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Truth and Myth in Sri Lanka

by NILANTHA ILANGAMUWA

Colombo, Sri Lanka. 

Yet another prisoner died whilst in custody at Vavuniya prison in Sri Lanka this week. Sadly the death happened in the same day when a meeting organised by the Secretary Defence and Minister of External Affairs was underway at the national capital. It was reported that 42 delegates from various countries participated in the meeting. Mr. Mariyadas Pevis Delrukshan (34) from Paithakur, Jaffna was accused of being an LTTE supporter. He had been in the hospital after he reportedly sustained serious injuries during his term in custody. In this backdrop, and of several other pressing needs the country must be addressing like health, education and food security, one wonders what is the purpose of meetings like the one hosted at Colombo concerning national security.

With the country’s criminal justice apparatus in complete shambles, what security could the nation and its current government afford to its people. If the advertisement campaigns sponsored by the government immediately after the “fourth Ealam war” in all available public spaces were of any relevance, it is limited to the extend of showcasing how efficient is the state of Sri Lanka in murdering its own people. These campaigns, spending huge amounts of public money continues till today, since the government of Sri Lanka has no other “achievement” to claim. These campaigns to a sensible community should tell them that their government is geared up to rule by fear, or that it is already in that mode.

If war was an excuse for the complete absence of any form of social welfare activities in the past, the people of Sri Lanka must wakeup to the reality that the war is long over. What is reality today is the pitiable scene of the commanders that led the war into its expected conclusion tightening their control over the entire country, resenting all forms of challenges. They have failed to move on to run a country and they will never will since they have now got used to absolute power. Ending a war into its most natural conclusion should not be the stake at which freedoms in Sri Lanka should be sacrificed. That democracy exists in the country is a fiction, without a single independent organisation that is required to sustain democracy in the country.

Delrukshan’s death in this context depicts what is happening in the rest of the country. Dilrukshan was receiving treatment in the Intensive Care Unit of the Ragama Hospital.  According to the local media reports, yesterday (August 08) his father was visiting the hospital but the officials informed him that his son had died already. Then they asked Delrukshan’s father to sign in a document written in Sinhalese, which the old man could not read, and he refused to sign. Nimalarubhan – another LTTE suspect also died in hospital few days ago.

The two murders must not remain a problem limited to the Tamil community in the country. Concerning treatment of persons in custody, the entire country irrespective of ethnicity and the language we speak share the same fate as that of Delrukshan and Nimalarubhan. This has been the case since the past two decades. The country’s police have become the scavengers for those in power. The judiciary has wilted to a state of non-existence. The political opposition in the country has lost its credibility since long that many inside and outside the country do not even know whether such a thing exists. In essence the country has become a dictatorship under the garb of democracy.

It is natural thus for the current government to spare no opportunity to preach others about ways of annihilation or wiping out opposition, also keeping the entire country under the thumb in the process. Indeed, it is also a marketable commodity, internally and externally, as long as everything is undertaken in the garb of dealing terrorism.

Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s speech at the ‘Defence Seminar – 2012’, organised by the Sri Lanka Army in Colombo that “…in order to rehabilitate the ex-LTTE cadres a ‘six plus one’ rehabilitation process model was adopted and particular attention was given to the 594 surrendered child soldiers. Non-governmental organisations such as the IOM and UNICEF were given free and unfettered access to the rehabilitation centers, so too were diplomats, media personnel, lawyers, and family members of the beneficiaries,” is laughable in this context. What rehabilitation is possible when the entire administration of the country is at war with the country’s people and their fundamental freedoms?

“Peace Villages were created to enable many beneficiaries to continue their rehabilitation without any disruption to their family life and also a special programme was drawn up to facilitate education for them. So far 10,965 rehabilitees have been reintegrated to [sic] society and there is complete freedom of movement for all people in the North. Since July 2011, more than 51,400 foreign passport holders from over 100 countries have visited Sri Lanka and travelled to the North, including nearly 31,500 this year alone,” he added. No doubt, the facts that the government has provided has created wonderful image of tranquillity, but before those who are blind folded or alliances that do not want to know anything beyond what they are been told.

After three years of elimination of the brutal terrorism, Sri Lanka has missed enough opportunities for genuine social reforms. What leads the country unfortunately today is a feudalistic deceitful ideology. The present regime is engaged in the systematic erasing of individual freedom, replacing everything with the military.

What Prof. Noam Chomsky said concerning the value of personal liberty and its protection that “… freedom is nothing if you cannot project individual rights. Our free society is marked by marvellous diversity, deep tolerance, lawfulness, a commitment to create and maintain an environment in which every individual has the opportunity to realise his creative powers. It does not fear, it welcomes, diversity and derives its strength from its hospitality even to antipathetic ideas,” is perhaps most crucial and relevant to Sri Lanka and its people at the moment.  Prof. Chomsky cannot be more correct when he said that the “system of values, which animates our society” includes “the principles of freedom, tolerance, the importance of the individual and the supremacy of reason over will.” (Deterring Democracy). Chomsky’s take on “humanitarian operation” that he alleges as often being used as a ruse to the total annihilation of social system and to sing the old ‘patriotic song’ to justify the unjust has today become an alarming reality for Sri Lanka.

The tragic dramas in Mannar, and Jaffna over judiciary and the reported issues in the University are emerging before us to confirm the level and extent of destruction in the society. The man who is even above the judiciary is showing himself to be like the fictional Rip Van Winkle, playing a very real role in Sri Lanka.

Nilantha Ilangamuwa is journalist and editor of the Sri Lanka Guardian, an online daily news paper based in Colombo Sri Lanka. He can be reached atilangamuwa@gmail.com or editor@srilankaguardian.org 

 

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Nilantha Ilangamuwa is Editor of Torture: Asian and Global Perspectives. He also edits the Sri Lanka Guardian, an online daily newspaper. He is the author of the recently released non-fiction books, “Nagna Balaya” (The Naked Power), published in Sinhalese, and “The Conflation”, published in English. 

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