By Basil Fernando –
The interview of the Defense Secretary Mr. Gotabaya Rajapakse with the editor of the Sunday Leader on the airlifting of a dog deserves comment not because of anything surprising contained in the interview. Its importance lies in its banality. It reveals something that has come to be quite common and ordinary in the day-to-day experience in Sri Lanka.
Threats about killings, killing by the people, reference to journalists as “shit eating pigs”, use of dirty words (kunuharapa) and the statement that he does not care about the courts, are all too common things people have all got used to. It all reveals what has come be today’s political culture in the country.
About the threats about killing, how often and how many people has faced such threats? That people will be avengers! The ‘people’ is euphemism for underground elements and of the state agents working under cover. Thus, ‘people’ attacked the JVP rally and killed two persons. Later, the ‘people’ turned out to be Mr. Julampittiye Amare and his associates. The ‘people’ killed Mr. Lasantha Wicramathunge, the ‘people’ attacked Mr. Baratha Laksman Premachandra, the ‘people’ went inquiring where about of the FUTA President. This list could be a very long. Every one having a dissenting view and everyone participating in protests have learned to expect that ‘people’ will come in search of them. When they sleep they are likely to see nightmares about the ‘people’ coming for their blood.
The fear of white vans and fear of those who come chasing on motorcycles, are all modern day versions of ‘billas’. Taking precautions to avoid such billas has become a day-to-day pre-occupation. Those who live with such fears are not only journalists, but also people who live in high places. In a recent meeting where the speaker spoke about white vans, a high court judge present at the meeting told the speaker, “we are also afraid of such things”.
As for Kunuharupa, who really expects any polite conversations with authorities anymore? Only way to avoid such words been hurled at oneself, is to retire to private life and not to bother about public affairs. What is disappearing really is the idea of citizenship. The respect owed to the citizen, comes from the democratic notion of the citizen and the state. Who expect such kind of respect any more?
Not caring about courts is nothing surprising either. Onetime a minister was sent to jail for two years for saying a similar thing for contempt of court. Today, even a constable dares to defy the court and not execute warrants issued by it, if the person avoiding arrest enjoys political patronage.
Nothing need to be said about journalist been referred to as pigs. So much has already been heard about the flight of journalists, for anyone to be shocked by such insults hurled at them. Journalists in Sri Lanka need to wear a special dress on which such attacks will not leave a trace. Anyway those who govern seem to think they are ruling over pigs.
This is Sri Lanka’s political culture in the 21 century.
“They Will Kill You – You Dirty Fucking Shit Journalist” “You Are Pigs Who Eat Shit” – Gota Threatened Again
‘Keep Frederica Jansz Safe’, ‘Embassies In Sri Lanka Should Raise Her Case’ – ARTICLE 19
Gota Has Gone To The Dog: SriLankan Airlines And A Puppy Dog For Gota’s Wife
JULAAMPITYE AMARAYA / July 10, 2012
MR Basil Fernando.
I donot know , who are you.
and i have heard about your name,
you are saying in you your letter
[Thus, ‘people’ attacked the JVP rally and killed two persons. Later, the ‘people’ turned out to be Mr. Julampittiye Amare and his associates.]
YOU called me === Mr julampitiye Amare ==.
you know how happy i am .
even my bosses never call me Mr.
You see How many contract i have done for them.
many thanks to you.
when you write a book titling AMARAYA’S WAR. please call me MR.
If you Want to Do Any Contracts done, pls call me urgently.
I Am A Mr , Dont foget that.
Blood Diamond / July 10, 2012
Nice points about Gota the goons “people”! The miltarization of Lanka under Gota the goon represents the “banality of evil” today.
Banality of evil is a phrase coined by Hannah Arendt in the title of her 1963 work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Her thesis is that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths, but by ordinary people who accepted the premises of their state and therefore participated with the view that their actions were normal. Explaining this phenomenon, Edward S. Herman has emphasized the importance of “normalizing the unthinkable.” According to him, “doing terrible things in an organized and systematic way rests on ‘normalization.’ This is the process whereby ugly, degrading, murderous, and unspeakable acts become routine and are accepted as ‘the way things are done.’ This is the endgame of the Rajapakse regime in Lanka.
Sinchoappu / July 10, 2012
It is not GR but the army forces under SF and other leaders fought the war against Ltters in nothern and eastern soils of sl. This is comparable to wars in Irak, Afaganistan or any other places. Not obama or any other leaders fight it, but the country´s forces. However credits go always to the govt or country leaders. This interview together with previous interviews further prove that GR is not capable for anyhting. How can he respond – I do whatever I want to.. Is he god or what ?
sajeeva samaranayake / July 10, 2012
For my part – I have never met these two w(o)rriors – the lady Jansz and the gent Gotabhaya – and I really don’t know who they are except what people report about them from time to time….
It all seems very inflated and hyped – no matter – and since i will probably never meet them ever I can only wish them both well….
this quote (i am sorry I don’t know who originated this piece of wisdom – the only thing I can say with confidence is that it is highly unlikely to be a sri lankan) may be very useful for all of us – especially when we meet anger with anger or with some other conceited emotion
YOU WILL NOT BE PUNISHED FOR YOUR ANGER…. YOU WILL BE PUNISHED BY YOUR ANGER
not only that — you will be punished over and over every moment in your life —-
it is like this – today I accidentally kill an ant due to my carelessness. That carelessness if unchecked can eventually kill me!
we think oh what is that just an ant … but it is not ant machan – it is YOUR MIND. don’t play with your mind!! very very dangerous….
Lasantha Pethiyagoda / July 10, 2012
In Australian society, it is quite common for especially the lower end to use the adjective that refers in slang, to fornication, for things that hardly merit a refernce to sexual activity. I believe the same is true for other democracies like the United States of America.
However, as far as I know, Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka, speaking in English do not normally use this adjective as it is deemed to be impolite and insulting to their respectability in society.
Yes, people do become angry, especially with women, when they feel cornered and have no viable response that makes sense. In Australia, ones gives as good as one gets, and its considered “fair dinkum” to do that (meaning it is reasonable and acceptable).
However, in Sri Lanka there is a status hierarchy at work, which allows only the “higher up” person to become angry or abusive, and if for any reason the “lower down” person resorts to it, they are dealt with severely, perhaps losing their job etc.
However, as far as can be discerned, journalists interviewing government representatives are not obliged to follow this power-distance protocol.
I wonder what would have transpired if the reporter, for example had evoked the mother as the subject of sexual activity in choice language, to counter the onslaught she was subjected to. Would it have dire consequences for her safety if so, especially considering that she could face a law-suit for defamation etc?
Pandukabaya de Silva / July 11, 2012
What is this nonsense that you have written Lasantha? Are you advocating a mud slinging match?
Whether in Austalia or otherwise, there are fundamental civilities to be observed in conversation If you are talking of a bar fight between two blue collar workers, it is different but surely should we not expect bettr standards from a public servant when being questioned by a journalist regarding use of public funds.
It is this sort of hopeless meandering that has led Sri Lanka to this helpless state.
sajeeva samaranayake / July 11, 2012
I do feel the real problem is that here in Sri Lanka we do not really like each other. There is a crisis in our inter personal relationships at every level.
It is a bit of self deception (just a bit) to be shocked about this….
We really cannot conduct proper discussions and debates any more – and this is a fundamental aspect of our crisis.
Not only do we have problems – we lack the skills to talk about them….
Subra jayahanthan / November 13, 2012
Being interested in justice and fairpaly one cannot sufficiently congratulate and thank Basil for exposing the injustices obtaining in Sri Lanka both in the courts system and crimilal justice system. He has been evincing his erudition as a lawyer and scholar in his articles over the past months.This is a sign of his dedication to something that he believes in.We cannot thank him sufficiently enough