Colombo Telegraph

Resurrect Our Freedom Of Speech And The Rule Of Law

By Jagath Asoka

Dr Jagath Asoka

What will happen to you if you criticize Rajapaksas?

Some Sri Lankans say that they support Rajapaksas because Rajapaksas put an end to terrorism in Sri Lanka. There are others who say, “Look at what  Rajapaksas have done; they have built new roads, airports, harbors, stadiums, and now in twenty minutes we can go to the airport; so, what else do you want from them?” I say to them, “The four Janus-faced stooges—Mahinda, Gotabaya, Basil, and Chamal—have killed your Mother and Father: Freedom of Speech and the Rule of law. The freedom of speech is the Mother of all societies; the rule of law is the Father.

If someone were to murder your parents, what would you do to avenge their murder? I once read an Egyptian story:  They hacked the perpetrator with axes and devoured his heart while he was still alive. I would not have gone that far. I would have tried to resurrect my parents.

As far as I am concerned, we need to resurrect our country’s Parents: Freedom of Speech and the Rule of law. All these tangible things are irrelevant compared to the intangible freedom of speech and the rule of law.  If you are a Sri Lankan, regardless of your ethnic or religious identity, there is one thing that you cannot do in Sri Lanka: You cannot criticize the Janus-faced four stooges who have become the four branches of government. Most people are afraid of these four stooges. These four stooges have become voracious vultures, and they are devouring the corpses of our Mother and Father. Their appetite is insatiable.

Those who try to whitewash the white van syndrome and those who try to mitigate the crimes—rape, torture, and murder—of Rapapaksa regime, they do it for their imaginary gains; not real at all but mostly imaginary, trivial, and illusory. The majority of Sri Lankans live in the villages. Here is an interesting phenomenon: Some Sri Lankan villagers support Rajapaksas because they think Rajapaksas are villagers like them. The phrase “Apae Mahinda (our Mahinda)” originated from this affinity. Let’s have some fun. Instantly, fill in the blank in the following sentence with the word that will make the sentence true: Rajapkasas have —— us.  The word that you pick instantly reveals what you think of these four stooges.

Why are Rajapaksas so scared of criticism? If they are not behind murder, rape, killing, and torture of hapless Sri Lankans, why cannot they face criticism? Because they know that the truth will burn them alive; Sri Lanka does not belong to a family; Sri Lankans cannot be cowed by four stooges and their thugs. Rajapaksas have taken narcissism, solipsism, and skullduggery to new depths. To treat Rajapaksas as if aureoles surround them is freakishly nauseating.

One cannot lose one’s sense of humor even when one is in a place like Sri Lanka. When the stooges say, “We are the ‘Master Family’, the hoi polloi, like parrots, say “Heil Mahinda.” Is that what it means to be a sycophant, a self-seeking servile flatterer, a fawning parasite: A Sri Lankan? Every child of the freedom of speech and the rule of law is dead: All institutions in Sri Lanka reek of corruption; the educated elite are impotent; judiciary has become a paradise for vultures.

Just as mothers give birth to all children, the freedom of speech gives birth to other freedoms. Who is going to resurrect our freedom of speech and the rule of law and crucify the thieves, murderers, and rapists? Your Mother is your god; she is sacred.  Your Father must be omnipotent. You must worship your sacred mother and obey your omnipotent father: Remember the commandments: I am the LORD your God; you shall have no other gods before me; honor thy mother and father, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. And remember the golden words of Theodore Roosevelt: No man is above the law and no man is below it.

This is the time to do something about our Parents’ murder: We must do everything we can to resurrect them. If you are a Tamil, stop dreaming of an Elam because you too have lost your parents. This is not the time to ask for a room in your own house. If I were a Sri Lankan Tamil, I would not ask for a separate country; I want the entire country with equal rights: I do not want just a room in my own house; I want to live in our house with my brothers and sisters.

For thirty years we were scared of bombs, and now we are scared of white vans. The entire country is mum on the subjects of freedom of speech and the rule of law.  I do not see that Sinhala Buddhists are going to resurrect our freedom of speech and establish the rule of law. The rats have become scavengers: the writers are licking lap tops; intelligentsia are drooling over foreign trips and jobs; judges are gorging on lucrative business deals.

Unbeknown to them, the Sinhala Buddhists have lost their Mother and Father. Now, they are scared of white vans. My Tamil, Muslim, and Burgher brothers and sisters, remember the saying in Sinhalese, “Yakada walata gulloh gahala nam, Haal nobala wisikaranda.” (If the bugs have eaten the iron, don’t even look at the rice, just throw it out. This is what has happened to the Sinhala Buddhists (iron). So don’t even look at the rice (Tamils, Muslims, and Burghers.)

The fight is not for a separate room in the house; the goal is to resurrect our Parents. Who has that courage, the courage of Prometheus to wrest our audacity: our fire? Being a god, Prometheus knew his dolorous eternal doom and suffering, his punishment for having stolen fire from Olympus and given it to humankind in defiance of Zeus: Our Prometheus is our conscience—the giver of our audacity. Our conscience must compel us to restore our audacity. Prometheus is chained to a rock where four vultures—Rajapaksa brothers—daily gnaw and tear at his liver every day; Prometheus, there will be no Hercules to release you.  Even the mighty Hercules—the voters of Sri Lanka—is keeping mum.

When we resurrect our freedom of speech and establish the rule of law, the writers who use pseudo names will use their real names. University dons and intelligentsia will turn into vertebrates again; people will use their own names when they comment on articles that they read on this web site. Our freedom of speech gives us the power of gods. When the rule of law is ubiquitous, it is omnipotent.

Most people say they are not interested in politics, and Sri Lanka is fine. Yes, it is fine as long as rape, torture, and murder happen only to your neighbors. It is just business as usual when your neighbors’ kids disappear; when yours disappear, it is murder.  It is not a big deal when your neighbor’s daughter is raped; when yours is raped the perpetrators must be castrated and then burnt alive. When your neighbor’s son is tortured it is for national security; when yours is tortured every single person who is involved must be hacked and their hearts must be devoured while they are alive. Is this the Janus-faced behavior of Buddhists in Sri Lanka?

What is going to be the fate of Sri Lankans? It depends, as Seneca reminded us: “The fates lead him who will; him who won’t they drag.”

This is not about Rajapaksas, Bandaranaikes, Senanayakas, or Premadasas. It is about you. It is about your freedoms. If you live in Sri Lanka, can you honestly tell me that today you can criticize the four stooges? Try it if you dare!

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