June 23, 2010

Language Classes for Peace

Express India reports that Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka will begin taking Tamil language classes. The classes are part of an effort to "create greater harmony and heal the decades-old animosity between the majority Sinhalas and minority Hindu communities," according to the report. The Sinhalese are traditionally Buddhist. Tamil-speaking Hindus represent the largest ethnic minority in Sri Lanka.

In 1970, Tamils formed a movement seeking an autonomous Tamil state in response to perceived discrimination by the Sinhalese majority. The effort caused a political rift in Sri Lanka that eventually led to a violent thirty-year civil war that has devastated the country.

The All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC), the group behind the effort to teach Buddhist monks Tamil, has requested funding from the Sri Lankan government in order to allow for the classes to take place. From Express India:

The ACBC will launch the program to build harmony between the ethnic groups and propagate Buddhist principles among the Tamil speaking Hindus. It will also help to reactivate the deserted Buddhist temples in the North and East, the state-run Daily News reported.

For a more detailed account of the conflict in Sri Lanka, read Barbara Crossette's "Sri Lanka: A Special Report" from the Winter 2001 edition of Tricycle. To read the full Express India article, click here.

Images: www.sepiamutiny.com and www.allmyanmar.com

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