From Conspiracy to Counter Conspiracy Theories

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<ul><li><p>From Conspiracy To Counter Conspiracy Theories</p><p>By Jehan Perera- Sunday, April 20, 2014</p><p>The theory of an international conspiracy is gaining ground within the government. The state media is giving considerable attention to the Canadian decision to stop funding the Commonwealth during the tenure of President Mahinda Rajapaksa as its Chairman.</p><p>Canada was also one of two countries that officially boycotted the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in November 2013 because it was being held in Sri Lanka. The Canadian position is that As host of the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and current Chair in Office, Sri Lanka has a duty to take meaningful action on human rights, political reconciliation and accountability. However, Sri Lanka has failed to realize progress on any of these issues.</p><p>The Sri Lankan government has accused Canada of using its voluntary funds to the Commonwealth Secretariat as a political tool based on the dictates of electoral compulsions, thereby holding the membership of the wider Commonwealth to ransom, through competing claims for power. The inference is that Canada is attempting to placate the Tamil Diaspora which is present in large numbers in Canada, and who are motivated by a separatist agenda that is hostile to Sri Lanka. They have been at the leading edge of pressure to have an international investigative mechanism set up to probe the last phase of the war that led to the destruction of the LTTE. This would further justify the governments decision to list 16 Tamil Diaspora organizations as being terrorist sympathisers.</p><p>The government has also been seeking more recently to justify its ban on the Tamil Diaspora organizations by its theory of the revival of the LTTE. Although the LTTEs military machine </p><p></p></li><li><p>was destroyed on the military battlefield in May 2009, the ideology that sustained it has continued. In fact this ideology of separatism and Tamil Eelam came before the LTTE and was born in democratic Tamil politics. It has also survived the LTTE.</p><p>At the present time, it is only those outside the country who are able to openly voice their support for this ideology. But the seeds remain locally too and they will remain until there is a mutually acceptable political solution. But the problem is that while the government is concerned about the seeds of separatism, it shows little or no interest in addressing the roots of the problem through a political solution.</p><p>There is strong concern within the government, and the intelligence services, about the possibility of an actual LTTE revival. The shooting of a policeman in the leg by a suspected LTTE cadre, the intense cordon and search operations and arrest of more than 60 persons, and the killing of three LTTE cadres in a shootout as reported by the government has taken place on the larger context of Tamil Diaspora involvement and financing. The slain persons are accused of having had connections with the Tamil Diaspora.</p><p>However the murky nature of the entire episode has led to a climate of intimidation and uncertainty in the North. The net result is that less than five years after the end of the war, the prospects for reconciliation and a stable security environment are receding.</p><p>Political scientists have for a long time been able to show that ethnic conflicts are difficult to resolve.However, in those few cases where there has been a total military victory by one side the situation is generally more stable than in those where there was a negotiated settlement. It will be ironic if Sri Lanka, which achieved what seemed impossible by defeating the LTTE, should lose its prospects for peace so rapidly. It is tragic that after defeating the LTTE so totally on the battlefield, the government is edging towards a situation where the military is being called upon to play a greater role.</p><p>The essential ingredient in consolidating peace after a military victory is to address the political roots of the conflict that gave rise to the war. After their victories in World War 2, the victorious countries ensured that Japan and Germany would have new constitutions for their governance. After the Indian victory over the Sikh militancy new political arrangements were put in place so that the elected authorities in Punjab state could govern effectively. This same realization and wisdom is there among the Sri Lankan population that the roots of the conflict must be addressed. The problem is the failure on the part of the political leadership to apply this wisdom in a problem-solving practical and selfless manner. On the contrary in Sri Lanka, what is very much visible is the failure of the government to permit the newly elected authorities in the North to govern effectively.</p><p>There is presently a great deal of despondency in the North about the deteriorating situation. Reports from the North indicate that the military role has grown and the space for civil society to function has shrunk due to permission for activities that has to be obtained and is either not forthcoming or is deemed to be impossible to obtain. The absence of transparency which is the </p></li><li><p>usual attribute of the military has led to the sense of skepticism about the claims of the revival of the LTTE. The absence of transparency and any sign of forward movement to politically resolve the problem is what creates the space for a counter-conspiracy theory that suggests that all this efforts are to strengthen the governments military stranglehold over the polity. The only way to dispel this suspicion is for the government to move forward in regard to political solution.</p><p>The radicalisation of any section of society, along ethnic or religious lines, is essentially indicative of the failure of the state to establish a system that is politically secular and democratic and socio-culturally inclusive. The failure of the Sri Lankan state to provide security to those groups, comprising different ethnicities and religions to work together and remain integrated, as occurred recently when a mixed Muslim-Buddhist media conference was attacked, is not a positive sign at all. During the past month, the prospect for post-war reconciliation has suffered major setbacks. The situation in the country after the passage of the UNHRC resolution that calls for an international investigation into the last phase of Sri Lankas war, has been one of escalation of confrontation both locally and internationally.</p><p>What happens internationally will be outside the control of the Sri Lankan government. However, what happens internally within Sri Lanka is well within the governments control. Unfortunately instead of demilitarizing post-war Sri Lanka and winning the confidence of people by being transparent in governance, it is exactly the opposite that is happening. By its own actions the government is giving credence to international claims, such as by Canada, that it is not serious about accountability for human rights violations of the past, and is not creating the political conditions for reconciliation in the present. Without genuine reconciliation, Sri Lanka will be left with the same hatreds, fears, and anxieties that gave rise to the conflict in the first place, exacerbating the possibility that conflict will again break out.</p><p>From Conspiracy To Counter Conspiracy Theories</p></li></ul>