Sri Lankan rulers in Parliament revealed again their habit of working outside the constitution; to cause representatives of the underprivileged ethnic minorities and the poor working class economic minorities to not recognise the top-down ‘appointed’ government as it did not have the vote of majority that elected the unity government to power in 2015. These seasoned representatives of the minorities know well of the practice dating back to colonial era, where the western oriented gentlemen got elected repeatedly as the elite political leaders of the country, based on the pictures presented to them by political parties in the country by the poor working class voters; even when confronted with exploitation challenges and dictatorial rule that deprived their basic rights. In spite of the country facing two uprisings from the economic minorities in south and the courageous declaration of self-governance by the ethnic minorities in northeast that caused a disastrous civil war. These were of no benefit as all were crushed with assistance from friendly nations and repeated election trend still continues as the cause for struggles were never rectified and ongoing are the relentless fracas by the rulers for power in parliament and outside protests for privileges from the economic and ethnic minorities.
The poor strength of democracy still prevails in the country was clearly visible from the results of LG Polls held early this year; yet it was mistaken as confirmation of support for the top-down ‘appointed’ government, that caused the present scuffle in parliament between the two traditional rulers at a heavy cost to the country. Whereas clearly it was the grand old party as the first traditional ruling party that should take the blame for the situation for introducing the draconian constitution that country never asked for and eventually led the country to a bloody cruel civil war resulting heavy cost of lives that pushed the development of the country back by five decades. But not to be outdone the second traditional ruling party, itself a product of power struggle has always played a complimentary role exploiting every political situation to deprive basic rights of the minorities countrywide. What is more failure of the unity government to enlighten the people of the true impact of the 19th Amendment that drastically reduced the powers of the President was the cause of the present crisis. This power struggle has come down to personnel hatred between the two leaders of the traditional rivals, which has the potential to destroy not just the two political parties. Fortunately, the present power struggle in parliament gave an important role for minor political parties and those representing the largest ethnic and economic minorities respectively did well confirming their commitment to democracy. It kept the balance between the two main political parties operating lawfully by adding power to the side that was weakened by unlawful actions of the other. Further collapse of the economy would plunge the country into a state of bankruptcy, thereby thrust the minorities deprived of their basic rights into a near-death situation.
In this backdrop Tamil minorities in the northeastern region held commemorations to remember their departed relatives in the armed conflict that ended in 2009 with visits to their house of worship in thousands. Earlier events under the unrelenting grip of then regime the state machinery had demolished cemeteries which held the graves of thousands of Tamils that made impossible for them to observe the Remembrance Day. The unity government in 2015 lessened the pressure exerted on the Tamil population, which allowed for larger and larger commemorations of this day. Yet no progress was made towards building a sustainable peace acknowledging the right of Tamil’s to political expression as a nation; but the supremacy within the state structures prevailed to fester and grow amongst the masses to culminate violence this time against the Muslims earlier this year. Thus the fear of returning to that supressed rule is no secret in the minds of all minorities as any development or economic progress without addressing the root causes of oppression can be overturned at the craze of any electoral majority gains. The incremental progress since 2015 remains vastly inadequate for the Tamil speaking people in the island, who suffered most due to the ethnic conflict or by the estates labour exploitation of several decades.
It is almost a decade since the civil-war was brought to finish in 2009, but instability continues without protection of the political rights of minorities in particular the Tamils. The stability in the country is only possible, if economic development goes parallel with political development. While the Remembrance Day was a day to remember thousands of their relatives whose lives were sacrificed in the struggle for the Tamils for stability in their land and now it is also a day for them to pray to end the present crisis to proceed with political transformation necessary to ensure that the rights and dignity now limited to the ruling class and its shrubs is available for all Sri Lankans. As such the ruling class leaders should take the crisis as a wakeup call to make necessary political transformation or get voted out to political wilderness in 2020 if not earlier.