The hartal that took place in the North and East earlier in the week was barely noticed in the rest of the country even though it led to the shutdown of public and commercial life in that part of the country. The hartal was called by a collective of political parties and civil society groups to protest against both the proposed Anti-Terrorism legislation (ATA) and religious and cultural discrimination that is taking place in the North and East. The ATA has met with strong criticism and condemnation from a wide cross section of national level political parties and organisations, including trade unions and the Bar Association. The protest in the North and East is evidence of the nationwide rejection of the government’s proposed legislation. It is indicative of the commonality of the underlying concerns of the people irrespective of region, ethnicity or religion.

On the other hand, lack of awareness in the rest of the country of the protests in the North and East is an indication of alienation and distancing between the different parts of the country. The concern there is vandalisation of Hindu religious sites of both archaeological and religious significance by unknown groups. At the same time, some of those sites have had Buddhist religious constructions erected in them despite court orders prohibiting such constructions. This asymmetry of treatment is compounded by the refusal by the Archaeology Department to permit Hindus to worship at ancient religious sites on the grounds that they are archaeological remains while not restraining Buddhist worship at similar archaeological remains, such as at Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

The reasonable demand of those who have supported the hartal is that the government should identify and apprehend the vandals who destroy Hindu shrines and deal with them according to the law. They also want the government to treat them without discrimination and permit them to reconstruct and worship at sites of historical importance in the same way as people of other ethnicities and religions. The NPC supports these reasonable demands of the people of the North and East and believes that the government has a responsibility to address the grievances that gave rise to the hartal in discussion with those who led the agitation.

Governing Council
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.

About us

The National Peace Council (NPC) was established as an independent and impartial national non-government organization