MinorMatters and ADT recently concluded a regional launch of the Museum of Religious Freedom, the country’s first-ever virtual museum of the kind, in Batticaloa. The museum, which has been designed as an inclusive space for archiving, learning, and critically reflecting on the complex histories and contemporary concerns relating to the freedom of religion or belief in Sri Lanka (FoRB), was a recipient of the Intercultural Innovation Award by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the BMW Group in 2019.
The launch was held on the 10th of June at the Treatoo Hotel in Batticaloa. The event was organised in partnership with Local Initiatives for Tomorrow (LIFT), an NGO based in Batticaloa.
Deshamanya Godfrey Yogarajah, the CEO of ADT, Yamini Ravindran, the Director for Legal and Advocacy for ADT, and Mike Gabriel, the project lead for the Museum of Religious Freedom, took part in the launch.
A two-day workshop on FoRB followed the launch with the participation of 25 youth leaders belonging to various religious backgrounds in the region.
After the launch in Batticaloa, MinorMatters also conducted a two-day workshop in Galle on the 29th and 30th of June in partnership with the Southern Province Education Department. The workshop, held at the Management Development and Training Institute in Wakwella, brought together 36 students between the ages of 16 and 18 from across the Galle District. The sessions, which revolved around FoRB and the country’s history with religious freedom, were conducted based on the museum's content.
Similar workshops are set to be conducted for school children and youth in the Matara, Hambantota and Jaffna districts over the next few weeks. The workshop in Jaffna will be conducted along with a three-day exhibition based on the Museum of Religious Freedom.
“To strengthen the freedom of religion or belief in Sri Lanka, it is imperative that we first improve FoRB literacy among communities with a specific focus on the country’s youth,” said Yamini Ravindran. “Increasing awareness and understanding concerning FoRB will go a long way in positively impacting social attitudes toward FoRB,” she added.
According to MinorMatters, the students and youth who participate in the workshops will be provided with small grants to develop campaigns to promote FoRB in their respective communities.
MinorMatters is a national campaign that seeks to strengthen FoRB and promote religious harmony in Sri Lanka. The campaign, set up in 2018, also supports efforts to advance reconciliation, counter religious extremism and promote social cohesion.