White Vans and Black Vans
Posted on December 26th, 2015

N. A. de S.Amaratunga Courtesy Island

The government seems to have got into the habit of covering up its sins by saying that the previous government did worse things but nobody protested as they were afraid of the so-called white van. However, when Black Defenders are used for abductions it claims the law is enforced against the suspects. Perhaps similarly corruption, nepotism and other such social ills I suppose continue provided they are being done in a transparent manner and the people can talk about them and protest on the streets if they like.

The Chinese helped the previous government substantially and the country developed rapidly but according to the present rulers the policies of the previous government were not to the liking of the Western powers and that resulted in the UNHRC resolutions against Sri Lanka.

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On the other hand, the Western powers are not doing anything to help us develop our economy though the government had high hopes. In fact the Western powers seem to be doing the opposite. They do everything they could to thwart our economic development so that they can continue to dominate us. All requests to the IMF for emergency aid have been turned down. Our currency has depreciated by about 8% since January 2015. The present rulers say the previous government had taken massive loans at high interest rates and that is the reason for our economic woes. But they themselves are desperately looking for loans.

Before the election the Colombo Port City Project was condemned, but now it has become acceptable. The original budget which was obviously designed to meet the conditions of the IMF has been drastically changed beyond recognition in the face of strong trade union pressure. The government says it listens to public opinion unlike the previous government which used the white van to suppress public protests. But the fact remains that they cannot take the risk of losing the forthcoming local government elections.

The IMF will move in for the kill before long. The government will be left with no alternative but to fall in line. The East Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia are protesting against the IMF policies that have ruined their economies. In Sri Lanka too it is possible that the economy would be on the decline due to IMF intervention and the workers, farmers and the poor would be badly affected. One hopes black vans would not be deployed to suppress their voice.

The government is under heavy pressure to compromise security in the North and the East. Hence the story that the main grievance voiced by the Tamil people is that they should be allowed to go back to their lands which they occupied before the war and everything will be forgotten and that will be the end of the ethnic problem. There is no question that land should be provided to the landless but not at the expense of national security. The High Security Zones have to be maintained at any cost and alternative land must be given to people who have a claim for those lands in the High Security Zones. Further, Britain which did not raise a finger to help Sri Lanka defeat terrorism has now come forward to assist us in military reforms.

These issues are further complicated by the fact that the government is under pressure to bring in constitutional reforms to grant further devolution of political power on an ethnic basis.

Going by the number of the US state officials who have visited this country recently and the fact that no other country had received this dubious honour one could venture to say that the stakes must be very high in the geopolitical equation in the Indian Ocean region for the US to get involved in Sri Lanka so strongly. It is feared that Sri Lanka will soon lose its independence and sovereignty and come under the economic, political and military hegemony of the West. The West, particularly the US is losing slowly but surely its economic and military clout in the world. Our Government must realize the implications of this phenomenon and act in the best interest of the country.

N. A. de S.Amaratunga

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