Ensuring the Rule of Law in the
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
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.