People Ambassadors- The effective players in the reconciliation process - Minister Douglas Devananda
People to People contact is the most effective way for reconciliation between the ethnic and religious groups in this country.
Minister Douglas Devananda speaking to Asian Tribune said that the reconciliation efforts should emerge from the people of this country alone and this alone would create a harmonious society in the future.
Minister Douglas Devananda speaking to Asian Tribune emphasized three factors he believes as key to bring about an effective reconciliation in this country.
He said -
1. As the world has become globalized, more people to people contacts and more travel and communication with people with different ethnic and religious groups needed and they must learnt to accept each other to live together.
The future of the world is in multi-cultural co-existence and not in erecting religious or ethnic enclaves or pockets.
2. From the very young age, peoples must be taught other people’s religion, other peoples culture and different languages, so that they will become tolerant and appreciate other ethnic and religious communities.
If you want unity, you must enhance diversity and you can enact a ‘ Seditious Act’, to prosecute anyone who insults other religious or other ethnic groups and also a ‘Harmony Act,’ that would promote a harmonious living among diverse ethnic and religious groups mostly on law enforcement and Criminal Justice Practices and deter mischief matters and there must be educational and informative / media initiatives to influence diverse communities to interact.
For example, if a housing scheme is to be allocated to people, a portion of those houses should be allocated to people of different religious and ethnic groups. The parents occupying those houses may still harbor prejudices with parochial views, but their children will play together and will be blind to ethnicity, religion, color, race etc.,.
3 People became racial and conscious of their religious and ethnicity because of politics. It must be remembered that politics is the art of dividing people in line with their ethnicity, religion, language, class and region.
But people themselves have no problems of visiting each other’s shrines, eating different foods and learning each other’s languages. Nearly 80% of the world conflict is due to the politicalization of religion and ethnicity for their personal political gains and interests.
Rather than treasuring ethnicity or religious enclaves, but Humanity is above any individual attachment to religion and ethnicity, Minister Douglas Devananda said.
The Minister said that he is making preliminary arrangements to send a few group of Tamils – each might consists of 40 to 50 people, to the South to enable them stay at least for a minimum of two weeks in the houses Sinhalese people who invited them, to get acquainted with the ordinary Sinhala people in the south, to get accustomed to their food, customs, way of life, their thinking, their fears and also to clear their misconceptions about the Tamils.
Also to meet with group of people, at least two to three times during their duration of stay, visit schools, meet children, visit temples and have discussions with Buddhist prelates, community leaders, to engage in group dialogues along with the local government leaders, Provincial Council Councillors and with Parliamentarians to understand people and to create a harmonious environment.
Similarly Minister said that he is expecting a few groups of Sinhala people visiting Jaffna peninsula and live with Tamil families to get acquainted with the way of lives of an ordinary Tamils, their thinking, their fears, their cultures, visit their temples for prayers, visit schools and meet students, and also to meet ordinary Tamil people in small groups and also with community and political leaders and discuss with them issues in front of them and to bring about a country where there is no ethnic groups or any religious enclaves but only a Sri Lankan people with desire to live harmoniously in this country.
Minister Douglas Devananda said that he is talking with a few community leaders in the North and seeking their assistance to implement his dream of effecting people to people contacts to being about a true reconciliation in this country.
- Asian Tribune -