21 November, 2018

Blog

On Azath Salley, NPC Election And The 19th Amendment

By Tisaranee GunasekaraYou’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.” Malcolm X (Advice to Youth of Mississippi – 1964) 

Senior Journalist J Tissanayagam was charged with creating ethnic dissension, by a regime which included such apostles of reconciliation as Champika Ranawaka. Azath Salley has been arrested for fermenting religious disharmony by a regime which is providing succour to such proponents of brotherly love as Rev. Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara Thero.

If creating religious disharmony is really an issue for the government, it is not Mr. Salley who should be in custody but the likes of Rev. Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara Thero.

Mr Salley was arrested because he made the cardinal error of criticising the Rajapaksas, because he had the temerity to take on the BBS. He stood up to the BBS while Muslim ministers maintained radio silence – probably because they know that the BBS is a Rajapaksa-monkey; and that any minority leader who opposes the saffron-mobsters engaged in Rajapaksas’ work risk imprisonment or worse.

Mr. Salley’s arrest probably has multiple objects. Perhaps the regime wants to frighten the Opposition into total inaction so that the 19th Amendment can be passed fast, with minimum fuss. Maybe the regime wants to send a message to all minority leaders about the costs of dissent. It might even be the essential first step in manufacturing an Islamic version of that old Naxalite Plot, which in turn can be used to neutralise Delhi, London and Washington (Delhi and London are important conjuncturally, vis-à-vis the Hambantota Commonwealth; Washington is important structurally because Basil and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa are US citizens while America is the favourite port-of-call, whenever President Rajapaksa has a health issue).

The arrest of Mr. Salley is unjust; it must be opposed unconditionally. Whatever Mr. Salley did in his political past – including his one-time support for the Rajapaksas – is of no consequence, now. He is a victim of Rajapaksa injustice and abuse, and as such deserves the support of all who care about democracy and basic rights.

We cannot remain silent and inactive about the arrest of Azath Salley, without encouraging the Siblings to reach even deeper depths of repression and impunity.

Protesting against the injustice done to Mr. Salley is an inextricable component of the struggle for Lankan democracy.

The BBS and its ‘Nationally Important Task’

The Rajapaksas may have saved the Hambantota Commonwealth by promising to hold Northern Provincial Election in September, but it is a promise impossible to deliver.

The Rajapakses do not want to share power with anyone, including the parliament, the SLFP and the judiciary. The Siblings cannot allow a provincial council which is not under their familial control to come into existence. The Ruling Family’s real problem with a TNA-controlled NPC is not that it will promote separatism but that it might strengthen national opposition and provide a rallying-point for Rajapaksa-opponents.

The Rajapaksas do not believe in the existence of an ethnic problem. According to their thinking, the Tamils were living in perfect contentment, until Tamil nationalists came along and sowed discontent. Eelam War erupted not because Tamils had real grievances but because Vellupillai Pirapaharan wanted his own state.

The Rajapaksa notion of how reconciliation should be achieved is dependent on this diagnosis.

Since Tamils have no legitimate grievances, a political solution/devolution is unnecessary. Any Tamil dissatisfied with the status quo is a Tiger by definition. The way to avoid another ‘problem’ is to adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards any sign of minority activity, from the very beginning. Hit hard, at the earliest possible sign of life, so that the minorities learn to curb their thoughts, mind their language, control their activities, and accept their secondary status – and even learn to live with the demented ravings of the BBS/JHU.

If the Rajapaksas hold the NPC poll in September, either the election will be violent, unfree and unfair; or the provincial council will be denuded of all powers. Since a violent election might create too many regional and international waves, the Siblings might opt for the 19th Amendment, so that limited political-devolution is downgraded into not-so-generous administrative-decentralisation and provincial councils become glorified pradesheeya sabhas.

Many minority parties belong to the UPFA. Their leaders hold ministerial/deputy ministerial positions. But a small measure of personal power and a limited capacity to advance themselves are all they really possess. The minority parties are mere show-pieces to bolster the Sri Lankan credentials of a Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist regime. In any case, even Sinhala ministers possess little actual power, because all power is concentrated in the hands of the Siblings and a few trusted acolytes.

That is how the Rajapaksas would want all Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim leaders and activists to conduct themselves. Anyone refusing to toe that line can face persecution or worse, be it the war-winning Army Commander or a one-time ally like Azath Salley.

The relationship between the Rajapaksas and Sinhala-Buddhist supremacists is a symbiotic one. Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism provides the Siblings with an attractive mantle for their naked power agenda. By attaching themselves to the Rajapaksa Juggernaut, Sinhala-Buddhist supremacists in turn have gained more power and influence than they ever possessed, including in 1956. Had the Siblings tried to impose familial rule without the cover of patriotism, they would have encountered far more Southern dissent. It is the Sinhala-Buddhist mantle which has enabled the Rajapaksa project to achieve hegemonic status in the South. Thus the Rajapaksas cannot ditch Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism anymore than Sinhala-Buddhist supremacists can ditch the Rajapaksas (as Gen. Fonseka found out to his cost).

As memories of the spectacular victory over the LTTE fades with time, the Rajapaksas need to deliver socio-economically, in order to retain their Southern hegemony. This means ensuring that the Sinhala South is given rapid and adequate access to the peace dividend, in the form of lower prices and higher living standards, less poverty and more employment, better educational and health services and improved opportunities.

But these developmental goals are unachievable under Rajapaksa rule, which prioritises guns and tamashas over rice. That prioritisation is inevitable; without a militarist conception of national security, the Siblings cannot justify the muffling of the media, the criminalising of dissent and the subjugation of the judiciary, in peacetime.

Thus the need to create a fear psychosis in the South, which alone can justify the continuance of impunity and excess. The BBS is a star player here; its Rajapaksa-mandated task is to create a climate of paranoia by fostering politics of fear, hate and hysteria.

According to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the BBS monks ‘should not be feared or doubted by anyone’ because they ‘are engaged in a nationally important task’. Indeed; this ‘nationally important task’ of the BBS is to keep Sinhala-Buddhists focused on Tamil enemies, Muslim threats and Christian conspiracies, to addle their brains with fear, so that they will not have time to worry overmuch about economic woes or develop the sense to see through the Rajapaksa façade.

Azath Salley, whatever his past mistakes, did the right thing by exposing these Rajapaksa machinations. That is why he is behind bars. And that is why his unjust arrest must be resisted.

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Latest comments

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    Thisaranee – for how long have you been criticising Rajapaksha’s? Have you been arrested? Do you mean to say only AS has been critical & he was arrested for that? Don’t be single sided.”Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it”. Not only AZ, Gnanasara & his clan should also be arrested for inciting racism. They too have valid reasons to fight for justice for any injustice done by others of different religions. How ever if it’s Buddhist who wants justice, they should follow the Buddhist path for the same & not act like rogues in robes.

    Just because you don’t like Rajapaksha’s don’t forget the fact that Majority Sinhala Buddhist also has issues created by minorities. As an intelligent person, it’s better to have a balanced view so you can contribute to a resolution than increasing the tension. When west, diaspora, LTTE sympathisers, Rajapaksha rivals try to attack the regime by considering that Majority should be punished the same way Rajapaksha’s should, then Rajapaksha’s appear as the saviours of Majority & the folks try to find refuge in them. So with or without knowledge by forgetting the genuine issues and concerns of majority most writers rally more folks around Rajapaksha’s than rallying against them.

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      The arrest of AS is a warning to the Anti-BBS, vigil organizers to stop speaking out against hate speech or risk being arrested.

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      There is something called reverse discrimination. Right now, in Sri Lanka, there is reverse discrimination against Sinhala – Buddhists and when they are fighting back, after centuries of oppression, encroaching religions are upset.

      Buddhism in the Greater – India, not the present india, was eliminated because buddhists were true buddhists. You destroy buddhism in Sri Lanka means you destroy the Sinhala-buddhist civilization too.

      Sri Lankan Buddhists allowed christians and muslims to establish and now there is a turf-war among muslims and christians to convert the whole world into their god.

      People like Tisaranee never talked the buddhist’s side, instead, she talks against the majority which is gradually becoming the minority.

      Sinhala-buddhists are only a regional and world – minority. We don’t have to remind always that to you people from other religions. That includes Tisaranee.

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        @Jim Softy
        All Singhala Buddhists are Hypocrites (including the Rajapaksas) who dont practice true Buddhism.

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    The family kingdom sees not only the minority but also the hapless majority as slaves; the poor does not know anything about democracy. When the election nears, their patriotism made in only Sri Lanka rises to the top and vote the bad politicians into power only to suffer later.
    What does the BBS do? Do they not stir communal disharmony? The one sidedness of this regime will not augur well for the future among the international community. Azath Salley after all was on best terms with the President and as per Ceylon Today, dated 05.05.2013, he had his favorite photo with the President talking amicably with him. Once turned opponent, all of these are lost. But the borad-day light criminals go Scott free. This country has already half gone into a family hierarchy and will sooner become a dictatorial regime. Who raises their voice will not live longer and we have no option but to ask God to punish these bad eggs and save this thrice blessed country.

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    Now here is an article Mr. Tilak Samaranayaka should read ! Pls Read and ponder whether what is written by you is relevant to present day political climate and whether your article makes any sense at all. I hope Mr Tilak Samaranayaka will take my advice.

    Tissaranee, I wont say Ms/Miss/Dr or Mr. as I am not sure which one is relevant to you :), few days back there was a comment on one of your article asking for your perception about “Way Forward” what choices do we have? How can we find the end of tunnel? would like to know about your opinion.

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      Why have the southern Sinhala Buddhist just 15% of the population strangled you folk?
      Wake up clown the worst is yet to come.

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        Yes wake up Clowns worst coming.I am getting ready to come back. This time with the Big Bom. We have enough money to buy it.You Dirty Sinhalalums you think me dead.No I am born again In Narzareth in Tamil Nadu.Get Ready to Die you dogs for killing my best Soldiers.

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    “Anyone refusing to toe that line can face persecution or worse” TG be careful.

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    Thank you, madam, for another honest and accurate expose.
    We now await the OutRiders of this regime and its Tsunamisekeras to make their usual stupid and vacuous comments which will, I am sure, be forthcoming shortly!

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    A very realistic assesment of the Rajapakse Project. Now under pressure from India and the UN they have been forced to hold the NPC elections. Still they want to harrass the opposition, especially the minorities. Azad Sally is just a target for venting their anger and frustrations which are boiling over. Sooner or later they are going to burst.

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    This arrest is the fore-runner to the 19th Amendment which as predicted
    will be immediately after the NPC results. The amendment will include
    sugar-coatings re EP ship whilst hidden item will be worked into it,
    with the support of the SC known in advance. RW will keep watching the
    show and will be given a Rolls Royce as official car.
    This way (19th Amend) Wimal/JHU will be retained with India again
    trapped by MR machinations.

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    Good Article Tissaranee I salute you.

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    The Govt is creating more and more Tisaranees. In Sri Lanka. The writer is very bold and says what she sees in the country presently. May Triple Gems protect her.

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    i stood appaulding after i read your article …we need more thisaranees … keep it up…and God Bless You… Allah da Kaval …Budhu saranai….

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    Rajapakses have built their own Titanic to go down with millions of Passengers on board when get hit by the Political and economic iceburg.

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    Those who are buttressing the regime by crossing over and keeping the two thirds majority are the worst culprits and traitors, who are thus destroying democracy and justice and freedom for the present citizens, What will posterity have is unimaginable, unless an act of God intervenes.

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    Those who are buttressing the regime by crossing over and keeping the two thirds majority are the worst culprits and traitors, who are thus destroying democracy and justice and freedom for the present citizens, What will posterity have is unimaginable, unless an act of God intervenes. ” The mills of God grind slowly bur they grind exceedingly small.” Lakshman.

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    Yes Tisaranee, we have to wake up as a nation to the despotic family rule and resist it in whatever way possible.

    We need to mobilise resistance from the grass-roots. The fractured opposition should reconcile for the good of the nation and chart the way forward.

    Unfortunately the regime has become a past-master of the classic divide and rule strategy, and the opposition has fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

    A new breed of political scavengers have emerged, who will ensure that they remain ensconced and feed off the national trough, merely by patronage to the Family.

    As a first step the combined opposition forces should harness the services of investigative professionals and audit the assets of all UFPA members, pre and post Rajapksa, and expose those who have dishonestly enriched themselves, and also those who cannot account for their new found wealth.

    Once these elements are exposed it will weaken them, and will also create awareness among even the village idiots not to vote for them next time round.

    Not only that, the opposition in their own “Chintanaya” should promise to prosecute those who have stolen from the people once they come to power.

    One of the problems in this country is that those who have accumulated so much wealth are able to secure family patronage and bludgeon the opposition with ease.Look at Duminda, Mervyn etc!

    Alas, with the militarisation of most state institutions and dilution of the judiciary, coupled with concentration of power to the Family via the various critical ministries we are surely heading the way of the Saddams, Gaddafis and the Mubaraks.

    May the devas and gods save us.

    Cry, the beloved country!

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