After the Tsar was ousted, it is said, Russians got commissars who proved to be equally repressive and ruthless. We, in this country got rid of the Portuguese with the help of the Dutch and finally had the British only to realise in the end that we had blundered. In the post Independence Sri Lanka, too, we have acted in a similar manner in chasing away swarms of political fleas feasting on us. We get rid of one set of political parasites at an election only to be plagued by another.
Will this be the experience of the people of the Eastern Province as well? The LTTE which had kept them under its jackboot was banished a few months ago and two elections were held first to the Local Government institutions and then to the newly formed Eastern PC. The TMVP and the UPFA combine received a popular mandate to rule the province including all the LG bodies therein. But, it looks as if the TMVP had chosen to follow in the footsteps of its Wanni master in dealing with its rivals.
The Eelam People`s Democratic Party (EPDP) has complained that its activists in the Eastern Province have come under pressure from the TMVP to leave the area. There have also been clashes between the two groups. The EPDP has, as we reported on Monday, vowed to defy the TMVP orders and stay put.
This is a very dangerous trend that must be arrested forthwith. The TMVP needs to be told in no uncertain terms that it cannot aspire to be the sole representative of the Eastern Province Tamils. There must be no room for `sole representatives` in a multi party democracy. They are a scourge that must be removed for the common good. It was not to install the TMVP as the sole representative of Tamils that the LTTE was driven away from the East. The people must have the freedom to elect or reject representatives, depending on their likes, dislikes and needs.
The EPDP, which is crying foul in the East must give up violence against its opponents in the areas like the Jaffna islands where it has built its empire and banned others from doing politics. They are notorious for human rights violations and flouting election laws. The government stands accused of ignoring public complaints against the EPDP. At least now, the EPDP should realise what it is like to be terrorised.
The government is all out to rout the LTTE in the Wanni and dismantle its terror empire where human rights have ceased to exist. (The vociferous human rights activists shouting themselves hoarse in Colombo refuse to take up the cudgels for the hapless people trapped in that part of the country as championing their cause doesn`t bring in dollars and pounds.)
It is the duty of the government to ensure that the writ of the state runs in all parts of the country and democratic rights of the people are protected. But, what is the use of slaying one monster if other monsters cannot be prevented from taking its place?
Freedom of movement and engaging in democratic politics is a constitutionally guaranteed right. And it behoves the government to create an environment conducive to unhindered political participation which is the lifeblood of democracy. Its inability to do so for whatever reason will mean its failure in duty by the populace or condoning the strangulation of democracy.
In the East, the EPDP says the police have refused to act on its complaints against the TMVP. If that is the situation, whom can the aggrieved party turn to? Aren`t the victims of the TMVP`s violence being driven to an extreme? This bodes ill for the future of the Eastern democracy.
The TMVP played a pivotal role in liberating the Eastern Province from the clutches of the LTTE and helped rekindle democracy. The risks it ran in the process and the dangers it faces at present have been enormous. It has also become the target of the terror allies in the garb of human rights activists promoting separatism on the sly.
Chief Minister S. Chandrakanthan and his outfit deserve credit for their contribution to the on-going efforts to re-democratise the east. But, they must, on no grounds, be allowed to rise above the law and suppress political dissent.
CM Chandrakanthan, who has proved his critics wrong by displaying his ability to handle crises and reach out to other communities, we believe, will be wise enough to realise that repression doesn`t pay. It only begets resistance and results in disaster in the end. The fate that befell the LTTE in the East is a case in point.
Therefore, the TMVP will have to bid farewell to its violence if it is to avoid the fate of its former boss in the Wanni. Else, it is imperative that the government make the TMVP, with which it has forged a politico-military partnership, respect the democratic rights of its opponents and prevent the East from going the same way as the Wanni.
There must be no exclusive enclaves in any part of the country for any group, be it militant, political, ethnic, religious or otherwise. Everyone must be able to move, live and engage in democratic political work in any part of the country without fear, let or hindrance.
Let that be the bottom line!