Radhika Coomaraswamy: je suis fière de mon pays

Nous reproduisons ci-dessous l’article publié dans le blog de DBS Jeyaraj par Radkika Coomaraswamy, célèbre juriste sri lankaise, militante des droits humains, et jusqu’en 2012 sous-secrétaire générale des Nations Unies chargée de la question des enfants dans les conflits armés.

“Why The Elections Last Week Made me Triumphantly Proud of my Country”


Radhika Coomaraswamy

There are times in one’s life when one becomes very proud of one’s country. For many it is when we win in cricket or in war. This is triumphant pride where we defeat someone else- an external sports team or an internal enemy. For this kind of pride we need “an other” whom we compete against or dislike without restraint. It is a mixed blessing, filled with pride, but especially in the latter case also fear and hate.
pic by: Anura Srinath – www.anurasrinath.com

pic by: Anura Srinath –

However there are times when pride can transcend the obsession with “the other”. In Sri Lanka it could be when we are immersed in its astounding natural beauty or when we live up to our own values and expectations. For me the elections last week were a very important moment- at least for my own personal connection to this island.

Democracy in Sri Lanka had taken a bashing for decades but especially since 2009. We saw things that were absolutely surreal- like something out of a bad Fellini film. And yet we were constantly warned against change, pointing to the possibility of chaos that an Arab spring could bring such as in Libya, Egypt and Syria- no-one of course mentions Tunisia where its has been a great success.

What saved us was the courage of individual politicians who by acting jointly have given us the following moments to savour in our lifetime -no matter what happens in the future: –

Firstly, our public servants, including our rule of law institutions and the security forces showed us what they can do if there is proper leadership and an atmosphere which even holds out a prospect where their professional independence is respected. :- a judiciary that refuses a last minute effort to break election laws by state media institutions; an Elections Commissioner who is proactive in ensuring a free election, constantly surrounding himself with monitors and the press so that no-one could “get at him”; a police force that finally does its job arresting those who did wrong and thwarting many acts of violence and intimidation, an army that refused for the most part to allow soldiers out of the barracks and if stories are true refused to pervert democracy and shoot its own people. (Egypt, Libya and Syria failed because the armed forces did not show this restraint unlike in Tunisia) Also if reports are true, an Attorney General who refused to push for the Proclamation of Emergency. We must also remember the countless public servants who made this election a success. This commitment to democracy by our public services and institutions more that anything will convince the world that given the proper leadership we are not a failed state or a banana republic- the image the rest of the world presently has about us and that brings shame to many of us working in this field.

Secondly, after years of being ruled from the top by people with a monarchical dispensation, it was wonderful to see dialogue and discussion slowly begin to take the place of threats and scaremongering. Particularly interesting has been the slow transformation of the rhetoric of both the TNA and the JHU. From bottom line thinking, inflammatory language and vitriol, both sides have publicly begun to affirm the need for discussion, dialogue and understanding. For many of us who have been watching the political scene for decades this has been extraordinary development. It is also interesting to see the slow transformation of the rhetoric of the UNP and the JVP- the former beginning to speak of limitations to neoliberal policies and the JVP agreeing to serve on the Advisory Council. The JVP and the JHU’s indefatigable struggle against corruption will hopefully continue holding the feet of the present government to the fire as well to ensure that this election is not another recycling of the spoils. These are all good signs, moving us away from the bottom line, boycott politics of the 1970s and 80s that got us into this mess in the first place to a more deliberative democracy focusing on process and substance. If this holds we are truly moving toward becoming a modern democracy.

The inauguration of the 6th Executive President was an absolutely chaotic affair. For some, freed from years of repression and intimidation, it was nostalgia and an affirmation of freedom and spontaneity- a carnival for a people’s president. Others, having been accustomed to years of a disciplined Colombo, were mortified- believing that this was a sign of things to come and that the coalition will lead us down the road of chaos and disorganization away from the “stability” of the last few years. The Cabinet appointments as well as the appointments of Secretaries and Governors should dispel such fears. These are appointments for the most part- though not all- based on merit and competence. We hope at least they will contribute toward effective governance.

There are still many obstacles are ahead and the promises and the expectations may never be fulfilled. In addition, the discourse and rhetoric of fear, rumour, darkness and hatred is still trying to make a comeback. It is true that the minorities did make a difference in this election but we must also ask why the former incumbent’s share of the Sinhala vote dropped from 65% to 55%- that is what made him lose the election since the minorities have always voted against his policies. It is the split in the Sinhala vote more than the minority vote that delivered this election to M. Sirisena. To see it as anything else is to deliberately obfuscate the issues.

We have also not resolved the ethnic issue and a lot of political landmines remain in that area. Yet we must ask- “how can the terrorists and violent rebellion ever come back?”. There is no leader, the people of Jaffna have no stomach for violence and even the irresponsible and self-absorbed diaspora are strangely talking about Mahatma Gandhi. The western countries and India, especially after this election, will not tolerate fund raising or clandestine mobilisation. Where is this threat? The issue is not military- it is political- how do we find a political solution, how do we win hearts and minds, develop the economy and livelihoods and treat people with respect and empathy. The appointment of a civilian governor to the northern province with familiarity on these issues is a step in the right direction.

We still do not know if any of the pledges of the Coalition will be fulfilled in the next 100 days. We have two active, political parties- the JHU and the JVP as well as a reinvigorated civil society that will now have the freedom to be vigilant to make sure it happens. If the pledges are implemented, we will have fundamental transformation in our political system and our rule of law institutions- hopefully they will ensure that democracy is entrenched no matter what happens after April.

At this time we must also remember all those who are not with us who would have also savoured this moment- among them- my mentor Neelan Tiruchelvam and his wife Sithie, Charlie Abeyesekere , his daughter Sunila and her son Sanjay- and also, though we had very divergent political views especially on the ethnic question, HL de Silva and SL Gunesekere who in their life time fought very hard for democracy and the rule of law. As Sunila’s daughter Subha wrote in a moving piece,

“So you see, democracy is not just a system, a structure. It is also a feeling. It is a feeling within each one of us; a desire to be led by the things we believe in and the people we see those things in. It is a desire to stand up, to feel powerful in our own way, to wield that power in the face of despair and frustration. It is a feeling that inspires other feelings; it gives us courage, it gives us hope”.

The arrival of the most popular religious figure in the world the day after the appointment of the cabinet of ministers seals this moment we can savour. We may not all be of the same religion or even religious at all but this is the Pope who has said that religion and religious institutions are not all that matters- it is one’s own spirituality and doing what is right that is the most important. May his blessings entrench our gains, help us transform hope into reality and vengeance into justice with mercy.

Lien audio pour écouter la conférence sur “Cinéma sri lankais : Autonomie et engagement de la nouvelle génération” qui s’est tenue le 23 janvier 2014 à l’auditorium de la Bulac

Nous avons le plaisir de partager un lien pour écouter l’enregistrement audio de la conférence sur “Cinéma sri lankais : Autonomie et engagement de la nouvelle génération” qui s’est tenue le 23 janvier 2014 à l’auditorium de la Bulac. Cette conférence s’était tenue sous l’égide de la BULAC, de l’ONG INMALANKA et du Festival du Film Sud Asiatique Transgressif (FFAST).

Lien pour écouter la conférence: http://www.bulac.fr/conferences-rencontres/archives/rencontres/rencontres-2013-2014/cinema-sri-lankais/

“Visite du Pape au Sri Lanka : entretien avec Mgr Wickramasinghe, évêque de Galle” par Radio Vatican

(Radio Vatican ) Entretien – Au Sri Lanka, on affiche sa religion. Elle est, autant que l’ethnie, une carte d’identité. Mais à la différence de l’appartenance à la communauté cinghalaise (70%) ou tamoul (15%), qui se sont indirectement affrontés lors de la guerre entre les autorités de Colombo et les séparatistes armés de l’Eelam Tamoul, la religion n’est pas un facteur de trouble. Elles cohabitent dans la paix. Il arrive cependant que la communauté musulmane (10%) et la toute petite minorité protestante (1%) soient la cible d’un groupe de moines bouddhistes extrémistes politisés.

Au Sri Lanka, la politique est l’objet de toutes les passions. On se rend aux urnes en masse lors des élections, comme la semaine dernière. Plus de 70% de la population a fait le déplacement pour élire son président. A trois jours de la venue du Pape, le verdict des urnes est d’ailleurs tombé. Le président sortant Mahindra Rajapaksa  a reconnu sa défaite. Il était au pouvoir depuis dix ans. Et, pour la première fois semble-t-il, les discussions post-électorales en sont restées aux mots. Aucune violence n’a été déclarée.

Pour Mgr Raymondo Wickramasinghe, la visite du Pape François y est clairement pour quelque chose. L’évêque de Galle est en charge de la commission pour les relations avec les médias….


“Quelle est la situation politique et militaire au Sri Lanka ?” par Radio Vatican

Entretien – Voyage du Pape François au Sri Lanka. Ce mercredi, après la grande messe de canonisation du missionnaire Oratorien, Joseph Vaz, le pape se rendra en hélicoptère en zone tamoule, dans un sanctuaire national où prient les srilankais hindous ou catholiques… C’est la première fois qu’un Pape se rend dans ce sanctuaire marial malmené par la guerre. Menacé par les bombardements, il a abrité un camp de réfugiés durant la guerre civile.

Le conflit s’est achevé il y a 5 ans sur les cendres d’une dernière bataille d’une violence inouïe. En 2009, lors du dernier mois de guerre entre le gouvernent cinghalais de Colombo et les Tigres séparatistes de l’Eelam Tamoul, 40 000 tamouls ont été tués. 140 000 selon l’évêque de Mannar qui affirme que les activistes armés n’ont pas été correctement comptabilisés. A l’issue de la guerre, 280 000 tamouls vivaient dans des camps.

Aujourd’hui, cinq ans plus tard, comment vivent-ils ? Pourquoi l’armée occupe-t-elle encore massivement le nord du pays, l’ancienne zone de guerre où vit la majorité des Tamouls ? Delon est géographe, rédacteur en chef de Sri Lanka & Diasporas


“Le Sri Lanka a son premier saint, Joseph Vaz” par Radio Vatican

Il est sept heures quarante-cinq du matin et déjà un grand soleil inonde le Galle Face Green, un parc longeant la mer, au nord de Colombo. Le Pape a traversé la foule en papamobile avant le début de la messe de canonisation du bienheureux  Joseph Vaz. On parle de plus de mille prêtres concélébrant la messe et de plus de 500 000 fidèles, dont un tiers qui a prié le rosaire avant de dormir sur place. Ceux qui se sont endormis sur le trajet de la papamobile ont été réveillés à 4heures du matin ! Parmi eux se trouvent de nombreux Indiens venus de Goa.

via: http://fr.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/01/14/le_sri_lanka_a_son_premier_saint,_joseph_vaz/1118126

“François, arrivé à Colombo, parle déjà de réconciliation” par Radio Vatican

François est arrivé au Sri Lanka. Dans son premier discours adressé aux autorités, le Pape a évoqué « les horreurs de la guerre civile » que le pays a traversées. « Dépasser l’héritage amer d’injustices, d’hostilités et de défiance laissé par le conflit n’est pas une tâche facile ». Le Pape a insisté sur le rôle « important » que « les personnes qui appartiennent à des traditions religieuses différentes » peuvent jouer dans le processus de réconciliation et de reconstruction, en cours dans le pays. « Le processus de guérison, a-t-il dit, demande d’inclure la recherche de la vérité, non pas dans le but d’ouvrir de vieilles blessures, mais plutôt comme moyen nécessaire pour promouvoir la justice, la guérison et l’unité ». François a évoqué l’importance de l’amélioration des infrastructures et de pourvoir aux besoins matériels, mais plus encore il faut, selon lui, « promouvoir la dignité humaine, le respect des droits de l’Homme et la pleine inclusion de tous les membres de la société ».

via: http://fr.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/01/13/françois,_arrivé_à_colombo,_parle_déjà_de_réconciliation/1117976

“Voyage du Pape au Sri Lanka : la place et les rapports des religions” par Radio Vatican

Le Pape François entame son 7° voyage apostolique à l’étranger, le 2° en Asie après la Corée en août dernier. Le Saint-Père passe 48 heures au Sri Lanka, un pays meurtri par des décennies de guerre civile, dont les conséquences sont encore perceptibles. Puis il partira pour les Philippines, le pays le plus catholique d’Asie.

Au Sri Lanka, la population est hétéroclite. Les Cinghalais représentent 75 % de la population. Ils sont quasiment tous bouddhistes. Les Tamouls constituent eux 15% de la population. Ils sont hindous pour la plupart. Les catholiques qui représentent une petite minorité dans le pays (7%) sont membres des deux communautés. Les musulmans représentent eux 12% de la population.

Quelle place occupe la religion ? Le Sri Lanka est-il un Etat laic ?

Nous avons posé la question à Eric Meyer historien


“Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Electoral Defeat is Seen by New Delhi as a Defeat for China and Victory for India” by Upul Joseph Fernando

“When the Chinese naval submarine ‘Great Wall 329′ arrived at the Colombo Port, Mahinda Rajapaksa may have not dreamt that even his royal astrologer, Sumanadasa Abeygunawardene’s prediction may prove wrong about his victory. Also, having declared a presidential election and when he travelled to Lord Venkateswara Temple, India, Mahinda may not have felt that the correct Temple to worship was the Temple at South Block, New Delhi. Be that as it may, Mahinda’s destiny was not changed by Maithripala who had hoppers and left him, but by the Chinese submarine ‘Great Wall 329′.”

via: http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/37286

“M.I.A.: Sri Lanka has ‘same government with different face'” by Channel 4

“Arulpragasam told Channel 4 News that Sri Lanka’s new government has the “same face” as it includes politicians who have been involved in government for the last 30 years. (…) On the UN inquiry, Arulpragasam said “we still want Rajapaksa to go to the Hague”, but that peace in Sri Lanka’s post-war period was a priority for Tamils. In the years since the war there have been continued allegations of ongoing abuses such as “enforced disappearances” of Tamils and government opponents.”

via: http://www.channel4.com/news/mia-maya-arulpragasam-sri-lanka-president-tamil-rajapaksa

“Will the Neoliberal Economy Change?” by The Collective for Economic Democratisation

While the election victory for President Maithripala Sirisena was due to a unique political moment that united minorities and many in the Sinhala electorate to vote out an authoritarian regime, expectations of major change in economic policy need to be tempered. The momentum gained from overthrowing an authoritarian regime should now be channelled into a radical democratic agenda for social justice through mobilisation and struggle in which the leftist forces in Sri Lanka have to play an important role.

via: http://www.epw.in/web-exclusives/will-neoliberal-economy-change.html

“Why Sirisena’s Victory is Not a Victory for Sri Lanka’s Tamils” by Kumaravadivel Guruparan

But, why are the Tamils sceptical of Sirisena? Sirisena was an integral part of the Rajapaksa regime that unleashed a horrendous war, a war that was waged not just against the LTTE, but also against the Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka. He was a part of the Rajapaksa regime that not so long ago used the military to take over vast amounts of private land belonging to the Tamils in the regions dominated by them.The regime initiated a rapid process of demographic change in the northeast in favour of the Sinhalese, and endorsed the maltreatment of ex-LTTE cadres.

Sirisena maintained a stoic silence on literally all of these issues during his election campaign.

– See more at: http://www.caravanmagazine.in/…/why-sirisena%E2%80%99s-vict…

Pope Francis: arrival speech in Sri Lanka

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday morning, beginning the first leg of a week-long visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Below, please find the full text and audio of the Holy Father’s remarks at the arrival ceremony at the international airport of the Sri Lankan capital.

via: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/01/12/pope_francis_arrival_speech_in_sri_lanka/1117969

“Sri Lanka to hold parliamentary elections in 100 days” by AFP

Sirisena axed hundreds of officials and diplomats appointed by Rajapakse and warned that he would take stern action against any corrupt official in his administration.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said the President had ordered all political appointees of the former president to resign immediately, while diplomats were being recalled.

via: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-2906325/Sri-Lankas-new-leader-delays-forming-cabinet.html

“Pope Francis and struggle for human rights in Sri Lanka” by Ruki

It would be important for the Pope not to be carried away too much with election celebrations, which is predominantly Sinhalese feeling. I hope the Pope will be able to address key issues related Tamils and Muslims, which have not been addressed by the President Sirisena’s manifesto. This will include processes towards power sharing and addressing serious violations of human rights and humanitarian laws. President Sirisena’s past conduct and that of some of his allies, which have been very nationalist and pro-war, anti-minority, doesn’t give Tamils and Muslims much confidence and hope even in the new government. Clearly, it was their desperate need to get rid of Rajapakse family rule that led them to vote for Sirisena.

Via http://groundviews.org/…/pope-francis-and-struggle-for-hum…/

“It’s Personal, It Should Be To Us All” by Subha Wijesiriwardena

So if someone says, ‘Let’s forgive and forget, it’s time for a new Sri Lanka’, we should say to them: We can forgive, but we must never forget; there is no new Sri Lanka without the old; we cannot build a future that does not acknowledge the past; we will not live in a nation in which we have not all, without exception, been given the chance to rebuild our lives, and the very luxury of the choice to forgive.

Via http://groundviews.org/…/its-personal-it-should-be-to-us-a…/