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Democracy Stillborn : Lanka’s Rejection of Equal Rights at Independence? Rajan Hoole & Kirupaimalar Hoole

Democracy Stillborn : Lanka’s Rejection of Equal Rights at Independence? Rajan Hoole & Kirupaimalar Hoole

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Democracy Stillborn traces the present plight of Sri Lanka to the battles of the 1920s over the championship of labour by Ponnambalam Arunachalam.

 His ouster in 1921 from the Ceylon National Congress, led to the country's politics becoming dominated by estate capitalism. This in turn resulted in an anti-labour stance blended with communalism, which received a boost from the total disenfranchisement of plantation labour by 1949. The main legal battle around citizenship of plantation labour left the Judiciary deeply compromised. The right of habeas corpus affirmed in the Bracegirdle case of 1937 was attacked by the 1947 Public Security Ordinance permitting 'murder in good faith.' With

elite Tamil and Muslim complicity, politics which was anti- labour at first, turned to ethno-chauvinism, surrendering the Parliamentary Left to Sinhalese exclusivism by 1964. Organised labour, weakened by abandoning the Plantation sector, was crushed by the UNP government in the General Strike of 1980. The right of habeas corpus, rendered virtually extinct by the 1979 PTA, made way for the cruel joke of the 2007 ICCPR Act.

 Observing that the country is tired of revolutions, Democracy Stillborn places its hope in the survival in a mangled form of the Separation of Powers and of new life in a Judiciary with the courage to declare bad laws unconstitutional.

Perera Hussein Publications

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