Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 20 September 2015





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Lanka's struggle for human rights and peace

Both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are justly proud of the achievement of their government, especially of Ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, in navigating the complex legal demands of international human rights mechanisms and the geo-politics of UN fora to take Sri Lanka closer towards a successful search for justice and peace in our country.

When a previous regime, bent on a seemingly quick end to a complex ethnic conflict, blundered through with a military solution to 'terrorism', the entire country was left to pick up the bloody pieces. It was not enough that one ethnic minority was bludgeoned into apparent submission. As a hoodwinked majority ethnic community waited expectantly for economic peace dividends that did not come, an easy distraction was the attempted bludgeoning of the next largest (or smallest) ethnic minority - no matter that the whole world was watching the aba sarana spewed from platforms and the burning shops, homes and religious sites.

'Post-war reconciliation', so cunningly voiced by professionals fronting for that blundering regime's duplicity, soon became seen as the smokescreen for mere prevarication while autocracy and plunder flourished. Not that the regime cared. In fact, it lacked the intelligence to even understand the damage being done to the country's reputation in the world community.

Demonising of the world community could only last the tenure of the regime which resorted to such a cheap and simplistic ploy. Even as the citizenry awoke to its hoodwinking, political fortunes changed drastically - fortunately for the country and all its communities.

A historic electoral vote in January changed the regime and immediately changed Sri Lanka's prospects in the world community.

The very electoral mandate of the new presidency and the new government was directly aimed at recovering the integrity of the State and a genuine social peace through a process of accountability and comprehensive peace-building. If new investigative institutions and mechanisms were swiftly put in place, their output has been necessarily restrained by the demands of due process and careful justice.

Nevertheless, this very attention to democratic and governmental detail has revived confidence in the institutions of society and State, not only in the eyes of the citizenry - as seen in the recent parliamentary electoral success. Rather, the whole world, that watched as the Emerald Isle struggled through the political change, soon also appreciated the recovery of integrity of institutions and also the revival of a moral governance - relatively speaking, of course.

It is on this bedrock that the new Sirisena-Wickremesinghe regime proceeded to campaign at world fora to extricate the country from the mire of simplistic chicanery and embarrassingly un-intelligent diplomacy that reduced Sri Lanka to the status of a 'suspect' state over its record of social violence and injustice.

'Human rights' that had been made a dirty word by the previous regime, once again took on a moral value befitting a dharma dveepa.

Global attitudes - that turn on how the outside world sees a society - changed from a bemused disbelief at the antics of blundering autocrats and racists to an appreciation of the energetic professionalism of the new governing team that demonstrated its abilities and vision with domestic actions first before engaging with world institutions.

As President Sirisena himself pointed out last week, it was the record of quick and wholesome actions within the country by the new government that convinced the world community, and especially the UN Human Rights Council, of its bonafides. Hence the new approach to the issues of large scale human rights violations and injustice afflicting the country.

As the world community sees a new governing team fully aware of the enormity of the problems facing it, international agencies, big powers east and west, all now come forward to offer support in a myriad ways - whether it is judicial expertise, forensic skills and tools, law-making advice, or finance for new implementing agencies. The UN process in Geneva is not the 'enemy' of Goebbelsian creation by the previous regime, but a component of the world community of which Sri Lanka is a valued member.

This is the process that the Government is now taking forward with the utmost diligence and necessarily with meticulous care. There can be no room for grandstanding and posturing, nor for cover-ups. This island's civilisation is at stake, as the citizenry has now realised.

Only for cars . . .

'Hybrid' cars are now the hottest vehicles on the market in these fuel-expensive times. Even if the proud owners of these complex automobiles don't quite understand the dense mechanics of their machines, they yet enjoy the smooth ride and the fuel economy which makes these 'hybrids' such value for money.

Not so with other forms of 'hybridity' such as practical mechanisms to, at last, bring Sri Lanka out of the agonies and misdeeds of the recent past - the hybrid judiciary mechanism proposed by United Nations human rights experts.

Such 'hybridity', that deals with political blame-games and accountability, threatens to bring harsh truths too close to the heart of ethnic identities - an issue of ethnic pride and prejudice. Such a threat clearly touches such raw nerves that all rationality, humility, honesty, and standards of civilisation or morality are forgotten in the narcissistic scramble to save face and affirm some pseudo superiority.


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