Time is running out for a peaceful political solution for
the long festering ethnic crisis that had eaten into the very core of the
Sri Lankan society rupturing the social fabric. The result had been arising
grave crime including white collar crime, economic depression, family
dislocation, general lawlessness, etc. This was the situation under the
Chandrika Kumaratunge regime for the last eleven years. If this trend is not
arrested soon, the country will slide into an abyss from which recovery on
any front would be impossible for another 100 years.
During the Presidential election campaign the southern and south eastern
coastal voters who are predominantly 99% Sinhalese except for pockets of
Muslims in Hambantota, Galle, and Beruwela ,were expecting a change in the
situation of their lives consequent to the devastation caused by the
Tsunami. Unfortunately they became enamored by the chauvinist slogans of the
right wing nationalist parties like the (Jathika Vimukthi Peramuna),
(Jathika Hela Urumaya), (Sinhala Urumaya), which were out doing each other
whipping up anti-Tamil hysteria during the election campaign which ensured
the election of Mahinda Rajapakse for the Presidency.
The force of the chauvinist line winning over the reality of the misery of
the Tsunami victims becomes clear from the results, where Mahinda Rajapakse
received the majority of the Sinhalese votes over his rival in south and
south-eastern Districts with 829,562 votes against his rival’s 517,869
This paradox occurred despite the fact that Mahinda
Rajapakse as the then Prime Minister was assailed from all sides for the
corruption and scandal in the Tsunami aid distribution and disregarding the
misery of the Tsunami victims and allowing his political stooges,
bureaucrats, and others to line up their pockets.... These facts were well
known to the public, but still the majority of the Sinhalese elected him
over his rival who was untainted by corruption.
The Sinhalese psyche possess short memories, which could be gauged from the
fact that the they appeared to be against the continuation of the War, as
thousands of their youths in the army were returning home in body bags.
They returned Ranil Wickremasinghe, and his United National
Party(UNP), to power, in the General election of December, 2001 which then
set about peace negotiations with the LTTE, resulting in the Cease-fire
Unfortunately, the then President (Chandrika Kumaratunge),
disrupted the process for peace when she visualized that in the event peace
succeeds, via Ranil Wickremasinghe, her political career would be doomed.
She forcibly took over the Ministries of Defense, Information and Media, and
Internal Security and undemocratically dissolved Parliament, despite the
Ranil Wickremasinghe Government holding a working majority in Parliament and
had two and half more years of Parliamentary life.
In the April, 2004 General Elections, Ranil Wickremasinghe
lost the majority to the current Government. So in a brief two and half
year, the Sinhalese decided that the peace at least the uneasy peace that
was prevailing was enough and voted in the present Government for a change.
Perhaps for war?
The election of Mahinda Rakapakse as the new President of Sri Lanka is a
water-shed in the recent Sri Lankan Political history since a leader with
the backing of almost 100% Sinhalese electors had won a Presidency.
He promised the Sinhalese electors to scrap the Cease-fire
Agreement (CFA) signed with the LTTE and renegotiating it, scrap the joint
setup with the LTTE for the re-habilitation of Victims of Tsunami called
P-TOMS for the Northeast of the country; disband the services of the
Norwegians as Peace facilitators and call on India to shoulder the
responsibility; maintain the Unitary structure of the Constitution without
devolution of power to the Tamils, rejecting autonomy for the Northeast
where the majority of the Tamils live.
No doubt a salivating proposition to the Sinhalese Buddhist
chauvinists who numbered 4,887,152 at the last count. The President in his
inaugural address to the Nation, in the Sri Lankan Parliament reiterated
these promises as part of his Government’s policy. All what had been
achieved by the Ranil Wickremasinghe Government albeit with short comings
had been laid to waste, not to speak of the time, the energy, the money of
several nations in the process. In short he enunciated a retrograde policy
to confront the Tamil people of the country challenging the Tamils with a
take it or leave it attitude to satisfy his Sinhalese Buddhist chauvinist
Subsequent events in the country clearly point out the fact that the
President is moving on a collision course with the LTTE and as a first step
hurriedly removed the Army Commander – Lieutenant General Santha Kotegoda,
who was involved in the then Government team during the Peace negotiations
and considered a peacenik, with the hawkish Colonel Sarath Fonseka, who was
appointed as the new Army Commander and promoted to the rank of a Lieutenant
The Commander has asked for three months to
reorganize the army and prepare the army for hostilities against the LTTE.
The appointment of the hawkish Ratnasiri Wickramanayake as the Deputy
Minister of Defence, the appointment of the President’s brother as the
Secretary of Defense, the appointment of Kotakadeniya, the dreaded former
DIG and treasurer of the JHU, as an advisor on Police affairs suggests that
the President is appointing hardliners into the defense establishment..
As a sequel to Kotakadeniya’s appointment search operations
are underway and nearly 900 Tamils of both sexes have been arrested and
detained in Colombo .To bolster the hard-line approach, the President who is
also the Minister of Finance voted Rupees 91.6 Billion for Defense spending
under the 2005/2006 Budgetary allocation, being the highest monetary
allocation for Defense in its history.
Subsequent to the appointment of the new Army Commander, he beefed up his
units in Jaffna .Reports speak of Army movements to strategic locations in
Jaffna with heavy weapons being moved in from the main Army camp at Palaly
and army personnel taking up positions as well as undertaking intense
patrolling of the regions. Civilians engaged in their day to day routine in
Jaffna District were stopped, subjected to body search and questioning.
Girls and young women were molested during these body
searches, while men were harassed and threatened at gun point. Under the
guise of the High Security Zone, productive land had been made a no-go area
for civilians. The owners of these lands have been denied their livelihood
and from 1995 onwards are now living as refugees in camps. Likewise, people
who earn their livelihood by Fishing have been effectively blocked, since
they are allowed to go to sea during day time and that too within a 2 mile
limit, when there is the least likelihood of catching fish.
What fish is caught, the Navy personnel who keep a close
watch on the fishing boats forcibly take away a part of it for their
consumption. The worst affected was education , since Tamil society as a
whole is education oriented and any disruption is viewed as an assault on
the on the Tamil culture, since pride of place is given to education over
There is also a sinister design in place by the Srilankan regime to disrupt
the educational base of the Tamils, so that in due course of time the Tamil
population would be left with dunderheads and easily maneuvered into a state
of passive submission. This could be the reason why leading boys’ school –
Heartly College and its sister institution Methodist Girls’ College, have
been included into the High Security Zone, with barbed wire fences all
around it often resulting in undue intrusion by the Army into the schools
and disrupting studies.
The latest is a bund right across the play grounds, which is
more a shortcut to the school by the students to by pass the Army sentry
points close to the schools. Likewise several leading schools in Jaffna city
have been subjected to the focus of the Army resulting in the students being
attacked by the Army personnel.
The most recent worst case scenario was when the body of a 20 year old girl
was detected in a deep well close to the Navy camp in the village of
Punkudutivu. Forensic examination reveals
that she had been raped and murdered, pointing to culprits in the Navy
camp close by.
This incensed the Tamil public that the students of the
Jaffna University and the Technical College were making arrangements to go
over to Punkudutivu, when the Army intervened and stopped them from leaving.
The following day, the entire University population, including the Vice
Chancellor, the Dons and Lectures and were marching in a procession towards
the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission were forcibly stopped from marching with a
tear gas attack and then shot at.
The Vice Chancellor, Lectures and several students were injured in the
Tension has risen to such heights that it is neigh impossible to contain the
Tamil peoples’ resentment towards the Sinhalese Army of occupation any more,
resulting in the present violent reaction by the People. It appears that the
basis for any chance for a lasting peace in the country had been wiped clean
by the obstinate attitude by President Mahinda Rajapakse and his Defense
The Tamils in Srilanka are constrained to believe that they could live with
respect and honor only under a separate state of their own.The LTTE’s two
Nations policy appears to be close to realization.