26 May, 2022

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Is The ‘Aragalaya’ Checkmated?

 By Shreen Saroor –

Shreen Saroor

Ranil in his first interview as the new PM said he will protect the Gotagogama and the army commander Shavendra said if they are not violent they can stay and continue the protests. All this while the Rajapaksa government tried its level best to dismantle it. They used various strategies and their last one backfired to the extent that they had to go hiding and safety to a place where many of their avowed opponents and Tamil youth were allegedly tortured and made to disappear. One of such victims’ wife said “I hope they choke and die the way my husband was suffocated and killed on their order”.  

Rajapakse went into bunkers the week exactly after 13 years when many who were taking shelter in bunkers in Vanni, especially the severely injured ones, had been bulldozed and killed in an effort to erase all war crime evidence.  May be this is what is called natural justice or karma. Thanks to Aragalaya that made Rajapaksas the most unwanted family and caused some of their associates to be on the run, even seeking asylum in countries which they claimed, not so long ago, were conspiring and supporting to divide Sri Lanka. 

On the night Ranil Wickremesighe was appointed as the premier, the GotaGoGama (GGG) youth continued with the same passion to chant ‘Gota go home’ and ‘no deal politics’ which has been their consistent and primary demand. That and the recent violence both instigated and vigilante against government politicians, made Sajith or Anura or Sarath Fonseka to refuse to accept the offer given by the country’s most undesired person unless based on principles and conditions that resonated with the demands of GGG. But when negotiations were going on why on earth Ranil accept it instantly? Is he the only politician capable of fixing the economic crisis and bringing in the IMF intervention quickly or is he the most desired by the international community? Or he believes in his skill of breaking the resilience of Aragalaya not by force or violence but by dismantling it silently. Rajapaksas know Ranil’s skill of dividing and striking. He did this with the most feared and strongly united LTTE which pursued its objectives with single-mindedness under one leadership. Ranil used the latent grievance of the eastern section of the LTTE and proactively pitched it to break the unity. That resulted in the fall of LTTE. Ranil later became the one and only messiah even to some Tamil representatives, to deliver accountability and justice after Rajapaksas finished off the war so brutally and became maligned internationally. Even the Muslims believed that he would protect them from Rajapaksas’ Islamophobic rhetoric but only to be meted out the worst possible attacks on them during the claimed Yahapalanaya government. 

The youth involved in Aragalaya withstood Rajapaksa machinations due to their steadfast belief and committed pursuit of a better Sri Lanka. Aragalaya gained ground in different parts of the country where the struggles varied. Aragalaya made it possible without any violence whatsoever for the Rajapaksas from the strength of two-thirds in Parliament to less than a simple majority and to the brink of collapse. Aragalaya which united different struggles and instilled hope for this country is under severe scrutiny by the people who support it after that May 9th chaos. It is in this backdrop Ranil is the preferred choice and a willing accomplice who is assigned the vital task of sending the youth, which the Rajapaksas could not, to a deep dark hole. The sheer rush to appoint a PM and that too a man who is completely rejected by his own constituency demonstrates how Gota and the rest of the Rajapakse clan have moved their card to weaken the youth movement to preserve their hold on power. Ranil by taking the premiership has, in a single stroke, defied the Aragalaya’s principal demand of Gota go home and dented the opposition’s united stance in support of it.   

When the protestors at Mirihana were attacked by the government, it claimed that the protestors were extremists (Islamic). Some who stood in solidarity with the Aragalaya and visited on and off are currently trying to draw a parallel in debating whether those at the Aragalaya too are extremists (Sinhalese, this time!)! This is a superficial and escapist claim. 

There are mixed messages given by different groups who were part of the peaceful struggle on social media as well. As it stands today, the dedicated efforts by many to place on the table issues that the people in the outlying regions so poignantly face are not being acknowledged. The 8-point proposal I saw and the manner in which it was delivered does not resonate with what they had tried hard in the month-long struggle, some even pleading for Tamil voices and issues of the north and the east people to be raised as part of the Aragalaya. Further, it tends, as well to give the impression that you are now appealing to the newly appointed Prime Minister. For sure he will love this dilution and retraction. Those in the Aragalaya please do not give into it. You all are the icons of society and the catalyst and the instrument of the systemic political change that we all have for long been yearning for. Galle-face symbolised the hope of that, and the vibe it generated  spread far and wide irrespective of different struggles.

Any seeming deviation from your original principles and goals which we shared and have held fast to would only convey a perverse message, that is when things we fight against become fait accompli, we just endorse them and thereby compromise on our principles and goals. If this approach is adopted, as things move on, we would even come to disappointingly recognise that the status is acceptable. We are not for status quo, and we are not for the same set of persons  who have brought untold misery upon our people and our country.

Regions matter. Outlying regions have long neglected issues, some of which remain at the bedrock of the national calamity we are caught in as a whole. It is not only Colombo that elects people’s representatives. What we insist on is an election and a new system to be installed there. 225+1 needs to be held accountable for what happened to this country. For that, you will have to make our voters responsible citizens. You too need to be in the race to be elected representatives. Your nonviolent and anti-racial stands are the need of the hour in this country and its politics. You need a long-term strategy and how you want to continue this protest until you achieve that systemic change and new Sri Lankan culture of being united with our differences that you so desired and gave your blood for. That is not only in Galle-face but to continue it in the regions and to stand with the poor, marginalized and discriminated. Show them how the leaders of this country messed up with the wrong generation by coming out of this checkmate ingeniously.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    0

    Yes, system change cannot occur if ‘reforms’ are initiated by and under the existing institutional framework. If it is a revolution, something new – something from the outside of the existing system – should come into play. The repressive political system based on an unjust constitution should be totally replaced, and it can only be achieved by extraconstitutional action by the people based on their inalienable sovereignty. At the moment such a breath of fresh air is coming only from the Galle Face Green. Because only there something new is happening. Only there, some new players are on the scene – the arrival of the Millennial generation. Having grown up in the era of cultural globalization brought about by the information revolution, foreign travel and social media, they’re more concerned about equity, diversity, human rights, social justice and the environment than any previous generation. Theirs is the most genuine and unyielding conviction for a total system change now – for otherwise they know they have no future in this country. They have already achieved considerable success in building a new political culture eschewing racism, religious bigotry, sexual and gender discriminations – making the political class jittery. For over seven decades now, this decadent class, deriving its power through social privilege, patronage, corruption, hatred, thuggery, and state terror – has been the curse of this country.

    • 9
      0

      [Contd. from above]

      Now it’s making a last-ditch attempt at survival by hoodwinking the people with political deals and cosmetic reforms. Ranil is the latest in the long line of repair scammers to keep the rotten system of Mafia politics going.

  • 5
    0

    Clarion Call (Part II)

    Blow bulge blow,
    Beat the drums loud,
    Ranil the Rascal,
    Has come into town!

    He has a grand plan to stir up the Markets
    He has a grand plan to whip hard the Masses.
    From China Port-City to Monaca’s fine shores
    His plan is to Rhumba and Tango with
    With Lanka own Assets!

    Money, the Right of the hard-working Masses
    Will now be put on the Global Stock Markets
    The Elite will play their fiddle and tune,
    Whilst Masses dance hard, to fill up their gloom

    Our backs, they will hurt, and so will our children’s
    To satisfy these gory ambitions
    Oh people, oh people to you do we plead,
    You have the right, to have some reprieve

    Reprieve it must, from the class and the caste
    Where the Masses work hard for the eternal farce
    The farce of the system where the Rich always hold
    The wealth of the labor, from off our back-bones.

    In Crypto, in Offshore, in Grand Bank-Accounts,
    In posh tea-parties in fashionable house
    In snooty articulation, in haughty haute-couture
    The Elite will saunter in pompery galore!

    The lesser will labor at the learning of hard subjects
    So their brains can contribute to the Global Advances
    Motherland will get a trickle or two
    Nothing of what our brains and brawn can actually do.

    • 4
      0

      Our land will be merged with the Indian sub-continent
      So the markets can sum-up the global mercantile ambition
      Ancient forests cut down; farmlands laid waste
      For this terrifying, Sci-Fi, capitalist craze.

      Where the Elites of both lands will live in their wonder
      From money created from our own hard-earned endeavor
      Port-City, the place where our hard-work is placed
      From China to US, for them all to taste.

      Blow bugle blow,
      Beat hard the loud drums,
      March to the Parliament
      And Flush them all out!

      • 2
        2

        “Port-City, the place where our hard-work is placed”
        What hard work, by whom?

        • 0
          0

          SJ……hardworking-suffering-Lankan-Masses in the labour camps of the Middle-East.

          • 0
            3

            I thought that hard work went into luxury vehicles and the like for the past 40+ years.
            Tell me where your suggested link is.

            • 0
              0

              SJ……those too….the luxury vehicles. Our hard-earned money went into those. But they are merely a show and tell of status quo (the tip of the iceberg) of the monumental stack of monies of the hardworking-suffering-Lankan-Masses placed on alternate monetary dealings. Don’t believe me? Look at the freaky Port-City coming up. Well, all is gone now – the monies. Hence the demise of Gotabaya’s Vistas of Prosperity. Now Ranil is in place to secure another deal with alternate powers to get the monies back. Now if this money had invested in-country into pay-checks for The People, none of this would have happened.

              • 0
                3

                You are trying to wriggle out.
                Not a dollar remitted by Sri Lankan workers went to develop Port City.
                It was squandered by 45 years of misrule that got the country into deep debt, almost half of it to private global loan sharks.
                Freaky or not, no money from the country is going in to build it.
                *
                What the family stole is large but not nearly enough to pay back any big loan.
                Before Ranil gets it all back, can he bring back his good friend?

                • 0
                  1

                  SJ….You can’t be that dense…..or are you trying to bluff…

                  Yes, Port-City is supposed to be built by China. It’s not in the buildings that is the problem. It is its very concept of big alternative means of banking that the Rajapaksas installed at high-risk situation, that is to be placed into the Port-City enterprise. That’s why they are building it in the first place. OK,…..let me break it down bit by bit so you can understand:

                  Hardworking Masses in the Middle-East remit their earnings back to beloved Motherland. They build a house. House has imported items like steel in it. Importers of steel at the highest level (the MP and MP connected businessmen) get the profits of the sale. It is placed on alternate trading offshore bank accounts to rolled at global will.

                  Or house has local products in like bricks. Mud brick industry MP and MP connected businessmen pay Lankan workers a pittance and amasses the profits of the sale in the same alternate trading network.

                  • 0
                    0

                    Or ME worker buys some blue jeans for teenage children. Or they buy imported chocolates from the supermarket industry, and so on. Blue jean importer and supermarket MP takes the profits, after paying their workers a pittance, and places it on the alternate trading networks. (China-Russia-Panama-Pandora…now US trying to dig its way)

                    Port-City and its buildings will be the place to consolidate all alternate global monetary networking.

                    Now Ranil and UNP did the same thing too, but they concentrated it for their exclusive Elite set- so they looked very refined doing so. Rajapaksas, the idiots, tried to follow this kind of commercial enterprise for a wider audience….in a way, it was for the common man – but only those who were able to tap into the system were the lucky ones. Now most of it has crashed…hence the starvation.

                    • 0
                      0

                      Never was any of the profits of these sales given to the worker to uplift their lifestyle, to create jobs at home and create or improve upon industry at home. ME workers bought the rubbish, and then went back to ME to slog yet again for another round of the perpetual looting of their hard work. Even the in-country industries like supermarkets and tourist industry have the bulk of the profits on off shore accounts. Workers are paid a pittance.

                      (rewritten in a new thread below, for ease of reading)

                  • 0
                    0

                    You say things that you cannot substantiate: look at your original comment.
                    Calling anyone names is an easy way out, but not an effective way.
                    *
                    Keep going– I mean at a tangent.

  • 10
    0

    Shreen Saroor, Accept my embrace. A very forthright and forceful presentation.
    “Ranil later became the one and only messiah even to some Tamil representatives, to deliver accountability and justice”, sheds evidence that he is a ‘cool’ fox. I pray with you that we don’t fall prey.

  • 15
    0

    “…..army commander Shavendra said if they are not violent they can stay and continue the protests…..”
    Who is army commander trying to hoodwink here?? Didn’t he know that ALL protesters were peacefully doing their protests and it was the Rajapaksha thugs fed with a packet of rice and half a bottle of Gal arrack were the violent ones?

  • 11
    1

    With Ranil as PM, the Rajapakses will live to fight another day. He will give save passage to all the cronies to leave the country but I hope no country will give them refuge & have any assets they may have in those countries, investigated. We may never get the looted wealth back but at least if they are frozen, that would be a punishment itself. ‘water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink’

    • 3
      9

      Raj-UK,
      “We may never get the looted wealth back but at least if they are frozen, that would be a punishment itself.”

      Didn’t the man who sat in the chair where the corrupt person was sitting promised you guys in 2015 that he will punish those corrupt people? You should ask him why he did not keep his promise.
      Only thing he did was sending few of his stooges to Dubai to bring money Rajapakshes were hiding but they came empty handed after having a grand time in Dubai spending millions of tax payers’ money.
      After failing to find money in Dubai, the guy who told that Rajapakshes took US$18 billion from Sri Lanka has gone to hell to see whether the money is hidden there.

      • 3
        0

        Eagle Eye

        RW covering up for his political mates, whatever the party, is a fact but when it comes to who plundered the country, the Rajapakses take the biscuit. Are you still believing the myth the Rajapakses were were patriots? RW’s shortcomings are known but he is not in the same league as the Rajapakses. You are running out of Sinhala Buddhist rhetoric, so put a sock in it if you can’t see outside the box.

  • 0
    1

    “May be this is what is called natural justice or karma.”

    There is something wrong with the way natural justice or karma is working.

    The person who should face natural justice or karma for torturing and killing hundreds of Sinhala youths during 1988-89, played a role in killing Tamils in 1983 and robbing the Central Bank got the post that should have been held by the person who gave the leadership to stop massacring innocent civilians and restored peace which was denied for three decades for the people in this country by terrorists.

  • 7
    0

    Some body pushed him to PM , What is his strategy and recovery plan from his experience or naming him that he is friendly globally, The global friends will encourage keep reaching them to Go for Borrowing.and paid by future.
    A nation’s strength ultimately consists in what it can do on its own, and not in what it can borrow from others. Now be in attention condition from the borrowed country. And call we helped the country

  • 5
    1

    Shreen Sarror, this endless debate can continue but right now we do not have the time or comfort on our side. Every day wasted will make it irreversible and harder to recover from the present crisis. If this situation get any worse , we may not be in a position to even have this discussion. From all the different opinions I hear, the only way to find answer is to conduct elections at the earliest. But until then we need someone to maintain sanity and make sure the situation doesn’t get any worse. For the sake of country and those who are suffering, an interim government has to be formed. How could we have real government when we are unable to even form an interim. If there is an election the choices are the same, but the debate may end. In a hung parliament, we may yet again see the same alliance. Then what ??

  • 5
    1

    It’s not Aragalaya but the the country and people are checkmated. They are now left with no options, Pretty much a ” self goal”.

  • 4
    0

    It is too much to expect from “Aragalaya” alone to initiate everything without the support of the people. So far they have achieved to bring people together and motivate them that the people power can be used to make changes to the system. Yes, the struggle need to continue until the complete change of the system but all it depends on the people because it is still possible the powerful families who ruined in this country can simply change the people with their power using the Fundamentalism.

  • 2
    1

    “You need a long-term strategy and how you want to continue this protest until you achieve that systemic change and new Sri Lankan culture of being united with our differences that you so desired and gave your blood for. That is not only in Galle-face but to continue it in the regions and to stand with the poor, marginalized and discriminated.”
    These words would have fallen on deaf ears had they been said a week ago.
    Whether MR had his way with his planned disruption or not, the agenda had to be wider than GGH. In a sense the protest checkmated itself by not expanding its scope.
    But this setback is not altogether a bad thing if people are mobilized on a broad basis to exclude the few and include the many for a protracted struggle that will keep sprouting there there and there when suppressed here.
    Mass leadership demands freedom from parochial attitudes.

  • 8
    8

    Again, don’t know the writer lady from nearest areca nut palm.

    But her review of the whole ‘Baragalaya’ affair seems typical of the two groups (Islamists and Catholics) who instigated the whole affair with US embassy help. Therefore what she has written is to be expected. Crocodile tears!

    From the wider general public’s point of view, and as to their expectations of political change, the Galleface affair was a great deception of the innocents, designed to exploit their anger and frustrations by the above mentioned groups. The proof is in the final result, which the rabble raising Anthare and other bogus revolutionaries have meekly accepted. The Baragalaya finally resulting in Ranil Wickremesinghe – the worst failure in SL politics, a despicable thief of public money – being resurrected from the political dead could not have been a total accidental result,. Premadasa or the JVP would have been equally bad. The crisis in SL is lack of capable leadership material with vision.

    Upon selection by Gota, the ‘failed miracle’ Ranil invoking Churchill was even more shameful a national disgrace than his inviting the Portuguese in 2005 to ‘celebrate’ their 1505 invasion at the root of our rot. The (hardly a) man is an incurable western boot-licker and a national disgrace.

    But the Islamists probably got their wish, but will cry of checkmate knowing nothing bad for them will happen again.

  • 1
    0

    Shreen, I share your concern. We have lived long enough to have seen this repeatedly. The people want change. Some discredited old faces come back as ministers, not to expedite change, but to place road blocks at every turn. Let us hope they will not get away with it.

    • 4
      2

      RH
      You know enough not to expect any better.
      But the government has the blessings of the triple gem (US, EU and India).

  • 0
    0

    Yes, Aragalaya must be vigilant! Ranil will use every trick in the book to break it up. Thanks for the warning.

    • 1
      0

      Well Ranil is a master of deception. If you look at this whole drama and the picture from 10,000 feet high you can see few interesting acts.
      1. Sajit Premadasa is a corrupt and a crook. He is an opportunist who wants to be the President at any cost. He knew he will not be able to do that unless Gota goes. The young protesters does not want him as the president.
      2. Gota asked Sajit to be PM but he wats Gota to resign then he will become the president but Gota did a number on him and offered the PM to Ranil. One man party UNP. For Ranil to survive he needs Gota and Gota’s party MPs to show majority. Gota got his puppet. Ranil is not talking about investigating the corruption or arresting any Rajapaksas. Ranil will get western world to come to his aid and get the economy moving.
      3. Once we get all the fuel, food and medicine Ranil hoping to make a come back. Ranil call for new election in 6 or 8 months.
      4. Premadasa is the loser in this game. I wonder if he will make it in the next election.
      I wish all the young protesters all the luck and confidence. Hope they come up with a leader who can win the election and clean the SL politics. Throw all of them in jail for 30 years.

  • 0
    0

    Is the Aragalaya Checkmated? asks Shreen Saroor.
    Not at all. The Rajapaksa cabal think otherwise by appointing one of their lackeys Ranil.W,. they have browbeaten the Aragalaya.
    The Aragalaya should now be decentralised to the Provinces.
    No one can derail Peoples Power…………

  • 0
    0

    SJ….You can’t be that dense…..or are you trying to bluff…

    Yes, Port-City is supposed to be built by China. It’s not the buildings that are the problem. It is its very concept of big alternative means of banking that the Rajapaksas installed at high-risk situation, that is to be placed into the Port-City enterprise. That’s why they are building it in the first place. OK,…..let me break it down bit by bit so you can understand:

    Hardworking Masses in the Middle-East remit their earnings back to beloved Motherland. They build a house. House has imported items like steel in it. Importers of steel at the highest level (the MP and MP connected businessmen) get the profits of the sale. It is placed on alternate trading offshore bank accounts to rolled at global will.

    Or house has local products in like bricks. Mud brick industry MP and MP connected businessmen pay Lankan workers a pittance and amasses the profits of the sale in the same alternate trading network.

  • 0
    0

    Or ME worker buys some blue jeans for teenage children. Or they buy imported chocolates from the supermarket industry, and so on. Blue jean importer and supermarket MP takes the profits, after paying their workers a pittance, and places it on the alternate trading networks. (China-Russia-Panama-Pandora…now US trying to dig its way)

    Port-City and its buildings will be the place to consolidate all alternate global monetary networking.

    Now Ranil and UNP did the same thing too, but they concentrated it for their exclusive Elite set- so they looked very refined doing it. Rajapaksas, the idiots, tried to follow this kind of commercial enterprise for a wider audience….in a way, it was for the common man – but only those who were able to tap into the system were the lucky ones. Now most of it has crashed…hence the starvation.

    • 0
      0

      Never was any of the profits of these sales given to the worker to uplift their lifestyle, to create jobs at home and create or improve upon industry at home. ME workers bought the rubbish, and then went back to ME to slog yet again for another round of the perpetual looting of their hard work. Even the in-country industries like supermarkets and tourist industry have the bulk of the profits on off shore accounts. Workers are paid a pittance.

  • 0
    0

    Ms. S you are on the money. Hindu and Buddhist religion talk about Karma. Yes, what Gota and his brothers did for last 20 years will haunt them. A good Buddhist will not accept their actions. Karma is here and Gota and brothers have to pay. Hope they all rot in jail until their time to leave this world. All the billion dollars is not going to help.
    The young protesters will win.

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