Language rights in Sri Lanka

Language is not only imperative for communication, but it is often a core aspect of an individual’s identity and culture. Furthermore, the ability to successfully convey information and to be understood is crucial to accessing information, seeking justice, and ensuring the enforcement of rights. Sri Lanka’s Official Language Policy (OLP) is to make all forms of government institutions available in Sinhala, Tamil, and English; however, research findings clearly show that equal access to information in all local languages is not available across Sri Lanka. The country’s inability to implement the OLP has caused significant problems, contributed to ongoing community tensions and conflict, and hampered reconciliation efforts. These issues are compounded among vulnerable groups such as female heads of households.

To address this pervasive but often overlooked issue, CEJ is working with university students to raise awareness of the OLP and advocate for structural reform. Students from the language rights project, together with a video development consultant, designed and produced an animated video that explores recent significant events in Sri Lanka that resulted from a lack of language inclusivity. The video will be showcased in all three languages to raise awareness of Sri Lanka’s history of language rights issues and its impact on all parts of society.

Watch the video here