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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

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Government Gazette

Ensuring the Rule of Law in the North

The swift measures taken by the state to put things right in the wake of complaints by some TNA MPs that they were set upon in Jaffna recently by persons sporting Army uniforms, should help remove any reservations that the Rule of Law is not being restored to the fullest in the North. The criticism surfaces on and off in some quarters that the law is observed more in the breach in the North and the government’s quick, positive response to the reported incident of assault, should help put the record straight on the state’s efforts to restore law and order in the province.

As we reported yesterday, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had lost no time in directing Jaffna Army Commander Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe to inquire into the incident and to bring the wrong-doers to justice and in this gesture we have ample proof that all sections in the country and those in the North in particular are being made to adhere to the Rule of Law. Besides, the state is doing its utmost to ensure equality before the law.

The sustenance of the Rule of Law is an essential condition for the practice of democracy and we could take up the position that the necessary space is being created for the Tamil parties of the North, such as the TNA, to engage in electioneering in the run-up to the Northern Provincial Council elections. However, it is essential that all concerned quarters collaborate with the state in bringing into being normalcy in the region, without which it would not be possible to conduct elections and to engage in other democratic practices.

Thus it could be seen that the politics of the North would need to take an about-turn almost, if the problems facing the people of the North are to be resolved. The people of the North-East did face very serious issues and this prompted some sections among the population of those regions to take to militancy and terror to resolve their grievances. The 30 year conflict and the course it took illustrated very clearly the utter futility of taking to arms to resolve the problems at issue. In other words, none of these issues could be resolved through a dependence on militancy and terror.

Moreover, although talk of the need for amicable settlements was in the air for decades, no concrete steps were taken in that direction by the political leadership of those times. Now, with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the helm of affairs, the prospects of a negotiated settlement are bright. In fact, talks are ongoing between the state and the TNA and the latter in particular would need to approach the task of negotiating, with a strong sense of realism.

We call for a strong spirit of compromise at these talks. Besides, the parties need to be pragmatic and practical-minded in the face of the challenges facing them. There can be no time-buying tactics at these talks because, as could be seen, although the LTTE has been resoundingly defeated in the battlefield, the Eelam cry is continuing to be taken up, particularly abroad. And such angry, vociferous campaigning could continue, with all its attendant risks.

On the other hand, the relevant Tamil parties need to be guided strongly by the realities in the North-East while engaging in these negotiations. Clearly, there is no going against the unitary state concept. If at all Tamil grievances are to be resolved, such an outcome would need to be sought within the confines of a unitary state. Such are the current realities.

It should be amply clear to all those who have taken it upon themselves to speak on behalf of the Tamil people that they could no longer achieve any legitimate aims for the Tamil community in isolation from the state. The predominance of the state should dictate to parties such as the TNA that nothing concrete and legitimate could be gained for the Tamil community without the assistance of the state.

Accordingly, the politics of the Tamil parties of the North would need to be reoriented and the case would need to be made for co-operative action with the state for the achievement of essential needs. Besides, inasmuch as the state should now think in terms of a national identity which would make provision for the peaceful co-existence of all our communities within a united and unitary land, the Tamil parties should conceptualize Sri Lanka as a united state which provides for the most far-reaching diversity and peaceful co-existence among communities.

Interlocking directorates of the new imperialism

In trying to understand the extraordinary performance with regard to Sri Lanka of the present and the last UN High Commissioners for Human Rights, I am reminded constantly of what I was told by the previous Indian Ambassador to the Human Rights Council. When we were discussing the excessive number of UN employees from the West, he noted that, apart from that community of interests, they most of them came from the same sort of background.

Full Story

Revisit and re-learn are as important as reduce, reuse and recycle

One of the most interesting things about staying with my grandparents in Kurunegala during school holidays was the opportunity to read back issues of the Reader’s Digest. The late nineteen seventies was still too early for me to see ‘propaganda’. I was more interested in the ‘light’ pages of the Reader’s Digest: ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine,’ ‘All in a Day’s Work,’ ‘Life in these United States’ and ‘Word Power’ anyway. I did enjoy ‘Drama in Real Life’ and also the human-interest stories.

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Birthday tribute to Dr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa:

Reflections on a patriotic legend of our times

Think of all the millions of innocent people who died in this bloody century because democracies reacted too late to evil and aggression. Because, the duty of the Defence Secretary was well performed, the past is gone not with helpless indignation, but with a hopeful affirmation of human dignity and human rights for the 2010. In a world too divided by fear among people of different racial, ethnic and religious groups, he has given confidence to the friends of freedom and pause to those who would exploit human difference for inhuman purposes.

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