”The past two years witnessed a negative turn in good governance of the country. The situation which had led to the impeachment of the Chief Justice, the inability of the government to enact a right to information law, and the lack of genuine interest of the government to control the uprising of extremism, indicate our failures in governance to bring a lasting peace in the country.”
The threat of a third resolution is haunting the government as the United States reiterates its determination to bring yet another resolution on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva this March, that will call for an international investigation into the alleged war crimes. However, the UN resolutions passed so far have not been a victory or a defeat for any party. The anti-Lankan rhetoric from the West continues to cloud the contents of the past resolutions and as well as of any new ones that they intend to present. In the past, Sri Lanka had rejected the resolution for being intrusive, replete with misinterpretation and being unable to capture the progressive steps implemented by the government, post-war.
In the essence of State sovereignty, the argument of the Sri Lankan Government could be well justified. Yet, we continue in our efforts to understand what had prompted these resolutions. Given the impact of the resolution on the minorities in the country, it is they who should speak about the past resolutions and the resolution due to be presented in March.
Military involved in governance
Has the Sri Lankan Government created an enabling environment for the Tamil and Muslim communities in the country to speak freely? The military is still heavily involved in the governance of many aspects of our lives, particularly in the Tamil speaking areas of the country. The services of the military are still coated with gratitude for having won the war. The so-called success is viewed as a qualification to carry out development projects, to run pre-schools, as well as to bring peace and reconciliation in the country. However, the voices of the minorities are of little concern in the process.
Championing the militarization of the country has given an encouraging message to other Sinhala extremists group. The war winning State has placed Sinhala Buddhism at a foremost place in its modus operandi. Now it is taking its toll on the Muslim minorities. It is not uncommon to notice hatred extended towards the Muslims in many fronts, irrespective of where they live. For many of those who use social media, it comes as a shocking, common occurrence. The Sinhala Buddhist Government of Sri Lanka has done almost nothing to prevent the Bodu Bala Sena and Ravana Balaya, lead campaigns against the minorities in the country. Airing ethnic hatred remarks seem to carry no shame for many.
Failed to win confidence
In the context of militarization and promotion of the Sinhala Buddhist nation, Sri Lanka has failed in its duties in providing autonomy and reassuring the safety of our own Tamil and Muslim brothers and sisters in the country. Thus, the voices of the international community and their resolutions continue to be viewed as legitimate. The government has failed in its duties in creating a positive image about the governance of the country. The so-called positive messages on economic development and infrastructure development do not carry anything sustainable so as to bring a lasting, peaceful, governance structure for Sri Lanka.
Once, as I was walking into a bar in Berlin, a young man approached me, and questioned where I was from. As I declared my origins, he replied, “I am from Sri Lanka too. My parents migrated to Germany when I was eight years old.” I immediately replied, “Then we are Sri Lankans.” However, this remark did not create enthusiasm, as I had expected. After a pause he responded, “But we are Tamils.”
I was taken aback by his answer. I hold no testimony to the background of his answer, but he clearly delivered a strong message. We have failed to win the confidence of a part of our Sri Lankan community who live abroad. There was no enabling ground for these young, Diaspora professionals to come back to their heritage that their parents are deeply proud of. Thus, the contents of the past resolutions speak volumes for a peaceful future for this country.
As in the past, the government keeps talking about their actions in giving teeth to the recommendation of the LLRC. However, in practice, very little has been delivered. The past two years witnessed a negative turn in good governance of the country. The situation which had led to the impeachment of the Chief Justice, the inability of the government to enact a right to information law, and the lack of genuine interest of the government to control the uprising of extremism, indicate our failures in governance to bring a lasting peace in the country.
According to the US State Department, the third resolution will build upon the previous resolutions of 2012 and 2013, and will urge Sri Lanka to do more to promote reconciliation, justice and accountability in the wake of the civil conflict. Patriotism has promoted many Sinhalese to blame the US, the UN and the human rights community within and outside the country, to build pressure on Sri Lanka.
But how many of the Sinhalese are ready to analyze what had prompted the international community to pass a resolution, or what the resolutions contain? How many of them ever get into the shoes of the minorities of the country, to know the impact of how the governance of the minorities is structured at present?