The National Peace Council (NPC)

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Ground level proposals to enable humanitarian needs

The “Enabling humanitarian needs through international cooperation and collective community action” project of NPC is implemented in 12 districts including those of Northern and Eastern provinces. It has established 12 District Inter Religious Councils and 3 Provincial Inter Religious Councils with over 750 members. 

The main objective of this project is to solve the humanitarian problems of those who had been affected by war. This includes the minimisation of barriers for coexistence among the various community groups, preparation of a favourable background for sustainable peace and encouraging the members to identify activities to bring peace and resilience to the society.

The National convention of the IRCs was held on 16th June 2012 at Sri Lanka Sambuddha Jayanthi Hall, Colombo.

164 religious and civil society leaders representing Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Puttalam, Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala, Galle and Matara districts participated this convention. 35 civil society leaders including Rev. Madoluwawe Sobhitha, Incumbent priest of Naga Viharaya, Kotte, officers of several embassies and political leaders also participated this convention as invited guests.

The main task of this convention was to adopt the draft resolutions which include the proposals to solve the humanitarian problems of those affected by war and to build unity and peace among them by following the effective measures that had been already taken by NPC. These also aim to create a society with resilience and determination.

These proposals include the issues identified by participation methodology and the possible solutions that can be adopted. They are categorised under the following headings. Bringing civilian life into normalcy, developing livelihood means, upliftment of civilian life, providing social protection, promotion of culture, improving education, vocational training and job opportunities, use of bilingualism in official transactions, resettlement and lands, building coexistence and reconciliation.

The proposals were forwarded to the meeting in Sinhala and Tamil by Rev. Manapaha Dhammaransi of Kurunegala DIRC and Rev. Fr. Dickson of Jaffna DIRC respectively. All the participants unanimously agreed with the proposals forwarded to the convention.

Next the adopted proposals were forwarded to Rev. Madoluwawe Sobhitha of Naga Vihara, Kotte, Hon. MP Karu Jayasooriya, Hon MP M.A. Sumanthiran (TNA) and Mr. Mano Ganeshan, Leader of the Democratic People’s Front.

Mr. Saman Seneviratne, Project coordinator, speaking on “Inter religious cooperation and our way ahead”analysed the objectives, opportunities, expected results and the achievements of the project and explained the challengesthey had to face and how they were able to overcome them in achieving theexpected targets.

Dr. Jehan Perera, Executive Director NPC expressing his views said “When we initiated the project two years ago, our hopes of success were not so strong as we are now. However now we have a strong network in all the regions. The commitment and the courage of the NPC project team and DIRCs helped much to the success of the project.”Referring to the case studies book with many success stories he said “Though civil society generally engage with small scale activities, their success and achievements in bringing peace and coexistence can set examples to government and politicians in large scale peace and coexistence planning.

Dr. Jehan Perera, commenting on the future vision of the NPC said “Our vision is to bring equality and justice for all. We are a part of the international community. To speak of justice we must first get the respect of the international community. We must act according to international values and standards. When we transit from war to peace we have to use effective strategies that are used by other countries. One such strategy is the concept of transitional justice.

Rev, Madolowawe Sobhitha, Naga Vihara, Kotte said “Three years have lapsed after ending the war. Though the war ended, its consequences are still there. War has left us many issues to be settled. As all the religious leaders are living among the people they have a better sense and a vision to see the problems of the people impartially than the politicians. We feel the sufferings of the people. Solving these problems has become a slow process. Therefore it is our duty to provide leadership in solving them. Our duty should not be limited to words. We have to educate people and take urgent measures to solve them by directing them to relevant authorities.

Hon. MP,Sumanthiran said “These are the ground level proposals coming from 12 districts. There is no political influence in them. Therefore they are important. As such, there is nothing to critcise in them. These proposals should be implemented urgently.

Hon. MP Karu Jayasooriya, described the project as a successful attempt undertaken for the welfare of women and children affected by war.

Mr. Mano Ganeshan, President Democratic People’s Front emphasised the Inter Religions Conference as a timely need and said “Though externally we feel that the war has ended, the mental pains are still there in the minds of the people.

Rev. Buddiyagama Chandarathane quoting Gosingha Sutra explained the participants how Lord Budda advised his followers to see the inner beauty of the coexistence of religious teachers over the external beauty of the flora and fauna found in this forest.

The common view of all the religious leaders who participated this conference was that they have a bigger role to play in creating a better society with resilience and coexistence through the cooperation of all the communities and it is their responsibility to do so.

 


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