The news from Weliweriya is really distressing. The whole country is in a state shock hearing the impact of Army-Police assault on the civilians. The exact number of deaths is not known. First it was said that few were injured at the scene. Later it was reported that 4 or 6 are dead. The people of this country have a right to know the exact number of the dead and the injured.
In such situation of atrocity, a concerned citizen of this country, has a right to ask whether such killings can be tolerated? Could such a protest by the innocent and unarmed civilians demanding a basic necessity of life i.e. drinking water be targeted with bullets? Whatever the questions one may raise, killings at Weliweriya cannot be justified on any grounds. It must be reiterated that nobody in sound senses would order to confront the citizens (a harmless demand of about citizens of 10 villages) with bullets when their demand is just drinking water, one of the basic necessities of human life.
The people at Weliweriya neither acted on imagination nor got mobilized by sheer selfish political interests. They were motivated by a real need; water without which survival is impossible. The monks who participated in this struggle vouched that the need is genuine. Only those drunk in polluted water of power consider it otherwise.
This is not the first time that the Rajapakha regime used military force and bullets to wound or kill innocent citizens in the land when the cry was for just demands. The killing of FTZ worker Roshen Chanka at Katunayaka and causing injuries to hundreds of others and fishermen at Chilaw were the other previous instances. It continues to happen and was clearly witnessed at Weliweriya.
Seeing such images of police and military operations against the innocent civilians at Weliweriya on TV, one can imagine the brutality of force that Tamils in the North and East must have voicelessly endured for decades. What did the Tamils demand? It was the freedom to use their language and political freedom to manage their affairs. The response of our rulers was bullets.
What also must be emphasized that which goes unnoticed at such incidence is that the authorities responsible for investigating and finding the solutions for such environment and water pollution has been at the service of protecting the polluters or the ones who are responsible such a crime. It is here one may wonder what is and has been the role of the Environmental Authorities in finding a solution to this issue? Were they unaware that there has been contamination of underground water for some time now? Or did they overlook due to the fact that the factories which are allegedly responsible for such an inhuman and environmental damage are owned by some economically powerful individuals.
These events prompt us to question also the policy of the government over the democratic right of people to protest. One may wonder whether the right of the people to protest is withdrawn in the Mahinda Chinthanaya and meeting the civilians who rightfully protest with bullets is the new policy or the hallmark of that Chinthanaya?
The atrocities committed at Weliweriya reveals much about the government and where it is leading us into. In this politics of darkness and in darkness creating a ‘culture of silence’ by means bullets is and has become an effective strategy. The question one has to grapple with is ‘whether the people have been in slumber for too long?