| by Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne
(November 06, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) This government is going along the path of destruction; that is looking from the side of the poor and the proletariat. Prices are rising, while incomes of workers are not rising to compensate for inflation. In reality, people have become poorer, as their buying power is becoming less and less. Art, music, drama and culture in general, has lost support as the people are unable to stretch beyond their day to day needs. Writers write because there is so much to write about. They have to intervene to bring out the suffering and the intricate emotional problems that go with it.
Writers, dramatists and other artistes have to depend on sponsors for survival. Jayathilaka Kammellaweera, the famous writer, told me recently “I keep on writing as it gives me pleasure and joy. Apart from the joy of creation, there is very little response to the artistic appeal we make to the masses.” I believe the majority of creative artistes will agree with him. While the government claims that we are marching forward in the path of development, the masses are loosing faith in the government. It is true that a minority is happy about the achievements of the government, they should be, as they have every thing. When people are struggling to balance the home budget in the context of the rising cost of living, the rich are crowded with every luxury possible. Thus the typical stage for a mass uprising is developing, unnoticed and unattended.
While the Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his diplomatic corps tried to put water on fires at the Perth Commonwealth summit, the Tamil National Alliance leaders were in the United States, meeting leaders in the Obama administration and the United Nations, to press for an amicable political solution. Mahinda held a series of bilateral meetings with leaders, to impress on them, the ‘progress’ he had achieved since the conclusion of the bloody war against the Tamil uprising, in 2009. He was well guarded by the Indians, even as the Tamil diaspora tried to approach the courts to bring him to justice over alleged war crimes. While the efforts of the diaspora were not successful, except for the publicity, the decision of the TNA to travel to the US to engage the State Department, and the UN has been viewed with hostility by the Mahinda administration. The TNA, however, had the support of the radical democratic opposition and to some extent that of the United National Party. The NSSP took the position that though the global powers could not be trusted, it is very important to make the masses the world over aware about the miserable condition of the Tamil people.
The UNP has held that there was nothing wrong in the TNA meeting the UN Secretary-General and others to help speed up a political solution.
According to TNA leader M.A. Sumanthiran, after May 2009, the defence forces have occupied more than 7,000 sq km of land owned by Tamil people.
There is one member of the armed forces for approximately every 10 civilians in the Jaffna peninsula. The heavy presence of the military continues to be the most serious concern in the North and East. More than two years since the conclusion of the war, the government has failed to facilitate the proper transition of these areas, from a situation of conflict to a ‘normal’ environment. Progress in the resettlement of Tamil communities displaced due to the war has been extremely slow. This is a fact that has been independently verified and reported on by the UNHCR too. Sumanthiran has stated further “According to the government’s own figures as at 1st July 2011, 258,446 had been ‘returned’ or ‘resettled’ from welfare camps, leaving 12,661 in the Kadirgamar, Ananda Kumaraswami (Zone 1), Arunachalam (Zone III) IDP camps. The most current figures suggest that only 7,440 persons remain in these camps, insinuating that all others have returned or been resettled. What the statistics do not reveal is that over 200,000 persons in the North and East have not returned to their places of origin. These persons either continue to be confined in transit camps or have been compelled to take shelter with host families. Such persons include those displaced from Valikamam North in the Jaffna peninsula, Sampur in the Trincomalee district, and several other areas in the Wanni.”
Agitation for justice to the Tamil people should be tied to the anger of the people to the economic misery. It is time a powerful democratic movement, is formed to bring out the power of all oppressed communities.