In Sri Lanka social exclusion is understood as the condition that impede social inclusion; it’s a process through which individuals or groups are wholly or partially excluded from fully participating in all aspects of life of the society, in which they live, on the grounds of their social identities, such as race, ethnicity, culture, language, economic, and social disadvantages. Social exclusion may mean the lack of voice, lack of recognition, or lack of capacity for active participation. It may also mean exclusion from decent work, assets, land, opportunities, access to social services and political representation. This is the current situation that impede inclusion faced by all minorities in Sri Lanka, long after it gained independence in 1948 form the British.
In the aftermath of the mass protests that led to the resignation of the prime minister, ministers and president in the period of May to July this year, there is a distance that has grown between the government and people. As a first step to healing this divide the National Peace Council calls for both local government and provincial council elections to be held without delay. The president and government could then work with them in a broader alliance to ensure political stability through decisions made that are legitimate and have the acceptance of the people.
Regretably, nobody has taken the president, when he recently stated that the solution to problems affecting the Tamil people would be found by the 75th anniversary of the country’s independence. But can the President obtain the support of the parliamentary groups; as majority of them are incapable of taking intelligence decisions. Since the end of the civil war, hate narratives and extremist ideologies spread by nationalistic groups and politicians have gradually changed the mindset of citizens to suspect other ethno religious groups. Trust among communities had been lost and furthered eroded by the Easter Sunday attacks, undermining religious coexistence. The tendency of youth to accept hate narratives has grown in recent years as a result of social media.
Therefore elections need to be held, the provincial council elections have been postponed since 2018. Democratically elected provincial councils share in the burdens of governance. The devolution of power through the provincial councils was intended to promote ethnic harmony in the country. Due to postponement of those elections the provinces are being governed by presidentially appointed governors which makes a mockery of the devolution of power.
In this context, the President has stressed the importance of political stability to achieve the common dream of economic restoration and that the security forces will be used to negate any unauthorized protest is a sign that the government expects the conditions of economic hardship to escalate.