Over 50 children representing Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim schools put peace into practice on International Peace Day under the theme of Actions for Peace in Kandy by creating works of art depicting peace during an event organised by Kandy DIRC and supported by the Plural Action for Conflict Transformation (PACT) project.
According to the International Convention to Civic and Political Rights Article 25(c) “Every citizen has all the rights and opportunities without any of the distinction and without unreasonable restriction to have access, on general terms of equality to public service in his country”. One particular service accessed by “all” citizens in Sri Lanka is the state postal service. However, people living in the plantation sector do not fall under “all”.
The Action for Religious Coexistence (ARC) project implemented by NPC conducted a residential training programme for 43 CBOs and NGOs from 13 districts focused on developing the capacity and the understanding of the participants on the importance of establishing pluralism and the rule of law to bring about religious coexistence.
In the spirit of fostering inclusion and promoting women's empowerment, the Women Organized for Inclusion through Community Engagement (WOICE) project organized a series of meetings to bring together women leaders, state officials, former women Local Government Authority (LGA) members and women political leaders from the seven districts of Matara, Gampaha, Kegalle, Ratnapura, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Monaragala.
The course participants of the Advanced Certificate Course, Inclusive Service Delivery for Sustainable Peace, which is funded by Freedom House and facilitated by NPC with Sabaragamuwa University, held a language camp and fact finding mission. The participants comprised government officials, most of whom engage in front line activities with the people. This activity was focused on school children and the estate community living in the Nonperiel Estate, one of the oldest tea plantations in the country. The language camp was held at Vivagananda Tamil School located outside the estate, which has classes only up to Grade 8. The children study under tremendous hardships. Some students walk 12 kilometres up and down daily.
Working on finding ways to restore trust between people since 2002, my life experience has contributed greatly to my actions towards social inclusion and promoting sustainable peace. In my experience, I feel practicing the values of dignity, respect and trust motivate peace and an inclusive society. It strikes me that the two key words in designing and thinking about social inclusion and coexistence are dignity and respect; dignity about our own existence and values and respect for the differences that define another person's existence. A third component plays a central role: trust.
With Sri Lanka continuing to be in the throes of economic crisis, the focus of popular attention, and governmental initiatives, is on economic matters. However, the issue of inclusion, which informs peace and makes peace possible, is also important to the economic restoration of the country and its people.
One hundred and eighty District Inter Religious Committee (DIRC) members, including religious leaders, government officials, youth leaders, university students and plantation sector communities, joined the walk of men and women working in the plantation sector organized by Collective for Maanbumigu Malaiyaha Makkal from Thalaimannar to Matale from July 28 to August 12. The walk, retracing the journey of the first group of Tamils brought to Sri Lanka to work on the plantations in the hill country, aimed at focusing attention on taking actions to address the pressing problems of the Malaiyaha community.
The concept of police brutality is not foreign to Sri Lanka and many commentators have accused the police of employing violence and abusing the law in the name of maintaining public order and national security. Due to the three decade war, the police has had to transform itself into a battle ready force; it is common for police officers to carry assault rifles.
Connecting emotions, experiences and expectations have been central in the project aimed at improving the capacity of staff of the Office on Missing Persons (OMP). Funded by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CLFI), NPC concluded the OMP project with nine sessions of outreach on empathy building. Held in Colombo, Matara, Mannar, Jaffna and Batticaloa, the sessions were delivered to the members of victim families as well as government officers with the objective of reconciling the issues and conflicts identified in the service delivery process.