Sri Lanka seeks world expertise in preventing extremism

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Sri Lanka has sought expertise in preventing violent extremism (PVE) from the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), in the post Easter Sunday scenario where violent extremism has become the biggest threat to national security. At the invitation of the Foreign Ministry, the Executive Director of GCERF, Dr. Khalid Koser was in Sri Lanka and met political leaders, senior officials and other stakeholders to ascertain possible programmes for GCERF assistance.Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana who appreciated Dr. Koser’s presence in Sri Lanka, said this issue in Sri Lanka must be done in the context where the majority Sri Lankan Muslim community has collaborated with the Government in apprehending the culprits connected to the dastardly attacks on Easter Sunday.

The Minister further highlighted the value of community policing where extreme elements must be identified and dealt with at the early stages of radicalisation. He further emphasised that the ordinary Sri Lankan populace is not extremist, but that vulnerable elements can be manipulated by interested parties in attempts to flare up situations for ulterior motives. The Minister also raised the dilemma of dealing with individuals who return from conflict areas, which is an issue faced by many countries.

Dr. Koser underlined that national ownership, effective coordination and the local context for any PVE programme is central to GCERF assistance. He further briefed about GCERF engagement in comparable situations in Bangladesh, Tunisia, Mali, Nigeria, Kenya, the Philippines and Myanmar.Dr. Koser also called on Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, where the latter briefed about his work in vulnerable hotspots through MPs. Chairperson of the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga briefed about the work conducted by ONUR at the grassroots level with different communities on peaceful coexistence and social harmony.