This uprising in Sri Lanka has brought the family rule of Rajapaksas’ to its knees before the angry and hungry crowds who once brought them to power. The unique beauty of this uprising is the participation of people from all walks if life irrespective of their race, religion or region, people from north to south and east to west are on the streets demonstrating and shouting for the Rajapaksa regime to resign and give way for honest and sincere leaders to rule the country. The protest space gathers people who have never stood in protests. Those who are afraid to raise a voice or pick up a pen are set free. They discover themselves of their diversity, in the security of each other and in the resounding cries for rights and protection against peoples’ representatives turned tormentors This popular protest has changed fear into freedom, silence into resistance and indifference into a yearning for truth and justice.
The chants, slogans and placards announce togetherness: Sinhala, Tamil and Muslims together in the struggle are equally part of one nation.
The ongoing popular protests demand for change. The freedom of the people has been brazenly usurped by callous and arrogant legislators. They must go if the people are to breath as lawful citizens once again.
University students and other youths make sacrifices and pay a price campaigning for the resignation of the Rajapaksa’s” regime in the hot sun and rain deprives them of an income and postpone personal dreams. The vigilance of the protest is gaining momentum and shows that ordinary citizens are not mere spectators. Huge amounts of ill-gotten wealth by commissions and bribes, wealth transactions have been exposed. So far, the Rajapaksas have not agreed to step down due to their greed of power and also to escape from alleged war crimes and other cases against them. As long as they are in power, they enjoy impunity and once they are out they may be prosecuted for ethnic cleansing and other crimes.
The popular protest has potentially crafted a long overdue shift in the political culture of the nation. The elected legislators will be held accountable throughout their political career. Voters will demand regular feedback on their performances. A change in the Constitution should provide ways of recalling corrupt and incompetent legislators and officials. This will stop and force the government servants to refrain from carrying out unlawful instructions and orders.
Sri Lanka is currently facing the most dire economic crisis in its recent history, where the ruling Rajapaksa regime has abdicated its responsibility to its citizens. It failed to meet the basic needs of the people and the high cost of living which is not affordable due to the scarcity of essential items. Reports of shortages of food, medicines, cooking gas and essential commodities alongside power cuts that last several hours at a stretch.
We are here because we are sick and tired of politicians lying to us. We want the President and the Prime Minister to is the slogan of the peaceful crowd
April-May protests by the youths in Gall Face – extended countrywide now)-which is seeking ‘a system change’ along with the departure of Rajapaksas and their loyalists from the government. The protesters want a government that represents the people and responsive to their needs and aspirations.
A crisis like this can give birth to a better system of governance if the geriatric leadership hands over the reins to the new generation with a futuristic vision, contemporaneous discourse, courage and relevant ideas.
A very high level of commitment is needed from the highest level to the lowest strata in the public service without fear or favor. A huge culture change is a must. This can be done, and it has been done in the past in Sri Lanka.
*Kumarathasan Rasingam – Secretary, Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Org.