ER, militarizing relief jeopardize peace prospects- paper

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 18 January 2005, 15:00 GMT]
Questioning the timing of the introduction of Emergency Regulations (ER)in several districts and the motives for unilaterally enforcing ER without coming to an agreement with the Liberation Tigers, the popular daily Uthayan in Tuesday’s editorial said that the Government of Sri Lanka is further worsening the mistrust between the parties and jeopardizing the peace process by its actions.

Sri Lanka’s President signed the Proclamation of Emergency Regulations to be in force in the 12 Districts of Sri Lanka that have been affected by the tidal Disaster. The Disaster took place on the 26th December but Regulations were signed to be operative in the North-East, North-West and the Western Provinces from the 4th January.

The Editorial said: ”It is not unknown that Governments of countries affected by natural disasters introduce emergency regulations and security measures to cope with the urgent and grave situation caused by disasters. It is not disputed that the State, its organs and departments can be given the required power for swift action and speedy measures that urgent rescue operations and relief work call for during periods of disasters.

”However, Ms Kumaratunge’s timing of the proclamation of the ER arouses suspicion whether her political agenda is the main motivator behind the move.

"If Emergency Regulations were introduced soon after the disaster it would have been viewed as intended to help the speeding up of the rescue operation and to carry forward the relief work unimpeded and also to protect the properties and belongings of the affected people."

The editorial questioned the wisdom of introducing armed forces into relief work saying: "Conferring powers on Officers of Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces to handle the second stage of the relief work at a time when urgent rescue operations and first stage relief work have been mostly completed through the efforts of the private organizations and the public is an unprecedented move not normally seen in other countries facing similar situation.

"The Emergency Regulation has the effect of militarizing not only the rescue operations and relief work but also the task of rehabilitation and reconstruction that are to follow."

The paper alluded to the compulsion Sri Lanka’s President has in finding ways to extend her term in the office, and said: "Ms Kumaratunge is at the end of her Office as Executive President and her mission appears to be her own political survival and the desire to continue to hold on to power."

Uthayan editorial further said, "The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which owes its existence to the searches, arrests and detentions carried out under ER, has been suspended with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

"It is in this situation the Sri Lanka Government has taken steps to implement the Emergency Regulations without the concurrence of the LTTE which is a party to the MoU. Further, the Sri Lanka Government has not yet come to any agreement with the LTTE on rehabilitation and reconstruction of the large part of Tamil homeland controlled by the LTTE."

These measures taken by the President has to be viewed as a wrong signal which will have detrimental impact on the progress of the peace process, the editorial concluded.


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