21 August, 2019

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A Challenge For Change

By Nimalka Fernando

Dr. Nimalka Fernando

Dr. Nimalka Fernando

Retruning back from Nedunkerni and Mulathivu after an election monitoring exercise today I was horrified to see two huge armed cars and vehicles carrying soldiers near the Kelaniya bridge. Eventhough I could have avoided the visit the message I received challenged me as a human rights defender to be present with the people as they exercised their right to vote. On the otherhand I am glad that the visit now compelled me to share with the Sri Lankan citizens who will be definitely celebrating another victory the massive political challenge before us.

Monitoring elections is tiring if we take a political vision into this process. As a member of Mothers and Daughters of Lanka I agreed to be involved in monitoring realising the challenge that this the process is intrisically linked to voter education and literacy on democracy. I am also glad that the process we initiated during the Northern Provincial Council Election has now paved the way to develop community based interactions for reconcilitation bnetween Sinhala and Tamil women. For us this vote was important since this very interaction was often disrupted in the environment of surveillance nurtured by the Gotabaya regime.

We experienced that the space to conduct a free and fair election has been totally eroded beyond democratic norms. There is credible evidence to indicate that the Mahinda regime used Executive powerwhich instigated fear in our society.

From all the reported election related violence and violations, we saw the blatant manner in which executive powers were utilised in favour of one candidate. That is Mahinda Rajapaksa. From the use of state resources to the inaction of the local police to remove illegal banners and cutouts, the political violence unleashed against the joint opposition rallies, attack on opposition leaders and their election propaganda offices clearly demonstrated that our call to hold free and fair elections was totally rejected and ignored. During the past few weeks our members in several districts continued to share information related to the violations and violence which are now well know and published in the media. I believe that election monitoring is not a process which is limited to tabulating violence and violations. Monitoring should also play an important role in facilitating a level playing field essential to holding free and fair elections. Our first experience in election monitoring was gained in 1994 when we as members of MDL participated in monitoring the then Presidnetial Election which was also marred with violence and intimidation. It is unfortunate that we see the same violent trends and the use of executive powers sustained and continued over 20 years in our country. As citizen’s we have not been able to effectively address the use of state resources , election violence and breaking of election laws over the past three decades.

It is ironical that a country and a leadership which boasted of ending terrorism and terrorism related violence was not been able to create mechanisms and a culture which respect the freedom to exercise one of the basic democratic rights – the right to use our vote in a free and fair manner. We saw how the military was used during the Northern Provincial Council for election campaigns. The same fear continued today which made me rush to Vanni.

As I toured Vanni meeting women the election while remaining unreal to them posed challenges to me. Some women told me that the Sinhala leaders have not looked after them. They also told us that this vote is a reflection of the need to live freely in the North. I was informed with tears in their eyes that the samurdhi receipients were called to the office at Nedunkerni with the promise of some funds. Women have come leaving all their other tasks some even borrowing money to travel. As officials were not able to continue with the discussion as the crowd was dispersed by the District Secretary the women had to go back home with nothing in their hand. This brought pain to them.

Receipients of Samurdhi who are the poorest of the poor were herded to attend the rallies of Mahinda Rajapaksa the candidate. They had no option. Fearing that their only means of survival would be removed from them the women went. Eventhough on the day of the election we declare that `it has been peacefully concluded’ lot of effort goes into ensure such an environment. This situation is regretable since democratic norms and practices are not respected as a natural norm in our country. Both local and international civil society has to keep on reminding the Sri Lankan Executive that there are obligations and duties related to ensuring democratic norms. Under Mahinda regime the situation has worsened with the state and government combining develop a an authocracy to control the grass-roots .

The smaller units of political powers in the village which is called our voter constitutency is fully controlled by the Executive. The leader of the Pradeshiya Sabaha, the local authority who is a UPFA supporter being a thug, a person connected to the underworld and closely involved with the member of Parliament is wielding his/her power in the electorate. All appointments and benefits are designed and defined to keep the poorest of the poor under the control of the political authroity and their political power, the right to vote is in the grips of the executive. Therefore directoves issued by the can be ignored and rejected. Eventhough he managed to stop few incidents related to distribution of `gifts’ during the election period the Commissioner could not control the entire process.

We as civil society continued to campaign for the estbalishment of an independent election commission following yje Indian example and the introduction of an electronic voting system. Unfortunately Sri Lanka has failed to take good lessons from it’s neigbour in South Asia. Our efforts will have to be strengthened for the future. The forces who pledged a change promised a transformation of the existing political culture. I have seen `this hope’ as people came to vote in the North.

The vote is an indication that the campaign for democracy, reconciliation and demilitarisation has emerged victorious. But we have a tremendous challenge. I am compelled to say that the North has voted for change. It is our duty to deliver the freedom for the people. The women in the North who are tillers of the land want their rights. Their faces and tears once again reminded me of the difference between my reality and their life experiences. The massive difference of votes between the swan and the beetle leaf in the Tamil homeland has to be understood properly. Sinhala political leader who are going to lead this country towards changhe has been trusted by them to take them towards this new future. I hope and pray we will not let them down.

I salute the citizen’s of Sri Lanka for igniting their conscience after several years.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    2

    Timely article.

    • 4
      2

      Dr. Nimalka Fernando

      “We experienced that the space to conduct a free and fair election has been totally eroded beyond democratic norms. There is credible evidence to indicate that the Mahinda regime used Executive powerwhich instigated fear in our society.”

      This is called a dictatorship and dictatorial governance.

      We deed to get back to democratic and law and order with accountability governance.

      Despite you being “married” to Vasudeva, still you can contribute to democracy…

      Ask Vasudeva to retire, just like Mahinda Rajapaksa.

      May be they both can learn to ride horses. It is a good skill to have../.

      • 5
        4

        Go home Nimalka and take that corrupt moron Vasudeva Nanayakkara with you!

        • 4
          0

          kapila you are a moron – the truth is hard to accept. But it is the end of the Rajapissa era of which you may have been a part.
          Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely the people have had “their say… ” Amen.

      • 4
        1

        Timely indeed! Nimalka Fernando was silent all this time while Vasudeva sat with Mahidna Jarapassa and violated election law.

        THe Mahinda Regime – with which she dined and wined is finished so Now that the opposition has won she, Nimalka, is trying to save face and her skin – advertizing her Human Rights credentials.

        This is SICK!

      • 3
        4

        The struggle to expose and clean up Sri Lanka CIVIL SOCIETY and rid it of parasites and fake Human RIghts activists like Nimalka Fernando who have compromised the country must go on…

    • 0
      2

      Dr. Nimalka Fernando

      “We experienced that the space to conduct a free and fair election has been totally eroded beyond democratic norms. There is credible evidence to indicate that the Mahinda regime used Executive powerwhich instigated fear in our society.”

      This is called a dictatorship and dictatorial governance.

      We deed to get back to democratic and law and order with accountability governance.

      Despite you being “married” to Vasudeva, still you can contribute to democracy…

      Ask Vasudeva to retire, just like Mahinda Rajapaksa.

      May be they both can learn to ride horses. It is a good skill to have in case Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa decides to retire..

  • 8
    1

    Nimalka
    Your empathy to the women who were duped and forced to attend MRs rally Reveals the extent of manipulation by the govt.

    When you remain married to vasudeva nanayakkara a prominent minister in the MR govt and he had never stood upto his lssp / cp ideals but has been enjoying the perks like a capitalist how can anyone take your crocodile tears seriously?

    Your daughter or your husbands daughter even got a diplomatic posting recently because of vasudevas closeness to
    MR. Vasudeva and MR were flying kites at galle face green a few months ago for some ceremony.

    You have never contributed to this forum but have been quiet although going to geneva regularly to talk about women and human rights.

    It will be good if you Amd your husband can openly support a change and bring back democracy and rule of law

    • 5
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      The daughter got the gene from both I am born into a political family (lying through their teeth – lefty parasites)
      she further said and as such I have a `nitch in the market` so there you go to the embassy with the push all through uni too but no foreign service exam like the women professoras who worked as world bank consultants- 2500 year colonial shit buckets sihala .

      karawala sleeping with the hare and hunting with hounds- tiran alles is similar.

    • 3
      1

      correction, that man does not have an iota of brain and more happy to call himself as the VAASI-dewa.

      The so called old firebrand politician we knew was given the treatment of Medamulana Condom-Theory. A shameful creature.

      • 0
        0

        It is the nature of any homo sapiens when getting older. He was a great voice then, but his too was tamed by the perks offered tohim.

        Today having listened to Wimalbruuwansse uttering that they want Meeharaka Rajapakshe to return to the parliament as alternate-PM, I thought my gosh how fools these men have been. These men remained under UPFA are irreversible corrupt. Buruwanse dares to open his cesspit a day after election defeat as nothing much caused them to rethink. This man is a disaster actually.

        I recommend anyone to get elected to a parliment should bring ith basic degree level qualification at least with effect from next.

        In german parliament there is none without let alone a basic degree.

    • 5
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      machan you can never be that stupid a villager to think of this:

      “”It will be good if you Amd your husband can openly support a change and bring back democracy and rule of law “

      You are ASKING A TORTOISE FOR FEATHERS!

      Politics is business of parasites and human rights for lefties of Lanka is just a catalyst to catapult to prominence, education to family members in the former colonies ; Just like passa and his familial

      LONG LIVE MODDA PUTTHE.

  • 0
    1

    A crusader for womens’, childrens’, and human rights has seen the brazen misuse of the executive powers of the presidency being used for promoting the candidature of the president.
    Many who need samurdhi do not get it, and many who do get it, do not deserve it. This has gone on for a long time.
    Many countries use electronic voting which is almost 100% foolproof, but we have not used it, though it is affordable and manpower to install & run it is available.
    The thousands of war widows being exploited is inhuman.
    I hope that the common candidate, if elected, considers the revision of samurdhi, as a priority.

  • 0
    1

    Mohan Samaranayake says that President did not interfere the election and make it peaceful.

    He has to tell that people participation became so powerful and Judiciary MACO became responsible and President could not interfere.

  • 5
    5

    Bravo Nimalka!
    Thanks for all your hard work

    Kumar

  • 1
    3

    Thank you, Madam Nimalka Fernando, for your kind consideration of the Tamil people in the NEP – and particularly of those extremely poor women folk there – war widows, if you like. Many of them are heads of fatherless families unable to feed their children.

    Let us create a new country and a new world to these people – whom President Rajapakse called, for whatever reason, “my own people” But these remained empty words as the NPC the people voted so overwhelmingly over an year ago remains utterly ignored – in terms of funding to run the Province. This charge of the Rajapakses CM/NPC
    failed to utilise funds allocated from the Centre is nothing short of perfidy.

    R. Varathan

  • 9
    8

    For those who do not know about me for the first time I am responding with a clarification.
    I have remained as a partner of Vasudeva whom I met as a comrade thirty years ago. Nobody from my family
    got any posts. I have no legal ties to him. Please challenge the comrade about these matters.I must
    also inform those who use pseudonyms that I considered it as a cowardly act and never joined any
    forum to discuss issues nor provided answers. We worked in the field in Sri Lanka and going to Geneva
    is one part of the process. I worked openly for democracy, to uphold the rule of law and in general for human rights which are also liberal principles and not necessary leftist issues.

    Today I have been made bold by the people of Sri Lanka who voted for truth and honesty to respond to all the wild
    accusations. Sri Lanka was destroyed by persons who spread hate and behaved in a vulgar manner.

    Thank God I am glad Kumar uses his name while others have not been bold enough. Easy to be cardboard heros/ heroines. But difficult to be human.

    Please please be mindful of human beings and humanity at least now.

    • 8
      5

      Keep that 2 cent comment to your compatriots in the dead left of the world.

      Your name does not mean anything as much as greatness is relative term not your `success` in the human rights gravy train.

      We see enough of our taxes put into international development that we have a right to question the motives of activist who claim funds from the west.

    • 6
      3

      “Easy to be cardboard heros/ heroines. But difficult to be human.”

      Does not surprise me your mahawamse (is all about your way of thinking) is all about `Werelion` like the ancient Hun Chinese.

      fool fool, easy to be in the opposition than govern.

    • 0
      0

      Nimalka,

      Thank you for clearing the air.

      I am one of the cowards who use pseudonym for various reasons,but never compromised on principles of equality,dignity and respect for law of the land.

      May be one day I will reveal my real identity and be brave as you have always been.

  • 1
    6

    We lost brave President of Sri lanka.
    Our Country lost her political identity of Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity, that we have shifted in Depended State by loosing sustainability of Path of Capitalism.
    MR led alliance has been taken that for Capitalist development in reform model of growth. Its succeed within short period of History since 2009 May.

    We as Sri lanka must accepts that MR role of Capitalist sustainability the role model suited our ground reality.

  • 0
    2

    Dr. Fernando, that was a new fact that you are a partner of Vasideva and wonder wheather it is a domestic partnership or a sahodara premaya.Is there a sexual relationship?Say hai to Hema on my behalf he was my roommate in California.

  • 1
    1

    “The vote is an indication that the campaign for democracy, reconciliation and demilitarisation has emerged victorious. But we have a tremendous challenge. I am compelled to say that the North has voted for change. It is our duty to deliver the freedom for the people. The women in the North who are tillers of the land want their rights. Their faces and tears once again reminded me of the difference between my reality and their life experiences.

    THE MASSIVE DIFFERENCE OF VOTES BETWEEN THE SWAN AND THE BEETLE LEAF IN THE TAMIL HOMELAND HAS TO BE UNDERSTOOD PROPERLY.SINHALA POLITICAL LEADER WHO ARE GOING TO LEAD THIS COUNTRY TOWARDS CHANGHE HAS BEEN TRUSTED BY THEM TO TAKE THEM TOWARDS THIS NEW FUTURE. I HOPE AND PRAY WE WILL NOT LET THEM DOWN.”

    Nimalka, you are a Nobel Human rights defender.

    Until there is some productive/constructive/truthful progress in the Island, let us continue our work in the UN HRC in Geneva. Please do come!

  • 2
    1

    You are back! Remember that Sinhalese are also human beings. You have never uttered a word against the atrocities of the LTTE who killed so many innocent Sinhalese and others but have always run to their rescue.
    What democracy did the LTTE espouse?
    Did you return from Nedunkerni? Then why “return back”?

  • 2
    1

    My dearesat Nimalka, I have known you as a friend of strong convictions and courage. Please keep up your good work. I have known you too well to vouch for for, but certainly not for Vasu, my quondam friend,who is a renegade who deserves no respect. Nimalka, I know that that you are not not in the company of renegades and I salute you and Adore you.

  • 1
    0

    Nimalka fernando

    Why accolades only for Kumar? Because he shares or shared same political views?
    Are you biased?
    What about R.Varathan, Matilda Ellepola who use their names?,
    As for Amarasiri & Nimal, need request to them to use their full names.

    To all those who do not use their names Nimalka fernando is of the opinion including me that we are not bold enough & not human but consider us being cardboard heros & heroines.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Nimalka Fernando

    I am so glad now all citizens of our mother land is able to see what has been done in the past and what needs to be done.

    supressing truth, peoples basic rights and for individual benifits using racial and cultural differences has caused revolts such as JVP and LTTE.

    I would say in difficult situations when we had revolt agains the country, corrupt individuals were always able to use the rule of the law to their benifits.

    We hope the new president will bring changes to the system to have good governance and rule of law to Sri Lanka.

    Democracy has not worked well in our part of the world and we need to improve democracy such that all our people feel that they are part of the socity, being looked after by our mother land. All should feel prowd to be a sri lankan not part of the socity.

    Sri Lanka is the land where we live it is all ours, not own by single or group of individuals.

    Nimalka Fernando we need to work on this basis and we need to spread the message all the citizens of Sri Lanka are our brothers and sister we need to take good care of them.

    We got a good start today we all got together and said, we do not accept the way president treated our brothers and sisters, we need a change. Thank you for the good work you and rest of the election monitors and workers have done. Excelent work !

  • 1
    0

    My dearesat friend Nimalka, I have known you as a friend of strong convictions and courage. Please keep up your good work. I have known you too well to vouch for your commitments but certainly not for Vasu, my quondam friend,who is a renegade who deserves no respect. Nimalka, I know that you are not in the same company of renegades and I salute you and Adore you for your good work at great personal risks.

  • 0
    0

    Dr Namalka

    We salute for your courage and to be in Vanni. Definitely your presence must have encouraged the voters to turn up to the booths, the voting percentage confirms it.

    These were people who have faced the brunt of the war and whose plight was not well understood by world at large. Appreciate you voice their plights- those widows, maimed ones, etc. No LTTE now, it is good if some of the southern hardliners spend some time ( a week) living with these people you highlighted to understand their hardships.

    I had the privilege of listening to the footage where you gave an interview recently.

    • 2
      0

      Aia

      This is Amma speaking and for your information MR was in the process of making your dream come through colonisation . But his life was cut short last night.

      • 0
        0

        Amma

        What is my dream that you know of?. What MR has been doing is well known, that is his tenure is brought to an end abruptly. On the colonization, the forced one is not right but any citizen living anywhere in the island perfectly ok with paying the market prize for the piece of land they acquire. Colonizing on the State Land, it will be the responsibility of and come under the jurisdiction of the provincial council. Although they lost everything, they haven’t lost their sense identify what is good for them. They didn’t confused by Diaspora’s confusing messages but listen to TNA, and that was a good thing, don’t you?.

        Should not this great lady deserve our admiration for being with those people ensuring they were not threaten or intimidated not to vote?. Not sure, you comment contradicts in itself.

  • 2
    0

    Dr. Nimalka Fernando

    *** We are grateful for the tremendous work you do and I am not sure if you posted this after the election results and if that is the case I am sorry to say you are getting carried away with the election outcome and let me explain to you why.

    1) The vote is an indication that the campaign for democracy, reconciliation and demilitarisation has emerged victorious. But we have a tremendous challenge.

    *** Campaign for Democracy , Law & Order and Good Governance were all in the manifesto.
    Reconciliation didn’t figure prominently and that was left out to be addressed at a later date by MS.
    As for DEMILITARISATION of the North & East MS quite categorically stated that will it not be contemplated.

    We need Accountability first and I hope that will come about when UNHCR delivers its verdict at the end of this month and that will put MS in a tight corner.

    2) I am compelled to say that the North has voted for change. It is our duty to deliver the freedom for the people. The women in the North who are tillers of the land want their rights. Their faces and tears once again reminded me of the difference between my reality and their life experiences. The massive difference of votes between the swan and the beetle leaf in the Tamil homeland has to be understood properly. Sinhala political leader who are going to lead this country towards changhe has been trusted by them to take them towards this new future. I hope and pray we will not let them down.

    *** North was prevented from voting in line with other parts through voter intimidation by the Army and the Election Commissioner ( who is being praised as a man of steel) said before the Election that if there was any evidence he will order a re poll and I expect him to keep his word. We have lost trust in the Sinhalese Leaders to deliver and even MS sang the same tune so I don’t hold out much hope.

    3) I salute the citizen’s of Sri Lanka for igniting their conscience after several years

    Mahintha Raajapakse 47.55% (5,457,114)| Maithripala Sirisena: 51.29% (5,886,101)

    *** It is not a wild fire we are talking about ( igniting their conscience after several years ) and the figures speaks for itself.
    At the last election

    MR Polled 60% Highest in 16 years
    SF Polled 40%
    A margin of 20%

    But this time the margin is only 3.74% and that only goes to show the difficult task ahead to change the Sinhala Mind set.

  • 1
    0

    Nimalka, you are a brave and courageous woman to work amongst the poor
    and suffering counterparts in the North in a very practical way. You
    now have more space to advance their needs – keep it up for sake of
    humanity, ignoring some of CT Commentators.

    Kumar Davids idea of a CC has after all takesn the first step today.
    Lets hope for a bright Sri Lanka.

  • 1
    0

    Hi ! Nimalka
    good to read from you, what you did in north,keep good work going.

    Nayana

  • 2
    0

    Very well done Nimalka and hope you keep-up the great, good and courage’s work you are doing and I do really hope that your son too may benefit from your social activist legacy as well. I do sometimes wonder as to whether or if any impact or influence the Student Christian Movement days have had on you?!

  • 1
    0

    Nimalka,

    Many thanks for your report. It reveals the pressures put on the wretched and the vulnerable. True to your nature, you took enormous risks to be present shoulder to shoulder with them at this difficult time. With your support the weak and the poor have now sent the Monster to the dustbin of history. We salute you for your enormous contribution over the many years you were able to grace the community of Human Rights Defenders.

    As for some of the very personal and crude comments that appear in this column, do not take any notice of them. They are lower than drunken vermin and we do not have to dignify them with even a response.

    We admire your work, and will be eternally grateful for your presence and your interventions.

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