The National Peace Council (NPC)

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Brief Narrative of Activities of Reconciling Inter‐Religious and Inter‐Ethnic Differences (RIID)

Assessment of the partners and DIRCs
During the reporting period of November and December 2013, National Peace Council of Sri Lanka (NPC) conducted the assessments of partners and District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs) to gauge their existing capacity. Eight partners and 6 DIRCs were assessed. These assessments were carried out by Strategic Inspirations (Pvt) Ltd. Upon completion of the assessments, profiles for 8 partners and 6 DIRCs have been prepared. The draft report has also been sent to NPC and finalization of the report is in progress.

As per the schedule of the assessments sent to the donor by NPC with the November Report, it was accomplished as of the reporting date as follows:

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During the assessment, meetings were held in 8 districts, and dates for introductory meetings to revamp the DIRCs with the partners and representatives of the DIRCs were scheduled. In preparation for the introductory meetings, NPC developed a schedule for the meetings, discussed the methodology and provided information to partners in preparation of the upcoming meetings.

Introductory Meetings
Before the introductory meetings held in Mannar, Jaffna, Puttalam and Galle, NPC sent brief information about the RIID project and selection criteria to invite the participants for the meetings. According to the criteria, partners in the districts selected the 30 participants and NPC sent invitations to them. When selecting the participants, NPC took into account the ethnic population ratio in the district and included at least 80% of DIRC members. We made an effort to ensure women’s representation was 30% ofthe total number of the participants.

Currently 4 out of 8 introductory meetings have been held with support of the district partners.The table below shows the categorization of the actual participants at the meetings.At the next meetings, DIRCs have to complete the balance according to the criteria given by NPC.

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We were unable to conduct the meetings as scheduledat 9.30am because of the late arrival of a few participants. However we startedat 10.00am.

After the blessingfromdifferent religious leaders, representatives of the partner's office welcomed all and briefly explained role of the partner in the district in building peace and reconciliation, except for the Jaffna partner who was unable to attend. Rev.Fr. Dixon welcomedparticipants and explained the
objectives of the meeting.

Dr.Jehan Perera, Executive Director NPC,spoke on the role of NPC in the current situation in country. He pointed out the following matters and participants engaged actively in the session.

  • Although the government expects foreign investment after CHOGM,I do not think it will materialize.
  • While the Chief Minister and the Members of the Northern Provincial Council are expecting to have the power stated in the Provincial CouncilsAct to rule the Northern Province, the government is reluctant to give them the power to rule. Already there are conflicts between the Chief Minister and the Governor.
  • Inter religious tension has been increasing among the religious groups in the several places in the country. As a recognized civil society organization, we have to do something to minimize the religious and ethnic tensions.

Saman Seneviratne, Acting Project Coordinator explained the objectives of the RIID project and introduced the project to the relevant partners and DIRC members and discussed with them the necessary changes and improvements to existing DIRCs in order to strengthen its member representation, capacity and practicability to implement the project. He also explained the implementation process and time line of the activities.Pushpa Ranjanie, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, explained the LFA briefly and how to reach the outcomes of the project. M.Z.M. Fazeen explained finance matters and clarified them in detail to the partners after the meeting.

After the sessions, 4 conveners were selected from 4 religions for each DIRC. The following decisions were taken by participants in the Mannar and Jaffna DIRCs:

  • Enroll balance members according to the criteria at the next meeting
  • List identified issues most likely to harm ethnic harmony to be brought to the next meeting
  • List the identified issues in orderof priority and maintain a register of issues

(See Annex 1‐ Guidance and criteria of assessment for DIRC and Partner; Annex 2‐ Guidance and criteria
of introductory meeting; Annex 3‐ Agenda of introductory meeting)

ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Completed the 8 partners’ assessment and prepared a draft report accordingly
  • A draft capacity building framework was prepared and required trainings identified
  • Selected co‐conveners from 4 religions for each DIRC
  • Planned preparation of a issues register each DIRC

CHALLENGES/TRENDS

  • Resources for Peace and Reconciliation in Mannar raised an issue about the monthly administration cost of Rs 12, 000. They said when they coordinate the project, they should be provided money for transport, communication, on the way meals, stationery etc. This amount was insufficient so they wanted it increased toRs 16,000.
  • WODEPT in Puttalam raised same issue and also said the religious leaders have to reduce to 4, one from each religion.
  • A few extremist groups such as Bodu Bala Sena and Ravana Balaya have been opposing groups promoting peace and harmony.
  • Increased tension between Christians and Muslims in the Mannar district has affected the program to a certain extent but we will able to manage the situation with DIRC members.

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