By Vishwamithra –
“I am truly free only when all human beings, men and women, are equally free. The freedom of other men, far from negating or limiting my freedom, is, on the contrary, its necessary premise and confirmation.” ~ Mikhail Bakunin
The pressure was building up. Over the last four to five weeks, ever since the country’s economy crossed the point of no return, amidst the apparent loss of the nation’s faith in her legislature, Parliament, the bursting dynamic that was waiting to happen finally reached its destructive climax. That was Monday, May 9, 2022.
All this time, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country’s Prime Minister has been continuously subjected to enormous stress and anxiety. The man is not young anymore. His health is failing and the physical aid that is extended to him to move one single step forward is rather embarrassing to behold, even for his staunchest foe. During the preceding weekend, Minister Nalaka Godahewa, one of his close supporters, was widely quoted to have said that Mahinda Rajapaksa had agreed to resign from his office of Prime Minister. The wickedness of the surrounding circumstances and the sheer weight of responsibility of office would have impacted any ordinary man. Mahinda Rajapaksa proved that he was just that, an ordinary man trying to carry an extraordinary load and burden. He collapsed under its excruciating weight. Only extraordinary men can endure that amount of weight and that kind of responsibility.
Instead of choosing to leave with some measure of dignity and slightest of decorum, Mahinda decided to hang on; he pondered that he would go with a thunder and fake-bravery. He summoned his diehard supporters to his dwelling, the Temple Trees, the official residence of the Prime Minister of the country. This is the hallowed abode of many a respectable occupant who happened to live in prior to the Rajapaksas. From DS Senanayake to Dudley Senanayake, the magnificent halls and rooms of the Temple Trees have been witness to the nation’s best behavior on the part of its chief occupant. Inside the Temple Trees many a political move, this way or the other, in support of or in opposition to whatever politician or policy, has been hatched and moved with unnoticed smoothness. It has made this place memorable and has sanctified the very ground it was built on.
Mahinda Rajapaksa desecrated that land. Instead of dignity and decorum he offered to the waiting country a totally egregious solution; he unleashed his crudest and most uncivilized supporters on a peaceful mass of demonstrators; those demonstrators had already shown the country and the world as to how to protest against a woefully inadequate set of rulers who were not equipped to manage an economy; nor did the rulers know how to run a smooth governance machinery.
It was at the Temple Trees where DS Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of Ceylon held his famous Wednesday breakfast meetings with the celebrated JL Fernando, a leading journalist at the time. It was within these halls JR Jayewardene conducted his political maneuvering after the demise of DS as to who would succeed him. It was in the picturesque backyard of the Temple Trees where JR J had organized a plush banquet for the visiting Heads of States of Colombo Plan countries amongst whom was Jawaharlal Nehru accompanied by his daughter Indira. One can go on and on capturing the most momentous meetings, banquets, tea parties and confidential conversations which in a most realistic way shaped and defined the day’s events at the time.
But, since the arrival of the Rajapaksas on this sacred ground, the atmosphere and the very mood of that great office of Prime Minister has become grisly and shady; good times on retreat to the land of faint memory.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, when pressured by the country’s dwindling coffers and screaming mass of people for equitable distribution of economic resources and when those masses took occupation of the city’s main beachfront, lost his proverbial marbles. The increasing cry of the people for his political head must have driven him to the edge of craziness and he acted from that demonic craze and stupid arrogance. The so-called war-hero of a Prime Minister has become a condemned traitor. He brought it upon himself by ordering his unhinged troops on the peaceful protesters on the Galle Face Green.
But there was a serious miscalculation committed by the Rajapaksas and their strategic planners. They never understood the psyche of a justice-hungry young population. Our youth are not robots anymore; time and time again, especially during the last four weeks, they exhibited some extraordinary patience and poise. They let their guard down only when they were attacked in the most inhuman and inhumane way on early afternoon of Monday May 9, 2022.
The fury of the youth was let loose. Revolution was answered by counter revolution and that counter revolution was met by counter-counter revolution. All this would ultimately lead to total anarchy – a ready and willing circumstance immediately preceding a military takeover. If that becomes an ironic consequence of the current anarchical situation, the collapse of a national movement led by our youth will occur and all will come to zero. The last consequence that one would expect as the most unfavorable outcome of a mass movement would be more uncomplimentary than the one existing. The remedy has become more dangerous than the ailment. This is not what we wanted and it certainly is not the one we need.
Bakunin, widely considered to be the father of anarchism, said thus: ‘They maintain that only a dictatorship – their dictatorship, of course – can create the will of the people, while our answer to this is: No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of self-perpetuation, and it can beget only slavery in the people tolerating it; freedom can be created only by freedom, that is, by a universal rebellion on the part of the people and free organization of the toiling masses from the bottom up’. We seem to be fast approaching the very state of affairs Sri Lanka would eventually be condemned to. The current chaotic state of affairs in Ceylon indicates a dangerous proximity to a precursor to an actual dictatorship, either the current President backed by the Army or by the Army itself.
The Speaker’s announcement that the Party leaders’ meeting called for May 13 has been canceled and rescheduled, provided circumstances permit, is another danger-signal which contains within itself some warning-like utterances which usually are not made by the custodian of the House of Parliament in a functioning democracy.
Then we come to the most crucial question of the day. Have our Youth gone too far? Have they been acting according to their conscience or have they been driven to the ends by sheer force of spinning wheels of the day’s events? I do not have answers to these questions.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, obviously backed and supported by his younger brother President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, unleashed a force, the counter to which could not be controlled at all. The anger of today’s youth should not be allowed to flow overboard. Submerging every right and an iota of sympathy they so justifiably won as a consequence of their exemplary conduct during the first four weeks could very well end up as trash on an otherwise barren field of political inactivity.
More than fifty homes, belonging to parliamentarians and other politicians, have been set ablaze; Deshabandu Tennekoon, Colombo district Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police was humiliated and assaulted in public, the Speaker of Parliament has put off the Party Leaders Meeting due to the potential of security of its attendees being threatened; Sri Lanka Administrative Service (SLAS) officers are on strike like most government services; the country’s transport service is at a standstill; as per Chairman of the Gas company, cooking gas is not available at all; fuel is in precariously short supply; employees of institutes identified directly or vicariously with government are being harassed or physically injured.
Execution of governing tenets has been relegated to the people at large who have no concept of authority or orderly flow of rules and regulations, reminding one of interim governments run by the JVP activists during short successes of the 1971 insurrection. All these are indications pointing towards failure, failure not only of the current government, but more broadly speaking, failure of the state machinery. Ceylon becoming a failed state couldn’t be clearer and sharper. It is now a proven fact that our political leaders are either uneducated or unwise, or may be both. If such idiocy and lack of wisdom is limited to the current set of family-oriented rulers, it could be remedied one day, but when it is shown in almost every corner of the island that those who are marauding our streets today as new custodians, the youth of Lanka, too are conducting themselves beyond their own depths, it indeed is a tremendous misfortune. Therein resides the real tragedy!
*The writer can be contacted at email@example.com
nimal fernando / May 11, 2022
See the ornamentation ………. when a Lankan man wears cufflinks on a national dress you know the vanity of a man …… little things give a man away
The country got nothing but foolish vanity from this man.
People couldn’t have enough ……..up to a point
Now, the people have seen through for what he really is ……….. but what they have not come face to face is their own foolishness ……… to believe, have faith in such a man ……..
The next charmer …….. the next snake oil salesman ……… is just waiting around the corner ………….
chiv / May 11, 2022
Violence and anarchy are not answers they cause more of the same problems. People who were truly behind Aragalaya should realize a month of apolitical non violent struggle is now hijacked and exploited by the the same Rajapaksas. They only know violent politics. So they send bus loads of thugs to cause confusion and turn into a nationwide anarchy. This will only give them opportunity to use in the future ” we the victims “. It dosen’t need to b
chiv / May 11, 2022
Sorry . It dosen’t need to be Rajapaksas they still can have one of their cronies in future , up there and keep pulling the strings ( like GLP being the leader of original SLPP created by Basil). I hear in some places , mobs are trying to make it relegious / anti Muslim , which exactly Rajapaksas wants. Violence is not the answer but that is exactly Rajapaksas will prefer right now. If anarchy continue, Aragalaya will be blamed for irreversible loss or damages and can leave a negative message in public mind.
chiv / May 11, 2022
More of this violence continue will be an opportunity for SLPP or Rajapaksas to return to politics in future. ( like Trump )
chiv / May 11, 2022
This is also a clear indication where two decades of Mafia family rule has left country bankrupt not just economically but politically too. There is no system ( judiciary) or party left to intervene so that sanity prevails. Rajapaksas made sure , so that it seems they only have answers. It’s time so called true intellectuals / Friday forum to get together and come up, with recommendations, Each day lost will make it harder and impossible to recover.
Kuviyam / May 11, 2022
State Terrorism was executed time against the Tamils, and Muslims This is the first time after JVP rebellion the Singhalese got a taste of it . The funniest part in many decades ago when Federal Party staged Satyagraha the MPs and Tamil were noted by gonad organize by the Sinhala government. The history has repeated at the same location. These ids called Karma. In Buddhist country when Majority Singhalese and Tamils believe in Karma Rajapakse dynasty is reaping the sins they sowed . More to be harvested. They were swindlers of the economy of he country. They followed the same style as Shashikala in Tamil Nadu. As the last action by karma Gotabaya must go.
The question id who is going to give them shelter. Maldives? China? Dubai? Uganda? or any country where they have invested in millions
chiv / May 11, 2022
Did we ever recover fully from insurrections and 83 riots ( not just financially but as a country) ??? NEVER. And this will be the worst time to have one. We already are bankrupt, failed and dysfunctional. All it takes is few people from Aragalaya, intellectuals, political leaders, religious leaders ( like in post Easter) to come out and plead to stop violence, request militarily to take responsibility in maintaining law and order.
SJ / May 11, 2022
The writer got a little sentimental about Mahinda initially. Then he went on to say:
“Mahinda Rajapaksa desecrated that land. Instead of dignity and decorum he offered to the waiting country a totally egregious solution; he unleashed his crudest and most uncivilized supporters on a peaceful mass of demonstrators;”
Was Mahinda the only one who “desecrated that land”?
Every actor who whipped up communal feeling and caused riots did that.
Perhaps all of them put together robbed less.While credit for ‘desecrating the land’ should got to every actor who whipped up communal feelings, can anyone better JRJ for performance in that quarter?
Mahila / May 11, 2022
Thanks for that well stated contribution and absolutely faultless and right too!!!
The irony of the whole scenario, is that, he was ‘ideal individual’, to contend and deal with the terrorism, especially Megalomaniac Prabahkaran!! People were thankful, without exception on that aspect.
However, the people did not contend that to end him (MR), they had to find an Aragalaya and so much of indignity, for himself, the Country and the People at large??!!
I am sure he could have wisely, used a different methodology!!??
That is destiny!
RBH59 / May 11, 2022
Why youth let losse the Fist for fury arrival of circumstance was opened for scared ground.
Democracy is also holding oneself accountable to some reasonable & is not simply a license to indulge individual notions and for own taste of ruling . It is the first time violence begot from Temple trees by whispering evil temper Now not only the Galle face is on protest the whole world sparks green light to Gall face.Peaceful protest is a hallmark of democracy.
Lasantha Pethiyagoda / May 11, 2022
There are several assumptions in the essay which have no credibility. One clear example is that Mahinda was “obviously” supported by Gota in unleashing terror on the peaceful protestors. Another is the assumption that it is the peaceful protestors who torched parliamentarians’ homes. I too have seen name lists of the houses and vehicles destroyed. The vast majority of people in Sri Lanka are hungry. They hardly eat one meal a day, and that too, rice with one or two curries. These are people who had three meals a day. Most people have been in queues for several days on end, or have family members waiting in queues for much of the day, say 8-10 hours in most cases. They are suddenly having to pay five or six times the price for ordinary food items or home utilities which they cannot sustain. In large groups, they come across opulent sprawling mansions and super luxury cars exuding an affluence with obviously ill-gotten wealth and a total insensitivity to the plight of the people. What will be their foremost emotion? A peaceful protest with placards that no one cares about? Shouting slogans that their oppressors do not hear? Yes, the only thought is revenge that their oppressors can feel.
davidthegood / May 11, 2022
Lasantha Pethiyagoda, Two questionable assumptions are that peaceful protestors torched parliamentarians homes and that seeing opulent mansions and super luxury cars, their thought was revenge. Apart from the simple Galle Face united gas, diesel, fertiliser, electricity and rice lacking queues, there is also here university educated Anthare , Peratugami, IUSF and Bhikku uni. crowd blocking parliament entrance, now surrounding Trinco naval base and with full details of MP homes specially in university towns of Galle, Colombo, Peradeniya, Rajarata, Kurunegala. Then leader LahiruWeerasekara when imprisoned was visited by GMOA and later Kumar Gunaratnam came. He is current leader of FSP, whose elder engineer brother in Peradeniya was sadly killed in 1989. Kumar returned from Australia, has clever practical ideas with quick marxist action orientation. Farmers dont torch MP homes. Rohana Wijeweera JVP of 1971 attacked police stations.
Ajith / May 11, 2022
“The so-called war-hero of a Prime Minister has become a condemned traitor. He brought it upon himself by ordering his unhinged troops on the peaceful protesters on the Galle Face Green.”
It is a lesson for the future leadership of this country. Opportunities missed many more times. In 1956, political leadership, Religious leadership, Military, Judiciary, Rule of law just closed their eyes when the attackers attacked a peaceful protest and now it happened the same.
Naman / May 11, 2022
We should salute the New Generation for getting rid of the CROOKED & Uneducated rulers of SL.
People born around the SL Independence & their parents should be ASHAMED to have been RULED by Racist Power Hungry politicians for the last seven or more DECADES.
Why did this generation tolerate the GoSLs ? Aren’t they are the CAUSE of the current state of our Mother Lanka.
Buddhist majority were happy in sending the upcountry Tamils back to India/ happy to see Tamils Rights being trampled/happy to grab Their lands and destroy their economy /happy to NOT to develop the North and East of SL/ happy to see them leaving the country after government sponsored violent attacks on Tamil properties leading to many deaths. The author of the article and his generation too are GUILTY for TOLERATING racist Rulers of the past.
SS / May 11, 2022
This is the hallowed abode of many a respectable occupant
Far as i know, every inhabitant has been a freemason and a criminal.
SS / May 11, 2022
have been witness to the nation’s best behavior on the part of its chief occupant
Best behaviour perhaps in front of the public.
But in secret, masonic rituals which include beastiality, pedophilia, human sacrifice and even cannibalism!
Gus / May 12, 2022
They pulled down and destroyed and desecrated the statues of the ceylon tamils heroes and now they are doing same pulling down destroying desecrating the statues of their erstwhile sinhala land heroes/terrorists?
Gus / May 12, 2022
The eradication of the RATShqapakses clan is required in the manner that Pirabaharan’s son was eliminated by the sinhalas