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Fiasco in Paradise and a return to flagrant illegality and political gerrymandering!

Date: 19 Nov 2018
Source : Editorial Board, Tamil Writers Guild.

Fiasco in Paradise and a return to flagrant illegality and political gerrymandering!

The recent political somersaults in Sri Lankan government have surprised not only the locals but also the international observers. Pandemonium broke out when president Sirisena dismissed the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and appointed the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister. This unprecedented move has confirmed that anything is possible in Sri Lanka. The dramatic turn of events was described as an 'anti-democratic coup'. The climax of the comedy of errors hitherto was the premature dissolution of parliament. The hasty dismissals and appointments, the suspension of parliament for political manoeuvring and the eventual dissolution of parliament have been widely deemed to be unconstitutional and illegal.

If the legal challenge to this unconstitutional coup fails, then it is left to the people to decide and the voters should take into consideration the cunning and deceitful brood and vote with their feet to purge the establishment. There are leaders against whom there are credible allegations of complicity in the murder of tens of thousands of innocent citizens during the final stages of the civil war. One of those leaders was the Defence Minister during the war with disastrous consequences. Another leader promised good governance to protect human rights but to no avail.

While all this is happening in the south, Tamils in the north and east who are not party to this mess are watching from the side lines. In the bigger picture, there are important issues like the missing persons after the war and the army's continued occupation of traditional Tamil homelands. The mothers and wives are still crying for an answer for their missing loved ones. Then there is the unquantifiable traumatic experience of the displaced people which continues unabated. An impending UN Human Rights resolution on Sri Lanka is also on the horizon. If the country is plunged further into a crisis of democracy, there may be a possibility of violence and a crackdown against civil society (including human rights agencies and journalists), especially in the militarised North and East of the country. When the country's stability is vulnerable, it becomes a fertile country for outside influence. The countries in the region will try to interfere and exploit the situation, if it has not happened already.

We have to appeal to the members of the international community to respond to the Sri Lankan crisis with due seriousness. There have been blatant attempts of coercion recently against the media. The international community should condemn such behaviour to protect the freedom of the press in Sri Lanka.

In the British Independence Agreement there was a Clause 29 Section 2, which gave protection to the minorities and to their religions. This clause was repealed when Sri Lanka became independent. Given the abject failure over the last 70 years of the majority Sinhalese political parties to ensure the rights of the Sri Lankan minority communities, then it's incumbent on the international community to seek an immediate restoration of that clause in a revised constitution. This should provide the necessary platform from which the other matters contained in the UN Human Rights Council's 2015 Resolution can be addressed but time is of the essence and any further prevarication by the international community is likely to be a recipe for further deterioration of human rights, equality and justice in Sri Lanka. The latter would be a serious indictment and especially at a time when Lonely Planet has ranked Sri Lanka as the top tourist destination for 2019!

Tamil Writers Guild Editorial Board - London, UK

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Source: Tamil Writers Guild, UK
Date: 19 Nov 2018

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