File photo Photograph:( AFP )
With election fever now gripping Sri Lanka, political parties and politicians are placing themselves in the forefront, with COVID-19 crisis being relegated to the background
Yet another election will be held in Sri Lanka, undeterred by the COVID-19 crisis. Though some sane voices have pleaded for postponement of election to a future date after the end of COVID-19 crisis, the powers that be in Sri Lanka have decided that election should take place now. Certainly, heaven will not fall if the election in Sri Lanka would be postponed by a few months. But, these days, all over the world, sane voices are seldom heard.
With election fever now gripping Sri Lanka, political parties and politicians are placing themselves in the forefront, with COVID-19 crisis being relegated to the background.
The Tamil parties in Sri Lanka, which are quite a few now, are campaigning and advancing several arguments, largely related to the past issues that confronted Sri Lankan Tamils. One of the prime focus point in the campaign is the genocide that has taken place during the civil war between Tamil rebels and Sri Lankan army. Some Tamil parties seem to think that the demand for punishing those involved in genocide would appeal to the Tamil voters and win them the vote bank.
While it is true that thousands of people lost their lives in the unfortunate civil war that took place over several years, the fact is that innocent Tamils, innocent Sinhalese too have lost their lives, apart from the fighters in the Tamil militant groups and Sri Lankan armed forces. The ground reality is that substantial number of innocent Tamils lost their lives due to the quarrel and conflict of interest between different Tamil militant groups, who were fighting bitterly amongst themselves to get leadership position.
The genocide did happen but it happened not only due to the action of the Sri Lankan army but also due to the action of several militant Tamil groups. The militant Tamil groups fought between themselves to eliminate one another and in the process, several innocent Tamils died.
Now, the situation has turned one full circle and normalcy has been restored in Tamil region of Sri Lanka and the solidarity of Sri Lanka nation has been protected .
While the UN Human Rights Commission has ordered an enquiry and several activists from distance have also condemned the violent developments during the war period, the discerning people in Sri Lanka including the Tamils know that such enquiry commission and views of activists are only for public consumption and nothing worthwhile would happen.
The entire Sri Lanka has suffered due to the civil war and it is high time that everyone in Sri Lanka including the Tamils would look forward to the future, instead getting bogged down in discussions and arguments about the past conflicts, for which both the Sri Lankan army and Tamil militant groups should be held equally responsible for the loss of lives of innocent people and severe damage caused to the economy.
After the militant groups lost their battle and unity of Sri Lanka was restored, several reconstruction projects have been implemented in the region devastated by war with international support and more of such projects are now being planned and implemented.
The Tamils in Sri Lanka have enormous opportunities ahead and they can avail them only if they would integrate themselves with the rest of the Sri Lankan population.
During the forthcoming election, Sri Lankan Tamils should clearly demand that the political parties campaigning for votes should submit their blue print for industrial, economic and social growth of Sri Lanka.
It is high time that Tamils in Sri Lanka, whose voices were not heard by the Sri Lankan army or Tamil militants during several years of civil war, should now assert themselves and ask for forward looking policies and programmes in the integrated Sri Lanka.
While the Tamils need to stop looking at themselves as separate entity and whole heartedly and emotionally think that they are Sri Lankan citizens, it is vitally important that the political leaders in Sri Lanka including those in charge of the Sri Lankan government and opposition parties in Sri Lankan parliament should facilitate a progressive and civilized climate, by avoiding hate speeches or trying to whip up passion for the sake of votes in the election.
Sri Lankan Tamils have now an opportunity to revisit their priorities and exercise their franchise in the forthcoming election in favour of unifying forces, to pave way for a progressive path for the Sri Lankan Tamils, who have suffered enormously in the past due to the civil war and deserve better, forward looking and prosperous future.