“Perceptions of discrimination arise from denial of access to resources and public facilities such as education, jobs, land, government portions and so on. They are heightened by the realization or perception that one’s identity-individual and collective is threatened, generating the fear that one’s existence, the sense of who one is, is in danger of destruction. The most potent source of violent conflict today is identity“.
Chandrika Kumaratunga, Member of the Club de Madrid and former President of Sri Lanka (1994-2005), delivered a lecture in the King’s College of London last december about the subject “terrorism and state”. There, she talked about the relation between inequality and intra-national conflicts that are the origin of terrorism.
So, Madam Kumaratunga analyzed the problem of terrorism with the Shared Societies vision, explaining the concept of our project and how can it help to make a peaceful society. “Violence in multi-religious and multi-ethnic Nations is not caused by the presence of diversity or by the ‘clash of civilizations’, but is due to the exclusion of the less powerful groups. The marginalized groups then mobilize around their group identity”.
President Kumaratunga talked about some examples of “horizontal inequalities”, inequalities between communities of equal social and cultural status that engender numerous conflicts: economic and social inequalities, cultural, languaje, racial and religious discrimination, political inequality…
Then, she offered her personal experience as Head of State of Sri Lanka: “Hence we adopted a strategy of honest, public discourse to inform the people that the only viable solution was to choose the path of dialogue, negotiations and peace achieved by means of sharing political power through a federal constitution and by building a Cohesive Nation and an Inclusive State. We won three major elections within eighteen months, with an increased majority vote at each one”