SRI LANKA: CAFFE move towards all inclusive membership is a welcome move

The Asian Human Rights Commission congratulates the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) for taking up a pluralistic approach in incorporating members to engage in election monitoring thereby standing above the partition political approach that has been the curse of Sri Lankan politics. Election monitoring must be done on the basis of norms and standards of free and fair elections and on that basis alone. As elections involve all citizens it is not possible or advisable to separate one section of voters from others when it comes to the issue of monitoring. It must be said to the credit of the Sri Lankan voter that by and large, the voters know how to distinguish in voting for whatever party they wish but at the same time to be able to do their citizenship duties in a responsible manner. To be a voter is not to be some sort of a dogmatic person who gets him or herself divorced from all human relationships with the members of other political parties who may vote for whomever they wish.

Unfortunately beginning with the electoral reform initiated by the Donoughmore Commission there were attempts to make voting an exercise of some maniacs who hated others if they voted for other parties. The country has paid a very heavy price for thinking and behaving in this way. People are primarily members of one society and citizens of one country. After the family relationship the relationship of members of a society is the closest one and a very sacred one. As one society they commonly own the water they drink, the food they eat, various services that provide health and education facilities and all other services such as transportation and the like. People may hold property in private but even this does not exclude the rights of all the citizens to benefit from the functions carried out by such privately owned businesses, properties and the like. The bond between the citizens should be of a far superior quality than any bond that may exist within members of a political party. Society stands above political parties and a good political party communicates this message to its citizens.

The absence of a hierarchy of values that provides the foundation for a stable society is one of the reasons for continuous violence within the country. Political violence does not stop with violence relating to political issues; it spills into all areas of life. It generates and supports the criminal underground. And when political partitioning is carried beyond the boundary in which it should be held it is the underground criminal element that becomes the decisive factor of politics. Once the most important areas of electing representatives is relegated to the criminal underground it also affects the law enforcement agencies because these agencies are prevented from taking effective action against the criminal underground. With this the law enforcement suffers greatly and when that happens it is the ordinary citizens who suffer most whatever be their party affiliations.

The citizens have nothing to gain but instead have much to lose if they don’t keep their party political affiliations within legitimate boundaries. The very sense of reason and the humour within the societies will give way if these boundaries are not clearly held. Above all there will be relativisation of morality. The killing of opponents, cheating of the vote and the tolerance of deception become part of a society which has succumbed to the propaganda of unscrupulous parties who simply forget the common humanity of all human beings in that society. We therefore hope that there will be more than one movement not only during the election but even afterwards to unite people on the basis of a common bond as members of one society.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-129-2008
Countries : Sri Lanka,