Reading: Humanitarian interventions and the suspicion factor of faith based organizations in Sri Lanka

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Humanitarian interventions and the suspicion factor of faith based organizations in Sri Lanka

Authors:

Ven. Pinnawala Sangasumana ,

University of Sri Jayewardenepura, LK
About Ven. Pinnawala
Department of Geography
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Rajith W. D. Lakshman

University of Sussex, GB
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Abstract

This paper analyses an important faith related episode in Sri Lankan humanitarian history. Nearly three
decades of civil war in the country between the government forces and the LTTE (the Tamil separatists) had justified concerted and widespread interventions from both local and international NGOs. The 2004 tsunami, which havocked coastal Sri Lanka, strengthened these justifications and led to a manifold increase in the number of NGOs present in the country. This attracted much public and media attention toward NGO activities in Sri Lanka lead by allegations of abuse of funds, failure to deliver, lack of coordination, etc. A foremost allegation perhaps is the conversion of Buddhists using unethical methods. Allegations of such abuses of the Christian faith led to wide spread protests led by the Buddhist monks which created trying conditions for all humanitarian actors in the country; not just FBOs.

The suspicion of Faith Based Organizations (FBO) activities exploded in the final phase of the civil war with further allegations that some of the FBOs were in fact siding with the LTTE. These developments had some sway among the Buddhists who account for 70 percent of the population. The paper flags conversion as the most important concern that had soured the way Buddhists in Sri Lanka perceive FBO activities. Using the anti-conversion bill that was tabled in the parliament of Sri Lanka in 2004 as a case study we analyze how the ethno-religious cleavages of the wider community could be used to gain precise political ends in the backdrop of faith community activities. In addition the study looks into the recent agitations against FBOs within the country. The paper thereby sheds light on certain costs of faith based humanitarianism which are hitherto not examined in the literature. The costs exposed here occur to the public, to the humanitarian community and most importantly to the at-risk-populations.

How to Cite: Sangasumana, V.P. & Lakshman, R.W.D., (2014). Humanitarian interventions and the suspicion factor of faith based organizations in Sri Lanka. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies. 1(2), pp.55–65. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/ijms.v1i2.52
Published on 31 Dec 2014.
Peer Reviewed

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