Feature Article

Colombo losing political war- Uyangoda

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 November 2007, 16:22 GMT]
In an incisive and pessimistic article in Wednesday's edition in a Colombo daily, Professor Jeyadeva Uyangoda, Head of Department of Political Science and Public Policy, University of Colombo, says, Colombo, with its militaristic approach to finish "LTTE terrorism once and for all," is fast losing the political war, has "heightened alienation of the Tamil citizens from the Sri Lankan state," erased distinction between the State and the regime marking an "authoritarian drift in governance in which liberal democracy is seen as an unaffordable luxury, and even a threat," and self-destructively "mirror-imaging the LTTE particularly in the area of human rights and humanitarian issues."

Questioning the silence of the International Community in avoiding to engage in an assertive role, Uyangoda wonders if "the major international actors want to see how the Sri Lankan state succeeds in its counter-insurgency war so that they can apply those lessons in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere."

PDF IconWar and its other Victims
Pointing out that "spreading such martial sentiments through propaganda is also a strategy by the government to build popular expectations of an imminent victory," Uyangoda says, the Rajapakse regime "at the moment, does not seem to be concerned at all about possible political consequences of not being able to fulfill such bellicose expectations. Now the situation is that even if the President for some unforeseen reason wants to even slow down the much-promised military campaign into Vanni, he will not be in a position to do so. The political expedience of regime stability through war seems to have completely taken over the logic of reason, policy, events and processes."

On the continuing alienation of Tamil citizens from the State, Prof Uyangoda, concludes, "the message the Tamil citizens have got from the government is that the government treats each Tamil – young or old, man or woman, sick and able bodied – as a potential and imminent threat to the Sri Lankan state and its security, unless that Tamil is a supporter, well-wisher or participant in the government’s counter-insurgency war."

Warning that the "Government leaders should realize that in their blind commitment to winning the military war against the LTTE, they are sowing the seeds of losing the political war," Uyangoda adds, "the gradual erasure of the distinction between the state and the regime and the growing belief among leading members of the government that they are the state and that after them it would be the ultimate catastrophe is another consequence of the present stage of civil war in Sri Lanka."

He cautions the ominous consequences of such erasure of distinction saying it "marks a particularly authoritarian drift in governance in which liberal democracy is seen as an unaffordable luxury, and even a threat. It is a kind of post-democracy in which the state and regime security is viewed superior and prior to people’s security, the rule of law subservient and subjected to the unchecked and arbitrary powers of the executive, minority communities an unnecessary burden on the welfare of the majority community. This unfortunately is a tendency that moves forward quite fast in Sri Lanka today."

He adds, "the corroding impact on the state is the most crucial and irreparably damaging political outcome of civil war. It militarizes the state as well as state-society relations. It enhances to an extreme extent the repressive capacity as well as the will for repressive intervention of the state. It widens and reinforces the rift between the state and ethnic minorities. It normalizes the abnormal behaviour pattern of the state and the regime. It radically undermines the democratic foundations of the state. It brings to the fore patriotic-militaristic demagogy as a source of wisdom and vision."

Uyangoda warns that Sri Lanka is fast beginning to face a crisis of international legitimancy, concluding, "Mirror-imaging the LTTE particularly in the area of human rights and humanitarian issues is self-defeating and self-destructive for the government. It prevents the government from occupying the moral high ground. Actually, the world is watching the government as well. As a result, the regime is beginning to face a legitimacy crisis internationally."


External Links:
FL:  Beyond redemption
DM: War and its other Victims by Jeyadeva Uyangoda
DM: De-internationalising the conflict process

 

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