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Saturday, 20 October 2018 03:51

Promoting Inter-Faith and Inter-Ethnic Dialogue

Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts, where Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims live side by side in many areas, have been identified as potential hot spots for ethnic and religious conflict. There is higher possibility that these tensions could erupt with proposed government reforms such as truth and reconciliation mechanisms and constitutional reforms including power sharing.

NPC’s project, Inter-faith and Inter-ethnic Dialogue in Sri Lanka, is supporting inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue to reduce ethno-religious tensions and ensure that national reconciliation processes and policies take account of ethnic and religious viewpoints. Religious leaders in the Trincomalee and Batticaloa Districts are being empowered to better understand and contribute to policy advocacy at the local and national level.

The project, which will run for two and a half years, is supported by the Asia Foundation with funding from the British High Commission.

For this purpose, a DIRC was formed in Trincomalee and the existing one in Batticaloa has been expanded to include areas prone to conflict within the district.

Training and capacity building programmes for District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs), which include Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and lay persons, contain topics such as nonviolent communication, early warning and conflict sensitivity, mediation, gender, social cohesion, Transitional Justice, documentation and referrals, constitutional reforms and facilitation.

Another aspect of the project is to familiarise DIRC members with the report of the Public Representations Committee on Constitutional Reform by publishing booklets containing relevant chapters in all three languages for distribution.

The training programmes aimed to increase knowledge of methods used to resolve conflicts, expand awareness about mediation, create understanding about the qualities of a mediator and improve knowledge and skill of active listening.

Since the media plays a vital role in creating ethno religious tensions as well as minimising the negative impact in the grassroots level communities, during training sessions DIRC members acquired knowledge and skills on how to select stories and document them. Both DIRCs created Facebook groups and live streamed some presentations.

Last modified on Friday, 16 August 2019 09:21