The findings of the United Nations Human Rights Council in the international investigations regarding Sri Lanka will be tabled in the sessions of the Human Rights Council in March this year. Meanwhile, there is a change in the Government that can have serious implications both in the local and international political scenario. In a way, these investigations might have prompted the former President Mahinda Rajapakse to hold the elections when there were still two more years of his rule intact.
It was figured that in case he is elected as President again, they will be able to mitigate the effects of the findings at least to a certain extent and show the international community that the Sri Lankan people are still with him and if they co-operate with the government the latter will be able to implement at least a few of the recommendations. They also figured that they could cripple the Northern Provincial Council till the last moment and use this situation for eventual bargaining and through this ploy they could effectively blunt the UN Human Rights Council investigations. It was also expected that they could retain the Rajapakse government by winning this election and also the ensuing Parliamentary election. Therefore, Mahinda Rajapakse announced the election prematurely with confidence and expectations.
However, reality shocked the Rajapakses immensely and they have been overthrown and expelled from the governance structure completely. President Rajapakse has been stripped of his position and his brothers with the exception of Chamal Rajapakse have been compelled to flee the country or to live in fear.
As soon as he won the election, Maithripala Sirisena took oaths as an Executive President and under the powers of this executive presidency, which he vowed to abolish within 100 days, he appointed Ranil Wickremasinghe as the Prime Minister. Though it was earlier assured that only 25 Cabinet Ministers will be given responsibilities in the new government, now this number has exceeded that limit. This is interpreted as a strategy to retain the support to the government, to prevent the resilience of the Rajapakses and to retain and take forward this change without any hindrance whatsoever. In any case, this is a manifestation of the political instability in Sri Lanka.
In point of fact, the revolt of the people who were yearning for a change was successful as more than 70% of the voters turned up at the polling stations and particularly as the political orientations of the Tamils and other minorities made it possible to consign Mahinda Rajapakse to his political wilderness in Medamulana away from the Temple Trees. Mahinda made full use of the State resources in a bid to win this election by fair or foul means. This has enabled him to retain his vote bank in the South and the North-Central Province.
In the meantime the Tamils of the North and East have voted with a vengeance as they have understood their political reality. They were all out to defeat a person who destroyed many thousands of their kith and kin. Not that they loved the other more who didn’t pay any heed to their demands and aspirations, but that they liked the previous ruler less. The Tamils have again expressed to the international community in no uncertain terms that they don’t expect the Sinhalese Government to offer them a reasonable solution on a platter and only direct international interventions will guarantee them any honourable peace and well-being.
The international community was seeking a change in the government of Sri Lanka as a logical step and continuation of their longtime strategy. Ultimately they have mobilized the Sinhalese leaders and other party leaders and made a change in the government a reality.
If we analyse the approach of the international community, it is inevitable to see that it depicted a liberation struggle as a terrorist activity, led it into the trap of peace negotiations and decimated the sustenance it enjoyed from the people. The people concerned will find it difficult if not impossible to think in terms of an armed struggle again. The international community allowed the state that engaged in this massive destruction of lives to build itself up on a racial platform and graduate as a dictatorship. They schemed to topple that government and achieve their short term and long term geo-political targets.
The next move of the international community would be to establish peace, democracy and a state of recognition of multi-ethnicity in Sri Lanka and to achieve regional peace under the present state of affairs in the world order. Peace and democracy in Sri Lanka will definitely help to prevent unwanted scenarios of military interventions from super-powers on account of regional competitions. The visit of the Holy Pope is a part of this strategy.
Tamil Nationalism should analyse these processes very carefully and be alert so that they can make their targets and those of the international community meet at a common point in the trajectory. They can make use of the change of government so that the people who are on the brink of destruction can receive humanitarian aid and relief measures and the help of the Diaspora can reach them without any delays. It is very essential that a structural mechanism is set up to rescue the people who are at the brink of destruction.
If the Sinhala nation continues to have no stability in governments, then the indefinite postponement of a solution to the Tamil people’s issues is very real. So the Tamil nation has to seek an interim solution. If the demand for the mechanisms of an interim administration gains momentum, it will indirectly decimate the power structures which militate against the interests of the people and lay the foundation for a final solution.
On the other hand, when the international community applies pressure on Sri Lanka for a sustainable solution, it might revive some erstwhile packages with some modifications here and there and endeavour to press it down the throats of the Tamil people rather than experimenting with some novel solutions (and fanning up feelings of communalism among the Sinhalese). This is the desire of our neighbouring country as well. By way of preventing this tendency, particularly the Tamil Diasporas and the people of Tamil Nadu have to forge links with the Tamil political forces in Sri Lanka and bring pressure to bear on the Sri Lankan State.
On the other hand, this change in the government might lead us towards a situation of negotiations such as what prevailed in 2000 and the wholesale destruction of Tamil nationalism similar to what happened in Mulliwaikkal in 2009. We must not lose sight of the fact that people like Ranil and Chandrika who did the spadework for that destruction are entrenched in the power base of the present government.
We have to carry on with the struggle for our own liberation. The conviction that an intermediary would win that for us, or the utopia that we can achieve our goals by having truck with another force can only lead us to utter destruction as what happened in 1987 when the intermediary transformed our issues as a springboard to attain his own ulterior motives.
The investigations of the UN Human Rights Council might change course when time lapses and they might change its thrust from the focus on the human rights violations of the Sri Lankan state to accusations of war crimes against individuals. As India is the main stakeholder in the accusations of war crimes, it will not allow a full scale investigation against the Sri Lankan State. The international community is ambivalent at best in this matter. However, there is a possibility that the international community would play this trump card and try to bring about a sustainable ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka. So, we will have to ensure dynamic thinking and efficiency in employing strategies that would enable us to act through several mechanisms at different levels instead of depending exclusively on one strategy and that will ensure the survival of Tamil nationalism.
This Presidential election has taught us another lesson that when the Muslim people act in unison with Tamil nationalism they can generate a force that will make the Sinhala nation tremble. When the leaders of the Tamils and Muslims act with foresight and political wisdom, the Tamil speaking people of the North and East can see the light at the end of the tunnel.