The following resources detail the context, local perspectives, and capacity strengthening opportunities in Sri Lanka as they relate to religious & ethnic freedom.
Sri Lanka is an island nation in the Indian Ocean with a population of 23 million. It has a diverse ethnic makeup, with the largest ethnic group being Sinhalese, followed by Tamils and Moors. The majority of Sinhalese practice Buddhism, while Tamils are predominantly Hindu. There are also significant Christian and Muslim populations in the country.
The country has a legal framework that guarantees religious freedom but accords Buddhism a “foremost place” in the constitution. Sri Lanka has a history of ethnic and religious violence, including the civil war between the Sinhalese and Tamil populations that lasted from 1983 to 2009. Acts of terrorism, such as the Easter Sunday attacks in 2019, have targeted religious minorities.
Buddhist nationalist groups, like the Bodu Bala Sena, have been involved in attacks and discrimination against minorities. The government has faced criticism for its handling of religious freedom, including blasphemy laws and restrictions on expression. Counter-terrorism measures have been implemented, but concerns have been raised about due process and the targeting of minority communities. Violations of religious freedom, arbitrary detention, and torture have been reported, particularly against Muslims and Tamils.
The document on this page is an excerpt from a situational analysis on religious & ethnic freedom (REF) in the Asia region, authored by Search for Common Ground for the Asia REF project. For the full situational analysis (which analyzes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and the Philippines), please click here.
This brief provides program designers, implementers and evaluators in the Religious and Ethnic Freedom space with practical insights and examples of locally developed indicators using the Grounded Accountability Model (GAM). It outlines the various ways representatives of local organizations and religious minorities perceive religious and ethnic freedom.
This brief aims to provide valuable insights into the institutional and staff capacity needs, strengths, and challenges faced by local partners in the context of promoting religious and ethnic freedoms in the Asia region.
For more resources on Asia Religious & Ethnic Freedom, click here.
This resource was made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of Search for Common Ground and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.