Politically, some interesting stuff has been happening lately. Understand that, of course, I don’t understand these things very well – in all my lives, I have avoided politics. Nevertheless, I shall strive to explain things as best as I possibly can.
First a little background information.
The main ethnic groups in Sri Lanka include the Sinhalese and Tamils. The Tamils, from the way I understand, were from the Tamil Nadu region of India and came over to Sri Lanka in two main waves, one hundreds of years ago, the second during British rule.
The Tamil people speak their own language and they live primarily in the north and east part of the country. They want their own country which they call Eelam, hence the LTTE – Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
The resulting civil war between Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers have killed more than 60,000 people in the last couple of decades, and sadly, there are areas in the north and the east that are not safe due to the land mines in the area. My understanding is also that, while only 67% of the country has electricity, most of those who do not are in the north and the east, and that’s also mainly due to the war.
There’s been a cease fire for the last couple of years and efforts at promoting the peace process are evident. There are, however, those who are not willing to negotiate with the Tamils. The Sri Lankan president appears to be one of them.
See, Sri Lanka has both a president and a prime minister, and please don’t ask me how the government works here. I don’t know. I barely understand how government works in my own country. What I have gathered, though, is that right now, the president and the prime minister are from two opposing political parties. This is the first time this has happened since independence, which was in 1948, so it’s not like Sri Lanka has a long political history.
The prime minister is currently out of the country, and that’s why the president chose now to do her thing. She started with firing three key ministers – the ministers of mass communications, defense, and one other one I don’t remember at the moment. All the ministers were of the prime minister’s party, not hers. And now that politically, the country is starting to go through chaos as a result of her actions, she declared a state of emergency. It’s her own damn fault.
In the news, there’s a lot of talk about how what she did is unconstitutional. Well, okay, then do something about it. Perhaps they’re waiting for the prime minister to get back into the country? I have no idea.
I have been told that the president opposes the peace process. She wants to give nothing to the Tamils. I’ve also been told that she’s crazy, as in unstable. You get the drift.
Now the major question becomes one of safety. Am I still safe here? When I asked Fahim that, he said that the violence will be directed towards the politicians and any protesters, demonstrators, that sort of thing. So as long as I stay away from any demonstrations, riots, protests, rallies, politicians, I’ll be safe. Theoretically.
I throw that theoretically in there because, let’s face it, no one is every 100% safe anywhere, and that includes rural Alberta where murder rates are very low, the political system is stable, and yadayadayada you get my drift.
I think it’s fair to say that we’ll likely see more of the military on the streets. They are already at the blockades surrounding the parliament, but that’s been like that since before I arrived in Sri Lanka. Men in uniforms with big guns. They don’t bother me, I don’t bother them.
But I think that a lot will depend on when the lawyers get involved – if they get involved – and do something about the supposed unconstitutionality of the presidents actions. Of course the president has her side of the story, and I don’t know what that is, so the information I’m presenting is, of course, biased.
Another piece of information. The television stations here tend to stick to one side of the story – they’re biased for one particular party or the other. One television station is owned by the prime minister’s brother, for example. This can make it difficult to get good information. Ah well.
But one more comment. So far, nothing has changed that I’ve seen or that I’ve been affected by. There haven’t been any bombings or shootings or rioting anywhere in my vicinity or that I’ve heard of. So you know what? Relax. I’m not worried. Yet. I may change my mind later, but at the moment, no, I’m not at all concerned.
Oh, and another thing. While the parliament is about a five or ten minute trishaw ride away from where I live, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be affected. From what I understand, most of the bombings, shootings, and killings that took place in the Colombo area before were more so in the downtown area. You know what? I’ll have to check with Fahim on that. I could be wrong.