By Senuri Jayasekara –
Today marks the day the Sri Lankan’s managed to claim independence for their country for the third time within a century…the day they managed to overthrow the dictatorial Rajapaksa family of rulers that drained the country of the prosperity it could’ve otherwise enjoyed.
I still remember…
I still remember, Jan 8th 2015, the day of the Sri Lankan presidential election marked the 6-year anniversary of the murder of the respected journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge; who wasn’t afraid to reveal the heinous crimes committed by the incumbent…which then brings me to remember the era of fear and censorship we just lived through. I still remember the attacks on the Sirasa/MTV news networks because of their lack of support for the govt. In 2010, I still remember Prageeth Eknaligoda, who among many other people at the time, was reported missing. Oh I still remember all those white van kidnappings of persons that took place whenever the incumbent felt that their authority was being questioned or criticised.
It was Rajapaksa’s regime that backed the utter terror the so called “venerable” monks of the Bodu Bala Sena unleashed on the Muslim community of Sri Lanka in 2014. It was them that let it go past without any punishment, yet today most people are saying the Sinhalese are an ungrateful race and forget all the good deeds ever done unto them (by the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa) and that they made the biggest mistake ever, but tell me, did the Sinhalese ever want racial tension to be incited between them and possibly every other race that lived on the same land?! Did we ever want to lose all the lives we did in the war that took place?! I am not saying I am not happy that there are no more active terrorists to fear in my mother land but honestly give the following a thought…
It has been said that Rajapaksa was the only executive to ever have the “guts” to call for war on the LTTE; implying that the ceasefire Ranil Wickremesinghe initiated was a “weak” attempt at wanting to Peace for the country. But honestly, it’s not just “guts” that was needed when the lives of about 19million Sri Lankans was possibly going to be put in harm’s way if a war was going to be fought. Who is to say, if we let Ranil carry on, that peace talks wouldn’t have been successful, who is to say that not letting a war breakout because of successful peace talks wouldn’t have been more of a monumental success than starting a war. Starting a war and losing so many innocent lives in the process, leaving so many children fatherless, deliberately slaughtering about 70000 innocent civilians in the North, War crimes, displacing so many families, losing so many of our own Sri Lankans to foreign nations; brain drain. My friends are saying that they’re ashamed of their community, community being those who voted for HE Maithripala Sirisena, because we just showed what a bunch of ungrateful citizens we are that we didn’t vote for the man who won the war for us. But if that’s their reasoning, I have this…I bet even Ranil could’ve won the war for us if he declared war, because ultimately the person behind the most outstandingly strategic military operations was General Sarath Fonseka. But no, we never got to see that because Ranil called for Peace talks instead, putting the lives of the Sri Lankans ahead of wanting something to gloat about to the rest of the World, he wanted unity and harmony across the land.
I remember the times of fear during the war and the bomb raids on Colombo, how I used to watch news all the time worrying to see if my parents were going to make it back home to us safely on those nights. I remember even well after the war was over how the President, his brothers, his sons, his stooges, his WHOLE FAMILY TREE basically used to misappropriately use their security convoys. I am stuck in a cab after what was for me a long and tiring day of tuition after school while about 10 defenders direct us off the road by having the STF wave red sticks in our faces until these “gods” can whizz through to temple tress or wherever their stolen lavish houses were. I say “stolen” because the level of corruption that took place during this nepotistic regime of Rajapaksa’s was ghastly! I mean, we are talking about the president who extorted Rs. 83 million of Tsunami relief funds and used them for personal gain instead of giving it to those in need at the time…enough said. Now I come to Namal, Yoshitha and ‘Chichi’… again, enough said.
It was a dark era, it was a “subha anagathayak” for Rajapaksa and all his conscienceless stooges NOT for the common man! I can assure you in my lifetime of watching news, I had never before heard of so many rape crimes, murders, kidnappings and robberies…times were hard. We rarely ever heard of black-mailing attacks and briberies that took place between the govt. puppets and the authorities over the media but I am pretty sure that was because the government was puppeteering the media…our voice was suppressed.
But NO LONGER!
I am sitting here miles away from home in my dorm room excited for my country’s new era of change. I hope it’s going to be for the country’s betterment. I missed my first opportunity to exercise my franchise, but I sit here in joy because we needed a change and we got it now like we wanted it. We also needed our younger generation to get their heads out of their ipads, phones and paraphernalia and realise the significance of the role they get to play as citizens of Sri Lanka…Be the change you want to see. Let the “Maithree Yugaya” begin!