For 25 years, Sri Lanka was ravaged by a long running and bloody civil war, due to ethnic tensions between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority.
On Easter Sunday in 2019, Sri Lanka was rocked by a series of bombings that killed more than 250 people at churches and hotels, the worst violence the country has seen in a decade. The attacks triggered a dangerous backlash against the country’s Muslims, and a feeling of fear and mistrust across the country.
Supporting Sri Lanka
For almost fifteen years, we have been supporting the Centre for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation (CPBR) – a remarkable local organisation at the forefront of interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding initiatives in Sri Lanka. Following the Easter Sunday attacks, and with thanks to the quick support from a number of individuals, trusts and foundations, we were able to send CPBR funds immediately to support their efforts in responding to the attacks.
This support allowed CPBR to go out and continue their work and to collaborate with other groups trying to protect Muslim communities from further violence, and to protect those at risk of attack. They worked closely with a network of religious leaders from all four faiths represented in Sri Lanka to foster interreligious collaboration, tackle hate speech against the Muslim population and appeal for calm within their communities.
Working on the ground, they are helping communities to heal from trauma, rebuilding the relationships damaged by violence and convening people from all different faiths to restore trust and build the foundations for long-term peace.
In their words: Debora's story
“[As a Tamil woman] I never ever thought I could come to a part of the country where Sinhalese Buddhists live… If someone asked me to come to this area six months ago, I would feel anger and fear.
I am from Killinochchi, one of the areas in the north most affected by conflict. But today, I am living, walking and taking photos in the middle of a village, and sleeping next to the temple. They [the Sinhalese Buddhists] are also like us.
We are all suffering, wounds are deep, but as women, we can be the bridge makers of the broken communities. Cameras and our photos can be the cement and bricks that build the bridge”.
– Debora, Killinochchi.