VISION OF HOPE - Part I
The dramatic developments following the January 2015 presidential elections must have been nothing short of a miracle for Sri Lankan observers. The ousting of a dictatorial dynasty, the emergence of a cohort of the previous regime as the latter day saviours, civilized behaviour of the public after accepting the verdict of the ballot box are all too much to take-in.
The revelations of wide-spread corruption and abuse of power are steadily pouring out into the public domain. Previous electoral experiences had resulted in vote rigging and riots, irrespective of whoever won. In the end, common sense prevailed and with the Pope's visit, the island returned to a semblance of normalcy. However, there was some disquiet about the visit and the Pontiff's words might have fallen on stony grounds in the south of the island.
The time is now appropriate to do a soul searching stock taking to ascertain where we are and where we go from here. Is it possible for the Tamils and Sinhalese to live together without further bloodshed? While the world is moving forward with major technological developments, can we put the wasted decades behind us and look forward with hope and build a future that is secure for all Sri Lankans?
The President has already started going back on his promises made to the Tamils to get their votes. For instance, the army stationed in the north has not been withdrawn and the land occupied by the army has not been released to its rightful Tamil owners in an expedient manner. The Foreign Minister has sworn to stop the UN Tribunal on Sri Lanka from reporting on its findings about the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the armed forces and Tamils have not yet been reassured of the international underwriting to ensure the integrity of the proposed local mechanism. They have exerted pressure on the Human Rights Council into withholding the report until this September and the SL government may ultimately never accede to the publication of an independent UN report and thus, deny the possibility of the International Criminal Court bringing charges against the Rajapakse regime.
The island's past history of majoritarian oppression has been tarnished with suspicion, hatred and violence. Can we leave all these dreadful events to history? In order to do that, the political leaders and military men who ordered the worst criminal massacres in modern / contemporary history should be brought to book in the international courts .All the island's people, whether Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims can live in peace and harmony, if the early actions of the new administration are not only continued as promised but developed in conjunction with the elected representatives of the hitherto, traumatised and violated minority communities.
Actions should speak louder than mere words. With the present administration starting to back track on their promises to the Tamils, can the Tamils continue to trust President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil. Prime Minister Ranil has a long history of deceit in his previous dealings with the Tamils and he has now taken up cudgels with the much respected Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council, Justice Wigneswaran.
Let the Tamil farmers, fishermen and the office workers do their duty with commitment and pride in order to prosper. There is no need for anyone to live under the trees. The state must provide and protect all its citizens
The much discussed 13th Amendment to the constitution could be the basis or starting point for addressing the Tamil question. Sri Lanka can follow the model of Scotland to enjoy autonomy within the united island. However, Scotland is poised to move to full devolution, including the right to raise taxes whereas the 13th Amendment will only provide the bare language rights, with the Sinhala centre holding control over important portfolios including police, land rights and finance. The clear need to move towards a Scottish model is what the TNA has recently endorsed and indeed, it's been supported by the Indian Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) on his recent visit to the island. The SL Government must take active and transparent actions to reverse the repressive and violent measures its predecessor administrations had inflicted on the island's people.
Time and talent should be devoted to build the nation and an open and fair judicial process can examine the historical rights and wrongs. An independent international inquiry into the alleged war crimes has been the policy of TWG.
The long suffering Tamils deserve the right to be treated equally before the Law, with the latter speedily amended to reflect the just and lawful interests of the minority communities.
We must all make clear that hate is never right and nor is injustice and abuse of human rights. The question remains as to whether Tamils will be brave and prepared to move on from the past violent years of suffering by swapping a clear opportunity for peace through a fully fledged federal system to govern themselves within a united Sri Lanka, with a commitment to forgive those culprits indicted by the international war crimes investigation.
Tamil Writers Guild Editorial Board
Source: Tamil Writers Guild, UK
Date: 18 May 2015