Reflections on the Current Situation in Sri Lanka

Lionel Bopage was a former General Secretary of the JVP. He was involved with the JVP since 1968 and resigned in 1984.

Excerpt:

In any conflict resolution exercise the main focus should be the pursuit of a political settlement. However, the APRC or the GoSL do not seem to have any urgency or seriousness of purpose. It has chosen to gamble on a military victory rather than meaningful power sharing as its formula for peace. The government’s only priority this year will be waging war in which one will be forced to become a patriot or a traitor following the Bush Doctrine. The LTTE itself never gave up its campaign in the pursuit of its maximalist demand of separation through violence. Both Sinhala and Tamil nationalisms in Sri Lanka and in the expatriate community suffer from the weakness of the exclusion of the other by pursuing an all-or-nothing strategy.

The current situation arose due to the CFA not having any mechanism to deal with escalating hostilities and to enforce protection of fundamental and democratic rights by the parties to the conflict. The LTTE outrightly rejected incorporation of human rights protection mechanisms in the CFA. Since signing the CFA, the LTTE continued using terror tactics as a tool to eliminate opposition instead of resorting to peaceful political negotiations with them. The response to this situation lies in developing a genuine and meaningful power sharing model between the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim nationalities. It will be a complex and long drawn out process but the need for it is inconvertible. A good start would be to implement and strengthen the CFA by establishing an effective mechanism like well entrenched human right protections to deal with such escalations. The experience gained from the CFA would be to strengthen it by establishing an effective mechanism to deal with such escalations. The war need to end with a CFA strengthened with well-entrenched human rights protection mechanisms. In order to find a fair, just, equitable and lasting solution, the parties to the conflict need to stop the war, sit at the negotiating table, work out a human rights protection framework that all the parties can abide by. This will be the only way the country and its people can look forward to a better future.
First of all we need to accept the fact that a national question exists and it needs to be resolved through a genuine power sharing arrangement. If we fail to address this vital question on our own we will need assistance of a third party such as the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth can play an open and constructive role in resolving the national question as it is an association of 53 countries including Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and India. The Commonwealth has the largest foreign direct investment in the island and the largest number of Sri Lankan expatriate communities. If the GoSL wishes to rule out a separate state as a solution to the national question as proposed by the LTTE, the government has a political obligation, responsibility and duty of care to the people of the island who have elected them to power to present a viable and just solution to the national question. My view is that by designing, developing and implementing a suitable socio-economic, political and legal environment that provides fairness, justice, equity, respect and dignity to all the Sri Lankan people at individual and community level, genuine long-term co-existence can be made possible between all the communities in the island.

We need to generate a national dialogue on the national question at all levels of society in that all social strata have been affected by the national question. Our duty as expatriates will be to use the challenges and opportunities posed by the current desperate situation to help develop this dialogue at all levels of the society including the expatriate community. Such a dialogue should leave enough room to engage with anybody and everybody who would be willing to constructively and credibly take part in the process. It is high time for those of us who are not so close to or affected by the day to day incidents of the conflict to concentrate on a viable political process. We need to develop ideas on how to achieve a win-win solution. To do this we need inter community dialogue. This dialogue could generate sufficient momentum within the community to make the cultural transformation to achieve a long lasting and credible political solution. A solution that does not discriminate in favour of any one community but benefits all the communities that makes up the multicultural mosaic of the island.

It is high time for those who are not so close to or affected by the day to day incidents of the conflict to concentrate on a viable political process. We need to develop ideas on how to achieve a win-win solution. To do this we need inter community dialogue. This dialogue will generate sufficient momentum within the community to make the cultural transformation to achieve a long lasting and credible political solution, a solution that does not discriminate in favour of any one community but benefits all the communities that makes up the multicultural mosaic of the island.

Read the Reflections on the Current Situation in Sri Lanka in full here.

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