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'Sri Lanka's election could change everything... and nothing' – Callum Macrae

The ongoing repression of the Tamil people will continue regardless of which candidate wins the upcoming Sri Lankan presidential election, said documentary maker Callum Macrae in an opinion piece on Wednesday.

Writing for Channel 4 News, Macrae said,

“[Rajapaksa's] message to the Sinhala majority is designed to reinforce their conviction that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala nation, indivisible - and that the Tamils of the north and east must accept that, or have that forced upon them.”

Though opposition candidates Maithripala Sirisena has vowed to tackle issues such as corruption and rule of law, he “has made it clear he is in effect talking about those things only for the Sinhala majority,” added Macrae.

“He will not challenge the ongoing repression of Tamils in the north and east. He will not take on the hugely powerful and inflated military - or reduce their bases in the north. He will not willingly entertain serious discussions about the kind of political reforms that might satisfy the Tamils. He will not seek justice for the war crimes that were committed at the end of the war. Indeed, the former army commander, Sareth Fonseka - a man himself facing charges of responsibility for war crimes - will probably be a key member of his government.”

Macrae, the director of the Emmy-nominated documentary “No Fire Zone”, added,

“Both key candidates are united in declaring that they will not co-operate with the UN inquiry into the war crimes and human rights abuses. Both have pledged that senior commanders will not face legal action over war crimes. Both are united in stating that Sri Lanka is indivisible. And both calculate that the climate of Sinhala triumphalism following the war cannot be questioned if they are to win the key Sinhala vote.”

Commenting on the need to continue with international pressure regardless of the outcome of the election, Macrae concluded by saying,

“If that international momentum is lost, they fear, the urgent need for democratic and peaceful solutions to Sri Lanka’s underlying political divisions could be further delayed.”

See the full text of his piece here.

Also see our previous post: Who is Maithripala Sirisena? (23 Nov 2014)