Colombo Telegraph

Rajapaksas’ Assault On The Four Pillars Of Our Democracy

By Vishwamithra

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” ~Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

The traditional three pillars on which the stability and sustenance of our working democracy rested were the Legislature, the Executive, and the Judiciary. These pillars are cemented on a hard-pressed foundation of the very source of our law, the Constitution of our country. To this robust dynamic of societal evolution was added the Free Press, the Fourth Estate. In order to dismantle this strong and firm structure, one must engineer an assault on all four elements, either individually on each pillar or as one single structure.

The Rajapaksas of the 2005 to 20014-era summoned their despicable yet formidable forces, whose existence was intricately intertwined with the survival of the Rajapaksa cabal, to undermine the pillars of a democratic State, one by one at times and all four in total at others and deliver the reins of power into the lone hands of the Executive President, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mahinda’s fidelity to his family, especially to his immediate one comprising of his wife and three sons was excessively unyielding. At the same time, he did not have to worry about his siblings for they were all well entrenched in their own pits of corrupt and unpatriotic ventures. 

Yet, when one tries to decipher the innumerable webs the Rajapaksas had woven around their despicable cabal, one invariably finds many a move which appeared to an ordinary layman as impulsive and unplanned acts of misdeeds whose eventual target was making enormous amounts of money while getting more and more comfortable in a lap of luxurious living, bordering on erotic conduct and lustful indulgences. These luxuries were chiefly facilitated by the wealth they made at the expense of the country’s wellbeing. It was alleged that the 30%-sibling made it no secret that he would not sit down for talks with a potential dealer without 10% down at the very beginning! Then the Defense-sibling was alleged to have made it sure that all those who made it their sacred profession to let the world know about the gravity of crimes committed by his elder brother’s regime are harassed, intimidated and sometimes even killed in order to silence their voices.

When one looks at the very construct of our State- namely a Democratic Socialist Republic- sits on a fragile foundation of the ‘Constitution’, supported by the four pillars of the Legislature, Executive, the Judiciary and the Fourth Estate, it is no rocket science to find that the one most effective way to attack the stability of our State is to attack either one or all the pillars at the same time. And they did so. And they were successful until the end of 2014. At their call was the war-victory. The war-victory, most palpably, they schemed, would render them a license to ravage the country at the behest of their elder brother, President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Let us examine how they ventured out to do just that:

The Legislature

Our Legislature constitutes of the House of Parliament. By hook or by crook, Mahinda Rajapaksa managed to secure a two thirds majority in parliament to ensure the passage of Acts and Bills to suit his egotistical requirements. MPs were bought and sold at the ‘right’ price. The honor and decorum of Parliament were debased and the likes of Mervyn Silva, who was a deranged Rajapaksa-serf but now claims to be a hero by being a critic of the Rajapaksas, were promoted to the ranks of Cabinet and States Ministers. One must never forget the way in which some parliamentarians of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) indulged in the well of the House of Parliament, the very shrine in which the hopes and dreams of the People are shaped and realized; they desecrated the age-old traditions and profound values of a decent forum for, by and of the People.

The Executive

The Executive ran amok during the Rajapaksa rule. From ordering to the killing of the twenty seven (27) prisoners in the midst of an unarmed riot in the prison, Rathupaswela and Katunayake killings and all other dictatorial dictates of the Chief Executive, purely at the discretion of the ‘King’, the Executive branch of government during this distasteful rule of the Rajapaksas did stand trial at the 2015 Presidential Elections. And the verdict was guilty. The Rajapaksas had to retreat to Medamulana.

The Executive branch of the Rajapaksa government had one single thought in their mind. The war-victory was their cover. It’s like raping a woman after rescuing her from an unmerciful flood. That rescue was no license to rape her, period.

Following are some of the major allegations against the Rajapaksas. They were all executed under their very nose. They have been arranged in chronological order.

  • November 9 and 10, 2012 Prison attack – 27 killed 
  • On 13 January 2013 Impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake
  • On 8 February 2010 by Military Police arrested General Sarath Fonseka
  • Disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda since 24 January 2010
  • August 1, 2013 three persons were killed including two students in Rathupaswela
  • Katunayake
  • Unanswered heinous crimes against journalists and media institutions
  • May 2008: Keith Noyahr, Associate Editor and defense columnist of The Nation newspaper was abducted and beaten up.
  • January 6, 2009: The Sirasa Depanama Studio Complex was bombed by a group of assailants.
  • January 8, 2009: Not even 48 hours after the attack on the Depanama Complex, Senior Journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge was assassinated in Atthidiya.
  • January 23, 2009: Chief Editor of the Rivira newspaper Upali Tennakoon was assaulted by a group that arrived on two motorcycles.
  • March 25, 2009: The office of the Udayan newspaper in Jaffna was attacked with a hand grenade.
  • June 1, 2009: Journalist Poddala Jayantha was abducted in Ambuldeniya, Nugegoda.
  • March 22, 2010: Attack launched on the head office of the Sirasa Media Network, leaving several of its employees injured.
  • July 30, 2010: Attack lanced on the Voice of Asia Media group which runs Siyatha TV and radio stations.
  • April 13, 2013: Head office of the Udayan newspaper attacked once again, making it the 33rd such attack on its office and journalists.

The Judiciary

Sri Lanka’s judiciary was simply taken for just a valueless pawn in the cruel and ruthless hands of those who ran the regime. The then Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake was humiliated and removed by a fake impeachment motion which was commenced and concluded within a couple of days. She was replaced by a Rajapaksa lackey and the independent arm of the Judiciary was within the grips of the Cabal. Unqualified men and women were appointed the Bench of Courts. Anyone who dared to oppose the Cabal were transferred or terminated. And the people just waited, not knowing how to react for the then Opposition was mute and impotent. The ‘blind lady of justice’ was molested, raped, and violated. When the judiciary in any country is being assaulted and bent to the whims and fancies of the rulers, that country becomes a ‘Rogue State’. Sri Lanka was fast approaching that state.

When the honor, legitimacy and legality of a Democratic Republic are stripped away, that Republic becomes a mere naked being. Bared open to the rest of the world, various allegations regarding the misdoings of the regime-dwellers were swept under the proverbial carpet. The Judiciary, the last line of defense of the people was being thrashed and on the verge of being demolished by the Rajapaksa regime. 

Fourth Estate (Free press)

The Fourth Estate (or fourth power) is a segment of society that wields an indirect but significant influence on society even though it is not a formally recognized part of the political system.[1] The most commonly recognized part of the fourth estate is the news media, or press. The Fourth Estate (or fourth power) is a segment of society that wields an indirect but significant influence on society even though it is not a formally recognized part of the political system. The most commonly recognized part of the fourth estate is the news media, or press. (Source: Wikipedia)

The assault on the Free Press was unrelenting under the Rajapaksa rule. Killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge, Editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper which was merciless in criticizing the salient allegations against the First Family and its head was killed in broad daylight. And the guilty are still at large. Prageeth Ekneligoda, another critic of the Rajapaksa was abducted and the body is still missing. The two women, Sonali, Lasantha’s widow and Sandya, Prageeth’s wife are awaiting justice that never seems to arrive.

Murder of journalists of the Udayan newspaper in Jaffna stands still unresolved. From Upali Tennakoon to Poddala Jayantha, Keith Noyahr and other unnamed journalists have witnessed the brutality of a regime gone wild. 

This attack and subjugating of the four elements of a working democracy was no accident, nor was it a loosely concocted plan; it was a result of well-designed strategy aimed at total control of a people whose trust was grossly abused and destroyed.

The assault on our way of life was gruesome; it was ruthless; it was  dishonorable and ultimately it was defeated. And it must not rise again.

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