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25 District Reconciliation Committees meet to dialogue and address religious and ethnic tensions


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The concept of District Reconciliation Committee (DRC) is a brainchild of President Maithripala Sirisena as Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation and was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers to resolve ethnic and religious tensions. 

The 25 DRCs with over 200 inter-religious leaders, District Secretary focal points including retired Magistrates and retired school principals met on January 11, 2018 at the Bandaranaike Memorial Conference Hall (BMICH) to discuss reconciliation strategies, interventions and addressing the ethnic and religious tensions through mediation, negotiation, and conflict resolution. 

The program commenced with the Pledge of National Declaration on Reconciliation and the 7 Core Values/Virtues on Reconciliation. Over 250 participants representing 25 Districts met as a forum to strategize the 2018 reconciliation intervention programs, examine the issues and challenges including operational modalities. The forum discussed on the need to  meet regularly, address tensions, maintain database on incidents on ethnic and religious tensions, address attacks on religious places of worship, addressing hate speeches, addressing conflicting negative messages through social media, promoting peace journalism, inculcating core values and virtues among schools children youths and universities, adults, Sunday religious school teachers said V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation. The program also aimed at identifying the capacity gaps and providing skills and training on non-violent conflict resolution methods to the DRC members. The DRCs were expected to promote unity, integration, reconciliation and peacebuilding at the grass-roots level.

The forum was attended by V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary, Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation, Bryce Hutchesson High Commissioner of the Australian High Commission,H.E David McKinnonHigh Commissioner of the Canadian High Commission, Mano Tittawella, Secretary General of Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms, Una McCauley, Resident Coordinator of United Nations, Libuse Sokoupova, Head of Delegation/ First Secretary of European Union, Paul Green, First Secretary of the British High Commission and Christoph Feyen Program, Director/ Senior Advisor of GIZ.

This Forum was supported under the European Union funded ‘Strengthening the Reconciliation Processes in Sri Lanka’.

 


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