- Monday, 18 May 2015
May 18 has been a day of divisive sentiment since the year 2009. This was the day the war ended on the battlefields of the North. This meant the dawn of peace and an end to terrorism that had plagued the country for nearly three decades. But to the Tamils who had supported the campaign of the LTTE to separate the North and East of the country, it was the bitter end of a struggle that had gone nowhere. British Tamil Forum president Fr S J Emanuel framed the dichotomy as “The end of the war between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE meant two entirely different things with different rationale to justify their actions. For the Government it was a victory over Tamil terrorism, end of a war and beginning of peace. But for the Tamils it was the culmination of another mass massacre of militants and civilians and the beginning of incarcerations and further militarization, robbing of lands and missing of persons.”
Remembrance can be an act of union or of division. The Victory Day event organized in Colombo on May 18 by supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa titled “Protect the Motherland Liberated by Heroes” was to counter “efforts to undermine the service rendered by our valiant troops in liberating the motherland from terrorism” according to organizers of the event. The government of the former president made the victory over the LTTE the centre piece of its political programme. Its success in achieving victory over the LTTE was used time and again at election campaigns to generate nationalistic pride in the majority of people which translated into majority support at elections. May 18 became an occasion to remind the people of the war victory.
- Monday, 18 May 2015
Protect the Space for Reconciliation during May 18 Commemorations
The government has declared that May 18, the day the war ended six years ago in 2009, will be commemorated as a Day of Remembrance. This signifies a departure from the practice of the past five years when it was considered a Day of Victory, and is recognition that the people who fought against the government were part of the same national community and constituted members of the same State. The government will be conducting its own military parade on this day, but unlike in the past it will also remember all who died in the three decade long conflict. It has also expressed its opposition to the occasion being used to pay tribute to the LTTE as an organisation and has taken legal injunctions to prevent commemorations of the LTTE.
- Tuesday, 12 May 2015
QUOTAS FOR WOMEN TO ENSURE THEIR FAIR REPRESENTATION
The passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution is the beginning of a long journey to governance based on principles of human rights, fair representation and checks and balances. It owes much to the statesmanship of President Maithripala Sirisena and the vision of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The 19th Amendment was passed by an overwhelming majority of 212 votes to 1 in Parliament. It is intended to make the presidency accountable to the judiciary and to parliament and also the secure the integrity of those state institutions whose independence from partisan politics needs to be strengthened. These include the judiciary, police and public service.
The 19th Amendment establishes a Constitutional Council of 10 members, of whom three each will be appointed by the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. One will be appointed by the President. The Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Speaker will be ex officio members. The Constitutional Council will be empowered to make the selections of those persons who will constitute the appointing authorities of the various state institutions.
Following the presidential elections, the President and government leaders have publicly affirmed the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of the Sri Lankan polity. This suggests that those appointed to the Constitutional Council should represent the multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature of the polity. The National Peace Council calls on the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition to both ensure that at least one of the three members they are each entitled to appoint to the Constitutional Council should be from an ethnic or religious minority.
- Monday, 11 May 2015
President Maithripala Sirisena has revoked an agreement with the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka to allocate 800 acres of land for investment projects in Sampur and released the land to be used to resettle people who had been displaced from the area. He had also directed that a navy camp set up there should also be relocated to enable the resettlement of the displaced people. The people were displaced in 2006 when the Sri Lankan military retook the Sampur area, which had been under LTTE control. The LTTE used the strategic location at Sampur to fire artillery into the nearby Trincomalee Harbour and naval base. Thereafter the land was taken over by the government for its own purposes including a naval camp and high security zone.