A Fool’s Paradise: Cricket Provides The Perfect Distraction For Latest Regime Clampdown
By Chinthika De Silva –
Nothing highlights the state of impunity and political apathy in Sri Lanka today as well as the Presidential Spokesman’s incessant Twitter updates about cricket and calypso just minutes after news broke that the Secretary to the Judicial Services Commission Manjula Tillekaratne, the regime’s present Enemy No. 1 was hospitalized following an assault by four unidentified persons early Sunday morning.
Bandula Jayasekara who tweets under the username: @bundeljayse tweeted Baila v Calypso in Colombo before following up with “Recently returned fm Sri Lanka Andrew Alderson believes New Zealand can learn a thing or two fm the host countrys international success-NZH” and “Arjuna described Shane as a media myth Warne got a whiff and ran 2 Chappell saying Whats that fat bastard said now?”NZH”
Jayasekera’s tweets reinforced public perception that the attack on the JSC Secretary had been cleverly timed and occurred on a day when most Sri Lanka’s were almost obsessively distracted by the ICC T20 World Cup final in which the Sri Lankan team meets West Indies to battle for the trophy.
With the entire country on edge about the match that unfolds at 7 p.m. local time and the Meteorological Department’s glum prediction of thunder showers tonight, the attack that is extraordinarily significant in light of tensions that have erupted between the Rajapaksa regime and the judiciary is likely to be drowned out.
The incumbent administration is well known to spring unpleasant things upon the citizenry like price hikes and increased taxation during times of intense public distraction, whether by way of international cricket tournaments or the influx of Bollywood superstars in the island. More ominously, major attacks on journalists and dissidents have occurred when the Government was flying high, whether with major victories on the battlefield or in the public sphere.
The attack on Manjula Tillekaratne is no different. Strangely reminiscent of the assassination of Sunday Leader Founder Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, the early morning attack also featured four unidentified persons who assaulted Tillekaratne with a blunt weapon in broad daylight on a busy street. Wickrematunge also died of blunt force trauma to his head.
If Sri Lanka trounce the West Indies tonight to clinch the cup, all will be forgiven as President Mahinda Rajapaksa descends on the R. Premadasa Stadium to present the Lankan cricket skipper with the prestigious trophy. Tomorrow’s newspapers will be splashed with pictures of the victory and the attack on a judicial officer who so recently criticized the political powers will be relegated to a corner of the front pages.
If conquering Kilinochchi was the anti-dote to the social poison of Lasantha’s murder, so the T20 world cup will ease the discomfiture of an attack on another person who dared to cross the incumbent regime.
And so, when no one was looking, another death knell has tolled for democracy in Sri Lanka.