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The Constitutional Practice of Ethno-Religious Violence in Sri Lanka

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2018

University of Oxford, United
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Ethno-religious violence in Sri Lanka is a chronic problem, and it can be sustained even without the active support of a particular government. This understanding of violence prompts further reflection – both on the factors that drive such violence and the complex relationship between ethnicity, religion, and the Sri Lankan constitution. This article delves into the post-war context in Sri Lanka and examines how and why ethno-religious violence has persisted regardless of the government in power. It is presented in three sections. The first analyzes the current state of ethno-religious violence in Sri Lanka. The second offers a hypothesis on why such violence has persisted despite the democratic transition of January 2015. It argues that democratic transitions alone cannot prevent chronic ethno-religious violence due to certain factors that serve to entrench violence within the country’s constitutional practice. The final section discusses the relationship between ethno-religious relations, the nature of the Sri Lankan constitution, and the space for meaningful constitutional reform. It concludes that the Sri Lankan state – informed by Sri Lanka’s ‘political constitution’ – embodies a certain structural dispensation towards ethno-religious violence. Until this fundamental dispensation is in some way transformed, meaningful religious freedom and power sharing will remain elusive aims.

© National University of Singapore, 2018 

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DPhil candidate (University of Oxford). Research Director, Verité Research.

The author wishes to thank Dr Benjamin Schonthal, Dr Dian A H Shah, Dr Kumudu Kusum Kumara, Dr Mario Gomez, Dr Nishan de Mel, Dr Asanga Welikala, Shamara Wettimuny, Sanjayan Rajasinhgam, Dr Godfrey Gunatilleke, Dr Nimal Gunatilleke, Dylan Perera, Thiago Felipe Alves Pinto, Deepanjalie Abeywardana, and Mohamed Aaseem for their generous time in reviewing drafts and ideas, and for their valuable feedback. This research is part of a project funded by the Centre for Asian Legal Studies (CALS) at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.


1. Department of Census and Statistics, Census of Population and Housing of Sri Lanka (2012), 141 <> accessed 10 June 2018.

2. ibid.

3. ibid 160.

4. Frances Stewart, ‘Religion versus Ethnicity as a Source of Mobilisation: are there differences?’ (2009) Crise Working Paper No 70, 8 (citing a personal communication with Rajesh Venugopal in January 2009).

5. David Smock, ‘Religion in World Affairs: Its Role in Conflict and Peace’ (United States Institute of Peace Special Report 201, February 2008) 2.

6. Stewart (n 4) 8.

7. This article will delve into the concept of ‘Buddha Sasana’ at a later stage.

8. See Asanga Welikala, ‘Ethnocracy or republic? Paradigms and choices for constitutional reform and renewal in Sri Lanka’ (2015) 4(1) The South Asianist 1, 10.

9. Gunatilleke, Gehan, The Chronic and the Acute: Post-War Religious Violence in Sri Lanka (Equitas & International Centre for Ethnic Studies 2015) 3334 Google Scholar.

10. ibid.

11. ibid.

12. World Health Organization, ‘WHO global consultation on violence and health’ (World Health Organization 1996) 4, cited in World Health Organization, ‘Global status report on violence prevention 2014’ (World Health Organization 2015) 2.

13. Galtung, Johan, ‘Violence, Peace, and Peace Research’ (1969) 6(3) Journal of Peace Research 167 CrossRefGoogle Scholar; see also Tanner, RES, Violence and Religion: Cross-Cultural Opinions and Consequences (1st edn, Concept Publishing Co 2007) 5 Google Scholar.

14. This categorization was first offered in a 2014 report published by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. See Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, ‘Religious Violence in Sri Lanka: January 2013 – December 2013’ (2014) <> accessed 10 June 2018. It has since been used as a standard categorization in a number of studies on religious violence including Verité Research and NCEASL, Silent Suppression: Restrictions on Religious Freedoms of Christians (1994-2014) (National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka 2015).

15. ibid 21–24.

16. ibid 22–25.

17. Haniffa, Farzana, Amarasuriya, Harini, and Wijenayake, Vishakha, Where Have All the Neighbours Gone? Aluthgama Riots and its Aftermath: A Fact-Finding Mission to Aluthgama, Dharga Town, Valipanna and Beruwela (Law & Society Trust Sri Lanka 2014) 1 Google Scholar. See also Gunatilleke, Gehan, Confronting the Complexity of Loss: Perspectives on Truth, Memory & Justice in Sri Lanka (Law & Society Trust Sri Lanka 2015) 33 Google Scholar.

18. Haniffa et al (n 17) 1.

19. Human Rights Council (HRC), ‘Oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ (A/HRC/27/CRP.2, HRC 22 September 2014) para 46.

20. Haniffa et al (n 17) 31–32.

21. New Democratic Front, ‘A Compassionate Maithri Governance – A Stable Country’ (Manifesto, New Democratic Front November 2014), 25 <> accessed 3 March 2018.

22. The author relied on the open online resource ‘Open Demarcation Data Initiative’<> last accessed 10 June 2018, as well as manual cross-checking with census data to identify polling divisions with high concentrations of religious minorities. He is grateful to Janeen Fernando for his thoughts and insights on this subject.

23. ‘Presidential Election – 2015: All Island Results’ (Department of Government Information – Sri Lanka 2015) <> accessed 10 June 2018.

24. For a further discussion on this point, see Gunatilleke, Gehan, ‘Two Faces of Sri Lankan Media: Censorship and Resistance’ in Sahana Udupa and Stephen McDowell (eds), Media as Politics in South Asia (Routledge 2017)Google Scholar.

25. Roshini Wickremesinhe, ‘Confronting intolerance: Continued violations against religious minorities in Sri Lanka’ (Minority Rights Group International 2016), 15 <> accessed 3 March 2018.

26. United States Department of State – Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour, ‘Sri Lanka 2015 International Religious Freedom Report’ in ‘International Religious Freedom Report for 2015’ (US Department of State 2016), 6 <> accessed 3 March 2018.

27. NCEASL, ‘Increase in Attacks on Religious Minorities in Sri Lanka’ (NCEASL Press Release, 27 May 2017) <> accessed 29 August 2017. The author consulted the Head of Legal and Advocacy (Religious Liberty Commission) of NCEASL to understand the methodology used to generate statistics on violence against Christians. The officer stated that all incident reports received by NCEASL through its network of churches are verified by NCEASL and published only upon verification.

28. Secretariat for Muslims, ‘Of Sacred Sites and Profane Politics: Tensions over Religious Sites and Ethnic Relations – Volume I Kuragala/Jailani and Devanagala’ (Secretariat for Muslims 2015), 6 <> accessed 3 March 2018.

29. United States Department of State (n 26) 7.

30. Hilmy Ahamed, ‘Escalating Violence: Renewed assaults on the Muslim community’ (Groundviews, 22 May 2017) <> accessed 29 August 2017.

31. Dharisha Bastians, ‘Gintota and the shadows of extremism’ Daily FT (Colombo, 23 November 2017) <> accessed 3 March 2018.

32. ibid.

33. ibid. See also Jehan Perera, ‘Government needs to close the space for hate speech’, The Island (Colombo, 20 November 2017) <> accessed 14 March 2018.

34. Bastians (n 31).

35. ibid. Also see Ratnasiri Malalagama and Nandana Nanneththi, ‘Sri Lanka: Racialist attack on Muslims in Gintota’ (World Socialist Website, 21 November 2017) <> accessed 5 December 2017.

36. See Maneshka Borham, ‘Kandy communal violence: Main suspect arrested’ Daily News (Colombo, 9 March 2018) <> accessed 22 March 2018; ‘Kandy incidents created new international challenges: PM’ Daily Mirror (Colombo, 11 March 2018) <> accessed 22 March 2018.

37. See ‘Continuing attacks fuel fears of anti-Muslim violence spreading in Sri Lanka’ (Sri Lanka Mirror, 6 March 2018) <> accessed 15 May 2018.

38. See incident reports collected by the Secretariat for Muslims: ‘Anti Muslim Sentiment In Sri Lanka: Hate Incidents – January To April 2015’ (Colombo Telegraph, 19 June 2015) <> accessed 29 August 2017.

39. Ministry of Religious Affairs and Moral Upliftment, Circular on Construction of New Places of Worship (16 October 2008). See Verité Research and NCEASL (n 14) 17–18.

40. United States Department of State (n 26) 5.

41. NCEASL (n 27).

42. See also Janeen Fernando and Shamara Wettimuny, ‘Religious violence in Sri Lanka: A new perspective on an old problem’ Daily FT (Colombo, 26 May 2017) <> accessed 3 March 2018.

43. S 290 of the Code criminalizes ‘injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class’. S 290B criminalizes ‘acts in relation to places of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class’. Ss 291, 291A, and 291B respectively criminalize ‘disturbing a religious assembly,’ ‘uttering words with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings’ and ‘deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class, by insulting its religion or religious beliefs’.

44. See s 79(2), which provides: ‘Any person who in any public place or at any public meeting uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour which is intended to provoke a breach of the peace or whereby a breach of the peace is likely to be occasioned, shall be guilty of an offence under this section.’

45. See s 3(5) of the ICCPR Act, which provides: ‘A trial in the High Court against any person for the commission of an offence under this section shall be taken up before any other business of that Court and shall be held on a day to day basis and shall not be postponed, unless due to any unavoidable circumstances, which shall be recorded.’

46. Esufally, Sabrina, Judicial Responses to Religious Freedom: A Case Analysis (National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka 2015)Google Scholar.

47. ibid 8.

48. See for eg, The Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Sri Lanka & Rev DGW Jayalath v Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha & others, CA Writ Application 781/2008 (Judgment of the Court of Appeal, 2009). In this case, the Court of Appeal issued a writ of certiorari against the Urban Development Authority for cancelling a construction permit. It held that the cancellation was ultra vires, as it ‘was based on an objection to the religious activities occurring within the premises and not on a specific violation of the Petitioner’s construction permit’.

49. ibid.

50. SC (FR) Application No 92/2016 (Judgment of the Supreme Court, 28 June 2017).

51. The state claimed that the construction of a Muslim school required prior permission from the Ministry of Religious Affairs under Circular No MBRA/2-SAD/10/ConGen/2013.

52. Faril v Bandaragama Pradeshiya Sabha (n 50) 11 (per Gooneratne J).

53. ibid 13–14.

54. Shamindra Ferdinando, ‘Suspects charged under Int’l Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act Gintota violence’ The Island (Colombo, 3 December 2017), <> accessed 3 March 2018.

55. Bielefeldt, Heiner, Ghanea, Nazila and Wiener, Michael, Freedom of Religion or Belief: An International Law Commentary (OUP 2016) 320 Google Scholar.

56. ibid.

57. ibid.

58. ibid.

59. DeVotta, Neil, Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalist Ideology: Implications for Politics and Conflict Resolution in Sri Lanka (East-West Center Washington 2007) 5 Google Scholar.

60. ibid.

61. Wilhelm Geiger, The Mahavamsa or the Great Chronicle of Ceylon (Ceylon Government Information Department 1950), ch VII, verse 4. Also see Gunawardana, RALH, ‘The People of the Lion: The Sinhala Identity and Ideology in History and Historiography’ (1979) 5 (1) & (2) The Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities 1, 5 Google Scholar; Holt, John, The Sri Lanka Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University Press 2011) 21 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

62. Obeyesekere, Gananath, The Work of Culture: Symbolic Transformation in Psychoanalysis and Anthropology (University of Chicago Press 1990) 147 Google Scholar.

63. DeVotta (n 59) 6.

64. See Blackburn, Anne M, Locations of Buddhism: Colonialism and Modernity in Sri Lanka (The University of Chicago Press 2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar for an in-depth discussion on the work of early revivalists such as Hikkadụwe Sri Sumangala Thera.

65. Gombrich, Richard and Obeyesekere, Gananath, Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka (Princeton University Press 1988) 202238 Google Scholar.

66. Zuhair, Ayesha, Dynamics of Sinhala Buddhist Ethno-Nationalism in Post-War Sri Lanka (Centre for Policy Alternatives 2016) 13 Google Scholar. See also Senaratne, Kalana, ‘Jathika Chinthanaya and the Executive Presidency’ in Asanga Welikala (ed), Reforming Sri Lankan Presidentialism: Provenance, Problems and Prospects (Centre for Policy Alternatives 2015) 208 Google Scholar.

67. Sasanka Perera, ‘The Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka: A Historical and Sociopolitical Outline’ (2001) World Bank Working Paper No 67706, 4<> accessed 10 August 2018. According to RALH Gunawardana, these campaigns were more likely to be aimed at capturing territory, rather than advancing a Sinhala-Buddhist nation. See Gunawardana, RALH, ‘The People of the Lion: The Sinhala Identity and Ideology in History and Historiography’ (1979) 5 (1) & (2), The Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities 1 Google Scholar.

68. Gunatilleke, The Chronic and the Acute (n 9) 35-36.

69. Perera (n 33) 8.

70. Schonthal, Benjamin, ‘Buddhism And The Constitution: The Historiography and Postcolonial Politics of Section 6’ in Asanga Welikala (ed), The Sri Lankan Republic at 40: Reflections on Constitutional History, Theory and Practice (Centre for Policy Alternatives 2012) 213 Google Scholar.

71. Tambiah, Stanley J, Sri Lanka: Ethnic Fratricide and the Dismantling of Democracy (University of Chicago Press 1986) 75 Google Scholar.

72. See ss 6 and 7 of the 1972 Constitution of Sri Lanka.

73. Schonthal (n 70) 213. Also see Benjamin Schonthal and Asanga Welikala, ‘Buddhism and the Regulation of Religion in the New Constitution: Past Debates, Present Challenges, and Future Options’ (2016) Centre for Policy Alternatives Working Papers on Constitutional Reform No 3, 6 <> accessed 10 August 2018.

74. See art 9 of the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka. The article provides: ‘The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).’ The only material distinction between s 6 of the 1972 Constitution and art 9 of the 1978 Constitution is the replacement of the term ‘Buddhism’ with the term ‘Buddha Sasana’ in the latter text.

75. For a comprehensive discussion on the subject, see Schonthal and Welikala (n 73) 14–20.

76. SC Special Determination No 19/2003.

77. ibid 2.

78. ibid 7.

79. ibid. See also Esufally (n 46) 10.

80. Schonthal and Welikala (n 73) 17.

81. See Keown, Damien, A Dictionary of Buddhism (OUP 2004) 45 Google Scholar; Anderson, Carol, Pain and its Ending: The Four Noble Truths in the Theravada Buddhist Canon (Routledge 2013) 33 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

82. Obeyesekere, Gananath, ‘Buddhism, Ethnicity and Identity: A Problem of Buddhist History’ (2003) 10 Journal of Buddhist Ethics 192, 207 Google Scholar. See also Gunawardana (n 61) 5.

83. ibid.

84. In the Matter of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution and Provincial Councils Bill (1987) 2 Sri LR 333 (Supreme Court)

85. Schonthal and Welikala (n 73) 17.

86. ibid.

87. Roberts, Michael, ‘Teaching Lessons, Removing Evil: Strands of Moral Puritanism in Sinhala Nationalist Practice’ (1996) 19(Supp 001) South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies (Special Issue) 205, 207 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

88. ibid 208.

89. Nuhman, MA, ‘Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism and Muslim Identity: One Hundred Years of Conflict and Coexistence’ in John Clifford Holt (ed), Buddhist Extremists and Muslim Minorities: Religious Conflict (OUP 2016) 27 Google Scholar.

90. ibid 28.

91. See Jayawardena, Kumari, ‘Economic and Political Factors in the 1915 Riots’ (1970) 29(2) The Journal of Asian Studies 223 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

92. Ali, Ameer, ‘Four Waves of Muslim-Phobia in Sri Lanka: c.1880–2009’ (2015) 35 (4) Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 486, 490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

93. Roberts (n 87) 208. Also see Roberts, Michael, Exploring Confrontation – Sri Lanka: Politics, Culture and History (Harwood Academic Publishers 1994) 158 Google Scholar.

94. ibid.

95. Jayawardena (n 91) 232.

96. Tambiah (n 71) 92–93.

97. See Hoole, Rajan, ‘The Tamil Secessionist Movement in Sri Lanka (Ceylon): A Case of Secession by Default?’ in Metta Spencer (ed), Separatism: Democracy and Disintegration (Rowman & Littlefield 1998)Google Scholar.

98. Gunatilleke, Confronting the Complexity of Loss (n 17) 17.

99. See Faslan, Mohamed and Vanniasinkam, Nadine, Fracturing Community: Intra-group Relations among the Muslims of Sri Lanka (International Centre for Ethnic Studies 2015)Google Scholar.

100. ibid 1, 22. The authors observe that this competition emerges from the need to attract funding and support from Saudi Arabian donors seeking the promotion of Wahhabism in Sri Lanka. Accordingly, highly visible intra-Muslim conflicts and Muslim factionalism have been associated with radical Islam.

101. Jayasinghe, Sumudhu, Mapping among the Minority-Majority: Understanding the Context and Identifying Strategies (Regional Centre for Strategic Studies 2016) 56 Google Scholar.

102. ibid 6. See Ahilan Kadirgamar, ‘The Political Economy of Anti-Muslim Attacks’ The Island (Colombo, 2 March 2013) <> accessed 3 March 2018. See also Farzana Haniffa, Competing for Victimhood Status: Northern Muslims and the Ironies of Post-War Reconciliation, Justice and Development (2014) ICES Research Paper No 13, 24<> accessed 10 August 2018.

103. Schonthal, Benjamin, Buddhism, Politics and the Limits of Law: The Pyrrhic Constitutionalism of Sri Lanka (CUP 2016) 224 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

104. de Silva, KM, A History of Sri Lanka (Penguin Books India 2005) 128, 258 Google Scholar.

105. See Ranjith Dewasiri, Nirmal, New Buddhist Extremism and the Challenges to Ethno-Religious Coexistence in Sri Lanka (International Centre for Ethnic Studies 2016) 16 Google Scholar. The author observes: ‘Although there is a history behind the tension between Buddhism and Christianity in Sri Lanka, the two religious establishments have come to a tacit agreement not to penetrate each other’s sphere of influence in recent decades.’

106. ibid 6.

107. See Pinto-Jayawardena, Kishali, de Almeida Gunaratne, Jayantha and Gunatilleke, Gehan, The Judicial Mind: Responding to the Protection of Minority Rights (Law & Society Trust Sri Lanka 2014) 279280 Google Scholar.

108. Gunatilleke, The Chronic and the Acute (n 9) 35.

109. National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka, Centre for Human Rights Development, and Minority Rights Group International, ‘Alternative Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD): Review of the Periodic Report of Sri Lanka’ NCEASL 2016) <> accessed 10 June 2018.

110. Wikremesinhe (n 25) 12.

111. Dewasiri (n 105) 37.

112. DeVotta, Neil and Stone, Jason, ‘Jathika Hela Urumaya and Ethno-Religious Politics in Sri Lanka’ (2008) 81 (1) Pacific Affairs 31, 32 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

113. ibid.

114. ibid.

115. Zuhair (n 66) 9. See also Rāhula, Walpola, The Heritage of the Bhikkhu: A Short History of the Bhikkhu in Educational, Cultural, Social, and Political Life (KPG Wijayasurendra tr, Grove Press 1974)Google Scholar.

116. Zuhair (n 66) 9.

117. According to Ven Galkande Dammananda Thera, the priest-in-charge of the Walpola Rahula Institute, the socio-political activism of Buddhist monks in the 1940s focused on securing free education. However, in the 1950s, such activism turned to a nationalist agenda for political control and has since never returned to the original Rahulan vision. See Dhaneshi Yatawara, ‘“Respect public opinion” – Ven. Galkande Dhammananda’ Daily Mirror (Colombo, 20 July 2017) <> accessed 2 March 2018.

118. Schober, Juliane, ‘Buddhism, Violence and the State in Burma (Myanmar) and Sri Lanka’ in Linell E Cady and Sheldon W Simon (eds), Religion and Conflict in South and Southeast Asia: Disrupting Violence (Routledge 2006) 62 Google Scholar.

119. ibid.

120. DeVotta, Neil, Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalist Ideology: Implications for Politics and Conflict Resolution in Sri Lanka (East-West Center Washington 2007) 10 Google Scholar.

121. ‘Ampitiye Sumanarathana: The Untold Truth’ (Frontpage, 29 November 2016) <> accessed 13 October 2017.

122. ‘Gnanasara Thera gets bail twice in a day’ Daily News (Colombo, 22 June 2017) <> accessed 2 March 2018.

123. The author is particularly indebted to Sarinda Perera for sharing his thoughts and insights on this topic. See also Spencer, Jonathan and others, Checkpoint, Temple, Church and Mosque: A Collaborative Ethnography of War and Peace (Pluto Press 2015) 168169 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

124. Zuhair (n 66) 9, citing Uyangoda, Jayadeva, ‘Paradoxes of Buddhism’ in Jayadeva Uyangoda (ed), Religion in Context: Buddhism and Socio-Political Change in Sri Lanka (Social Scientists’ Association 2007) 1 Google Scholar.

125. Tambiah, Sri Lanka: Ethnic Fratricide (n 71) 94.

126. Department of Government Information, ‘Statement by Cabinet of Ministers on recent attacks on religious places’ (Department of Government Information 14 June 2017) <> accessed 13 October 2017.

127. Zacki Jabbar, ‘Minister hiding Gnanasara Thera?’ The Island (Colombo, 8 June 2017) <> accessed 2 March 2018.

128. DeVotta, Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalist Ideology, (n 120) 38.

129. ‘Asgiriya chapter issues tough statement’ Daily Mirror (Colombo, 20 June 2017) <> accessed 10 August 2018.

130. Smock (n 5) 2.

131. Kaplan, Seth, ‘Religion, Development, and Fragile States’ in Emma Tomalin (ed), The Routledge Handbook of Religions and Global Development (Routledge 2015) 422 Google Scholar.

132. ibid.

133. ibid. The author observes that Nigeria and Sudan are two examples of ‘how religion became interwoven with longstanding grievances among identity groups’.

134. ibid.

135. ibid.

136. Little, David, ‘Religion, Nationalism, and Intolerance’, in T Sisk (ed), Between Terror and Tolerance: Religious Leaders, Conflict, and Peacemaking (Georgetown University Press 2011) 928 Google Scholar.

137. Kaplan (n 131) n 423.

138. Asanga Welikala, ‘Ethnocracy or republic?’ (n 8) 10.

139. ‘No need of a new Constitution or Amendments - Malwatu & Asgiriya Chapters’ Daily Mirror (Colombo, 18 October 2017) <> accessed 10 August 2018.

140. Abdullahi An-Na’im, ‘Universality of Human Rights: Mediating Paradox to Enhance Practice’ in Miodrag A Jovanovic and Ivana Kristic (eds), Human Rights Today – 60 Years of the Universal Declaration (Eleven International Publishing 2010) 34–35.

141. ibid 38.

142. ibid 38–39.

143. Tamanaha, Brian Z, ‘The Primacy of Society and the Failures of Law and Development’ (2011) 44(2) Cornell International Law Journal 209, 244 Google Scholar.

144. Schonthal, Buddhism, Politics and the Limits of Law (n 103) 219.

145. Tamanaha (n 143) 214.

146. ibid.

147. An-Na’im (n 140) 39. Also see Engle Merry, Sally, Human Rights and Gender Violence: Translating International Law into Local Justice (University of Chicago Press 2005) 219221 CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Merry emphasizes the importance of the ‘vernacularisation’ of human rights ideas to ensure their sustained resonance with local communities.

148. ibid.

149. Ignatieff, Michael, The Ordinary Virtues: Moral Order in a Divided World (Harvard University Press 2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The author had the benefit of hearing Michael Ignatieff speak on this new publication during a lecture titled ‘Human Rights, Global Ethics and the Ordinary Virtues’ on 27 October 2016 at Merton College, University of Oxford. See also Ignatieff, Michael, ‘Human Rights, Global Ethics and the Ordinary Virtues’ (2017) 31(1) Ethics & International Affairs 3, 4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

150. Ignatieff, ‘Human Rights, Global Ethics and the Ordinary Virtues’ (n 149) 10.

151. See for eg Galkande Dhammananda Thera, ‘How do we build trust between communities?’ (Public lecture organized by the Movement to Protect Democratic Rights, Knowledge Box, 4 October 2017) available at: <> accessed 5 December 2017. Also see Yatawara (n 117).

152. UNESCO, ‘Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development’ (Global Education Monitoring Report – Policy Paper No 28, 2016), 11–12. See also Cardozo, MTAL, ‘Sri Lanka: In Peace or in Pieces? A Critical Approach to Peace Education in Sri Lanka’ (2008) 3(1) Research in Comparative and International Education 19 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

153. UNESCO (n 152) 12.

154. For a useful discussion on this subject see Shamara Wettimuny, ‘The Danger in Distorted Education: Sri Lanka’s History Curriculum’ (Groundviews, 29 October 2016) <> accessed 26 August 2017.

155. Ministry of National Coexistence, Dialogue and Official Languages, ‘People of Sri Lanka’ (Ministry of National Coexistence, Dialogue and Official Languages 2017), 14 <> accessed 2 March 2018.

156. Samaratunge, Shilpa and Hattotuwa, Sanjana, Liking violence: A study of hate speech on Facebook in Sri Lanka (Centre for Policy Alternatives 2014) 21 Google Scholar.

157. Tambiah, Stanley J, Leveling Crowds: Ethnonationalist Conflicts and Collective Violence in South Asia (University of California Press 1997) 291 Google Scholar.

158. ibid.

159. ‘Social Media Rumours Escalate Buddhist-Muslim Violence in Sri Lanka’ (Global Voices, 23 November 2017) <> accessed 5 December 2017.

160. For an in-depth discussion of the issue, see Bielefeldt, Ghanea and Wiener (n 55) 309–359. See also Gunawardene, Nalaka, Digital Transformation in Sri Lanka: Opportunities and Challenges in Pursuit of Liberal Policies (Friedrich Naumann Foundation 2017) 7478 Google Scholar.

161. UNHRC, ‘Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the expert workshops on the prohibition of incitement to national, racial or religious hatred’ in ‘Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (A/HRC/22/17/Add.4, UNHRC 11 January 2013) <> accessed 18 June 2018.

162. ibid para 27.