The Hanged Democracy: Lesson Learnt from the Eastern Province Elections aka LLEAP

The Hanged Democracy: Lesson Learnt from the Eastern Province Elections aka LLEAP

Many had debated about the Eastern Provinces Elections: was it a narrow victory or relative defeat for the UPFA? It depends, whether it will be able to form a government. But what if they will be in opposition? It doesn’t really matter, Rajapaksa’s party can celebrate a lavish triumph. They win everything, totally. You don’t think so? Let me explain. First of all, were they fair, the elections? What about the accusations of violence and intimidation? Well, you have to take what you can and under these circumstances, this the best you could get. No completely fair, but neither unacceptably rigged. So you have to swallow it that they were more or less OK.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, former Chief Minister for the Eastern Province, May 16, 2008.
courtesy Gemunu Amarasinghe-AP Photo via Yahoo! News

What is the result then? That we are discussing in a political framework. This is the masterpiece of Rajapaksa: it doesn’t really matter who holds the purely nominal title of Chief Minister, the orders will always come from Colombo. So you can really oppose the government’s will, with regards of important matters. Because if you do it, you can be accused of rebellion and consequently of reviving terrorism. In other words your freedom of movement is tightly enclosed in the framework that the government is giving to you. This is normality, the new normality. It is the democratic life of a country that the debate is within a shared framework.

The only issue is that accountability and justice, will never come out from it; the roots of discontent, the aspirations, the grievances, will remain untouched. No political entity can address any demand and claim of that community. You can participate only in a idle game. No surprise that many from the Tamil community didn’t bother to vote at all.

The second aspect is that you have a community that was chased out and hunted like an animal. Starvation, disease, killings were the means of interaction between the Tamil civilians and their alleged “government”. Only 3 years have passed, with many still in temporary shelters, victims of abuses of every kind from the army, which is a foreign occupation entity in the day to day life. Sexual violence, arbitrary violence, expropriation, land grabbing, the list is well known. And you ask this people, this community to participate “in the vibrant democratic life of the country”, to exercise “their duty of being active members of the election process”, to contribute “to the civic process of their State”. To me it sounds like a bad taste farce.

There is always the option of civil disobedience, as these women and men haven’t suffered enough, weren’t challenged enough. If they think of minding only their own business, attending the work in the paddy field, going to fish and care only of what happened in the perimeter of their houses (without roof, with stolen tiles, with signs of shelling, maybe mines in the garden), can you really blame them?

 The plan of Rajapaksa was to break the morale of a community and after that to blackmail it in a ineffective political game. Quite successfully, I would say.


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