Residents of the Sri Jayawardanapura – Kotte area have been sent forms headed “Pawul Cardpatha” (family card) in Sinhala only, apparently emanating from the Divisional Secretariat, asking for a number of personal details about family and house. These include “Jathiya” (race) and “Agama” (religion).
Since the form also asks for the National Identity Card number, Sri Lankan citizenship can thereby be established. As most people would know, neither a person’s passport nor identity card are required to state race or religion.
Such provisions will only serve to create fear and distrust amongst the people who have been asked to fill the forms, especially members of minority communities. Such a question also makes no provision for people of mixed race to accurately describe themselves, even if they wanted to.
Although ethnicity may sometimes be apparent from surnames, I am not aware of any legal provision that requires a person to state his or her race or religion to any civic authority. I am writing this letter to assist other members of the public who may encounter such forms.