By John Amaratunga
Democracy is practically non-existent in a political autocracy in whatever democratic name it may choose to call itself and no autocracy has been benevolent to the people. Winds of political change began to blow with the Arab Spring following the lead from North Africa challenging autocratic governance with the people signalling with telling effect that enough is enough. Very close to us in Indian body politick frustrated people came out in threatening numbers on a spontaneous uprising through a Satyagraha Campaign galvanizing the Giant Nation against political corruption. The Indian Government had to succumb to peoples demand, unprecedently, for a participatory democracy through a Bill which will establish Independent bodies called Lokpals in each State that will hear public complaints of vice and corruption against political leaders.
At home the very sovereignty and unity of the Nation was under siege for 30 years threatened by fierce terrorism fighting for an ethnic division until defeated three years ago. Let us not forget that Sinhala youth rose in bloody rebellion twice against the Government of the day in 1971 and 1988 over dissatisfactions that needed to be addressed. Serious issues still prevail in our country. President Mahinda Rajapaksa stating that in the interest of public welfare and to learn lessons from recent history to ensure that there will be no recurrence of any internecine conflict in the future appointed a Commission of Inquiry in November 2010 naming it as Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
He appointed eight eminently recognized civil society, people to the Commission Panel expressing great trust and confidence in their pruden ability, independence and fidelity to inquire and report. They were mandated to inquire and report on matters that may have taken place from 21st February 2002 to 19th May 2009. Among directives related to the war the Panel was also asked to report on Institutional, Administrative and Legislative measures needed to prevent any recurrence and to promote National unity and Reconciliation among all communities. Appreciably what the country is yearning for. But doubts on the ‘bona fides” were expressed in some quarters both within and without ,perceiving that the Commission in fact was appointed by the Government to offset an imminent call for an International War Crimes Tribunal in Sri Lanka due to government inaction and in fact a time buying gimmick.
The tough stand of the International community is being construed by some mainly of the ruling party to be an interference of the internal affairs of the country and an infringement of our sovereignty which in fact is our own seeking. Some believe it is a great blessing in disguise for the people of the country. Sovereignty of the country is sovereignty of the people which is inalienable and entrusted by them to their representatives for a privileged duty of good governance for a period of time. A government muddled in bad governance has no moral right to hide behind hysterical incitement of the people prostituting the word sovereignty against well meaning external intervention. It must be reminded that Sri Lanka by virtue of choosing to be a member country of the UN foregoes a certain degree of sovereignty inviting intervention to make wrongs right.