16 May, 2022

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Irony Of A Racist Regime, Being Strangled In Its Own Yard!

By Mohamed Harees –

Lukman Harees

‘To sin by silence, when we should protest, Makes cowards out of men’- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Social media was on fire after photographs emerged of Namal Rajapaksa flyboarding and on a jet ski in the Maldives. Meanwhile , an extravagant motorcycle parade Kalpitiya to Anuradhapura , organised by a group with reported connections to the top , despite the fuel crisis, was suspended following public outcry. Sri Lanka is meanwhile facing the double whammy of rising prices and high debt, and its people are bearing the brunt of it as the domestic situation turns increasingly grim. The growing scarcity of food, fuel and medicines on which Sri Lanka’s import-dependent economy survives, and a spike in inflation during 2021, has prompted warnings from some informed quarters that the country is on the cusp of bankruptcy. Economic decline is resulting in a complete breakdown of law and order. People are worried and there is a lot of anger directed at the government. However, as public anger seems to be not worrying Gotabaya ,the proverbial Nero – the most inept and corrupt government in recent history, playing fiddle while the nation is burning.

Gotabaya addressed the nation recently and disowned any responsibility to the national catastrophe he clearly authored. The public however knows very well how his tax concessions to the rich, his bungling fertilizer policy , chronic corruption of his family rule bursting at the seams and printing money endlessly, among many others, led to this disaster. Thus, once feared and respected ruling Rajapaksa family now see their effigies being hit and burned in the street, and spat at by even by those who once voted for them. Although their ethno-nationalist government sits still securely in power, there is mounting resistance to a regime that has thus driven Sri Lanka into economic crisis, amid continuous corruption. Significantly, despite the constant government and media promotion of anti-Tamil and anti-Muslim communal poison, workers of all ethnic backgrounds have participated in various anti- government rallies.

Those who were part of Gotabaya’s massive victory are now nowhere to be seen or found. The racist agenda on which most of them voted for their ‘Weda Karana Wiruwaa’ is almost forgotten. The same racism ghost appears to be haunting the Rajapakses, an irony indeed. Those who put the ruling Rajapkses in power are now joining those who did not vote, in the queues for gas and fuel. The Somadasas, Sivanandans, and Mohameds are all in the same plight, forgetting their racial and religious divides created by the Rajapakse camp in their greedy quest for power, sighing at their common destiny ahead and of their motherland with equal trepidation. They are all in the same storm, nursing their wounds,- with both their dignity and livelihoods shattered. This was the sad result of being duped by a scam – the Rajapakse magic, which led them to bring a ‘Cardboard Sando’ to power. What now occupies their collective minds is how to get rid of this accursed Rajapakse rule which has brought Sri Lanka to the verge of bankruptcy and international disgrace. How to return this corrupt genie back to the bottle?

Averse to what is developing around them, the Rajapaksa family wants to stay in power and build a political dynasty. Their corrupt governance is a major reason for the island’s recent democratic backsliding. Family, friends and allies of the Rajapaksas have reportedly profited by receiving lofty, well-paying, state-funded positions that require little work. Today Gotabaya, Mahinda, their two other brothers and Mahinda’s son oversee departments and agencies that collectively control nearly 70% of the island’s budget. Dubbed “The Terminator” by his own family, for his short temper, he has faced several corruption allegations, but his court cases have been frozen or withdrawn as he enjoys immunity after winning the presidency in 2019. So are many of his cronies who were acquitted of various corruption charges, which reflects adversely on the judiciary of Sri Lanka. Those who are enjoying immunity includes his brother Finance Minister Basil and his niece Nirupama of Pandora’s ill-fame. “We are acutely conscious that the actual amounts of wealth hidden offshore would be so much more than this [reported by ICIJ] – and it remains a massive problem for developing nations such as Sri Lanka,” the Transparency International Sri Lanka spokesperson said.

Rajapakse government has also systematically launched a police witch hunt against activists among teachers and students—arresting some, gathering names and filing court cases—in a warning of the further repression being prepared. The government’s shift to police state methods is part of an international phenomenon. Ruling classes around the world are turning to autocratic forms of rule, in response to rising social opposition. By increasingly shutting down avenues for political critique and protest, they appear to turn a blind eye to the risk of creating more serious conflicts.

To the great disappointment of civil society organisations and international community, who had embraced the Yahapalanaya government’s sweeping agenda for change, internal divisions and tensions meant that the coalition government was unable to follow through on many of its commitments, including bringing corrupt Rajapkases to book. As a result of the Yahapalanaya government’s inability to act decisively on its reformist agenda, space opened up for detractors to ‘control the discourse:’ the political opposition, dominated by the Rajapaksas. The new Rajapaksa government immediately signalled a shift away from the liberal, reformist rhetoric of its Yahapalanaya predecessor. There was also an immediate hardening of the government’s position in relation to ethnic minorities. These moves have been accompanied by a considerable crackdown on political dissent, as the government relies on existing laws and policies to suppress critical voices. The victor’s peace since 2009 created difficulties for Sri Lankan civil society human rights activists working to pursue ‘justice’ for crimes committed during the war. Ultimately, the return of the Rajapaksa family to power provides an important lesson on the need to take a long-term perspective on peacebuilding, democratisation, and establishing social justice in Sri Lanka.

On the other hand, various anti-government protests today also highlight the island’s democratic resilience. This simultaneous fortitude and retreat notwithstanding, the prospect of Sri Lanka appears gloomy with alarming signs of Sri Lanka being mired in violence and militarised autocracy emerging, portending another year of disasters. Well known social scientist Prof. Siri Hettige speaking to a local newspaper predicts that this public anger reflects the extreme levels of frustration and disappointment and has the likelihood of breaking down accepted social civilised ethos. The explosive situation will even adversely impact of the governance of the country in the times ahead too. Sri Lanka thus sits atop a raging social volcano.

Protests are signals: “We are unhappy, and we won’t put up with things the way they are.” But for that to work, the “We won’t put up with it” part has to be credible. Nowadays, large protests sometimes lack such credibility with political vested interests hijacking the cause. Besides, digital technologies have also made them so much easier to organize. They are often large-scale gatherings of citizens who are determined to challenge fundamental policies or structures of power. Protesters have been prepared to confront harsh treatment by security forces and sometimes brutal repression. It is hard not to have the sense from these events that something major is afoot in global politics. It appears that a new era of political flux is emerging as citizens demand more from their governments and mobilize in pursuit of their demands.

True, there have been rising activism among opposition parties in recent times to awaken the nation about these calamities and the imperative need for change. Defying all odds, supporters of the opposition such as SJB and NPP waged many types of protests carrying placards and shouting slogans against spiralling prices and shortages worsened by a foreign exchange crisis that’s led to import controls. Farmers, teachers, and government servants went on strike demanding reasonable and effective policies and living wages. Protests, although ad-hoc were led by grassroots civil society groups too. Previously, village-level groups may have avoided challenging Rajapaksa governments given their mutual commitment to Sinhalese Buddhist supremacy. Their now-vociferous demands show the strength of civil society, and resilience of democracy in Sri Lanka. However, the protests and ad-hoc public anger still appear to pose no immediate threat to Rajapaksas, whose government, commands a two-thirds majority in parliament and also has been using a political ruse like racism and short-term perks to divert public attention.

Protesters are often painted in Sri Lanka as disruptors, terrorists and a nuisance, yet across the world demonstrations and direct action have been a vital form of political engagement. An article in SL government owned Sunday Observer in Feb 2022 refers to strikes, protests and demonstrations as an intolerable public nuisance and advocates tougher laws to tackle them, which reflects government stance on the issue. It is unfortunate that several peaceful protests and demonstrations in Sri Lanka have been met with excessive use of force and the arrest or detention of activists journalists and demonstrators, and also using the Prevention of Terrorism Act to arrest and detain people. There have been systematic attempts by the authorities to prevent or disrupt protests and arrest peaceful protesters. In July 2021 the authorities imposed a ban on all protests and gatherings, claiming this measure was necessary to “prevent the spread of COVID-19”. Following this, the police cracked down on a number of protests, including activists, workers, students and farmers. Critics have also been targeted by the government to stifle dissent. UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also noted that “surveillance, intimidation and judicial harassment of human rights defenders, journalists and families of the disappeared has not only continued, but has broadened to a wider spectrum of students, academics, medical professionals and religious leaders critical of government policies”.

However, civic engagement must become an expected part of democracy; it is not a threat to democratic governments. Public protests are manifestations of dissent and an expression of the urgent need to change policy. Across the world, major citizen protests are multiplying. The list of countries hit by major protests since 2010 is remarkably long and diverse. Many of these protests have been profoundly important events in the countries where they have taken place. In places such as the Arab world and beyond, protests have had major ramifications for politics, economics, and security.

Sri Lanka has a rich history of protests as means of airing grievances, and for demanding accountability and recognition for rights and freedoms The right to protest, as manifested in the freedom of assembly, association, and expression, is an important feature of a democratic society like Sri Lanka, and recognized in the Constitution subjected to certain limitations. It is equally important to ensure that these limitations are not the results of ad-hoc and arbitrary measures contrary to the rule of law and the equal protection of the law as guaranteed by Article 12 of the Constitution. It is pertinent to assess any bans on protests based on three criteria relating to legality, proportionality, and purpose, and any State responses to public protests which has adverse implications for the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, and the fundamental rights of citizens should be condemned and challenged.

Society must become better at protesting. We must learn from previous protest movements’ successes and failures, from their tactics and methods and from their determination to be inclusive. Protest should always be seen as a legitimate avenue towards policy change and influence, and one that must therefore professionalize to make politics more reflective of societies’ wants, needs and demands. As Elie Wiesel said, ‘there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest”. Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence. So, let’s raise our voice against injustice and social injustice! We must; for even a single whisper can be quite a disturbance when the rest of the audience is silent. We must stand up and protest not just because it’s the right thing to do; we do so also to protect ourselves with the best tools we have at our disposal. Our protests convey a vital message to both government and its officials that peoples’ lives matter.

Protests are often seen in contexts where governments support those at the top and disadvantage those and by dividing those at the bottom. Racism is obviously one of their time-tested tools to keep the electorate divided. A protest can only bring about valuable policy change, when it is well-planned, focused, and also united irrespective of racial and religious differences. Protesters must express their displeasure and constructively present their demands as one voice. Proactive leaders must engage all protesters in a dialogue and find common demands to meet their needs. This way a protest can mirror the way the general public feels about warped government policy.

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Latest comments

  • 25
    1

    LH, now that mafia family has nothing to show, they will be forced to get back to their original racist agenda.

    • 13
      1

      Grotesque
      .
      This is the levels that people themselves made in this country today.
      .
      People die on ques Whole lot of people eat just once a day. No medicine, No gas, No kerosine oil, No fuel… This is called SAUBAGYA of brother duo govt.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIFVwpgy9oo
      .
      People s angers grow exponentially. If even PETs would be found free , people would not be backward to tear offthese men form this brutal family.
      .
      This bastard son has been enjoying his extravaganz life on the costs of the people. This is not the first time, this young man excercises ruler s power.
      .
      How can a man in mid 30ties behave this way ? even if his father is a real high criminal though FAKE PUBLIC PERCEPTION fools the very nation.

    • 14
      1

      Chiv, yes they will. But I guess hunger is more powerful than the love for one’s race!

      • 8
        0

        “Those who were part of Gotabaya’s massive victory are now nowhere to be seen or found.”
        No, not really. Weerawansa, Gammanpila, and the other vermin who spread lies about Yahapalanaya are now busy pretending they aren’t part and parcel of this disaster. Even Sirisena, the snake who destroyed that regime with his constitutional coup, is trying to come back as the saviour of the nation. The SJB has been stupid enough to invite Weerawansa and Gammanpila. Even they seem to have decided that Sinhala Buddhist stupidity is the road to power.
        Who are we to vote for? I suggest that the TNA proposes Chanakyan for President. I will definitely vote for him.

    • 4
      1

      Good point. Nothing like starting anti Muslim policies, and getting their saffron robed thugs, to spread anti Muslim fake news, to get their Sinhala Buddhist base to all riled up, attack the minority and get their minds off the corruption, nepotism, cronyism, failures, power cuts, and the long queues for basic necessities.

      It never fails.

  • 36
    3

    Racism started 70 years ago by the so called father of nation when he de franchised the Indian Tamils who were anchors of the wealth of the nation in tea and rubber industry that gave us the foreign reserves.
    It was aggravated by SWRD Sinhala only that drove away hard working Tamils of Sri Lankan origin.
    To all these atrocities Our Sinhala race and Muslim bretheren gave support by being silent.
    Had the public that is taking to streets today had done this seven decades ago, we would not have been in this position today.
    Things went from bad to worse year by year election by election, and we have today a Murderer of 140 000 Tamils in North and East and 260 in the churches and hotels and thief of 18 million dollars elected by mentally retarded of 6.9 million.
    It is so strange his acolytes like Damikka Perera who swindled the country trying to come to rescue by suggesting a bi partisan approach. What was he doing when Gitler come to power to suggest bi partisan approach development. He was busy making plans to Rob the country what is left after Gotler family did.
    People like Damikka Perera, Senadipathi, Hans Wijesuriya, Gamini Senarath, PBJ should be burnt alive along with Gotler family.
    AKD should lead a bloody revolution and take power. No democratic procees guided by shit constitution of ours can sole the current crisis

    • 10
      1

      Dilshan: Your frustrations are understandable but the suggestion: “AKD should lead a bloody revolution and take power” is no solution at all. In fact, that is (the revolution) the “NEED” and “WAITING” for by the Government of Gotabaya Rajapakse. That will give him the much-needed and awaited “KEY” to establish a “Military Regime”. I don’t think “AKD”, JVP/NPP would eat the bullet and if they do, it will be another disaster and the end of all those participating in that “Revolution”. Need I tell you the “Mind-Set” of our “Millions” of voters and some of the “Trying” to be leaders of the country?

    • 3
      1

      D
      DSS was communal and did some bad things.
      But he was part of a process.
      Who were behind the Sinhala–Muslim riots?
      Who was the apologist for the offenders?
      Sectarianism is not the preserve of one community, and it is not something that one person can orchestrate.
      Individuals act as agents of certain social processes.

    • 0
      0

      “People like Damikka Perera, Senadipathi, Hans Wijesuriya, Gamini Senarath, PBJ should be burnt alive along with Gotler family.”

      This is not an acceptable manner to have a conversation.

  • 9
    2

    If every thing fail to keep their power intact as a last try THEY WILL USE KARUNA AMMAN AND PILLYAN AS NEW SHARAN OF EASTER SUNDAY FAME To create a problem between tamils and muslims or muslims and singalease or tamils and singaleae and use armed forces as a tool to hank on to POWER AND WILL LEAST BOTHERED ABOUT LIVES OF SINGALEASE,TAMILS, OR MUSLIMS.

  • 19
    1

    “………Namal Rajapaksa flyboarding and on a jet ski in the Maldives……”
    I am so heartbroken that the ocean did not do its duty…!!!

    • 2
      1

      Jit.
      .
      It will do sooner than we guess..
      .
      Tasteless culture will not last that long. Look at Tripolli please/
      .
      Yellow pets will not defend them anymore. Except few like tattooed Sudhaththa/ the pseudo monk who is seen narrow escaped by the treatment of that young elephant /.
      .
      Time has come to round up all these men
      😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎

  • 14
    1

    Is Namal the Marie Antoinette of Sri Lanka today??

    • 4
      0

      He is proving his synthetic lawyer qualifications are by himself today with pompous parents’ dead silence.
      🐕🐃😎🐃😉😡😡😡

      • 3
        0

        All these give us signs about the dangers of the end of Mahinda Rajapakshe family/ ohomayang😉😉😉😉😉😉

    • 0
      0

      Is a sex change in offing?

      • 2
        0

        It is not about one’s sex. It is a symbolic metaphor Mahila!

        • 2
          0

          Jit,
          I could see that!
          My comment was in jest or more so as sarcastic element, as an additional adjective to ‘synthetic’!

    • 0
      0

      Good one.

  • 7
    0

    A group of guys who have lost any form of sensitivity or feeling with total disregard for the peoples suffering. This syntetic lawyer has the audacity to put this on face book and that shows his mental state.

  • 0
    0

    The photo shows he is going up and the country is going down, They should work like machine bring up the country Leaders See The Future And Help Others See It Too and compassion o thrive

  • 1
    1

    Six or seven months ago, the fear of Rapist Army taking the government with Hitler King’s support was ebbing. Now it is back again. Hitler may impose a military government any moment in Langkang.

  • 3
    0

    Ceylon is a beautiful country blessed with oceans full of fish, a land watered by rivers, trees, forests, mountains should have emerged as a prosperous and rich country. But what have we got now?

    Scarcities of food, medicine, fuel, cooking gas, kerosene, fertilizer, rice, vegetables etc. Politicians who seized power on the basis of race and religion have ruined the country.

    Corruption is everywhere. Corruption had led to theft, wastage and misuse of scarce resources. It can also entrench elite privilege and inequality and undermine the rule of law.

    As mentioned we need a U-turn in our thinking and action. Religion should be treated as a private matter. It should not be allowed to divide the country and people. So is language.

    The need of the hour is political stability. Without political stability there want to be any economic prosperity.

    The Sinhalese people have been fed on a diet of Sinhala Only nationalism and Buddhism as the state religion,

    The present protest and rallies against the government should not end once the scarcities have gone, It must bring about fundemental change the way people think. The way the country is governed.

  • 2
    6

    ————–To sin by silence, when we should protest, Makes cowards out of men’- Ella Wheeler Wilcox———————

    The Muslim community after the Easter Sunday bombings come to mind.

    What is worse is, as time went by, that silence turned into an outright whitewashing.

  • 2
    1

    Shemale Perehera army coolie, do you really think in your pea sized brain that the Muslim community was involved in this attack? Think again you mutt and a racist. It was all carried out on the orders of Gubaya (Gota). Idiot, use your head. Today the whole country has been decimated because of this village gamarala family and coolies like you from the army.

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