The economic crisis in the country has thrust large sections of the people into poverty. Official inflation rates are in the region of 40 %. But the price increases of many essentials have exceeded 100 to 200 %. As a result the effective income of the people has been halved. The impact is worst felt by those who are paid by the day and on fixed incomes. Those who work on the plantations constitute a very large group. Among the ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, the up country (or Malaiyaha) Tamils are notable for being historically discriminated. They are 4.12 % of the total population according to the Department of Census and Statistics Survey of 2012.
Two youth friendship camps called Youth Peace Park were conducted in Monaragala and Galle under NPC’s Plural Action for Conflict Transformation (PACT) project. They were part of a series of activities targeting youth including workshops on countering false narratives and hate speech and effective use of social media and friendship camps.
Under NPC’s Freedom House Project, in collaboration with Voice Our Talent (VOT Matara), a workshop was conducted by digital media specialist Mr. Kapila Ramanayake in Weligama for 50 young Sinhala and Muslim journalists on how make effective use of social media.
The thousands of people, mostly youth, protesting peacefully at Galle Face in front of the presidential secretariat has captured the national imagination. Now all over the country similar protests are taking place. There have been a few incidents of violence reported, in which the protestors either got violent or the security forces used violence to intimidate the protestors.
Under its Prevention of Violent Extremism Capacity Building in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh project, NPC held meetings in Vavuniya, Kandy, Kurunegala, Ampara and Batticaloa with 120 members of District Inter Religious Committees, Local Inter Religious Committees, civil society trainers, government officials and Community Police Officers on Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) training in the district.
Youth wings have been formed in Mannar, Batticaloa, and Addalachenai to advocate for pluralism and religious freedom under NPC’s project intervention, Action for Religious Coexistence (ARC). The project team identified and selected the youth from targeted localities. As the youth wings and Local Inter Religious Committees (LIRCs) will be involved in the project, three orientation sessions were carried out to inform them of the three year action plan.
NPC’s Collective Engagement for Religious Freedom (CERF) project was initiated in 2017 to promote and strengthen religious freedom in the country within the framework of pluralism and rule of law. To achieve this objective, NPC established 12 inter religious platforms with the participation of the government officers, religious leaders, civil society members and community leaders representing 12 divisional secretariats. These committees share the values of religious freedom while acting as community leaders within their localities to establish religious coexistence.
Under its project Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE), NPC held training programmes in Mannar, Vavuniya, Kandy and Kurunegala for 160 Divisional level youth including National Youth Council members, university students, youth parliamentarians and youth club members.
Fourteen workshops on hate speech, prevention of violent extremism and non-violent communication were conducted for 543 youths representing several organizations in Nuwara Eliya, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Monaragala, Jaffna, Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Badulla, Puttalam, Kurunegala, Kandy, Kegalle, Anuradhapura, and Kandy districts under NPC’s Plural Action for Conflict Transformation (PACT) project.