There have been protests initiated by world bodies such as Amnesty International seeking the whereabouts of missing people in Sri Lanka, but to no avail
The Tamil community in Sri Lanka has played a crucial role in the country’s politics despite Sinhala hardliners not willing to give members of this community much hope and opportunities.
It must also be mentioned that it’s the Tamils who have shown courage and given enough indication that they’ll not vote this time; underscoring the fact that lawmakers in general can’t be trusted. All other communities have continued to vote for the best out of the worset and as a result continue to live with lies, half-truths and betrayals.
It all points towards a Tamil boycott, especially in the north, which like in 2005 will make the Rajapaksas the victors, this time too. At this election too the UNP through Sajith Premadasa depends heavily on the Tamil votes the north and the east can generate. Sajith’s propaganda machines have to work overtime to gain the trust of Tamils from the north and the east to ensure victory. Sajith gained much during the past two weeks largely through his proposal to provide women with sanitary pads. The soft side of a man when exposed helps break barriers which otherwise distances men in power from desperate voiceless voters.
Both candidates have released their manifestos, but there is little in them mentioned to address the national question. Hence the lukewarm interest shown by the Tamils to be present at polling stations come November 16. If the Tamils in the north and east don’t cast their votes that benefit would go to Gotabaya; who has not shown much interest to win over this minority community.
- If the Tamils in the north and east don’t cast their votes that benefit would go to Gotabaya
- But nothing has been mentioned by gotabaya about releasing Tamil political prisoners.
- whether Sinhala lawmakers have made an effort to understand ‘freedom’ from a Tamil perspective is questionable
- The Muslims compared to the Tamils have meekly bowed down to the pressures of the lawmakers
Gotabaya’s manifesto is impressive. Given the shady economy in the country, two points in Gota’s manifesto merit mention. One is the proposal to make a monthly payment to employees who lose their jobs through an insurance scheme. The other is making employers continue to pay the salaries to the widows of deceased employees (who were making EPF contributions). The former military man has also proposed to increase the daily wage of tea estate workers to Rs 1000 a day. But that comes nowhere close to finding a solution to the national question. The Pohottuwa party elections candidate has vowed to release all military men behind bars if the cases filed against them can’t be justified. But nothing has been mentioned by him about releasing Tamil political prisoners.
The minority Tamils are still complaining about lands in the north not released to them. There are also grievances about Tamils having gone missing during and after the war. Protests by members of Tamil families who are grieving the loss of their loved ones underscore the fact that the lawmakers of their country are not accustomed to a system of accountability. For the record there have been protests initiated by world bodies such as Amnesty International seeking the whereabouts of missing people in Sri Lanka, but to no avail. Presidential hopeful Sajith has promised a life of freedom for people and a house for everyone. Houses he may give, but whether Sinhala lawmakers have made an effort to understand ‘freedom’ from a Tamil perspective is questionable.
Sajith has also promised to prune unwanted state expenditure. It’s written clearly in his manifesto to stop issuing vehicle permits again to lawmakers. It would be much appreciated if some of these savings that can be made through such arrangements are channelled to the north for development work.
Protests by members of Tamil families who are grieving the loss of their loved ones underscore the fact that the lawmakers of their country are not accustomed to a system of accountability
The Muslims compared to the Tamils have meekly bowed down to the pressures of the lawmakers. Just days ago we saw a video that went viral containing footage of a SLPP heavy weight issuing a subtle threat to a group of Muslims at a meeting in Kandy and ordering them to generate votes for Gotabaya. Telling these Muslims to not expect lawmakers to entertain their grievances in the event they they fail to get the demanded number of votes amounts to a threat from the perspective of democracy.
There was also a video clip that went viral about a lawyer from a minority community acknowledging the fact that the Muslim community will be at the receiving end if in the event they don’t vote for Gotabaya and the former military man wins the elections. All these points out the possibility of the Muslim and Tamil votes going in favour of Sajith at the much looked forward to presidential elections.
But there are other factors which would shape the path of the victor. Despite Sajith’s campaign gaining momentum and closing the gap between the two leading elections candidates this is a time when the security in the country needs to be intact. One little grenade or a petrol bomb going off somewhere in Colombo, prior to the elections, can topple the applecart for Sajith. The Green Party lost much of its credentials regarding the ability to protect the country with the explosions which were triggered off on Easter Sunday. Those who joined the government bashers on social media asked a prominent question. ‘Why didn’t members of Christian political families go to any of the churches that were bombed on Easter Sunday? Sajith’s camp has never bothered to answer that question. Sajith can’t distance himself from the failures of the UNP because he has held the vital post of Deputy Leader of the party.
The Jaffna Tamils have opposed ITAK members and also shown disapproval in Gotabaya campaigning in the north with regard to the generation of votes. Sajith too set foot in Jaffna recently during a campaign, but reports reveal that there had not been much enthusiasm shown even for the Green Party candidate. This ‘reject’ attitude shown by the northern Tamils, even toward their own kind in politics, is a solid indicator of people preferring to use the head and not emotions when it comes to selecting their country’s lawmakers. Can’t the rest of Sri Lanka take a cue from the northerners?