Colombo, Jaffna, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance


Mahinda Rajapaksa seems to be turning into his one-time enemies. During the reign of terror (bheeshanaya) in the late 1980s, which was started by J.R.Jayawardene and continued by R.Premadasa, around 60,000 Sinhalese were tortured, disappeared and killed by the state. At that time, Rajapaksa collected evidence of these crimes and took them to the international community, the UN. For doing this, he was called a ‘traitor’.

Now it is Rajapaksa’s own regime that is guilty of torture, disappearances and killings, of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. And he is the one who calls anyone offering to give evidence of these crimes to the international community ‘traitors’!

A more recent enemy of Rajapaksa was Prabakaran. He claimed to be the sole representative of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Freedom of expression was non-existent in the areas under his control. Tamil civilians who disagreed with him were called ‘traitors’ and arrested, tortured, or simply killed. He even killed his close associate Mahatthaya because he posed a challenge to Prabakaran’s absolute power.

Now Rajapaksa is acting as if he is the sole representative of Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. Journalists are being abducted, arrested, assaulted and killed in order to clamp down on freedom of expression. Anyone who disagrees with Rajapaksa or poses a challenge to his absolute power is called a ‘traitor’, and is victimised or killed. This includes Sarath Fonseka, without whom the LTTE would not have been defeated. His supporters are being victimised, and the millions of people who voted for him are being called ‘traitors’.

Even Mahanayakes who call for a convention to discuss democracy and good governance are threatened with being bombed in the Dalada Maligawa! Rajapaksa seems to have learned how to deal with pro-democracy monks from his friend Than Shwe, the brutal Burmese dictator. And let us not forget: it was Prabakaran who bombed the Dalada Maligawa.

If Rajapaksa manages to get a two-thirds majority in parliament by using intimidation and fraud, he will eliminate the last remnants of democracy in Sri Lanka. Prabakaran’s fascist politics would have triumphed not just in the North and East, but in the whole country. That, of course, would be a disaster for all Sri Lankans including Tamils, but when did Prabakaran ever care about the welfare of Tamils? He must be laughing!