Colombo, Foreign Relations, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War, Vavuniya, War Crimes

Sacrificing essential liberty for temporary safety in Sri Lanka

Despite the successful military victory over terrorism, we continue to be warned by the state that a critical threat to national security continues to stalk the country. Consequently, we have passively assented to a persistent and invasive military presence in our daily life. Furthermore, over quarter of a million Tamils are continuing to be held by the state against their will in IDP camps as suspect terrorists until proved innocent through stringent government screening procedures implemented at a measured pace which appears insidious. The leadership of the country has assumed an overtly authoritarian and threatening stance in declaring that dissenting opinion against state policy is unpatriotic and subversive.

Despite vehement denials, it is obvious that the government is guilty of suppression of media freedom and dissent through intimidation, threats, violence and extrajudicial acts which have seriously affected their credibility both nationally and internationally.  Society is rapidly losing its trust in the regime on account of the mere lip service paid by them towards achieving a post war durable and just peace.

The GOSL’s greatest loss of credibility is on account of their blatant denial and refusal to inquire into allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses in the course of fighting the war against terrorism. Appeals to the government by the United Nations, USA and the EU to inquire into such allegations in order to clear any misconceptions which threaten the government’s integrity are contemptuously resisted based on artfully misconstrued reasoning that they are an affront to the independence and sovereignty of the nation. Such tactics have unfortunately caused more harm than good by antagonizing the democratic world and creating a climate of greater suspicion against the government. The government’s desperate bid to forge new friendships with notoriously despotic nations such as Burma, Iran and Libya in order to avoid political isolation and safeguard against the threat of economic and financial sanctions from the West has further aggravated its negative image as an undemocratic state.

The government’s attempted face saving counter allegations of an international conspiracy, backed by the Tamil Diaspora, to discredit them has no valid basis. If one assumes it to be correct, it only indicates that the Tamil Diaspora which backs the now redundant LTTE have more credibility with the democratic world than the GOSL. It is indeed pathetic to believe that a legitimately elected democratic government could be ostracized by the democratic world on account of an allegedly fabricated case for war crimes built up by a relatively internationally insignificant Tamil Diaspora which supports a globally banned and virtually decimated terrorist organization.

Today we are witness to an increasing level of corruption, violence, poor governance, nepotism, cronyism etc in the country. There exists a clear trend towards authoritarian rule which by passes the rule of law and the fundamental rights of citizens under the guise of the continuing need of protecting national security against the ever present threat of terrorism. Even today, the 18th century assertion of Benjamin Franklin , the father of democracy still holds true that “those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Yes, sadly we Sri Lankans deserve to be admonished similarly as we have sacrificed our essential freedom for ruthless oppression under the guise of protection which is driving the nation towards economic ruin and impending violence.