by M. Sooriasegaram
Time has come for all Sri Lankan people to come together to defend the sovereignty and independence of their mother country. People of Sri Lanka have a historic role to play at this juncture.
The need of the hour is to mobilise all democratic and anti-imperialist forces to compel the Sri Lankan Government to start implementing their own home grown policies, LLRC recommendations and their election pledges with courage, conviction and with a sense of urgency because it is already long overdue.
This is the one and only way to prevent the western powers, especially US, from poking their fingers into the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.
It is the only sure way to safeguard and preserve our sovereignty and independence. Demanding the implementation of the pledges given to the Sri Lankan people by a popularly elected government is an act of “constructive” patriotism.
The government has now to demonstrate that they can perform and live up to the expectations of the Sri Lankan people, who gave a clear and overwhelming mandate to deliver their election pledges. Failure to act will only serve imperialism and their stooges. The Sri Lankan people will not take such a historic precedence kindly.
The government must strengthen its position and its credibility by fast tracking the political processes to avoid (a) the return of a pro-imperialist UNP government in coalition with TNA and (b) giving the opportunity for US to activate the American agenda of regime changes on the Indian sub-continent, which will end democracy in South Asia and create several Pakistans.
The failure of a popularly and democratically elected government to deliver its own policies and pledges to its people and to fulfil its international obligations has lead to a UN resolution compelling Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the LLRC, which was set up by Sri Lankan Government itself. Thanks to the politically astute intervention by India at the UN to prevent US attempts under the pretext of “human rights violations and war crimes” to get a foothold in South Asian Politics in the same fashion as they did and are still doing in the Middle East, which cannot be tolerated by any democratically elected government.
India has done a good damage limiting exercise by helping to dilute the US resolution, which now requires Sri Lanka to do what it should have done as a matter of course i.e to implement its own policies and pledges it gave to the Sri Lankan people. This is a good and friendly wake up call to Sri Lanka to prevent America trying its regime change policy on democratically elected governments in South Asian countries. Our response to this must be a categorical NO. Sri Lanka is neither Iraq nor Libya. It has a very long democratic tradition like India.
It must remain so and no Sri Lankan would want to see an American instigated regime change in Sri Lanka like the one in Indonesia in the sixties, where the dictatorial regime of Suharto was installed through a coup arranged by the US, or recently in Iraq and Libya. Such attempts will be and must be resisted by the Sri Lankan people – Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims alike.
It is not sufficient for the government and their supporters to sloganise about Imperialist interference and Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. We are not just citizens of Sri Lanka. We are citizens of the “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”. Therefore the people have the legitimate right to uphold these 3 elements – democracy, socialism and independence. They rightfully expect the implementation of the policies and promises on which they elected this government to power.
None of the political pledges given at and since the last general election has been implemented to date – APRC proposals, 13th Amendment, 18th amendment (good governance, judicial independence, democratic accountability etc.), constitutional change to remove executive presidential rule, demilitarisation, release of displaced people’s homes and lands on which high security zones are still operating even after the war ended, implementation of the language act, the implementation of the LLRC recommendations and so on. The UN resolution is a kind one and not a harsh one, which simply requires Sri Lankan government to implement its own pledges to its people.
It is true that the LTTE has been militarily defeated but they have not been politically defeated. Political problems require political solutions, which are missing. Organisations like the LTTE must be politically defeated through the democratic process. The LTTE tree can re-grow if this is not done.
It is around the unresolved grievances of the Tamil and Muslim Communities, that the Tamil Armed Liberation Groups, including the fascistic and terroristic LTTE, arose and escalated the conflict into a full blown dirty and bloody war, which continued over 2 decades with unacceptable levels brutal killing of civilians, soldiers and fighters and also displacement of people on a scale Sri Lanka has never witnessed before.
The root cause of this devastating war has not yet been addressed to date by any government. This situation is not only unacceptable for all communities but has become a nourishing ground and a good excuse for western imperialist powers to poke their fingers into the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.
What is significant in this development is that for the first time in the history, India has voted with the US on a resolution on Sri Lanka in an international forum, which is naturally hard for Sri Lanka to accept and come to terms with. We see this from the off the cuff and not well thought out speeches by some ministers, which is very unfortunate.
What is required is a politically sophisticated and well-articulated response exposing US’s intentions, slavishly supported by expatriate LTTE knaves. I have no doubt in my mind that this resolution is in the long-term interest of Sri Lankan people. Sri Lankan Government must go through a process of self-criticism of what they have done during the last stages of the war and what they failed to do in the post war period to date.
This assessment should be the basis to shape the programme of the present Sri Lankan Government. In such a programme there should be arrangements to engage all communities and parties, not just only the parties in the government coalition. Return of civilian rule and implementation of LLRC recommendations are matters of utmost urgency.
Naturally India was against any direct intervention by the west in the internal affairs of democratically elected Sri Lanka and therefore threw a lifeline to Sri Lankan Government to avert such a scenario by means of a clever and statesman-like amendment requiring Sri Lanka to manage its own affairs through the implementation of its own LLRC recommendations.
Failing to implement the LLRC recommendations will only plunge Sri Lanka into deeper crisis by triggering further UNHRC resolutions, possibly leading to economic sanctions against Sri Lanka.
The opposition parties, including TNA, must refrain from any acts of derailing the implementation of the UN resolution and must engage with the government constructively in this process in the national interest. They are equally responsible and implicated in creating all the problems confronting the Sri Lankan people today.
They cannot escape from their responsibilities in this task. Collusion with US for regime change for their political gains will be a betrayal. Therefore this should not be in the agenda of the opposition parties and TNA.
The eyes of the international community are now not only focussed on the Sri Lankan Government’s efforts in implementing the LLRC recommendations but also on the behaviour of the opposition parties.
Inciting communal violence by the opposition parties, as has been the practice of the opposition parties in the past, to frustrate the implementation of the political processes by the government will not be rewarded on this occasion.
The government will receive international backing as long as they drive the LLRC implementation programme courageously. In this sense it is a unique opportunity for President Mahinda Rajapakse to put the country in the right direction, regain his reputation and consolidate his government.
Government and opposition political parties must not miss this golden opportunity, for correcting past errors and for moving forward. Can President Mahinda rise above mediocrity to create history, which all previous presidents failed?