- Created on 25 May 2015
The mob violence that suddenly burst forth in Jaffna has given rise to multiple interpretations, both in Jaffna and elsewhere. Opposition politicians have claimed that the displaced Sinhalese who have been resettled in parts of Jaffna were being targeted. Others claimed that national security had been jeopardized by the demilitarization taking place in the North and the entrusting of security measures to the police. They saw in the unrest the footprint of the Tiger seeking to stage a comeback with support from parts of the Tamil Diaspora who continue to harbor separatist ambitions. In these analyses of the happenings in Jaffna there seemed to be a certain nostalgia for a return of the old days when the former government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa ruled the North with an iron hand. But this was not the reality in the North nor the desire of the people there.
- Created on 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.
- Created on 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.
- Created on 05 May 2015
US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Sri Lanka coincided with the conclusion of the government’s 100 Day programme which had just ended on a high note. The virtually unanimous passage the 19th Amendment to the constitution was a triumph to the government. The vote in favour was 212 to 1. The reform of the executive presidency, which formed the core of the 19th Amendment, was a promise that had eluded successive governments for over two decades. During the latter half of the 100 day period it seemed that the government was not going to be successful in implementing the most important of its election time pledges. There was increased public skepticism about its willingness and ability to tackle issues of past corruption and abuse of power. The opposition led by supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa appeared to be gathering in strength.
However, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were able to lead their respective political parties to an unprecedented bipartisan consensus that saw all other political parties fall in line. The emergence of a reformed presidency shorn of its extreme powers was an outcome of their leadership. In a statement to the media, the visiting US Secretary of State acknowledged the government’s commitment to reform. He said, “One thing about this Sri Lankan government seems clear. The President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister are not afraid of tackling tough issues. They are willing to make difficult decisions and they are committed to keeping their promises. We have seen that in the 100 day plan.”
- Created on 27 April 2015
With the debate over the 19th Amendment to the constitution entering its final phase this week, the country is entering a decisive phase. The passage of this constitutional amendment will set in motion a process whereby Sri Lanka will become subject to the Rule of Law and not the rule of men as was advocated by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission in its report after having consulted a wide swarth of the country's intellectuals, decisionmakers and community leaders. The presidential system in Sri Lanka was flawed at its very inception, as it did not provide for an adequate system of checks and balances found in democratic countries with successful presidential systems. The 19th Amendment will go a signficant part of the way to create conditions for better governance in the country.
The abolishing of the presidential system has been part of the election manifesto of previous presidents. But it has been President Maithripala Sirisena who has been most committed to shedding his powers. He has had to endure barbs that he is not a strong leader. But he has shown strength in being committed to reform the presidency as he promised during the presidential election campaign. While most other political leaders will fight for their own powers, he is being true to the Buddhist ethos of his upbringing to transcend that fight in which he prevailed for a higher purpose. The President's efforts to push through a constitutional amendment that will reduce his own power is a rare example of statesmanship, not only in Sri Lanka but worldwide.
There is a great deal of international expectations about progress in Sri Lanka. The visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry will be taking place the following week. Sri Lanka is able to position itself as a post-war country with a message to other countries that are struggling to come out of their own conflicts. The Sri Lankan model of changing governments, even very powerful and seemingly entrenched ones, through the democratic process is one that the international community would wish to support in other parts of the world where change of governments are necessary. The Sri Lankan model of a president from one major party running a government with a prime minister from a rival major party, and a government that has almost all parties in Parliament represented in it is unique.
- Created on 20 April 2015
The inability of the government to force through its decisions, and the appearance of opposition forces supportive of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa gaining ground, has generated concerns about the government’s longer term stability. The defeat of the government’s money bill in Parliament has highlighted the structural weakness of the government. The difficulty that the government has been experiencing in fulfilling its main election promises, catching the corrupt and passing the 19th Amendment, has eroded public confidence in the government’s strength. Currently the SLFP has a majority in Parliament with 126 seats while the UNP plays the role of a ‘minority government’ with 41 Parliamentary seats from a total of 225 seats. Without the assistance of the SLFP, the government is unable to obtain even a simple majority of votes to implement its plans. If the opposition parliamentarians could have their way it would be former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who would be the Prime Minister.
The anxiety about the government’s stability is especially articulated in the ethnic minority-dominated North and East. Whether in Jaffna, Mannar or Batticaloa the question that people worry about is whether former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is about to stage a comeback. Those are the parts of the country that delivered the biggest majorities to President Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential elections held four months ago. The Tamil voters of the North and East in particular had to contend with boycott calls from within the Tamil polity itself. They also had to overcome the apprehension that the incumbent government would take some action that would prevent them from expressing their will at those elections. But the voters there were prepared to take risks in voting against the incumbent government because they strongly desired change.
- Created on 06 April 2015
The resolution passed by the Northern Provincial Council accusing successive Sri Lankan governments of committing acts of genocide against the Tamil people came a few weeks before the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva in March this year. It also asked the UN to set up an investigation into Genocide in various forms alleged to have been perpetrated on the Tamil people from the time of Independence. The resolution also called upon the UN to release the report of its investigation panel into alleged war crimes committed in the final phase of the country’s internal war, and to also set up an international process to ensure accountability for those crimes. However, the UN did not release the report of its investigation panel. It heeded the Sri Lankan government’s appeal that the release of the report should be postponed to give the new government time to make its own domestic accountability procedure more concrete. The UN report is now expected to be released later this year in September when the UN Human Rights Council gathers once again in Geneva.
The visit to Sri Lanka of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Truth, Accountability, Reparations and Guarantees of Non- Recurrence, Pablo de Greiff, gave the Northern Provincial Council another opportunity to present its case on genocide before the UN. It is reported that the Genocide Resolution was given to the UN Special Rapporteur. However, once again, it does not appear that the Genocide Resolution has had the desired impact. The Tamil media reported that “the UN Special Rapporteur was advocating for an internal mechanism during his visit. He was urging more time and space to be given to the new regime in Colombo. However, the Tamil representatives have explained in detail on the failure of all successive regimes in Colombo in delivering internal mechanisms capable of addressing the crimes committed by the SL State itself and its armed forces in the past.”
- Created on 01 April 2015
දමිළ ඩයස්පෝරාව ශී්ර ලංකාවේ සාමාන්යයෙන් විස්තර වන්නේ රටට ද්රෝහි වූ රට බෙදීමට උත්සාහ කරන පිරිසක් ලෙසය. පසුගිය යුද කාලයේදී එල්ටීටීඊයට අවශ්ය මූල්යාධාර හා අවි එතෙර සිට ඩයස්පෝරාව සැපයූ හෙයින්, එය බලවත් යුද බලයක් බවට පත්ව රටේ ඒකීය භාවයටත් එහි පුරවැසියනටත් බලවත් තර්ජනයක් විය. එල්ටීටීඊ පරාජය ආසන්න අවස්ථාවේදී බටහිර රටවල දමිළ ඩයස්පෝරාව පෙළ ගැස්වූ විශාල විරෝධතාවලින් එල්ටීටීඊ අපේක්ෂාව තමනට කරගසා ගැනීමට හැකි බව ප්රදර්ශනය කළහ. එහෙත් ජනාධිපති මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ මහතා පරාජයට පත් කළ ජනාධිපතිවරණයෙන් පසුව නව රජය සහ රටේ දමිළ ජනයා ප්රධාන වශයෙන් නියෝජනය කරන දමිළ ජාතික සන්ධානය (ඔගභග්ග* අතර සමීප සබඳතා ගොඩනංවා ගෙන ඇත. ජාතික ප්රතිසංධානය උදෙසා වන පෙර නිමිත්තක් ලෙස, මෙය දමිළ ඩයස්පෝරාව තුළ වෙනසක් සිදු වෙමින් පවතී. මේ අනුව දමිළ ඩයස්පෝරාව සමඟ සතුරුවීමට වඩා මිතුරුවීම වඩාත් යෝග්යය.
- Created on 01 April 2015
රජය පිළිබඳ ජනතා විරෝධය වර්ධනය වෙමින් පවතී. එසේම විරුද්්ධ පක්ෂයෙන් විවේචන අපේක්ෂා කළ යුතුය. ඉදිරි පාර්ලිමේන්තු මැතිවරණ ලඟ ලඟම අපේක්ෂා කරද්දී රජයේ වැරදි සෙවීමට අවස්ථා සෙවීම ඔවුන්ගේ යහපත සඳහා අවශ්යය. එසේ වූවද රජය විවේචනය කරන්නේ විරුද්ධ පක්ෂය පමණක් නොවේ. පැවති රජය බලයට පත් කිරීමට ආධාර කළවුන් පවා පවත්නා රජයට එරෙහිව විවේචන සිදු කරති. ¥ෂණය හා බල අපයෝජනය ජනාධිපති ඡුන්ද පැවැත්වීම නිගමනය කළ අවස්ථාවේ, පැවති රජයේ එක්සත් බව බිඳීයාමට තුඩු දුන් ප්රධාන හේතුව මෙය වේ.
- Created on 31 March 2015
ජනාධිපතිවරයාගේ ජනාධිපති ඡුන්ද පොරොන්දු ප්රකාශනයේ සඳහන් දින 100 වැඩ සටහන කි්රයාත්මක කිරීමේ මන්දගාමී බව කෙරෙහි රජය විවේචනයට ලක්වී ඇත. එහෙත් දමිළ ජනයාගේ විශ්වාසය ශක්තිමත් කිරීමට යහපත් චේතනාවෙන් රජය තම ජනාධිපතිවරණ පොරොන්දු ඉක්මවා ගොස් ඇත. සන්ධානගත රජයේ පක්ෂ නායකයන්ගෙන් යුත් ජාතික විධායක සභාවේ රැුස්වීමකදී ජනාධිපති මෛත්රිපාල සිරිසේන මහතා දමිළ භාෂාවෙන් ජාතික ගීය ගැයීමට ඉඩදීමට ගත් තිරණය නිර්භීත කි්රයාවකි. තම රාජ්ය තාන්ත්රික තීරණය කෙරෙහි ජාතික සාම මණ්ඩලය ජනාධිපතිවරයාට තම ප්රසංශාව පළකරයි. තමන්ට අවබෝධ කරගත හැකි භාෂාවකින් ජාතික ගීය ගායනා කරන විට දමිළ ජනයාට ශ්රී ලංකා ප්රජාවට තමන්ද අයත් බව හැඟී යන බැවින් මෙය රජයේ තවත් ප්රතිසංධාන කි්රයාවක් ලෙස අපි දකිමු.