24 October, 2017

Civil Society: The Greatest Bugbear, The Greatest Hope?

By Dharisha Bastians

Dharisha Bastians

Dharisha Bastians

“Mahinda Rajapakse knows the power and impact of the civil society because he worked with us.”– Dr. Nimalka Fernando, lawyer & activist

The young Parliamentarian from Hambantota was trying to board a plane bound for Geneva on 11 September 1990, when he was intercepted by an Assistant Superintendent of Police by the name of Kudahetti.

The senior policeman wanted to search the MP’s baggage for fabricated documents likely to be “prejudicial to the interests of national security or promote feelings of hatred or contempt” towards the ruling Government of the day. The Parliamentarian refused to submit to the search and called up his boss instead. After a brief telephone conversation with Opposition Leader Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the MP threw his bags at the police officers and submitted them to the search. Digging through the leather bag, the police first encountered rice, dhal, chillies, dry fish and a few tins of salmon, or jack mackerel. This was not unusual, since the Parliamentarian would be camping out at a well-wisher’s apartment in the Swiss city of Geneva, money for the trip being sparse and his mission uncertain. Under the rations, police found 11 bundles of papers containing photographs and particulars of missing persons, among these a bundle of pictures of dead bodies. After a two hour hold up, the MP was allowed to board the plane, but his documentation had been confiscated. They were returned to the MP only about a month later.

A few months later, the SLFP Parliamentarian filed a fundamental rights application accusing Kudahetti of violating his freedom of speech and unlawfully arresting him. Appearing on his behalf was President’s Counsel R.K.W. Goonesekere, who also appeared for Bandaranaike when the J.R. Jayewardene administration stripped the former Prime Minister of her civic rights.

Mahinda goes to Geneva

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the SLFP politician from Hambantota was enroute to the then UN Human Rights Commission, to attend the 31st session of Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances being held from 10-14 September 1990. He was carrying 533 documents containing information about missing persons and 19 pages of photographs. In his petition to court, Rajapaksa said the documents photographs and forms he was carrying pertained to the deaths or disappearance of and injuries caused to certain persons, which he was taking to be produced at a conference in Geneva. These documents, Rajapaksa, the petitioner says, were not “offensive or subversive, but intended to be used to promote the protection of human rights in Sri Lanka”. With no invitation to speak at the sessions, Rajapaksa and his travel companion, Vasudeva Nanayakkara only had day passes to enter the Palais des Nations in Geneva, which had housed the UN since 1946. The passes had been procured for the travelling Sri Lankan MPs by Tamara Kunanayakam, then a human rights officer at the UN Centre for Human Rights. Kunanayakam, the daughter of a former Sri Lankan LSSP leader, was happy to put the two politicians up for the duration of their stay in Geneva. Under the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency, Kunanayakam would serve a brief term as Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, before being transferred and leaving office in high dudgeon. For years, Kunanayakam had been lobbying the UN on Sri Lanka and its record of torture, illegal arrests and disappearances. As the UNP Government in Colombo brutally cracked down on the JVP insurgency, disappearing and killing thousands of young people, Kunanayakam was passionate crusader against state abuse and was easily sympathetic to the Rajapaksa-Nanayakkara duo and their cause.

“Treachery?” raged Mahinda Rajapaksa the younger in Parliament in 1991, when UNP Government members of betraying the country to foreigners. “We have a right to tell this to the world. Tears of innocent grieving mothers compel us to tell their story of pain and sorrow to the world. We will do it today, tomorrow and always,” he charged angrily to John Amaratunga who was faulting him for internationalising Sri Lanka’s problems.

Disappearances crusader

For two days, standing in the corridors of the session room, MP Rajapaksa lobbied delegations, explaining what was happening in his countries, detailing atrocities perpetrated on the people by the Ranasinghe Premadasa administration. He was filled with righteous anger about the plight of the people in the South and he still believed in the power of the UN. Tireless human rights campaigners like Dr. Nimalka Fernando, who stood beside the young SLFP MP in his campaigns to bring justice to scores of people killed or disappeared during the UNP regime, recall that Rajapaksa entered the UN in the 1990s to bring his case before the world, wearing an INGO badge to gain access into the building. As a member of Sri Lanka’s opposition, MP Rajapaksa could not gain accreditation to speak or enter the main hall of the UN building as a member of the Government delegation. His only option was to go through a recognised and accredited NGO. Ananthi Sasitharan, the TNA Provincial Councillor also used this mechanism to address the UNHRC in March this year. In the 1990s, Mahinda Rajapaksa obtained this pass through the Quaker Peace and Social Witness organisation that maintains an office at the UN in Geneva.

Mahinda Rajapaksa waged his UN campaign against the Government at a time when the UNP’s power was at its zenith, abuse of presidential power was rampant and the space for opposition and dissident movements were shrinking rapidly. Journalists were being murdered, the executive was all powerful and impunity reigned. Those were terrible times and they brought out the activist in MP Rajapaksa. He appeared ready then, to join hands with anyone – even the UN and NGOs, to change the political situation in Sri Lanka.

Fast forward 23 years. The UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, that Mahinda Rajapaksa was so anxious to lobby in 1990, has been trying to gain access into Sri Lanka for the past three years. His Government has denounced the UN for interfering in the affairs of a sovereign state and trying to destabilise a democratically elected regime.  Under the Rajapaksa presidency, the space for civil society to operate has been shrinking for years, and last month his Government declared full-on war against the NGO community. The battle, like so many wars fought after the separatist conflict ended in 2009, is being waged in the shadows and by stealth.

The war against civil society has been a long time coming. Inch by inch, the Government has reclaimed spaces that were once open, forcing NGO registrations and shutdowns, sowing suspicion and resentment of civil society organisations from their political platforms. The NGO circular, issued by the National NGO Secretariat earlier this month, was intended to strike a death knell for civil society movements. Since war time, the NGO Secretariat has functioned under the Defence Ministry, and so it has remained long after the guns fell silent. The new circular forbids NGOs from going ‘beyond their mandate’ and holding ‘press conferences, workshops and disseminating media releases.’

Under siege

The NGO sector is under siege today as never before. Laws are being drafted to bring non-governmental organisations still operating as private companies under the Companies Act, under the net of the NGO Secretariat. The official and private bank accounts of prominent civil society activists are presently being perused, without authorisation or court order. From the regime perspective, the NGO sector is an easy target. For years the stage has been set with propaganda and vilification campaigns. NGOs, with their foreign aid sources and love of ‘Western’ values, are obvious stakeholders in the grand international conspiracy against Sri Lanka. After years of rhetoric against civil society, even moderate sections of the populace view the NGO sector with a degree of suspicion and skepticism. Civil society activists are perceived as agents of the West, liaising with diplomats at cocktail parties and striving to keep the situation in Sri Lanka on the international radar, so as to keep attracting donor funds. This new war therefore, may prove a popular one.

Since May this year, unruly mobs of protestors have disrupted training workshops for journalists from the North and East, in Colombo and other parts of the country. Transparency International’s Sri Lanka Chapter had two workshops shut down in Giritale, Negombo and Colombo. The Free Media Movement met the same fate last weekend when it attempted to conduct a training for Tamil journalists on digital security at the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) in Colombo. The vehicle the journalists were travelling in was stopped at three checkpoints, including Omanthai, where police ‘discovered’ a packet containing marijuana near the driver’s seat. The journalists counter-accused an army soldier of having placed the packet on the seat in full view of at least three scribes. The journalists were detained and the driver was arrested, but as soon as they were released, the scribes resumed their journey to Colombo. Cue the mobs outside SLPI, to disrupt the workshop.

Useful ‘protestors’

These ‘protestors’ have become useful tools for the regime, mobilised at an instant and operating with impunity against individuals or causes unfriendly towards the Government. They are able to gather in high security zones and airports, they have the power to stop trains and private human rights festivals. They have an uncanny way of discovering flight and event schedules, including the place, time and participant lists. The police never have the power to disperse them or order them off personal property.

Finally fearing for the safety of the Tamil media personnel, FMM Convenor Sunil Jayasekera called off the workshop. Shortly before he addressed the media to explain what had transpired, Jayasekera himself received a threatening telephone call, urging him to call off the press briefing or face the consequences. Jayasekera went ahead. FMM Convenors have a history of being forced into exile under the Rajapaksa administration.

Post war Sri Lanka is full of beautiful facades. Paved walkways, perfectly manicured parks and restored colonial buildings. Lurking under the new ‘beautified’ Sri Lanka is a much darker reality – militarisation of the North, cruel crackdowns of dissent in the South, saffron terror squads waging war against religious minorities and the complete politicisation of the judiciary. Oppressed and fearful, the southern polity has remained mostly silent about this other post-war reality. Opposition parties have been weakened by the power of the presidency or through vicious infighting. The media fraternity has been taught brutal lessons about the importance of colouring inside the lines. Trade unions are struggling to stay in existence, student leaders are being expelled and incarcerated.

Forefront of every battle

Against this silence of the majority, civil society and activist groups – shrinking and small –  have been at the forefront of every battle against the regime. Against the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, activist lawyers formed umbrella groups that now function under the ‘civil society’ label. Journalists and media activists have also grouped under civil society banners to be able to pressure and lobby the Government. Citizen movements have joined mainstream NGOs and organisations to crusade for good governance. Where impunity rages and the rule of law is severely eroded, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka under its activist President and firebrand lawyer, Upul Jayasuriya has tried to step in to fill the gaps.

In a country where the dominant narrative as dictated by the ruling powers goes against so-called Western values of human rights, democracy, transparency and individual liberties, civil society dangerously and vociferously persists in championing them. These organisations openly submit grant proposals to Western Governments and societies to promote these same values in Sri Lanka. As the Government faces censure internationally over its appalling human rights record, civil society and NGOs still openly engage with the international community, collating and passing on valuable information and publicly addressing multilateral forums to highlight violations and abuse in Sri Lanka. Opposition political parties run scared of the subject, but civil society activists insist on placing the human rights debate in context, in defiance of the Government’s conspiracy theories.

Under an increasingly intolerant regime, the situation could not be allowed to continue. Civil society, even persecuted and significantly poorer in resources and manpower is proving too large a threat to ignore indefinitely. It was really only a matter of time.

Abolition campaigns

Yet in a strange twist, as people continue to lose confidence in politicians and political parties, the greatest hope for change has also emerged from a civil society movement. The face of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) may be the moderate scholar monk Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero, but the organisation has attracted top constitutional lawyers, academics, journalists and civil society activists. Working quietly and tirelessly behind the scenes, lawyers like Jayampathy Wickremaratne PC and J.C. Weliamuna have been instrumental in working out the modalities and legislative amendments to abolish the executive presidency. Last week, at the New Town Hall, Sobitha Thero, Wickremaratne and Co, unveiled their roadmap for the abolition, moving the debate out of the abstract months ahead of a likely presidential poll early next year. The NMSJ is proposing a return to the parliamentary system of governance within six months of the presidential election. Still scarred by promises of abolition made and broken by candidates at the 1994 and 2005 elections, the framers of the NMSJ platform have determined that the still unnamed common candidate will have no discretion in deciding on the timeline for abolition. The legislative draft, amending the constitution to remove the presidency will be included as part of the candidate’s election manifesto. Wickremaratne explained that specific dates for the step-by-step process would also be drafted into the manifesto.

“Within six months of assuming office, the presidency will lapse automatically, allowing Parliament to appoint a nominal president,” Wickremaratne said. The manifesto will also include a specific date – exactly one month after the date elections are held – for the constitutional amendment to be presented to Parliament, he added.

The first proposed constitutional changes will include the Abolition of the Executive Presidency, the establishment of a Parliamentary system of government and the reinstatement of a strengthened 17th Amendment to make key institutions free of political interference.

The event convened by Sobitha Thero attracted a veritable glitterati of the opposition, from former President Chandrika Kumaratunga to Sarath Fonseka and even ousted Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. The TNA, the JVP and even the JHU which is a Government ally, participated in the event, which also drew media groups, student leaders and academic trade unions, raising hopes that the platform could successfully bring together all these mostly dissident groups.

Common candidacy vs. common candidate

Wickremaratne insisted during his remarks, that the opposition movement for the abolition of the Presidency would focus not on a common candidate, but a common candidacy. The idea being that the issue was to be bigger than individuals in the game. Tellingly, no politicians addressed the event. Academics like Dr. Deepika Udugama and veteran editor of the Ravaya, Victor Ivan made remarks about constitution drafting and nation building. Ivan made colourful and insightful remarks during his speech, noting that after he defeated Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009, President Rajapaksa became gigantic in political stature, reducing all of his opponents to ‘angutumitto’ or midgets by comparison.

“How do midgets take on a giant? Perhaps if they all stand upon each others shoulders, they could come close to putting up a fight?” he quipped.

Yet despite the NMSJ’s hopes about candidacy vs. candidate, a grim political reality remains. There is a reason for the palpable public and media excitement at the sight of Kumaratunga or Sobitha Thero or even JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake whose popularity has shot through the roof in recent times, even amongst the urban elite. These leaders are mobbed by people and journalists alike, wanting to hear their thoughts on the present system and how change can be effected. The people are desperately seeking alternatives to the status quo, but an undisputed, trustworthy choice is yet to emerge. The  Sri Lankan electorate will seek out individual magnetism to rival Mahinda Rajapaksa in choosing their next president, even when it comes to the president that will do away with the system. Against the monumental cult of personality that is the Rajapaksa brand, ‘candidacy’ alone will stand no chance. It remains paramount therefore, that while intellectuals continue to frame the abolition debate and construct its modus operandi, their sights are also set – and quickly – on a personality with the acumen and skill to mobilise popular support in a matter of months and sell abolition to the electorate. Magnetism and personality remain important to the common opposition campaign, because the burden will rest on the opposition to frame the contours of the presidential contest in this next round. Lacklustre, easy going prospective contenders will stand no chance against the Mahinda Rajapaksa charm offensive and people power.

Hope remains

Despite the challenges ahead, hope remains. In 1994, against all odds an a-political movement, made up of journalists, lawyers and civil society activists propelled Chandrika Kumaratunga, untested and unknown, into high office. The ‘Chandrika wave’ came about because of and inspite of the awesome power of the executive presidency. History has already proven that abolition can be a valuable rallying point, with opposition political parties becoming mere conduits necessary to garner grassroots political support. If this political battle at the next election is waged and lost, the movement for abolition will continue, perhaps lying dormant until the next time it can occupy space in the political mainstream. It takes extraordinary circumstances to bring intellectuals, academics and civil society movements to this point. It takes intolerable abuse of power and systemic breakdowns. Democracy movements coalesce and mobilise in these constricted spaces. It happened in 1994, after the country had lived through 17 years of corrupt UNP governance.

Once again, civil society activists and dissidents are living through terrible times. Again, presidential power is at its zenith, abuse of power is rampant and impunity reigns. It is perhaps at these times that their light shines brightest; the last, best hope to give grievance a voice, when all others are silenced. As Dr. Nimalka Fernando pointed out in her scathing and insightful critique of the NGO circular from the Ministry of Defence, President Rajapaksa knows this power. He channelled it himself once, 20 years ago.

Courtesy Daily FT

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Latest comments

  • 8
    2

    They say ALL EMPIRES COLLAPSE.It is my sincere wish and pray that the MARA empire collapses sooner than later. There is so much damage been caused to our country since LTTE defeat even a day more is too much for the country to absorb.
    It is also said,in order to complete the circle you need to get to where you started, it appears that MARA has reached that point too.
    Let the thrice blessed Lanka be blessed one more time by getting rid of MARA & CO. from the governance of our beautiful country for the sake of our Children at least. Let the suffering end with us.

    • 4
      1

      MARA is probably in the early stages of Dementia. He seems to have forgotten the Ideals he wanted to uphold during his Youth.

      He should attend the lecture on Memory loss at the Alzheimer’s Assoc. of Sri Lanka on 18th August!

      • 5
        1

        Ansar, Rationalist,

        Rajapakses’ regime, and Gnanasara’s reign are only the symptoms of the disease in the society: Gnanasara now says only Sinhalese live in Sri Lanka like Jews in Israel. Is he declaring the intention to get rid of the others as the Germans did to the Jews?

        Getting rid of Mara regime doesn’t change the malice endemic in the Sinhalese society: Only the actors or players will change; drama will continue with a slightly different theme.

        You notice that none of the major ‘national’ parties proclaim loudly about the need for fairness or justice to the minorities.

      • 4
        1

        Rationalist

        “He seems to have forgotten the Ideals he wanted to uphold during his Youth”

        As an actor MR was flop. As a politician he has been a successful actor, so many think.

        • 1
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          NV:-
          Alexander the Great had another good one;
          “I am not afraid of an Army of Lions led by a Sheep;
          I am afraid of an Army of Sheep led by a Lion!”

          Or Che Guevara;
          “Cruel Leaders are replaced, only to have new Leaders turn Cruel”!

          • 1
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            Rationalist

            Great quotes. Thanks

          • 0
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            Rationalist – Indeed great ones!

            I like Native Vadda’s ‘As an actor MR was flop. As a poli……’

            Thank you both for meaningful comments.

          • 1
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            Native Vedda and Flycatcher here is another good one:-

            “A ninety year old Vedda elder sat in his hut eyeing two Government ‘Welfare’ officials sent to interview him.
            One official said to him: “You have observed the Para Sinhalas & Para Demalas for 90 years.
            You have seen his Wars and his technological advances.
            You have seen his ‘progress’ and the damage he has done.”
            The Elder nodded in agreement.
            The official continued: “Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the Paras go wrong?”
            The Elder stared at the two government officials for over a minute and then he calmly replied:
            “When The Paras found this land, Veddas were running it.
            No taxes,
            No debt,
            Plenty Deer,
            Plenty Fish,
            Women did all the work,
            Medicine man free,
            Aboriginal man spent all day hunting and fishing,”
            Then the elder leaned back and smiled: “Only Paras bloody stupid enough to think They could improve a System like that.”

    • 3
      1

      Dharisha Bastians –

      Civil Society: The Greatest Bugbear, The Greatest Hope?

      “Mahinda Rajapakse knows the power and impact of the civil society because he worked with us.”- Dr. Nimalka Fernando, lawyer & activist

      An Alternate View was expressed by Kumari Balasooriya’s statement.

      http://www.lankatruth.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7366:kumari-balasooriyas-statement-a-threat-to-presidents-life&catid=42:smartphones&Itemid=74

      “No other president will be appointed as long as President Mahinda Rajapaksa lives and it is definite like the sun and the moon says the Governor for Southern Province Ms. Kumari Balasooriya speaking at a ceremony held at Ambalangoda.”

      “The charges against the moves by the present president are going up daily and among these charges are obstructing prospects for democratic moves, torching media institutions, murder of journalists, failing to increase salaries of state and private sector employees and slashing of public welfare. What Ms. Kumari Balasooriya hints while a public opinion is developing against these moves is that President Mahinda Rajapaksa could be defeated only if he doesn’t exist.”

      “According to Ms. Balasooriya’s statement there could be a threat to President’s life and it may be that she is aware of some conspiracy say political analysts.”

  • 2
    0

    A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves (Bertrand de Juvenal)

  • 1
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    Thanks for pointing out the hypocrisy. “Human rights” has become one of those contentious words that polarize people, such as the words “liberal” or “conservative”. Politicians find such terms very useful to polarize society and reap the benefits of such polarization.

    In Sri Lanka, marrying the term “Human Rights” and “Western Imperialism/Hegemony”, has served many political parties, including the current regime, very well.

    But as a predominantly hindu/buddhist nation, we should ask the question whether human rights is necessarily a western concoction meant to bludgeon poor countries with or a universal truism that is supported by our indigenous hindu/buddhist world view?

    Even a cursory glance at south asian religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism in particular) would reveal the concepts of ahimsa, karuna as primary values for humanity. Human rights is nothing but the practice of ahimsa and karuna unto one self and others. Thus as buddhists and hindus, we have a moral responsibility for treating ourselves and others with kindness and compassion.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we substitute the word “responsibility” for the word “rights” and create a nation where everyone practices “human responsibility” to oneself and to others?

  • 2
    1

    Chandrika is SWRD Banda’s daughter. He did the Sinhala only act. May be that’s why people voted for her. There is no equal of that today.

    There was no one in UNP at that time. All big shots were either dead or on the other side. UNP killed thousands of Sinhala youth in 1989. That’s why Chandrika won.

    Rajafucksa is still very popular for winning the war. If he dissolved northern PC and bans NGOs, he will be even more popular. This is how SL ticks. Not like Tamil Nadu.

    • 0
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      ‘Chandrika is SWRD Banda’s daughter’
      -Eureka!!! I didn’t know that before.

      ‘May be that’s why people voted for her. There is no equal of that today’
      -No need an equal, CBK is still very much there.

      ‘UNP killed thousands of Sinhala youth in 1989’
      -And that then JVP was so innocent – Bo saplings? Didn’t Sirima B* kill 10,000 JVP carders in ’71? Was that why Chandrika Won?

      ‘This is how SL ticks’
      -Sri Lanka is a ticking time bomb. First to go will be murderer Gota, then Gonharak Mara, then wife beater/liar Champika, then the swine Nanasara and then those of your caliber.

  • 1
    1

    Nice work, Dharishta. Often, how the human mind works is perplexing – if not intriguing. Romantic hero and do-gooder Fidel Castro came on the political stage to oust the corrupt and venal Fulgencio Batista. He stays on in the scene – from 1958. It is almost familial rule there. The popular and wildly-cheered Castro came promising the people a better life, political and economic freedom and much more, Yet, the country progressively became worse than what it was. Cuba remains a backward prison – although Dayan J will disagree with the description.

    Similar story from Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe who, within 2 decades from capturing power, made one of Africa’s most successful economies a basket-case. But Mugabe himself, personally, has never had it so good.

    The Sri Lankan story is no different. The transmogrification of Percy Mahinda follows the same path. People do change, my dear. But the tragedy is sometimes they take an entire nation down the slippery slope before their time is up.

    Perhaps a medical man and one who waxes philosophically – no less a close friend of Mahinda R – the very popular and learned Dr. Carlo Fonseka will delight and educate us on some of the causes.

    R. Varathan

  • 2
    2

    Portugese PM was all praise for the post Nanthikadal atmosphere in his ancestor’s old turf.

    He was full of remorse for his forefathers arrogance for coming uninvited and doing a few bad things to the Sinhala Buddhists although he didn’t express it openly. Which I guess is fair enough.

    Is Miss Bastian’s The Greatest Hope to do a better job for the great majority of the inhabitant population than what they have now?

    If so no indication of any policy directions or plans in this long essay, except to say it is the Common Candidate or Candidacy..

    We know there are a number of equity partners in this Common Candidacy.And obviously they need rewards for their efforts.

    People don’t put equity to build up enterprises to do charity, Especially for the Sinhala Buddhists in this case.

    Inhabitants have a fair understanding of what their interests are.
    .
    For Example, Ex CJ wants the old Job back, DNA leader can’t get his back for obvious reasons.Nimalka wants full freedom for the NGOs to go to villages and train them to use safe sex, facebook and attend rallies after PH tests in neighbouring villages.

    JVP obviously want to take our Sinhala Buddhists to Cuba.

    Who else?.

    How about the chief Architect, the UNP?.

    Their members and financiers haven’t had a commission cheque for nearly twenty years.

    Just imagine the rush to do deals with their Western Buddies, who are normally not allowed extra in their budgets for santhosams , at least officially.

    The Christian Faction leader may not put his hand out,

    But one of his his best mates and colleague who is hiding 300 G of Gallion money may need help, through him.

    And the NE for the Vellalas

    The greatest Bugbear for sure for the Sinhala Buddhist majority…

  • 1
    1

    Good analysis Darshanie,as always you do.The ground realities and challenges are mounting,but to see opposition leaders come to a same platform in itself is worth the effort. Chandrika must be repenting about herself as she wasted 11 long years when she could have established parliament democracy abolishing executive presidency.Missed opportunities are enormous. Rajapakse story brings up the question of probity of the nowadays politicians.A valiant human rights campaigner transformed into a human rights violator is a story of shame.Important lesson is we must have a robust system where individuals cannot play fool like all the executive presidents barring DB Wijetunge did for Sri Lanka.You can never trust an individual.We need a trust worthy system like in a western country to prosper.Let us start changing our political culture.We had enough with these corrupt goons.

  • 1
    0

    As sure as the Sun will rise,
    Evil will be punished,
    As certain as death is to all things living,
    None can forsake it for long…

    Mahinda’s time is coming…

  • 2
    0

    I am heartened by your belief that Mahinda could be toppled.

    However on further reflection I doubt this is going to happen. Sobitha Thero may be a good man but the people who will back him are a disparate lot. How on earth could JVP and UNP collude? Their respective policies and principles are diametrically opposed. In the unlikely event of MR losing the election and the Executive Presidency is abolished, and Sobitha Thero steps down, who will manage the country? What form and shape of a political alliance will the disparate parties conjure?

    Anyway all this is wasteful conjecture – miracles do not happen.

    Darisha, in all seriousness do you expect MR and co will walk out quietly in the unlikely event of losing the next election? The MR Mafia have a wealth mountain to protect. There are murderers and kudu mudalalis to protect. There are a lot of militant clergy to be protected. There are hundreds of thousands of protesters for hire that need protection. There are white van personnel to protect. There is a never ending list of war criminals needing protection. Well I do not want to dampen your hope Darisha, but the likely outcome in the unlikely event of MR losing the election is a blood bath followed by a military takes over with Gota at the helm. All else is wishful thinking.

  • 0
    0

    Good One Dharisha.
    Beautifully presented.

    Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s popularity may have shot through the roof, yet not enough vote base though. JVP never criticize regime love affair with the Chinese. They seem to kike the china connection. When its come a Presidential election the bottom line is – contest between UPFA & UNP. JVP doesn’t have a say there.

    UNP could give a fight if RW, Sajith & Karu sit side by side, hold endless meetings from North to South and East to West without resting.

    Otherwise UNP needs CBK back them up or lead them with a few senior SLFP members like Nimal, Maithreepala & Susil.

  • 0
    0

    There is a parallel world of the govt keeping the UN employees busy to camouflage its misdeeds of all sorts:

    Over 200 students from Northern, North Central and Eastern provinces board the Peace Train, 21 April 2013, http://www.lk.undp.org/content/srilanka/en/home/presscenter/articles/2013/04/21/over-200-students-from-the-northern-north-central-and-eastern-provinces-board-the-peace-train/

    Launch of the Sri Lanka UN-REDD National Programme, 7 June 2013, http://www.lk.undp.org/content/srilanka/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2013/06/07/launch-of-the-sri-lanka-un-redd-national-programme/

    New programme on ‘Strengthening Enforcement of Law, Access to Justice and Social Integration in Sri Lanka’ comes into operation, 5 September 2013, http://www.lk.undp.org/content/srilanka/en/home/presscenter/articles/2013/09/05/new-programme-on-strengthening-enforcement-of-law-access-to-justice-and-social-integration-in-sri-lanka-comes-into-operation/

    New Programme on ‘Governance for Local Economic Development’ comes into operation, 6 September 2013, http://www.lk.undp.org/content/srilanka/en/home/presscenter/articles/2013/09/06/new-programme-on-governance-for-local-economic-development-comes-into-operation/

    New Eastern Provincial Office of the Department of Registration of Persons opens, 12 September 2013, http://www.lk.undp.org/content/srilanka/en/home/presscenter/articles/2013/09/12/new-eastern-provincial-office-of-the-department-of-registration-of-persons-opens-/

    Community Leadership Development Programme launched, 22 November 2013, http://www.lk.undp.org/content/srilanka/en/home/presscenter/articles/2013/11/22/community-leadership-development-programme-launched/

    Workshop on technical capacity building of CBOs, 25 November 2013, http://www.lk.undp.org/content/srilanka/en/home/presscenter/articles/2013/11/25/workshop-on-technical-capacity-building-of-cbos/

    Scaling up efforts to strengthen enforcement of law, access to justice and social integration, 12 February 2014, http://www.lk.undp.org/content/srilanka/en/home/presscenter/articles/2014/02/12/launch-of-new-programme-to-strengthen-enforcement-of-law-access-to-justice-and-social-integration/

    Opening of the Northern Provincial Centre of the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration with the support of UNDP, 21 July 2014, http://www.lk.undp.org/content/srilanka/en/home/presscenter/articles/2014/07/21/opening-of-the-northern-provincial-centre-of-the-ministry-of-national-languages-and-social-integration-with-the-support-of-undp-/

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    Good one Dharisha. I fully agree with your article. MR is a great manipulator. He used all the people and will use anyone for his own benefit.However,it is very easy to chase this regime for a better future with civil society intervention. We have experience from 1994.He must wait and see the results sooner than later. Now they form new fronts, new plans to counter oppositon alliance. They will do many things to keep power. They appoint a commitee with Sarth N de Silva. Employer and employee both are corrupted thieves. Sarath Nanda slva is the one who violate all the noerms of constitution. We need a system chnage, because of this people. How came they can give us what we want? How can satans become saviours?

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    Useful protestors

    “These ‘protestors’ have become useful tools for the regime, mobilised at an instant and operating with impunity against individuals or causes unfriendly towards the Government. They are able to gather in high security zones and airports, they have the power to stop trains and private human rights festivals. They have an uncanny way of discovering flight and event schedules, including the place, time and participant lists. The police never have the power to disperse them or order them off personal property.”

    What is the bet that any government apologist will make even a token attempt to challenge or refute the veracity of this statement?

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    Brilliant Essay Darisha as always. Politicians are for human rights, and democracy on when they are not in power, until they get hold of the power. Once they get the first bite of the power, no one wants to let it go. It happened to CBK, and she dissolved democratically elected RW government, out of what to remain in power. Now she decries MR is abusing power. Their family has done many mistakes when it comes to Sri Lanka for their greed for power and time after time Sri Lankans of all color and hue is paying dearly for it. CBK garnered more sympathy for her husband Vijaya Kumarathunga’s assasination, her popularity at the time had more to do with her being untimely assassinated actor than her being Bandaranayaka’s daughter. If people liked that brand, her brother Anura Bandaranayaka was in politics as long as we can remember as the opposition leader with no wins. What we faced as LTTE is of her father’s making. What we see now as MRs blatant day light robbing of civil liberties and democracy, for the rest and ethnic cleansing of our fellow Muslims is CBK’s short-sighted political hood-winking. What can we Sri Lankans achieve by regrouping with these expired politicians who contributed to this present day crisis?
    When reading it draws stark parallels to the Bush Jr era events in US. Rove’s strategies redistricting, firing up the religious right(fanatics) to stay in power, appearance of easy protesters, militarization of state, changing laws to curb civil liberties, using war as an excuse to take away all the rights, war profiteering. Basil and GOTA have studied their play book so well and using it to stay forever in power. But people who see through this cacopany is very few, the majority is happily worshiping their buddhist(malay muslim)King.

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    “the framers of the NMSJ platform have determined that the still unnamed common candidate will have no discretion in deciding on the timeline for abolition. The legislative draft, amending the constitution to remove the presidency will be included as part of the candidate’s election manifesto. Wickremaratne explained that specific dates for the step-by-step process would also be drafted into the manifesto.”

    This is the difference of Royal Government paying hard currency dollar bills and getting advice and our Sinhala Experts come out without even Lanakave’ rupiyal.

    Who is going to conduct this king novel election? Sobitha Thero,Dharisha Bastians, Dr.Jeyampathy or Mahinda Deshapriya? If you have an option of denying the elected president his/her options, is it being too hard now to do it? Is that you are not able to deny the EP’s options because it is the King on the power. So, you want to have a clown that will take up this kind precondition and compete in election? He/She can ask the people to give a mandate. Can he/she get into a binding contract like that? Is there not any lawyer in Lanka to tell Dr.Jeyampathy that it is illegal and not a binding contract like that can be created? If somebody win that kind of election that is conducted against the regulations in a democratic constitution, will that president elect is legally fit to rule. If he brings in changes, can it hold in the future?

    Apparently this is the other side of JR’s 1978 dictatorial constitution. It looks like the Sinhala Intellectual are caving more and more deep in with a novice political Buddhist Monk. The end result will be certainly ideal for Gnasara to stand for other EP election. Really a novel idea for “Mahavamsa Modayas” to consider as an alternative for 1978 JR’s constitution.

    Long Live Sinhala Buddhism with this kind of dictatorial ideas!

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    Very good as usual, though a bit long Dharisha but “Brevity is the soul of wit”. Bensen

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