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Sri Lanka: Youth Movements beyond the border
an article by EunJae Ki

In Canada there are Sinhalese and Tamil youth movements/initiatives where students organize meetings and conferences to discuss the ways to move forward to reach reconciliation in their home country of Sri Lanka.

“Challenges to Reconciliation” conference organized by York University Tamil Student Association in Oakham House at Ryerson University, Toronto in 7 June 2012

click on photo to enlarge

This is significant because even though the armed conflict in Sri Lanka has ended, the structural conflict between Sinhalese and Tamil groups in Sri Lanka is still on-going. There is lack of freedom of press and information that practically restrains people from having the right tools for peaceful reconciliation. Since it is hard for Tamil and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka to build dialogue on equal grounds under the current government regime, it is especially important that there is space to have peaceful dialogue for locals outside the country for genuine reconciliation.

The York University’s Tamil Student Association is one of the actively working youth groups in Ontario, Canada, facilitating a peaceful dialogue among the Sinhalese and Tamil youths. The most recent conference was held in June 7th 2012 in Ryerson University in Toronto to discuss about the challenges to reconciliation and the solutions. Some of the youths who participated in this conference were in local TV network show (TVO: Agenda) discussing what are the problems and solutions to the greater audience of Canada. Two Sinhalese and two Tamil youths who have humanitarian experiences discussed that solutions to the on-going tension between Sinhalese and Tamil in Sri Lanka are to invest in short-term measures to meet the basic needs of the people, to seek resolution across the Sri Lankan borders beyond the ethnic boundary, and to recognize that self-determination is a human right. Also it seems that imposing a “Sri Lankan” identity is an insult to many Tamils. These youths were indeed craving for betterment of the lives of their people in Sri Lanka and around the globe through their identification of problems and solutions. They are actively participating to bring true peace in Sri Lanka from where they are. These youths need encouragements from local and global communities to persevere in what they are achieving to create.


Question(s) related to this article:

Is there a new international generation of human rights activism?,

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Latest reader comment:

CPNN has been enriched over the years by the young human rights activists who take part in the Annual UNESCO International Leadership Forum.  This is truly the hope for our future!

This report was posted on August 5, 2012.