Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Participatory Democracy is the Only Way

Daily Mirror editorial, Colombo, December 6, 2010

[T]he government needs to reflect deeply on the reality that we are in a post war era and not a post conflict era. We do have peace but history has shown us that lasting peace will come only through justice founded on the deepest values and principles of freedom and democracy.

More than 18 months after the war against the LTTE ended, the route causes of that devastating three-decade battle have still not been addressed with the grievances and aspirations of the Tamil speaking people still largely unresolved.

In the aftermath of what happened or did not happen during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s controversial visit to Britain last week and the disgraceful scenes in parliament where a UNP frontliner was virtually manhandled by senior ministers, the government needs to reflect deeply on the reality that we are in a post war era and not a post conflict era. We do have peace but history has shown us that lasting peace will come only through justice founded on the deepest values and principles of freedom and democracy.

More than 18 months after the war against the LTTE ended, the root causes of that devastating three-decade battle have still not been addressed with the grievances and aspirations of the Tamil speaking people still largely unresolved.

The President and other government leaders have been stressing that thereĀ  can be no development without peace or peace without development. While that principle may be valid, what is vital for lasting peace is justice and genuine participatory democracy.

In the light of the stunning, shocking and sensational WikiLeaks disclosures mainly about the duplicity and double dealing of the United States leaders, we must not be blinded to the fact that the US Constitution with its checks and balances on the foundations of democracy and freedom is widely regarded as the most enlightened document produced by human beings.

Those who framed the US Constitution and leaders like Abraham Lincoln who practised it saw it as a government of the people, for the people and by the people. But the failure to practise what is proclaimed in the US Constitution does not take anything away from the reality that the way of justice and peace is the only lasting way for an equitable distribution of wealth and resources.

The US Constitution besides all its deep rooted democratic values also has the advantage of giving corrupt politicians, racketeers or hypocrites enough rope to hang themselves. The most spectacular episode or example in recent decades was the 1972 Watergate scandal where the then President Richard Nixon indulged in a process of lies and deception which eventually forced him to resign in disgrace after serving just one year of his second term where he virtually got a landslide.

The heroes of that era were the Washington Post investigative journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who courageously exposed those scandals of lies, damn lies, spin doctored statistics, hypocrisy and double-dealings. For lasting peace and justice, Sri Lanka also needs urgent amendments to the Constitution with checks and balances to ensure participatory democracy.