The whipping of emotions before the resolution against our country at the UN in Geneva has not been successful enough to have the Resolution aborted or defeated. Whether the resolution was defeated by only one vote -- adding up the fifteen who voted against and the eight who abstained -- as claimed by many political figures and Government supporters, the bitter truth is that the resolution has been carried through.
After the resolution had been passed, the government spokesmen, the ministers and those who valiantly made efforts not to accept the truth, have been speaking in different tongues as in the biblical episode of the "Tower of Babel". Their statements and utterances have brought more confusion than clarity.
|The dividends of peace enjoyed by the people in the south are not accessible to the people in the north
No genuine effort has been made by any government spokesman to explain to the public the real impact of the resolution, whether it is going to bring economic sanctions against our country or the Western world has been successful in punishing us for defeating the LTTE.
To the understanding of many right-thinking people of Sri Lanka, the resolution has given the government a springboard to jumpstart the reconciliation and coexistence process by implementing the recommendations of the LLRC which has dealt with many implementable measures to bring peace and reconciliation to this country under a united Sri Lanka.
The resolution has been magnified and overblown to project that the Western countries are hell-bent on knocking down Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, this is being propagated vigorously without taking immediate steps to adhere to the salient feature of the resolution -- "to implement the recommendations of the LLRC in order to bring about reconciliation amongst the people of Sri Lanka".
The LLRC was established by the government. Though some interested parties cast aspersions on the members of the LLRC and their report, it has to be accepted that they are people of eminence, integrity and above politics. They have made several recommendations arising out of the evidence they have recorded. Several people went before the LLRC and expressed their views so that our country could learn the lessons from past mistakes committed and overlooked by successive governments, purely for selfish reasons of clinging on to power at the cost of the unity of our country.
These mistakes or omissions divided our land along ethnic and religious lines, gave birth to horrendous terrorist organisations with the country suffering economically, politically and socially for three decades years.
The LLRC has recommended many practical and implementable measures for good governance so that all people of this country irrespective of race, religion and language barriers could move forward to build up a united Sri Lanka. The LLRC has recommended positive measures to overcome the difficulties the minorities are going through. They included the 13th Amendment, the Independent Police Commission, a tri-lingual policy and the rule of Law.
The post-war period
Three years have passed after the defeat of the LTTE. The end of the war has brought about peace of mind, freedom of movement and fearlessness amongst the majority of the people. Have we ever pondered whether the war victory has brought about majority-minority unity? If we examine our conscience, can we honestly say that the North and East people who suffered the worst at the hands of both the LTTE terrorists and the armed forces have found a new life?
Some of them are still refugees. They have no freedom of movement in their own areas. They have no freedom to go back and live in their own lands, which they owned and toiled to earn their living. Their lands are now occupied by the armed forces. They have no accessibility to the benefits which other citizens of the majority community receive from the government. They have no recourse to justice and law enforcement. They are still living under the threat of political thuggery in the presence of the armed forces and armed cadres of political groups.
The people of the North and East demand freedom to live with dignity, improve their standard of life, obtain benefits from the government, semi government, non-governmental organisations and be the beneficiaries of foreign aid. They demand to return to their lands to enjoy the happiness of living in their own houses rather than in makeshift refugee camps. They have been deprived of their human rights, human values and peaceful living.
Rule of Law
The Rule of Law in our country has become the "rule of the jungle". The constitutional implementation is being misused and misinterpreted to suppress, and oppress anyone who differs in the thinking of the few politicians and officials who are dictating terms to the law enforcement agencies. One has to only open the newspapers in the morning to read about the deplorable details of the law and order situation in our country, how police officers are being manipulated and dictated to carry out illegal orders. It was pathetic to watch the affable IGP appearing before the TV cameras telling the people that the Australian citizen "NOEL" appeared at the CDB office in the early hours of the day and requested the officers to take him to the air port to fly to Australia.
It may be recalled that the learned Ven. Dr. Bellanwila Wimalaratne Thera in a bold statement he made after the murder of two Buddhist monks at Kotte said there were many efficient police officers who could solve criminal cases but for the interference of the politicians, whereby the criminals were having a field day.
The citizens of Sri Lanka are highly literate. Those responsible for issuing statements after the well-publicised abduction, re-appearance, deportation of Gunaratnam, alias Noel, should not think that the majority of Sri Lankans are naïve and fools to accept all that has been dished out in this episode. What has happened to those who have been abducted from the court houses, from their residences, from areas where they were conducting political campaigns? Are we to believe that they were kidnapped by unknown persons and they will reappear very soon?
The "Friday Forum" formed by respected citizens, several religious committees, many independent organisations, non-political organisations, and independent newspapers have expressed concern over the deterioration of the Rule of Law, abductions and the non-implementation of the LLRC report.
An editorial in the Catholic Messenger said: "Clear weaknesses in the Rule of Law, including judicial indifference and recent trends in civil military relations, have entrenched a culture of impunity and a troubling distrust of both the justice system and the country's security forces.".
Unfortunately, all those citizens who yearn for peace, reconciliation and unity, and who have without fear spoken about the need for correct action by the government, have been branded as either LTTE supporters, anti-government elements, cohorts of the NGOs or lackeys of the Americans. The government's own ambassador in France made a bold statement in respect of the action the government should take in respect of the UN resolutions. Such advice has not been pleasing to the ears of the people in power. He too is now being hounded.
In the good old days the majority of the Sinhalese population was divided or branded as UNPers, SLFPers, Communists, Marxists or JVPers. Subsequently, the Tamils were branded as Tigers. Now, anyone who speaks out the truth is branded a traitor. Can we go on like this? It is time that the people who matter and who are in power should pay heed to those who mean good for the country to bring peace, reconciliation and joy. Do not project the Geneva Resolution as a "Gonibilla". Set up committees to implement the LLRC recommendations. Whatever we may dish out, the people may accept it today, but the people who will suffer are the future generations.
We need not be dictated by any foreign power or allow anyone to interfere in our internal matters. If we ourselves find acceptable solutions for all our problems to build a united Sri Lanka and a Sri Lankan identity, we can tell the meddlers that we have defeated the most ferocious terrorist organisation and we have brought permanent peace, unity and reconciliation.
The President has the political and numerical power, the blessing and strength of the majority of Sri Lankans to implement the recommendations of the LLRC to bring about the much elusive peace and harmony and restore the pride to be a Sri Lankan. Extremists in every society have prevented the socio economic progress of our country. We should rise above political, religious, ethnic differences to build the much needed "Sri Lankan" identity.
To quote Kumar Sangakkara, "I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. I am today and always, proudly Sri Lankan."
The UN resolution has given the President the needed precursor to implement the recommendations of the LLRC to build a new united Sri Lanka where all citizens irrespective of race, religion and language will live as brothers and sisters of a united Sri Lanka. "Justice delayed is justice denied". Let us not allow this golden opportunity to slip through our fingers due to any other consideration. The only consideration should be one united Sri Lanka where every citizen shall live with dignity, equality and pride as a Sri Lankan. Let us not pass this burden to the next generation.
Please do not kill the harbingers of peace! "Victory breeds hatred in the conquered. The defeated live in sorrow. Giving up both victory and defeat, the appeased live in peace" - (Dhammapada)
(The writer is a former DIG)