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Sri Lankan religious leaders form peace body

Confidence-building measures required after decades of civil war

Religious leaders during the inauguration Religious leaders during the inauguration
  • ucanews.com reporter, Colombo
  • Taiwan
  • January 24, 2011
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The prime minister and religious leaders in Sri Lanka have jointly formed a peace body to promote communal harmony within the country.

Prime Minister Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Jayaratne and Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Muslim religious leaders inaugurated the National Assembly of Sri Lanka Council of Religions for Peace (SLCRP).

“Our aim is to play a dynamic role at the national level (and) to build peace, harmony and justice in Sri Lankan society,” said Venerable Bellanwila Wimalaratana Thero, president of the council during the inauguration on Jan. 22 in Colombo.

Confidence-building measures will take years to be effective as Tamils and Sinhalese live with suspicions after decades of civil war. Almost two years after the end of the country’s ethnic war, peace, harmony and amity are still in question, participants pointed out.

They said district councils are to be formed in 11 districts including Jaffna and Batticaloa in the Tamil dominated north to engage in peace-building activities.

“I do not doubt that Sri Lankan religious leaders can build up strong interreligious harmony in the country,” said Anglican Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, president of the European Council of Religious Leaders who was present at the inauguration.

The National Assembly of Sri Lanka Council of Religions for Peace will undertake projects in poverty alleviation, development, humanitarian assistance, human rights violations and unethical conversion.

The newly formed body is affiliated to the World Conference of Religions for Peace and the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace.

Related reports
Sri Lankan bishops promote post-war unity
Bishop seeks equal aid for Tamil refugees
Govt provides material to rebuild north

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