Colombo Telegraph

Historic Opportunity Squandered

By Latheef Farook

Latheef Farook

Failure to rebuild the country after the war; Historic opportunity squandered

In the aftermath of the military defeat of the dreaded LTTE in May 2009, the entire country- Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and all others, expected everyone to learn lesson from the war and end racist politics. They expected former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to unify communities and exploit the historic opportunity to move the country ahead to face challenges in the fast changing competitive world

After all if politicians who turned this paradise of a country into a living hell with their racist politics fail to learn lesson from the 30 year carnage when do we expect them to do so?

However, to the shocking disappointment of all peace loving people who are interested in the welfare of the country and the future generations, racism once again raised its ugly head and began to flourish on a scale unprecedented in the island’s recorded history.

Under this sinister program the defeated government tried to divide communities.

The result was a country in turmoil under a government which came to be associated with gross mismanagement, wide scale corruption at all levels covering almost every possible areas, crime, collapse of   rule of law and law and order , naked nepotism, shameless and heartless plundering of nation’s wealth and the alike.

Deeply disgusted people defeated this government in the 8 January 2015 Presidential elections.

During the three decades of ethnic war all communities including the Tamils suffered a great deal. A Christian nun who was in the battle field in Mullaivaikal during the war praying told me in Mannar last year that” Tamils suffered more than 80 percent under the LTTE and most of them felt great relief when it was defeated”.

A middle aged Tamil who had lost one of his arms during the war and could not get over the LTTE atrocities even three years after its defeat said “life was hell during the time of Iyakkam-LTTE.

There were other Tamils who lamented that LTTE’s armed struggle to set up a separate state of Tamil Elam only brought them death, destruction, endless sufferings and lost all what they had before the war began.

Thus the Tamils in general expected their sufferings to end in the aftermath of the war. They looked forward with great hope to begin a new life leaving the past behind despite deep wounds caused by the war. Not only the Tamils in the country but even hundreds of Tamils settled abroad wanted to return home with their money and expertise to start various ventures which could have contributed to the country’s economy. Several of them kept on asking whether the time was conducive to return home.

On the other hand the Tamils did not ask for a separate state after the war. All what they expected was for the government to attend to their reasonable grievances and ensure their legitimate rights and dignity as citizens of this country to reestablish their war battered society.

However, instead of relief, they were subjected to further sufferings after the war. They were treated as suspects by the government which miserably failed to create a conducive political and social environment to re start their lives.

The militarization which began in the wake of the defeat of the war, the grabbing of private owned lands by the state under various pretexts and such measures dashed all hopes of reconciliation leave alone a better future.

In the case of Muslims, they were not party to ethnic war between the government and the LTTE. However they were dragged into the conflict and made to undergo immense sufferings especially in the north and the east and the country in general.

They too were jubilant when the bloody conflict ended in the hope their sufferings too will end so that they could resume their devastated life.

Here too the government miserably failed to even redress their genuine grievances. Instead they were shocked when a government sponsored violent racist campaign targeting their political, religious, economic and social life was unleashed threatening their very existence as a community.

The government was least bothered about the consequences of this potentially dangerous violent attacks which had all the ingredients to harm the country. The government was not even bothered about the good relations the island enjoyed for long with the Muslim world especially the Gulf region where around a million Sri Lankans were employed earning more than six billion dollar in foreign exchange boosting the island’s economy.

Dismissing the Muslim sentiments and the public opinion in Muslims countries the government established close ties with Israel, the sworn enemy of Islam and Muslims worldwide, which has turned the peaceful Middle East into a virtual slaughter house.

The Israelis did not waste their time here. They were suspected to have penetrated many institutions including the   local media. As part of their global campaign against Islam and Muslims they were supposed to have trained and financed, through Norway, Sinhala racists groups to terrorize Muslims. These racists, suspected to have operated under the former defense ministry, have conducted 350 attacks on Muslims.

This included disgusting and despicable “kidnapping of leading Muslim businessmen by White Van and the subsequent Grease Yaka attacks on Muslim women in the night when men went for prayers during the holy month of Ramadan. The climax of this organized carnage was the organized pogrom in Aluthgama, Dharg town and Beruwala on Muslims and reducing them overnight to beggars. These atrocities were committed with complete state protection and the security forces were helpless.

Shameful aspect was that this persecution on a community was done by a government on its own people showing how least bothered it was about the interest of the country.

This callous and reckless policy speaks volume for the short sighted policies. Muslim community maintained remarkable restraint. Throughout this crisis many feared that someone may violently respond and  trigger a communal clash between the two communities. In fact this was what the racists wanted. Fortunately for the country no such incident took place.

As expected there was jubilation among the Sinhalese who too wanted peace.

However the government began a sinister Sinhalisation program ignoring the minorities though educated and enlightened mainstream Sinhalese began to realize the inherent danger involved in it. However they were helpless like all others.

Under the circumstance all expectations of Tamils and Muslims were ignored by the government which made them feel as second class citizens?

Thus hopes of minorities began to fade and turned into despair with the government, intoxicated with the victory over LTTE, began to interfere with almost every institution from judiciary to media.

This deeply disappointing political environment was further aggravated when violence was used to silence any dissenting views sending shock waves all over.

This was possible due to the executive presidential power and immunity provided under late president JR Jayewardene’s draconian constitution which turned the country into a one man show administration, two third majority for the government in the parliament, weak opposition and the fear of revenge.

With the mainstream media forced into toeing the line the country did not have any opportunity to know the negative impact of growing injustice, collapse of judiciary, flourishing crime and corruption. The fear psychosis prevalent in the country on the eve of the presidential election was such that even best of friends were afraid to discuss political issues freely. Most people did not want to take any risk in speaking over telephone including mobile fearing they were tapped. Independent websites, including mine latheeffarook.com was blocked, with any valid reason.

In short people lived in an environment of fear where you either toe the line or pay the price, often with violence.

Thus what the people who peace and prosperity in the aftermath of the war inherited country in turmoil after defeating former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential elections of 8 January 2015.

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