22 September, 2020

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Reflections On The Attack On Young Artists And Activists

By Saumya Liyanage & Vangeesa Sumanasekara

The chilling news came in the afternoon – our friends, colleagues and comrades who had been holding a small scale meeting in Kumbukgate, Kurunegala, were under attack, surrounded by a group of goons clad in blue t-shirts of Nil Balakaya. ‘What on earth can we do’ was the question that we both silently shared but were frightened to ask out loud. We could call our friends in the media, of course, and alert them of the horror unfolding there. But all that could only have significance later, after, and if, they come through unscathed.

In the infinite abyss of the present there was nothing we could do.

Except perhaps to hope that they would indeed come through unscathed and to reflect on the terrifying state that our collective existence had come to. To be sure, this is not the first eye-opener we have had apropos the sad predicament of this society, worsening in its condition every single day. This is not the first time we realized that this is a society that does not tolerate dissent, peaceful argument, or even dialogue. It was indeed the president Rajapaksa himself who said, in his widely heard ‘victory speech’, five years ago, that this country would henceforth contain only those who love this country and those who are its enemies. Put differently, those who do not agree with the Rajapaksas and their world-view would become, by default, enemies of this country. An enemy is not someone you can agree to disagree with. It is someone who should be defeated at any cost.

Aluth ParapuraIronically enough, the Rajapaksas may be right in this regard. In the same vein they think of us as enemies to be wiped off the surface of the earth, we too should confront the hard fact that the figure of the enemy is inevitable in politics, no matter how hard the good-hearted liberals try to convince us otherwise. For we have nothing to converse with the Rajapaksas. Nothing to discourse about. Nothing to communicate. They are simply the enemy and they should be defeated.

Naturally, this does not mean that we endorse murderous violence unleashed on ones enemies. On the contrary, it is precisely because that we do not endorse such violence that we want to defeat those who do – like the Rajapaksas. Unlike them, we believe that every person – even someone one would consider to be an enemy – should be given the right to hold onto his or her own opinion and the right to propagate that opinion. Unlike us, on the other hand, they do not believe in the necessity of the existence of such a terrain of disagreement. That is why our friend and veteran artist Lakshman Wijesekara was assaulted today by a Provincial Council member claiming to represent the Will of the People. That is why stones were thrown at our friend Samanalee Fonseka by a Nil Balakaya claiming to create a better tomorrow for our youth. For those goons were indeed following the rigorous logic of their Master – since neither Lakshman nor Samanalee was with the Nil Balakaya they have to be those who do not love this country and, consequently and naturally, enemies of the country.

So this makes everything clear. What confronts us is a choice, not so much a choice between abolishing and withholding the executive presidency or a one between a unitary state and a devolution of legislative power, but rather a one between those who deny the existence of a terrain where political disagreements are a possibility and those who believe that its existence is a fundamental necessity of our collective future. One can even put this in a way that appears to be silly: Rajapaksas should be defeated because they consider us to be their enemies.

The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre famously remarked that man not only can be free but that he is condemned to be free. By that he meant, given that there are no external guarantors – like God or Karma – to give meanings to our values, whatever we do will necessarily carry with it the burden of freedom. One will always be forced to make a choice of freedom. Even remaining silent is a choice we would choose freely. Our friends chose to defend the right to dissent. Nil Balakaya has chosen to defend the binary logic of the Rajapaksas. What will you choose?

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Latest comments

  • 2
    31

    Aney darling, srry to hear about what you had to face. Wish I could be there to teach those bastards a lesson.

    I found your quoting the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre really hot. Unfortunately, your hopes of being condemned to be free under a Chandrika-Ranil administration backed by US, UK, canada and Norway will only be a dream.

    Sorry Darling.

    • 21
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      S. Fan presents the reality in Sri Lanka, this is why we are in this situation today !

    • 19
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      I think this “Samanalaya Fan” has misunderstood the authorship of this piece. This was not written by Samanalee Fonseka. I co-wrote this with Saumya Liyanage.

      I have no time to waste responding to his learned ‘political positions’.

      I just want to highlight the explicit sexism of his comment. He thinks – visibly under the impression that Samanalee has written this – that the reference to Sartre is quite ‘hot’ (not to mention his patronizing use of ‘darling’). This is the same response that Samanalee and Ama Wijesekara have got from those thugs in Kurunagela.

      Unlike these champion alfa males, who doesn’t have the courage to comment in their own name, Samanalee is the ideal we should all aspire to be. I hope hundreds of thousands of ‘Samanalees’ would rise up against these ignorant sexists to shatter their little phallic universes.

      V

      • 11
        1

        Vangeesa
        You cannot afford to get distracted with comments from Samanalaya Fan and such others of that ilk who do not understand anything about being free .

        They do not think that Jean-Paul Sartre and others of his calibre understood that human nature is essentially productive only when it is unshackled and uninhibited and breaks out of the narrow confines of religious or jingoistic flag waving false patriotism.
        So carry on with your good work and ignore the flea bites.

      • 10
        3

        Why didn’t you mention the attacks on woman during the time of Chandrika?

        Woman were even stripped naked and made to walk the streets, chandrika being a woman herself did nothing.

        She did nothing to protect Susanthika either.

        It will be the same whoever comes to power.

      • 2
        1

        “…..to shatter their little phallic universes.”
        Huh, little? Should read “HUGE”. Yes indeed, phallic universes are usually huge. As huge as the phallusus of these sexists; Cut though they may be. Please revisit sentence for correction.

      • 5
        2

        Dear Vangeesha darling,

        Thank you for your feminist rant love. No offence taken.

        I did read the by-line of this post. How could I have missed it?
        But my sentimates addressed the suffering of Samanalee who is supposed to have sustained injuries.

        Permit me to express my true evaluation of the likes of you my dear.

        You are just being tools of global domination freaks throwing various bones at you. You are victims of the pop culture of the West. feminism is the starting point of these evil designs.

        You certainly don’t seem to understand the real meanings behind their particular use of terms like freedom, democracy and human rights. All these mean safeguarding their freedom, their liberty and their right to undermine the world so that they could retain the current unjust world order.

        I can go on darling, but I will not.

        Because the vast majority of Sri Lankans in the hinterland will see to it on Jan 8 that foreign values do not colonise us again. The minority of the likes of you will be allowed to live in your world darkened by ignorance. So wallow in your misery darling.

        P.S. surveys are revealing that this dictator Rajapakse has won the postal vote 61-37%. I suppose you have a ready explanation in “vote rigging” allegations. Please prepare yourself for a vigil at a public square somewhere with a candle and a coloured bandana – in other words, stage a “colour revolution” (at your own peril).

        I pray that God help you shed scales off your eyes.

    • 2
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      Dear Saumya Liyanage & Vangeesa Sumanasekara –

      “In the infinite abyss of the present there was nothing we could do.”

      Thank you for your efforts, and we all sympathized with you all.

      Everybody is sorry about what has happened to Samanalee Fonseka and Several members of the ‘Aluth Parapura’ artistes collective have come under the assault of thugs while in the Kumbukgate area of Kurunegala, courtsey of Madeamulana MaRa and his cronies.

      You can EXPOSE, EXPOSE and EXPOSE. Remember, this is YOUR country too. Given below are some of the activities for which ‘Aluth Parapura’ . New Generation, artistes collective have been attacked.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=V5FCndDWKxI

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wc0prpDp2o

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=N-iroF9ZQEQ

      Ask the Sri Lankan Writers, where is the Common Sense Phamplet Sri Lanka 2014? Look at what this Young Generation of brave Sri Lankan Artists are doing?

      Common Sense Phamplet by Thomas Paine 1776.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Sense_%28pamphlet%29

      Twitter Hash-tags:

      #Rajapaksa #SriLanka #Colombo #Sirisena #Cricket #Lanka #Election

      #Rajapaksa #SriLanka #Colombo #Sirisena #Cricket #Lanka #Mahinda2015 #Dictatorship #Mahinda #Rapes

  • 7
    0

    This is not new, earlier when it was the others who is at the receiving end of the regime thuggery most were silent, now the same thuggery was unleashed on the silent majority.

    Way out has been presented by Regime itself, it is the duty of masses to remove ourselves from this thuggery, vote for change on the 8th Jan, or forever be oppressed by this regime. Choice is up to us. Whatever we choose we will have to live with it.

  • 2
    2

    If your Maithree comes to power will he be any different? or will he also attack the “enemies of the country”?

  • 1
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    It is a shame thse kind of attacks are being carried out through frustration over possible defeat. What they are failing to understand is that they lose more votes.

  • 2
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    So sorry about this attack. Really admire the courage of these young artists who fearlessly came out to protest against the regime.

    What a difference from those other “so called artists” who shamelessly sing for their supper! Keep on doing the wonderful job & there are so many who admire you all. Hats off to you!

  • 3
    2

    I wonder what happened to artists as Somaratne Dissanayake and that Renuka Balasuriya who heaped praise on MR, defaming Ranil Wickremasinghe. Where is Nanda Malini, Malini Fonseka and a lot of others who supported MR then? These Artists are no different to cheap Sports stars as Susanthika Jayasinghe, Sanath Jayasuriya, Muralitharan and Tilekaratne Dilshan who bum suck MR.

  • 0
    0

    Please take this unfortunate reminder of election related violence and lack of freedom of expression as a reason to end this political culture. It cannot be ended by forcing the artists on the other camp to surrender or crossover. Determine to let them continue to express what they want their way even after the common opposition candidate wins. That is tough, but that restraint is the only way to make a difference. In the meantime, do not be disappointed too much about the current situation. We cannot expect anything better from the current president. It is not the president who is wrong. It is our expectation that is utterly wrong. I saw in a TV advertisement, the president devides the population into two groups – one group that loves the country and the other that doesn’t. He implies that those who do not support him do not love the country. Obviously that group deserves a separate treatment according to his track record. This is a basic violation of democratic norms to begin with. So, why do we expect anything better from this president?

  • 0
    0

    This incident among many others must be viewed more broadly than commenting on what the victims have said and done. I have said in very many of my comments that since 2009 May 19th MR “infected” with a huge dose of “EGO” and inflated by the State Mdia viz SLBC; Rupavahini etc. went into the “MODE” of acting like a KING. In that process of becoming an “Uncrowned King” started building an “Empire” through the Provincial Councils and filled those with uneducated, uncultured, criminals and thugs; drug peddlers; swindlers of all types. Not only that he brought those kind of people into the Legislature too and associated and kept close ties with them not only within the country but even presented them unashamed to the International Community too. One such recent example says it all in the picture you all would have seen in CT; the meeting he had with the Prime Minister of India Mr. Modi in Kathmandu. Who represented Sri Lanka? Our President, the Minister G.L.Perirs, Yositha Rajapakse (not even a Government employee) and the Monitoring MP Sajith Vas Gunawardene – the “THUG” who assaulted our own Representative in UK Dr. Kris Nonis at a “house party”. That was the CULTURE he brought to the whole of the system of Governance.

    Can you expect anything better than this from our President and this system he has introduced? This is the time to think about it.

  • 0
    0

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  • 1
    0

    terrible acting by so called “kalakaruwo”…..these idiots can’t even act but trying to do politics who they don’t understand and becoming laughing stocks

  • 0
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  • 1
    1

    appalling acting by so called artists …one nalu batta scolded his parents and country…these scums are disgrace to the country
    but their acting is not good enough to get PR from the west

  • 3
    1

    get me a Lamborghini – what a pathetic loser…SL is better without souls like you

    samanali – she can read what’s on the paper…LOL…another Nimalka fernando in the making

  • 1
    0

    Exactly, they too are no different from the puny political muppets we see everywhere.
    BTW, these so called “Artists” newer come up for a real need of the country. look at the fourth eelam war….. where were they then??? just chasing fantasies and wasting media time dancing around half naked.
    When the money starts flowing from politics, they too are patriots and “Activists”. shame on all of you….
    Saw one of them crying yesterday in front of media. (Asking for a lambhorgini to race someone). Believe me, Sri Lankans are way more intelligent than you think.

  • 0
    0

    The flow of the language in the splendid writing in this report is so reminiscent of the much readable and scholarly Tisaranee G.

    At the risk of being charged for taking this issue into our communalistic cleavage, I must remark – to artistes and other youth in the Tamil-speaking North-East of the country this is Deja Vu. We have suffered this pain for years at the hands of the unwelcome armed forces – and it is not over. The incidents were never enquired into – although complaints were made to the Police of the area. The so-called guardians of the law present, remain frozen deaf, dumb and blind. Later they claim they saw nothing unusual. We certainly have no objection to a reasonable sized armed presence meant solely to maintain security – not to molest innocent civilians in regular unprovoked physical attacks. It has become a HABIT over the decades for thugs both in and without uniform to attack the undefended – and the culture now inevitably contaminates the Sinhala South.

    I grieve for the young Sinhala artistes as Kumbukgate for they were only exercising their democratic expression of freedom – as I do for the dozens in the Tamil nation sent prematurely to their maker – in the name of good Rajapakse governance.

    Kettikaran

    Kettikaran

  • 1
    0

    The narrative is so reminiscent of the writing style of Tisaranee G – an Analyst/Writer in the pages of CT greatly looked forward to by a discerning readership for information, rational speculation, perception and style – not to mention that great feature of democracy – healthy dissension.

    An attack on a group of unarmed artists of both sexes – for the only crime of advancing culture and all that is good in human endeavour – deserves to be condemned in the most strident terms. But this is the Rajapakse kingdom, where the game is played to different rules by a group of congenital liars at the helm – clothed in a mud-bath of brazen venality. Attacks of this nature by State-sponsored goons may be new in the Sinhala South – but it has been a daily feature in the Tamil North-East – unleashed by men in uniform of what is decried as an Army of Occupation. After and long before 5/2009 attacks on assembled civilians for pre-announced group functions by the jackboot is now almost normal in that part of the island. Perhaps because it is inflicted upon “the enemy” But when it is sprung on the Sinhala South it provokes shock and popular condemnation. But in the Father Martin Neimoller wisdom when the Sinhalese contempetously demonstrated a “good for you – you deserve it” attitude when the Tamils were under attack, it was clear the turn of the Sinhalese is not far away. Because to the perpetrator it has become a HABIT. This is why when the Brits presented us with their sublime democratic culture they insisted the law must be equal to all – irrespective of race, religion, caste or creed.

    This is no time for shadenfreude. Merely arresting the perpetrators at Kumbukgate to satisfy a shocked public is not enough. They must be sent to long prison terms transparently – so the rest of the Sinhala South is safe. The Tamil North-East will take care of itself in due course – as the oncoming tide of history cannot be reversed.

    I hate to sound communalistic but isn’t it the truth every sinew of all of us is bathed in this unwelcome prejudice from 1956. Don’t get me wrong. I am not against the presence of the army in rational numbers in the NEP if they are in barracks to come out during times of social stress. I certainly am against the ratio of 1 uniformed man to every 5 citizen in the open, which is really the bone of contention there in the NEP. Yes! that is denied by a leadership – roundly despised in the world as a bunch of scheming liars who have made the land their fiefdom.

    Kettikaran

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