British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, John Rankin, visited the North Western, North Central and Northern Provinces on an official visit from 27-29 May, 2014.
The High Commissioner visited Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, Mannar and Puttalam.
“A major highlight of my visit was paying my respects at different places of worship,” said the High Commissioner. “I visited the sacred Sri Maha Bodhiya and the Ruwanveliseya stupa in Anuradhapura, the historic Madhu church, the Thirukeetheswaram temple in Mannar and the Grand Mosque in Puttalam. At each of these places of worship, I had helpful discussions with faith leaders about inter-faith harmony and community relations. Sri Lanka is lucky to have communities representing such a diversity of faiths, which participate and share in each other’s celebrations. All those to whom I spoke made clear their concern about and opposition to religious extremism. This visit has reinforced my view that Sri Lanka’s tradition of religious coexistence is particularly important today, as it can play a significant role in healing the wounds of the past.
“I also met different communities, including local NGOs, IDPs and women’s groups. They spoke openly about their problems. Their stories were different but some of the issues that came up frequently were land, access to public services in their own language and social issues like domestic violence. The UK will continue to support projects that will bring about changes in these areas, including reconciliation, police training, advocating language rights, English language training and support for women’s rights.”