by Dr Vickramabahu Karunarathna.
The Maithree revolution has affected all sections of the society. It is not a social revolution but only a democratic one; demanding just a limited political democracy. However it affected women and children, in addition to other sections such as Tamils and Muslims, who participated in the Maithree mass uprising with much enthusiasm and hope. For many of them it had a social component with social and economic reforms coming behind democratic changes. On March 8 this year women came out in large numbers to show their commitment to change. Fascistic regime was wicked in the treatment of women and most of the domestic suffering came on the shoulders of women. Hence this time women came out spontaneously. One such activity was organized by the women leaders of Free Trade Zones & General services Employees Union. They organized special events and activities to commemorate the international women day. Such activities could be seen all over the country unlike in other years where fear repelled women to come out. In this year women’s day was observed in the whole country with slogans demanding the gender equality; specially increase of women participation in all governing bodies of the country including the parliament and provincial councils.
Women from many parts of the country joined the world community in celebrating the International Women’s Day, on Monday at a national event held at Anuradhapura .This year’s celebrations were held under the guidance of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs on the theme “‘A Better Country for Women “. Speaking at the event, Ranil said the violence and abuses against women should be eliminated and the government will take measures to bring and enact laws needed to protect women’s rights before the next Women’s Day. He said the Minister of Women’s Affairs Chandrani Bandara has been assigned the task to formulate such laws. Post modernist influence could be seen in the remarks made and we hope the liberal bourgeois leader will keep his promises. President Maithree closely followed the line of thinking of Ranil and stated “We should consider it our bounden duty to recognize and value the contributions of women in all professions and areas of work in this country, of those who work under harsh conditions abroad and remit funds to strengthen the economy, as well as their great role in raising of children who will be our citizens in the future. The policy of good governance brings with it a commitment to protect our women from social and domestic violence, harassment towards women, and the hazards they face from drug and alcohol related issues.”
Large number of female workers from Northern, Eastern, Southern, provinces and hill country plantation participated in Colombo and at Anuradhapura to commemorate this 105th International Women day. Several large marches displayed the new liberal thinking with slogans that match the demands of unity with power sharing. One could see the new reconciliation mood because the Sinhala, Tamils, Muslims, shouted the slogans in their own language in the same march. The main theme of these international women day commemorations was “Give us more representation in the decision making bodies who decided the future of the country “. In addition the women workers raised their voices against all kinds of repression as women as well as women workers including the sexual harassment in work places. They emphasize that they want a social dignity as women workers who contributed large share to the national economy.
One can compare the Maithree election with the election that gave rise to the dictatorial constitution in 1978.The latter was perhaps, the first time all the people of Lanka joined together and made a similar election outcome. At the 1977 Parliamentary election JR Jayewardene was elected as the Prime Minister with more than a two third majority. However at first JR failed to usher unity among people, instead grabbed power for himself as the President of Sri Lanka by proclamation of a new Presidential constitution at the expense of Parliamentary democracy. Later in 1986 he took the bold step to create provincial council system, with a chief minister for a united NE province. Hence one could say the 1977 Elections helped to confirm the existence of Self-Governing Tamils in Lanka. Similarly – the contribution by the Tamil Community to the 2015 Presidential Elections happened due to the self-governing Tamils within the Community.
The effect of Maithree revolution on the minds of Tamils could be seen in the following story. The Indian Prime Minister while in Colombo quoted Tamil poet Bharathiyar as follows: ‘I recall the lines of a famous song ‘Sindu Nadiyin Misai’ composed by the great nationalist poet Subramanian Bharati in the early 20th century: ‘Singalatheevukkinor paalam ameippom’(we shall construct a bridge to Sri Lanka)’. Promptly one Tamil leader said “This is an incorrect translation/interpretation. To Tamil poet Bharathiyar that neighboring country was ‘Sinhala Island’. We, the Tamils of Sri Lanka need to appreciate this reality including in the minds of great Indian Poets like Bharathiyar.” Sinhala land, yes but not exclusively, there is a Tamil land within; that means power sharing is a must.