A forum on democracy held in memory of late Somesasunthary Krishnakumar, Senior Lecturer in History, University of Jaffna, was held at the Trimmer Hall in Jaffna on December 9. Activists, students, academics, journalists, artists and others from different parts of the country including Akkaraipattu, Kilinochchi, Kandy and Colombo discussed the ongoing political crisis, its historical origins and what democracy would resemble in the future.
Participants agreed that the present crisis was not merely a confrontation among political leaders, parties and the three pillars of the state, namely the parliament, the executive and the judiciary. The discussion focused on what democracy in the country has been throughout its history, particularly for groups on the margins including minority communities, women, oppressed caste communities and workers. The systemic changes necessary to build a people-centred democracy were explored.
The forum expressed concerns that the current situation could lead to further polarisation among regions and Muslims, Tamils, Sinhalese and Up-Country Tamil communities
The forum expressed concerns that the current situation could lead to further polarisation among regions and Muslims, Tamils, Sinhalese and Up-Country Tamil communities. Many participants stressed the past failures of the Left and minority movements to come together to shift national politics in progressive directions. Some highlighted the need to curtail the autocratic character of the Executive Presidency and work towards greater devolution of power. Others called for linking economic problems and broader social justice issues facing the people with the rights of minorities.
When people are divided and unequally positioned, democracy is meaningless. Ensuring an end to caste, ethnic, gender and class oppression in everyday life is central to building a plural, equal, and just society. To democratise state power, people must participate in changing the system of rule and state structures. The forum called for similar discussions in other parts of the country.
A forum on democracy was held in memory of late Somesasunthary Krishnakumar, Senior Lecturer in History, University of Jaffna at the Trimmer Hall in Jaffna on December 9.
(This article was penned by Shamala Kumar, Prabha Manuratne Siraj Mashoor and Mahendran Thiruvarangan on behalf of the discussion forum on democracy in Jaffna.)