WILL IT BE A CASE OF HERE WE GO AGAIN?
The Sri Lankan 2019 Presidential Election has opened a new chapter in the country's tumultuous history. The people in the North and East will be putting up their hands in horror at the dreaded outcome of the election.
The new President Gotabaya Rajapakse didn't get any significant votes in the North and East while the runner up (Sajith Premadasa) received 80 -90% votes in those areas. This shows that Tamils haven't forgotten the time when the then Defence Minister Rajapakse was in charge. That period gave rise to credible allegations about war crimes, crimes against humanity, rape, torture and the forced disappearance of Tamil youths. As if rubbing salt to the wound, the new President has just told people to forget the past!
The previous Mahinda Rajapakse regime (2005 - 2015) was increasingly authoritarian. People lived in fear, with corruption and nepotism prevailing. Minorities' rights and particularly, the fundamental rights of Tamils were consistently denied.
The 2019 Easter Sunday bombings has given rise to increased Islamophobia, with anti-Muslim tendencies and religious tensions being also resurrected. However, the perennial problem of the Tamil question cannot be swept under the carpet.
In Sri Lankan politics, reaching out to ethnic and religious minorities has never been genuinely attempted and certainly not in the last 50 years. This requires a political upheaval in a predominantly Sinhala-Buddhist culture.
Sajith Premadasa's manifesto included democratic reforms and Tamil considerations, such as constitutional reform, power-sharing, reconciliation and respecting international resolutions.
The Tamils in the North and East welcomed these policies and voted for it. The new President should embrace these policies in order to win country wide and indeed, international support.
The President should have a statesman's vision for a better future for the country, unlike a long line of Sri Lankan politicians who only thought about the next election, their own family/clan's welfare and their bank balances!
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Tamil Writers Guild Editorial Board
Source: Tamil Writers Guild, London, UK
Date: 22 November 2019