In year 2006, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) took a radical tactical turn to use remote controlled claymore mines to block Madawachchi-Mannar and Habarana-Trinco supply routes. This effectively made the vegetation clearance on either sides of the road fruitless. Attacks were frequent and caused huge damages to ground movements of the army. The defense research units that attracted the volunteer support of several civilian engineers worked day and night to develop a counter measure to jam the LTTE remote controllers, based on some pieces of circuits found among the debris of explosions in the North. The rate of innovation of the LTTE side was so fast that the Government defense research units had to struggle to keep up with their phase. Finally, LTTE gave up using remote controlled bombs. As far as I can remember, the last attack was on the Pakistan ambassador in Colombo. To be honest, I had respect for the researchers/innovators on the LTTE side who gave a difficult time to us, and worked with the only intension of outperforming. There was no hatred. For the civilian volunteers, burning midnight oil, and then returning to work the next day was not easy. The only motivation was to see an end to the war that kept on taking so many valuable lives. I am sure that this was the main motivation to all others who volunteered in many other fronts of the war. Those volunteers had complete trust in the Government to make a genuine attempt to bring in a lasting peace by firmly establishing democracy, rule of law, notion of citizenship, and justice, through some credible reconciliation process after the war.
After the war came to an end, silent ground forces went to rest, too tired of war, with a greater appreciation for humanity, but the racist cowards came out of their hiding places like mushrooms popping out. Unfortunately the country’s top leadership saw this as a cheap political opportunity rather than a threat to the dreams of those who toiled and died. To be honest, if I knew the close relationship between groups like Bodu Bala Sena or Jathika Hela Urumaya, and the secretary of defense, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, I would have quit without any hesitation, for it could have been ample evidence of what would happen after the war comes to an end. Due to some reason, Gotabaya showed a deep interest in protecting the country’s constitution and rule of law instead.
The way the law enforcement agencies behaved during recent public protests like the movement to release General Sarath Fonseka, the movement to protest the process of impeachment of the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, and the protest questioning the activities of Bodu Bala Sena, was shameful, filthy, and disgusting. In the case of protests to release Sarath Fonseka, we saw police mingling around with street thugs who hurled bricks and stones at the peaceful protestors. In the case of protests of lawyers to defend the constitutional rights of the Chief Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, the police openly worked among the street thugs as if they were one team. In the case of an attack on Fashion Bug, the police was watching how monks threw stones to damage private property. None were arrested on site. However, we saw how the police manhandled those who participated in a peaceful candle light vigil in Colombo, on 12th April, 2013, without a single warning to those threatening Bodu Bala Sena goons to disperse. Compounding the shameful situation, a police officer later expressed his opinion about the religious backgrounds of the peaceful protestors, as a reason to be hostile to them, as if the country’s constitution has given him a mandate to be hostile to religions he doesn’t like. Who thought stupidity and ignorance could reach this height inside a police officer’s brain?
I wanted to point out this final message to none other than but Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Please keep in mind that Sri Lanka belongs to all its citizens. You may have been entrusted by your brother Mahinda Rajapaksa to defend rule of law and peace, but keep in mind that it is not your private or family property. You are just a public servant and your job is to protect law and order to protect all citizens, not only to protect those who are close to you, or those who have religious or political ideologies that resonate with yours or those of your family. Please don’t think that those civilians, who volunteered in many fronts of research and development in the defense apparatus during the war did so because of they were blind worshippers of Rajapaksa family or because they were war mongers. There was a greater dream in their minds that you have humiliated in broad daylight. Simply put, you are disgracing those dreams by being partial to some groups in the way you manage the ministry of defence. May Sri Lanka be a country where all its citizens feel safe to live, where all their constitutional rights are safeguarded, where rule of law will sit above the tallest man, where the legal procedures respect the constitution, and where public servant serve the public, but not nepotistic agendas.
* Dr Thrishantha Nanayakkara is a Senior Lecturer at King’s College London