The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing – Edmund Burke.
When things aren’t going well you may have to face the brutal truth. One of the most counterproductive things to do is pretend nothing is wrong. This is called denial! We saw this in the past in our country Sri Lanka. In the global context every nation has the right to assert its independent rights; this is only feasible in a democracy if its entire people back the rulers, who were picked from the people by the people for the people. Both our President and the Prime Minister are trying to make a good job out of a bad situation to assert our rights as a nation. They have begun clearing the cobwebs left behind and need all the support from the people; both from those Lankan living in the country and outside. In a sound democracy the opinion of the ruled must be heard by the rulers and our forum should attempt to meet those objectives.
In the past for too long the rulers did not pay any regard to the minority opinion in the country, resulting in uprising, this happened twice in the south and finally in the North East of the country, each time only because the minorities were denied of their civic rights and people failed to support their rulers. It was this situation that allowed India to obstruct with our sovereign rights that was unwanted. The people of our little country were offended by highhanded actions of big countries like India. Especially during the civil war it appeared to the public that the big neighbour was meddling into the country’s affairs, which resulted in the Indo-Lanka accord being signed between the two countries, yet it failed to resolve the issues of the minorities. Our rulers could have resolved those issues years earlier had they each time addressed those issues in time within the parliament. In a democracy majority rules’ taking care of the minorities this was not done in our country.
In this environment, the governments of India and Sri Lanka are well aware of the difficulties to come up with a trade agreement that is acceptable to both with asymmetrical economies; there will have to be give and take from both sides. Earlier agreement did increase the trade between the two countries considerably, but had its share of problems. Now it is to be replaced with a new agreement, to iron out the problems with the view to further enhance trade between the two countries that is still in draft stage. Our Prime Minister has assured the people that it will not be one sided and would be presented in the parliament for approval before signature. But matters related to the agreement were blown out of proportion by people who prefer to keep things as they are who fear that any change may upset their life pattern.
There are people in many sectors who have found a way to make a good living using the present bad corrupt systems in the country; they are supported by some politicos for petty political gains and some negative publicity in the local media have all caused lot fuss over any corrective measures taken by the National Government under good governance. Corrupt practices could be seen every sector including the health sector, where men of noble profession the doctors, did exploit the bad system for years by doing private practice. In the same most respected professionals the teachers conduct private classes for decades now. Other professionals and businesses also indulge in such practices, not to be let down politicians are on the band wagon of corruption. Then there is the case of employing the security forces to run hotels, construct roads and buildings and many agriculture activities, whereas there should have been a large demobilization with the end of the war.
In a global context trade agreements are needed for a growing nation and the Prime Minister and his men need all the help from the people. A similar agreement is expected to be made with other countries including China. Any love expressed towards China by some in the country is only a case of other side being greener than the present. As long as our legislators stop playing petty politics and get on with good governance, no other country will be able to walk all over us, a lesson they should have learnt by now. Another view among some in the country is that India should be held accountable for terror that killed many thousands. Only a proper investigation on human rights violations without any cover-ups will flush out those responsible; But in reality not all in our country accept this truth for fear that it will implicate some living south of Palk Strait connecting the Bay of Bengal with the Gulf of Mannar in connection with killings at the end of war in 2009 and thereafter.
Third concern is that we are not a homogeneous nation, agreed that in percentage the movement of people is asymmetrical, but this is because North did not have proper development as the rest of the country. The truth is there are people from South who have been living in the North for many decades and nobody prevented anyone from moving from south to live in North. One need to read the Northern Breeze earlier posting on “Water crisis at Jaffna Peninsula” to know the plight of the people living in the peninsula and the way the state had melted step motherly treatment for decades explaining the asymmetrical behavior of movement of people.
It is true many people were exterminated or got rid during the war more from the North than elsewhere. But one needs to read the history of wars to understand this phenomenon; that was witnessed in our country during and after the war. For years the country has boomed with blatantly dishonest statements from the rulers like ‘peace’ was promised through all-out war and ‘honour’ assured by this war declaring it as ‘humanitarian’ and finally, the terrible human toll that was denied until satellite photography revealed the bloody truth. There were various levels of human rights violations inflicted on the people, people were terrorized first by the state armed forces, then by various armed groups, followed by the Indian Peace Keeping forces, then finally again by the armed groups and the state security forces. This is why investigations without any cover up are needed on human rights violations and all found guilty should be punished under good governance sooner than later. The local legal professionals are capable of conducting a proper investigation, but if needed there is no harm in calling for foreign legal assistance, for it has happened many times earlier in our country.
There is no place under good governance for any security establishment to hold on to private land in North and East or for that matter anywhere in the country. The Tamil politicians are only bringing this issue to light which is acknowledged by the President himself. During a tour of Jaffna in 2014 that covered a good cross section of the peninsula and the islands, all the places visited in the north, east, west and south of the district were run by the security forces. Last year visited Trincomalee in the east and the situation was no different and this week there were media reports with photos of security personnel harvesting paddy from large extent of land in the mainland of Northern Province, justifying the protest from the locals.
Then the many thousands of people whose issues caused by the war are yet to be addressed by the state, these includes missing persons, releasing of political prisoners who are kept without any trails for years in jails in various parts of the island, disabled persons left uncared for by the state, families living without their income earner killed in the conflict, orphan children and families without proper shelter. The majority of these families live in North and East belonging to the Tamil minority communities has been agitating for their grievances to be resolved with little success.
Then there are the many voiceless civilian families of both ethnicities living in the rest of the country and overseas, in particular the hundreds of Muslims who were forcibly sent out of the North. Much worse is the treatment melted to the estate workers in the hills. They were made stateless, only because their forefathers had supported the leftist opposition in parliament at the time the country gained independence in 1948 and it took several decades to give them back their rights to vote. They are the least cared for minority population in the country. Past rulers had moaned that the minority Tamil politicos are agitating for issues which is lacking any serious purpose, but if that was true the people would have dumped them long time ago.
True to the saying that Truth will Triumph in the end, the indicators are that under the prevailing good governance all grievances of the people will be addressed in due course.