The NCEASL strongly condemns the events that unfolded at the Faculty of Science of the University of Jaffna on the 16th of July. Such incidents polarise communities and deter efforts to build a society based on respect and dignity. Sri Lanka’s reconciliatory efforts can only be sustained in an environment where cultural diversity is celebrated, communities are sensitive to one another’s heritage and cultural reservations and differences are resolved through dialogue. Intolerance of other ethnic and religious identities, as Sri Lanka has learned from its past, can only breed hate and violence.
It is also disturbing to note that our cultural values of hospitality and goodwill towards other communities have grown negligible. This has led to feelings of mistrust and insecurity among communities. In such a context, universities have a unique opportunity to offer a model of how individuals from diverse cultural, religious and social backgrounds can not only coexist, but also cooperate with and be sensitive to the rights and cultural attributes of one another. This responsibility lies with the university administrations, student leaders, student faith-based associations, political parties playing an influential role in student politics and other concerned stakeholders.
Sri Lanka’s youth have used violence to resolve issues of difference in the past and the consequences have been devastating. The youth of today should not resort in any situation, to the same means. We call upon all university students and concerned stakeholders, to recognise the significance of their role in Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process and ensure that an environment of tolerance and coexistence thrives in all universities across the Island.