By Dayan Jayatilleka –
Were the scenes we saw on our TV screens this week a manifestation of a potentially dangerous, post-January 8th radicalization in the North?
It is perfectly natural for demonstrations to be held when a crime as heinous as the rape and murder of a schoolgirl takes place.
It is natural that such demonstrations be emotional.
It would also be natural for those demonstrations to take a violent turn if the suspected perpetrators of the crime were from the armed forces or Police or former members of those services or of a different ethnicity from the victim.
In this case however, the suspects weren’t Sinhalese or current or ex-service personnel.
Law enforcement did not try to cover up the crime or protect the perpetrators. The suspects were promptly tracked down and arrested.
Why then and how then did the protests turn forceful and violent?
Why were the targets the institutions of the (uninvolved) State? Why were Police personnel targeted and injured?
Why did the protests not remain localized, i.e. limited to the general area of the crime?
How did they spread to towns throughout the North?
How and why were the protests sustained over two days?
Is it coincidental that these demonstrations were in the wake of the mourning in the North on May 19th? Who would mourn the end of the war, the end of the large scale killing and dying, the dawn of peace? Who would mourn as a historical tragedy, the defeat of the Tigers and the death of the child-conscripting Prabhakaran? Why?
Was there any incitement by the pro-LTTE or more broadly, the pro-Tamil Eelam segment of the Tamil Diaspora, operating through the radical wing of the TNA?
Is this a manifestation of the Pongu Thamil training and indoctrination and the Makkal Padai culture?
President Rapajapksa reopened democratic space in the North and East by defeating the Tigers and holding all types of multiparty elections in the former conflict areas. He also kept the lid on. The security net was in place. Nothing of the kind of demonstrations we’ve just seen could happen during his tenure.
Wigneswaran dissuaded the Northern Provincial Council from passing a Genocide Resolution, on Mahinda’s watch. The Resolution was passed after the dawn of Yahapalanaya.
Today the security net has been rolled back by the Government. It is in that context of a permissive security atmosphere, a security semi-vacuum, that violent and radical demonstrations can take place in the North.
Is it because the North thinks that since its votes were decisive in bringing Yahapalanaya to power — certainly the Swan would have lost if not for the votes of the erstwhile pro-Tamil Eelamist, pro-Tiger constituency/periphery adjacent to Tamil Nadu — it has special rights and can function with impunity?
The long struggle for Tamil Eelam also began with Satyagrahas and violent demonstrations. As revealed by Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike in an address to Parliament, there were violent attacks on the Police in Gal Oya in 1956-1958.
Are the latest demonstrations the beginning or the testing out, of an Intifada strategy?
Is it the beginning or the test run of a Kashmir scenario in which there is daily violence by stone throwing mobs against Police and armed forces personnel?
Aren’t violent demonstrations the way in which the Kosovo struggle started in the 1990s, and Serbia was framed after it had to send in troops to restore order?
Are the recent demonstrations the second prong of a multipronged strategy of which the first prong was the dastardly Genocide Resolution of Wigneswaran and the Northern Provincial Council?
The State must not lose control of the Northern streets. The authority of the state must be restored.
Our soldiers did not die so as to cede the Northern streets to violent mobs.
They certainly did not sacrifice their lives and limbs to usher in federalism and an inevitable de facto merger with neighboring Tamil Nadu, in the guise of postwar reconciliation.
Our troops did not give their lives to permit the North and East to be handed over by an elected puppet government as an economic and strategic “sphere of influence” of our giant neighbor which has a permanently embedded 70 million strong Tamil population with much hostility towards the Sinhalese. The respected Times of India carried a photograph just days ago of a massive Prabhakaran poster adorning walls in Tamil Nadu in mourning for his demise. Tamil Nadu sentiment is not merely anti-Sinhala; it is pro-Tiger, even when the victim of the Tigers was India’s beloved Rajiv Gandhi! The well-made Bollywood film Madras Café, with John Abraham as the star, which is based on the Rajiv killing and the IPKF saga, was successfully banned from cinemas in Tamil Nadu as well as Tamil cinemas in the UK.
Our troops did not die so that Sri Lanka’s North and East could become a Tamil Nadu (or Indian) semi-colony within an island that becomes a Western plus Diaspora neo-colony.
In order to restore the authority of the State in the North, self–respect and strength of character must be restored to the State.
Do we not need Mahinda Rajapaksa as PM to restore strength, political will, purpose, direction and self-respect to the Sri Lankan State; to reinstall an erect spine as it were, and stop the dangerous drift in the North?
Isn’t the return of Mahinda imperative to prevent Yahapalanaya from degenerating or drifting into Yaalpalanaya?