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Wednesday, 10 June 2020 14:31

Preventing Violent Extremism At the Community Level

A new intervention funded by the European Union (EU) to strengthen Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to prevent violent extremism (PVE) in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will be implemented in Sri Lanka by NPC with support from Helvetas.

The intervention is part of the EU’s support to civil society actors in promoting confidence building and preventing radicalisation in South Asia. It is being implemented in the districts of Vavuniya, Mannar, Ampara, Batticaloa, Kandy and Kurunagala.

The project will engage Sri Lankan and Bangladesh CSOs and their actors in PVE in their constituencies. In both countries, there is insufficient knowledge and understanding of PVE. Civil society actors will be technically equipped to adapt and mainstream PVE to the specific community contexts based on the insights resulting from the cross-country learnings and institutional dialogue.

It is envisaged that through the intervention, CSOs in both countries will be able to prevent violent extremism in their respective countries in the long term. PVE has to be approached from the perspective of push and pull factors bringing into focus the need for a layered response.

Both in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, it is civil society that looks at issues of PVE from a long term perspective in contrast to the short term national security focused approaches taken by political parties and state actors for political gains.

In both countries the respective governments apply a heavy-handed securitisation approach to counter violent extremism utilising law enforcement mechanisms and use political instigation of ethnic and religious polarisation to secure electoral support.

The project focuses on CSOs as repositories of value-based approaches to PVE that emphasise the importance of pluralism in practice and rule of law through community level capacity building and dialogue to create counter narratives to prevent radicalisation and promote tolerance and social cohesion across various social, political and religious divides.

Specific activities to be carried out in Sri Lanka include a structured learning conference on PVE with international resource persons; a training of trainers on PVE to set up a national resource pool; capacitation of CSOs, members of NPC’s Local Inter Religious Committees, local government state sector service delivery institutions, law enforcement and youth on PVE through trainings; and follow on activities with police, targeted state institutions and youth to address violent extremism in their localities.

In addition, dominant narratives from the project districts specific to particular ethno-religious groups and collective groups will be identified and district and national level campaigns will be carried out to engage local communities, especially targeted youth, to share counter narratives to prevailing dominant narratives.

NPC will produce target specific training modules on PVE using local and internationally available resource material, drawing in from different perspectives, case studies and tools.