The keynote speech was delivered by Kulani Wijayabahu, Senior Lecturer of the Department of International Relations at the University of Colombo, who gave a comprehensive analysis of the Afghanistan situation with the Taliban coming into power and the security threats to its neighbours, the South Asian region and the world. While countries such as Iran, Pakistan and India were more concerned with traditional security threats to its borders, countries such as Sri Lanka were concerned with terrorism and extremism spilling into its borders, along with environmental security concerns, a refugee crisis and human rights violations.
The other speakers were Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne Chairmen of Sarvodaya, Rohana Hettiarachchi Executive Director of People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections, Manjula Gajanayaka from Center for Monitoring Election Violence, Brito Fernando President of the Families of the Disappeared, Philip Dissanayaka from Right to Life Lanka Human Rights Centre, Mohammed Nawaz Country Director of Search for Common Ground, Prabodha Rathnayaka Chief Executive Officer of Rights Now Collective for Democracy, Dr. Deshapriya Wijetunge Director General Sri Lanka United Nations Friendship Organization, Herman Kumara National Fisheries Solidarity Organization, Saman Hamangoda Executive Director Partners on Alternative Training, Chinthaka Rajapakse Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform, S. Senthurajah Executive Director Social Organization Networking for Development, Achini Wijesinghe Project Manager Internews and Suresh Nadesan Chairman Uva Shakthi Foundation.
NPC’s Executive Director Dr. Jehan Perera spoke on the current political situation and how the country’s leaders were working towards strengthening good relations with the international community and the importance of building a pluralistic society in the country.
“I admire NPC for organizing such an impressive event on a significant day. Listening to the lecture on the current situation in Afghanistan, we wonder whether Sri Lanka will also fall into a similar situation. To avoid this we need to find internal peace to achieve external peace. But we have come to notice that with Covid, social segregations have only deepened. So we now need to work even harder and very practically to strengthen peace. Today people are suffering from economic hardship and health difficulties so we as civil society have to come up with new approaches to counter these crises while maintaining peace,” said Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne.
“Sri Lankans have a proud history of helping one another and living in peace and harmony. But today we live in a segregated society where the communities are divided according to religion, culture, ethnicity and language. The divisions are being used by political groups for their own interests. We need to come forward despite these forces to strengthen peace in the country. We need to work for peace from within and then only will it be visible outside,” said Ramachandran Odayan from Kandy DIRC.