Sri Lanka is faced with two worsening and inter-connected governance crises. The dismantling of the independent judiciary and other democratic checks on the executive and military will inevitably feed the growing ethnic tension resulting from the absence of power sharing and the denial of minority rights.
Posts Categorized: Politics
Mr. Rajapaksa had promised to expand that local autonomy as a way of addressing the legitimate interests of Tamils, who form a majority in parts of the north and east. But this month he celebrated Sri Lanka’s independence day by delivering a speech that reneged on the pledge. The government is now signaling that it may repeal the constitutional provision on local rights.
Sri Lanka has always insisted it did what it could to ensure no civilians were killed during its operation against the LTTE. Yet a team appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon found that up to 40,000 civilians may have been killed. The team said there were credible allegations both sides committed war crimes.
Yet there was hope of peace with the victorious government’s offer to cede autonomy to the country’s ethnic Tamil minority, most of whom live in the north and east. Unfortunately, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa now intimates that he has no intention of following through on that offer.
The government’s talk about a military drawdown lacks merit, especially in the Northern Province. “We are living under military occupation,” notes one community member living near Jaffna. Even though several checkpoints have been removed, a large number of them have been converted into shops – such as grocery stores and cafés – that are run by the military. The ubiquity of military personnel does not leave people feeling safer; ordinary citizens feel more vulnerable and the country’s continued militarization has contributed to a host of widespread social problems including alcohol abuse, sexual violence and rape.
But after observing the role played by the native bureaucrats within the colonial administrations of the 19th and 20th centuries, it was realized that it was also possible for a bureaucracy to go against the very interests of its own class or nationality… They were actually described at that time as the ‘steel frame of the British Empire’…
The rise of the Nation-State, which at all times “seeks to homogenize its population in order to consolidate its power”, posed new problems for minority Nations, and governance in general. Here also, the discriminatory policies in sharing of resources and opportunities, changing demography through State sponsored colonization schemes and land alienation policies, all were implemented by the bureaucracy. In most cases, by a bureaucracy belonging to the group that was being systematically marginalized and annihilated. This universal characteristic is all the more apparent in the Tamil speaking areas of the North and East in Sri Lanka. There, no writ can be carried out without the collaboration of the Tamil and Muslim bureaucrats.
In this context we are acutely aware that the GOSL will seek to show the world that some progress has been made, by pointing to the current visit by the TNA to South Africa. Therefore, we wish to make it clear that our engagement with the South African initiative is NOT a process that we have commenced with the GOSL and that appropriate action at the UNHRC is absolutely necessary to persuade the GOSL to comply with the said resolution and to discontinue with its harmful agenda against the Tamil People of Sri Lanka.
Letter from DMK Chief Karunanidhi to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh detailing 89 Tamil villages renamed with Sinhala names in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The letter gives the location of the villages on a map and by district, and lists the Tamil heritage names of the villages and the new Sinhala names. In addition,… Read more »
Sri Lankan Leader Seems to Reject Greater Autonomy for Tamils NEW DELHI — The president of Sri Lanka appeared to rule out greater political autonomy for the country’s Tamil ethnic minority on Monday, despite promising for years to support the idea in the wake of a bloody civil war. President Mahinda Rajapaksa traveled to Trincomalee,… Read more »
To deny the guerrillas local support, he sent soldiers to wipe out hundreds of Mayan villages. In 1999, after the war’s end, the United Nations-sponsored Historical Clarification Commission tallied thousands of rapes, tortures, disappearances, violations of cultural rights and extrajudicial executions his forces committed while he held power, and concluded that he presided over acts of genocide…
How, then, to account for Guatemala’s move to prosecute its most notorious public figure? Most of the credit goes to survivors and victims’ families for 30 years of tenacious research and advocacy. International human rights groups, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the United Nations and foreign governments helped. And Guatemala’s attorney general since 2010, Claudia Paz y Paz, has revolutionized the prosecutor’s office, pushing cases involving war crimes, corruption and narcotrafficking.
These discussions will continue and progress with wider participation to bring together more Tamil and Tamil speaking people’s organisations in the months to come.
The government has withdrawn over Rs 560 million worth of funds ear marked for development in the TNA controlled Northern Province, reports the Sunday Times. According to Jaffna’s Local Government Assistant Commissioner S Jeyaharan, the directive to withdraw the funds came from the Ministry of Local Government. M K Sivajilingam said: “They do not want us… Read more »
Speaking at a ceremony of Sri Lanka’s National Chamber of Commerce held at Hotel Hilton in Colombo, the SL Defence Secretary and presidential sibling, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was cited saying, “The biggest threat the US can pose to Sri Lanka’s military is to take away their defence scholarships”
“We can send our soldiers to China for training,” Gotabhaya added.
“The fisheries sector is the third most important contributor to economic growth in Sri Lanka. It is second only to agriculture and tourism. That is the main reason the President wanted to kick off this project. According to the ongoing investment and development projects in the industry in post- terrorism Sri Lanka, the fisheries industry will become the main contributor to the economy within the next few years. I hope to provide a 50 percent contribution to Sri Lanka’s economy at the end of this year by doubling fish exports” Minister Senaratne said.
Indeed, the two issues – this assault on the independence of the judiciary and the accusations of war crimes – are interlinked and must be seen as such. The Sri Lankan government’s insistence that Sri Lanka should be left to investigate and remedy its own shortcomings with regard to the latter looks increasingly (if more evidence were required) implausible as one of the last remaining independent institutions – the court – is so openly dismantled.
by ‘The Sunday Times,’ Colombo, January 6, 2013 The life and times of the people of Kepapilavu should make for a study in endless suffering. After witnessing the war at its cruellest, experiencing multiple displacements and spending the longest interval of time confined in Menik Farm, one would expect that life can hardly get any… Read more »
It was nothing but raw political power that steered the Rajapaksas to the impeachment route. With provincial economic development under the centre, they deemed they would become king maker in the provinces…
At the same time, the impeachment of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, its relation to the rule of law as it relates to the Tamils could also figure prominently in the UN discussions.
Tamils of Sri Lanka: The Quest for Human Dignity [PDF] “The crimes committed by the Sri Lankan state against the Tamil minority – against its physical security, citizenship rights, and political representation – are of growing gravity for the international community. Other countries across the world which have had to shelter the thousands… Read more »
The International Crime of Genocide: The Case of the Tamil People in Sri Lanka by Lutz Oette, Tamil Information Centre, London, March 1998 Dr. Lutz Oette is today Counsel at REDRESS, a human rights organisation that helps torture survivors obtain justice, www.redress.org and Lecturer in Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)… Read more »
Eventually, the guerrillas sued for a ceasefire that was turned down, after which they were completely wiped out. This is how living nations deal with armed insurgencies on their soil.
In sharp contrast, the insurgents in Pakistan have been treated with kid gloves during the last decades. Since they professed to be religious, they’ve acquired many admirers and supporters. Perhaps, that is one of the reasons why a national consensus on defeating the militants could not emerge.