Sri Lanka’s General election which is due on August 5th 2020 is pitting four main parties, UNP, SLPP, NPF, JVP led by Sinhalese leaders Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sajith Premadasa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake along with several other independent groups including the extremist BBS led by chauvinist Gnanasara Thero. For the voters in the North and East, the main political parties are TNA, TNPF and TPNP led by Justice Wigneswaran which is first time testing its strength and popularity. A total number of 20 parties and several independence groups and more than 300 candidates are in the field in the Jaffna District.
It is a disturbing feature to note the entry of candidates from the UNP, SLFP and SLPP of Mahinda who all contributed and caused the miseries and sufferings of Tamils, and being instrumental in the commission of genocide against the Tamils, denial of fundamental rights and Justice.
The election campaign has reached its final stages and leaders of the parties based in the South PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa are vigorously campaigning targeting the majority vote of Sinhala-Buddhists. As expected, the confirmed pledge of these leaders is to make Sri Lanka exclusively to cater for the interests of Sinhala Buddhists by fulfilling their demands to establish a Sinahala-Buddhist State. This partisan genocide process agenda by implication strikes at the minorities Tamils and Muslims to make them non-entity without equal rights. As such, an agenda is set in motion involving the marginalization, assimilation and final elimination of the identities of Tamils and Muslims, their race, language, religion, culture, history and tradition.
In this respect each leader has founded his campaign exclusively on the platforms of Buddhists and Sinhalese at a frenzied pitch to better their political fortune and out beat their rivals with no concern or consideration of the problem and issues faced by the Tamils and Muslims. PM Mahinda Rajapaksa who promised 13+ is now calling for the removal of the 13th Amendment and 19th Amendment which to some extent provided some protection for the Tamils and the function of a democratic government The possible removal of these Amendments would be a body blow to the existence of Tamils as well as to the basic structure of a democratic government.
The lurking danger and fear is that a two-third majority for the present Government would make these changes possible and so also the ushering of a full fledge dictatorial rule by Rajapaksas who will unleash their executive powers without any checks and balances The worst affected in the scenario would be the Tamils and Muslims including journalists, human rights activists, critics and all opposition parties and groups. All in all freedom of the press and freedom of expressions will face the guillotine. In short, democracy can expect to have its death knell paving way for an entrenched family dictatorship unless it is dislodged by popular uprisings which is not usually relished and taken up by the complacent and docile Sri Lanka’s population. Sri Lanka’s parliament and the dictatorial discriminative democracy has been functioning as double barrel gun for the minorities and they will remain so until the minorities are permanently silenced.
Besides, even a simple majority Government of Rajapaksas will not spare the Tamils from hardships and undue interferences in their daily lives as the Government will embark on a full scale militarization of North and East. With the military taking control of civilian administration, keeping the Civil Service Department away in their functions, a climate of fear and insecurity would take hold and envelop the North and East due to military surveillance, road checks and possible arrests and detentions under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism act [PTA] of 1979. With the above scenario unfolding the conduct and actions of Members of Parliament elected from the North and East would not be expected to be defying and confronting the President Gotabaya’s and their military rule on the civilians in the North and East.
It is predicted that Tamil National Alliance [TNA] which has a zero performance having drawn a blank record since 2009 might capture the majority of seats in the North and East while the other seats will be shared by other parties and possibly one or two independent groups. Obtaining one or two seats by any party or group can never play a dominant role or even launching mass agitation or protests unless they agree to function as a united front with clear objectives and agenda. There is also the possibility that these parties and groups could be bought lured by the ruling Government’s offers of perks and privileges Simply stating a party with one or two Members of Parliament cannot don the role of crusaders or heroes for the Tamils unless they are prepared to sacrifice their comforts even their lives for the just causes of the Tamils.
Tamil National Alliance possibly with more Members of Parliament is not expected to perform anything worth not even the simple tasks expected from a leading party. Their 10 year performance from 2009 – 2019 is simply deplorable and disappointing. Their achievement during this period are nil except unconditional cooperation and flirtation with the “Good Governance” from 2015 to 2019. Speeches, statements and rhetoric in and outside Parliament are not tools to achieve our demands, instead what is needed is initiation of mass protests and agitation and participation with the civilian protesters who scored some successes in the East and Vanni when they foiled the attempt of Buddhist Monks and Sinhalese from seizing their lands to build Buddhist Vihara. Tamil National Alliance is now a spent force surviving on its dwindling base support and might disintegrate when Sumanthiran takes control of it or when he accepts a ministerial post. Justice C.V. Wigneswaran stated his desire to work with TNA after the elections is confirming his endorsement and support for TNA though he criticizes TNA for electoral gains.
The stark truth is that currently there is no Tamil leader who possesses the strength, political will, determination and sincere to the causes and courage to lead the Tamils’ struggle for equality to live with dignity and confront the Buddhist leaders and halt their agenda of elimination of minorities to establish a Sinhala-Buddhist State bearing in mind that no Sinhalese Government will ever deliver a just permanent political settlement for the Tamils.
History has shown that the Tamil leaders right from S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, G.G. Ponnambalam, and now R. Sampanthan could not defeat the wiles and guiles of Sinhalese leader’s strategy and diplomacy but instead got themselves entrapped in the web of deceits, broken promises and Pacts including hand outs by the Sinhalese governments since 1948.
One should learn the history to avoid repeating it.
*M. K. Eelaventhan – Former Member of Parliament of Sri Lanka