their experiences while sharing their way of living peacefully.
A series of debating competitions, Yarl Wageesara 2021, was organized by University of Jaffna under NPC's Creative Youth Engagement of Pluralism project. There were first rounds, quarter finals and semi finals. Before the contest, training programmes were conducted on pluralism and debate practices for the participants. There were 23 teams representing different faculties and different years.
Under the project Technical Assistance to Justice Institutions in Sri Lanka funded by Legal Action Worldwide (LAW), eight training programmes on prevention of hate speech were conducted for government officers, religious leaders and local government authorities in Monaragala, Polonnaruwa, Badulla, Kandy, Kurunegala and Kegalle. The resource persons were master trainers who have been trained by NPC.