What type of democracy have we been given?
By Dayasiri Jayasekera
Dec 14, 2011

After two and a half years of the end of the war many Sri Lankans were hopeful that democracy would be upheld in the North and East after the dispelling of terrorism in those parts.

No one anticipated that this would happened in a day, a week or a month, however people hoped that democracy would be established in the North and East systematically and the groundwork would be established for a free and fair society. It was also anticipated that a fair course of action would be taken with regard to those that were displaced due to the war and those that were taken into custody during the war. The public also anticipated that a political solution would be discussed to ensure a lasting and sustainable peace.

However after May 2009, the democratic situation in the country has gotten worse than what it was during the time of the war and the current situation is distorted and frightening. There have been a number of violations of the law since this time, and the government has been directly or indirectly involved in this process. The unlawful and undemocratic acts carried out by ministers down to political pawns have resulted in the deteriorating democratic situation in the country.

The suppressive arm of the government is now coming down on society and the underworld. The white van culture which pervaded society during the time of the war has now pervaded the underworld as well, this is best demonstrated by the number of underworld individuals that have been abducted or gone missing. The thugs that were with Duminda Silva, who was allegedly involved in the death of Baharatha Laxman, have gone missing or been abducted. After the arrest of Dematagoda Chaminda, those that have gone missing are Dematagoda Aja, Lunu Chaminda, Dematagoda Nimal, Pita-kotte Kapila Banda, Loku Seeya, Dematagoda Lasantha, Navy Ruwan, Galaboda Chamil Dhammika and Kotahena Christopher Leonard Fernando. Information is available only about three of these ten individuals; Pita-kotte Kapila Banda, Loku Seeya and Dematagoda Lasantha. Loku Seeya’s body was identified in Akkaraipattu by one of his relatives, Pitakotte Kapila Banda was a businessman and therefore released due to an uproar by the public in the area. Dematagoda Lasantha was also released. Meanwhile seven other individuals remain missing. Under no law of this country can it be condoned that underworld leaders or regular members of the public are punished outside the system of law and order in this country. It is a known fact that the government provided the framework for those in the underworld to operate freely. In addition to the police officerbody guards present at the scene of the killing of Bharatha Laxman Premachandra , members of the underworld were also present with Duminda Silva at the time.

On a surface analysis of this situation, it might dawn on us that the reason for the assassination of these underworld individuals is an attempt to cover up a scandal of some nature.

Today there are over 250,000 members in the armed forces and police which is proportionally, one officer per 82 people in this country. However no investigation is taking place into these abductions and no one has been taken into custody in connection with them. The white van culture in this country was discussed by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. When human and fundamental rights are being violated in this country it is no surprise that the international community will pay attention to what is happening here. Due to the human rights record of the government we lost out on the GSP+ concession from the European Union, thereby 200 factories opened in 1993 for the garment industry lost competitiveness. This loss of international competitiveness led to a drop in our exports. The government is attempting to showcase the facts that Sri Lanka has the American GSP, as a consolation prize for the GSP+, however the truth is that 129 countries receive the American GSP and therefore it does not increase our competitiveness to such an extent.

Abductions are not only taking place in the south but also in the north. During a demonstration on the 9th of December Kugan Muruganandan and Lalith Kumara were abducted. They had previously been warned by military officials not to participate in any political activities. They were members of the JVP, but after the dissention in the JVP, they joined the dissident group.

We have to question as to what kind of democracy has been bestowed on the people of the north, after the defeat of terrorism, if they cannot take part in political activities freely. The government is trying to hoodwink the people by saying that there are intergovernmental conspiracies to defame the government, instead of facing these allegations of human rights head-on.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka