SRI LANKA: Why are we doing this to ourselves? 

We have self-made our destabilization. We are destabilizing ourselves and blaming others for destabilizing us.

Our recent history is a history of decay. With each year, we are destabilized more than the previous year; our social organization has decayed more than the  previous year. Let us take our parliament, our police, our prosecutor’s  department (Attorney General’s department), our corruption control department and our judiciary — all of these become worse each year.

We kill more prisoners, we arrest more people without any reason, we torture and ill-treat more people, more bribes have to be paid, there is more delay in adjudication, schools become worse instead of better, and so do the hospitals.

The quality of our radio programs degenerate each year, and so does other state media.

The total situation affecting us was well summed up by Justice Wigneswaran,

“Thus the 18th Amendment has destabilized the Sri Lankan political system. Its effects will only grow with time. The drama taking front pages in the Newspapers these days is only proof of such demoralizing effects. The Amendment has removed essential limits on Executive power and has crippled the Judiciary and   reduced the independence and influence of the Parliament; further, it has ensured political stagnancy and precluded progress. By, passing the Eighteenth Amendment, Sri Lanka has destroyed what democratic framework that was in place rather than improving it.”

At one time we blamed the ‘war’ and the LTTE.

What do we blame now? NGOS?!

The communication among ourselves about our own common problems regarding our own social foundations, the ground on which we stand, has also degenerated to that kind of talking.

Serious talk about getting out of this situation requires a restatement of the basic constitutional ideals we have agreed on – the idea that we are a democracy and a republic, that rule of law is the thread that binds us, that separation of powers is the structure of power among us and that rights of each of us as individuals need to protected under all circumstances, and that the consent we give to the government is always conditional to these basic elements. This implies these ideals are the core of our collective self, our own nationhood.

When faced with such societal crisis as we face, the only way out has been the restatement of basic ideals on which the social structure and institutions stands, which is the framework of our agreement to work out our destiny together.

Whether we look into the West with Plato and others, or to the East, the methodology that has been adopted in coming out of such societal crises is the reassertion of the basic ideals and reconstruction of the basic structure of society on that basis. In India, the same approach was expressed in opposition to Indira Gandhi’s attempt to destabilize the basic structure of the Indian constitutional system, as evident from the basic structure doctrine in Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala.

We have come to that critical moment when such an assertion of the basis of our nationhood can only be delayed at our own further peril.

Document Type : Article
Document ID : AHRC-ART-002-2013
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Judicial system, Prison conditions, Torture,