By Ayathuray Rajasingam –
Ever since the passing of the 20th Amendment, the country had witnessed the deviation of democratic trends towards Military rule on the pretext of economic development. The ‘One Law, One Country’ slogan only saw that minorities had been suppressed from all quarters aided by some Buddhist monks especially on the pretext of colonization and excavation of Hindu holy sites by Archaeological Department. Independence of judiciary had become a question mark in democracy. Notorious persons convicted by Courts of Law were released and promoted by way appointing to higher posts also amounted to challenging of the Independent of Judiciary. Corruption superseded in the appointments to higher posts and criminals were promoted and were asked lead ‘One Law, One Country’ mission. It is a death bell to democracy.
Sri Lanka has a long history of persecuting the Tamils, especially after the Mullivaikkal incident living in the Vanni region. After the Mullivaikkal incident, the military as well as some suspected extremist Muslim politicians reacted to attacks on the helpless Tamils that many in the international community have described as ethnic cleansing. Over 140,000 Tamils are alleged to reported to be raped, and mass murder by military personnel and the eyes of some thousands of murdered Tamils are suspected to be sent abroad either as Gift or sale. Such similar incidents took place during R. Premadasa’s regime where suspected JVPers were murdered and there were reports that their eyes were sent to Japan.
It is after these horrific events voters elected a civilian leadership under Maithiripala Sirisena which did not last on account of the corruption and lack of unity with the Prime Minister that prevailed during Sirisena’s regime. Mention should be made that Maithripala Srisena had lack of knowledge in solving the ethnic issue. He was a snake under the grass in isolating Ranil Wickremesinghe in matters relating to good governance. He also favoured China to India. Such an atmosphere provided an opportunity to Gotabaya Rajapaksa to become leader of the country. However, with the passing of the 20th Amendment, the President became more powerful to the extent he was instrumental for the military to retain immense power and autonomy. It continues to use brutal tactics to fight multiple ethnic protests and its campaign is supported by radical Buddhist leaders who portrayed the Muslims and the Tamils as a menace to national unity and security when, in fact, they were agitating for their just rights.
Gotabaya has transformed his government into a military structure wherein the political power is vested in him and carried out by the armed forces. He assumed the role of the military with the power-holding that centralizes political and legal authority. This has squeezed the freedom opinion, thought, speech and embracing the faith of one’s choice.
The arrest of Indian fishermen and confiscating and putting up their trawlers on auction (which had taken place after the visit of Chinese officials in the Northern Province) are not healthy signs to maintain a good relationship with India at a time when Sri Lanka is in great difficulties and seeking assistance from India. There is mounting tension in India over these matters. The pressure by India to implement the 13th Amendment on Sri Lanka does not mean Sri Lanka should auction such Indian trawlers. Moreover, building of Viharas overnight at Hindu holy sites with the view to defeat the implementation of the 13th Amendment. It is submitted that the President who has the characteristic of a military dictatorship was instrumental for the military and the police to exert complete control over political authority, thus denying the civilian control of the military. This resulted in suppressing the fundamental rights of the Tamils.
The Constitution guarantees human rights, equality, human dignity, freedom of expression, religious freedom, safety of arrested persons, etc. But it is regretted that during the regime of Rajapaksas there was and still the disallowance of the freedom of thought and movement together with the religious freedom to which all Sri Lankans legally have a right. Gotabaya Rajapaksa utilized the so-called State machinery namely the Archaeological Department belittled the marginalized Hindu Tamils by way of excavating the Hindu holy sites. In fact, there were instances of destruction of Hindu temples in the Eastern Province.
Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar has emphasized that ensuring equality, justice, peace and dignity for the Tamil people within a united Sri Lanka is in the best interest of Sri Lanka and the devolution of power is crucial.
The two sides also stressed the long-standing consensus that fishermen should handle the issue through a humanitarian approach and avoid the use of violence. They agreed that the two sides should meet in advance, starting with the Joint Working Group on Fisheries. This does not mean that China’s officials should visit the Northern coastal areas and provide facilities to those fishermen with evil motive.
Sri Lanka is in a dire state that it would be facing immense hardships at Geneva. Since India has a strong voice, Sri Lanka has begged India not to go against it at the session. It appears that Dr. G.L.Peiris’s visit is aimed at showing India as its ally and making false promises to India to ensure that it does not interfere in the devolution of power to the Sri Lankan Tamil people. Moreover, the visit is also aimed at reassuring Sri Lanka not to be angered by Colombo’s resolutions promoting China’s will in Sri Lanka. During the meeting, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said that “devolution of power” was an important aspect of the reconciliation process among Tamils. India continues to call on Sri Lanka to fulfill its commitments to safeguard the interests of the Tamil community, which seeks to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for the devolution of power to Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, the inscription with the name of the university which was displayed in a triangular shape on the main part of the entrance to the university has been hastily removed from the main area, and the Sinhala language inscription has been displayed on the front when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is to visit the Vavuniya University to inaugurate it. This is a recent case in point of the clumsy handling of the rights of the Tamils.
Mention should be made that India will not forget that Sri Lanka repatriated more than 640,000 hill country Tamils to Tamil Nadu and how Indra Gandhi gifted Kachchativu without the consent of the people of Tamil Nadu. St .Anthony’s Church in Kachchativu was built by an Indian Catholic of Ramnad Catholic Diocese, Seenikuppa Padaiyatchi, about 100 years ago. Moreover, the Ramakrishna Mission that was serving the pilgrims at Kataragama was demolished during Srimavo Bandaranaike’s period. Finally Dr. G.L.Peiris had used the mesmerizing words that India has been a great friend of Sri Lanka, but India had not forgot how Sri Lanka helped Pakistan to re-fuel at Katunayake during the Bangladesh’s Independence War. The attitude of Sri Lanka was always not in the interests of India.
After the enactment of the Third Constitution, it is 35 years since the passing of the 13th Amendment and still not implemented. But it took almost three years to draft the Indian Constitution holding eleven sessions over a 165-day period. The constitution was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, which was elected by elected members of the Provincial Assemblies. Today it is considered as a living document and satisfied the aspirations of all the communities in India. But in Sri Lanka, it is ridiculous that Dr. G.L.Peiris statement that the problems of the Tamils will taken into consideration in the Draft Constitution, probably to nullify the operation of the 13th Amendment. This is the ugly truth of settling the Tamils’ rights since 1956.
Moreover, it is astonishing that Gotabaya Rajapaksa has pardoned and released most wanted criminals who were convicted by the Courts, while helpless Tamils without any charges are still languishing in jail for more than Ten years had not been released. Even Rishad Bathiudeen whose links with Islamic terrorists were known, was released on bail and even permission was allowed to go abroad.
An Independent State of Tamil Eelam is suicidal for the Tamils and considered as a threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. The only remedy for India is to extend its territory by way of annexation of the North-East Provinces and name it as EELAM PRADESH and declare it as an Independent Territory within the Union of India in accordance with Constitution of India. India’s Coast Guard will be on patrol in the gulf of Manner to promote mutual understanding between the fishermen of India and Northern Province. When annexing the North-East Provinces, it won’t be a surprise that a considerable number of Indians will accompany the Indian Forces to be colonized on the borders which can also be a checkmate to China’s infiltration in Sri Lanka. Some may raise the rights of Muslims, but Muslims are not a race. They are Tamil speaking people like the Christians. Such an Independent Territory like Pondicherry within the Union of India can assure the legitimate rights of the Tamils of the North-East Province.