dishani jayaweera 600x400

Dishani Jayaweera
Country/region: Sri Lanka
Conflict: Civil war, primarily between Tamil group and the Singhalese-dominated Government
Organisation: Center for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation
Field of work: Inter-religious dialogues; dialogues for young people of different demographic groups using photography

The civil war in Sri Lanka over decades has left deep wounds in society. The war crimes, both on the Government side and by the LTTE, have not yet been cleared up. Mutual suspicion reigns between the demographic groups involved in the conflict, including the Muslims in the east of the country. In this situation, the CPBR, which is led by Dishani and her husband, brings members of all groups together for inter-religious dialogues.

The most important current project is „Voice of Image“. Photography is the medium which makes possible dialogues between young people across the entrenched boundaries. The participants from the groups in six districts are taught basic understanding of photography and use the camera to show a picture of their current living conditions: the village, elderly people, social problems, religious festivals.

These pictures serve to introduce moderated seminars promoting understanding and mutual tolerance. This process is combined with courses to encourage the young leadership figures to take an active role in the peace process themselves, i.e. starting their own initiatives and organising courses to teach about peace.

Their work was supported by the Peace Support Network and Förderprogramm zivik and is currentls supported by Peace Direct, UK. Awarded the Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action Award and the Coexistence Prize.