Sri Lankan rulers with fork tongue

1487-bbforked-3-600Citizens of Sri Lanka are accustomed to their rulers speaking with fork tongue; who have failed to resolve the internal problems of the country by their actions have brought in external interference not once but many times; the very thing rulers did not want as guardians of a sovereign state. But citizens are slowly realizing that the country is in heavy debts due to bad governance of the fork tongued politicians and are now forced to portion out the little island nation to the debtors, making the territorial integrity of the nation a suspect; putting the sovereignty of the country at risk. On the other hand the same rulers have stationed bulk of the armed forces in the north-east region suppressing the minority communities living there in the name of securing the nation; ignoring the very basic fact these communities are integral part of the nation.

In 2009, India and few other nations equipped the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to use all its might to end the 30 years old civil war and the soldiers were ordered to finish the job by whatever means necessary without concern of the consequences. The order was interpreted by the soldiers as a license to kill the militants including those who surrendered and the guns were silenced. In the process a human tragedy occurred with the death of thousands of civilians including women and children. But few hundreds of unarmed militants, with many thousands of civilians caught up in the battle escaped death by entering the no-fire zones setup by GoSL. These residue militants who surrendered were released after rehabilitation. Thus after the war ended it was estimated that over one hundred and fifty thousand Tamils were killed during the three decades of civil war and there were no armed militants in North-East region, yet GoSL retained the forces in full strength on the pretext of securing the country. Many nations helped in the rehabilitation process and rebuild the damaged infrastructures in the war torn regions; accused the regime of committing heavy human rights abuses and war crimes to end the war and realized that any recurrence of violence could result in more people being killed and rest may flee the country. To overcome this eventuality the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) got involved and passed a resolution on GoSL to probe the war crimes. But GoSL without resolving the issues had written off prosecution considering them solely as reconciliation related issue and not as one concerning the rule of law; done intentionally to weaken the affected communities. Further in the name of safeguarding the integrity and independence of the nation GoSL retained the full strength of the tri-forces without de-listing to peacetime level. Control of the war torn North-East region was with ex-military men as governors and manned by forces to change the demography of the region in favour of the ruling community. The people of the region faced rampant corruption and lawlessness, while ruling politicians plundered and pillaged the wealth and resources, causing an increase in the number of families struggling to make a living due to cost of living that increased each year, particularly in the war fatigued eight districts of North-East. As the negative peace years rolled on more and more countries were disappointed and hesitated to assist in the rebuilding process; to offset this set back the GoSL invited many countries waiting to put a foot in the region to fund the many development projects. The negative effect of these policies of the past regime was upsetting the geopolitics of the region that perturbed the international communities in particular neighbouring India. As it happened in 1987, the failure of GoSL to resolve the conflict related issues opened the country once again for external interference; these countries promptly encouraged the then opposition in parliament to work with civil societies to replace the government. The opposition and most people in the country saw this as an opening to rid of a corrupt government and the affected minorities welcomed this move as an opportunity to put an end to being discriminated by the rulers. When the chance came all cooperated by voting the old regime out in 2015, and a new coalition government was formed with the alliance of pro right UNP, pro left SLFP and few other small political parties, with the support of TNA representing the North-East Tamils, whose militant youths died fighting in the civil war against the state and JVP whose militant youths had waged two uprisings against the state and on both occasions were crushed by the state. The two major political parties UNP and SLFP who have been opposing each other from inception were brought together and the unplanned alliance was forced on by events; it was never a smooth relationship and a breakaway splinter group made up of most of the key players of the old regime left the government to sit in opposition with JVP and TNA.

The international communities understood the plight of the new government and appreciated many positive steps taken to pull an economically bankrupt country that was politically divided out of its mess and assisted in the rebuilding process. The UNHRC for its part agreed to grant more time for the new GoSL to address and resolve the issues referred in the resolution accepted by the previous regime including to probe war crimes. Unfortunately, the country is facing a major crisis over repayment of loans, which is an uphill task for any government and more so for this new coalition government with the breakaway splinter group making sure it stayed that way to avoid any investigations into their fraud and corruption activities; that allegedly took place during the former regime still not been fully probed and action taken. The country is also facing difficulties with an administration that is not able to implement the policies outlined by the politicians, who are unable to focus on their tasks partly because the UNP alliance with SLFP is not strong; as the politicians are more interested in working to win their seat back at the next election than rebuilding the country; and partly because of the poor caliber of administrators who were led by the politicians in the past are now unable work independently for fear of being accused of wrong doings. Also includes politicians and officials from the past regime still in active service, acknowledged to have committed fraud and corruption activities and have escaped detection are paving the way for recurrence of the crime.

For the past 70 years the Sri Lanka has been ruled by coalition government with UNP or SLFP as the principal partner, who have all on many occasions spoken with fork tongues making false promises to the minority communities, without ever keeping their promises.  Being self-centered they were not willing to accept the environment they live in ‘that was made up of many racial and religious communities’ to whom the minorities don’t count. Their past actions with “create an environment” policies are affecting the people at large and more so the economic and ethnic minorities, who have been taking the blunt of two uprisings in the south and a civil war that originated from the north. The alliance of UNP and SLFP in parliament is very fragile, with too many leaders: President from SLFP, the Prime Minister from UNP and many key ministers of the coalition, all do the talking, while there is enough opposition both inside and outside the parliament making a meal of it and the media is having a field day, reporting the news differently depending on whom they support and giving sensation news to increase the sale of their paper than for the good of the country. Net result is either decisions are not made on matters in the House of Parliament or decisions made in the House are challenged outside of the streets causing more problems than finding a solution to the original issue. The new coalition government in 2015 on getting elected openly promised TNA, who supported them that all the grievances of the Tamils, would be resolved. The TNA has for the past two years seen the snail phase progress made on many issues affecting their people and was peeved with the government’s latest time buying tactics adopted with the UNHRC to resolve the issues referred in the resolution. This attempt to further postpone the war crimes probe; TNA has expressed disappointment about it had also said that if more time is given to GoSL, then the UN must monitor and scrutinize the government’s activities to ensure they are genuinely working towards fulfilling its pledges. Feasible only if the current rulers accept that continuing with the policy of “creating an environment” would destruct the country and devise a policy to govern this island as a multi-racial and multi-religious country.