By Hemantha Jayawardena –
What started as a few people protesting at the Kohuwala junction on 1st March (to my knowledge) has grown to be wide spread citizen’s protest around the country with popular support and participation.
In summary, the citizens are saying loudly, consistently, determinedly, peacefully and in large numbers – “UNITED WE STAND; against mismanagement, nepotism and corruption in our country because we want a better future for all of us. We want all the political crooks responsible for the current crisis to be held accountable.”
Sceptics ask “So what have you achieved after 40+ days?”
Here is a list, not in any particular order but as they came to my mind.
1. United we stood against mismanagement and corruption in our country, regardless of background.
2. United we stated that “YES, we can and are capable of building a better Sri Lanka”.
3. Stated no more divisions along ethnic / religious / caste / regional / class / party lines.
4. We refused and will refuse mirages created by politician to keep us in the dark and divide us in the future.
5. Accomplished some of the necessary first steps of removing the Rajapaksha cabal for a new Sri Lanka;
* Gota & Mahinda are both up the creek with no escape route, except to GO for good!
* Basil – well, citizens have a lot to say to this “Kaputa”, which I cannot repeat here without profanity. He was forced to resign.
* Namal: Resigned. (BTW, you have no future in Sri Lankan politics. GO!)
* Chamal: Resigned. (BTW, you are an old fossil. Go!)
* Sasheendra: Resigned. (BTW, you have no future in Sri Lankan politics. GO!)
* Entire cabinet: Gone!
* Reappointed cabinet ministers: Citizens are saying to meet them on the road. They will tell you what they think about you in choice words.
* Some of the key cronies in administration (notably Cabraal and Attigala) are gone.
* Resigning is not enough. There is wide spread citizen’s consensus that they want all the stolen money back and to hold you accountable as per the law.
6. Government lost its two-thirds majority, and hanging on to a simple majority by a thread.
7. Citizens are watching these 40+ parliamentarians who became “independent”. Citizens in one voice are saying that you cannot sit on the fence anymore. They are saying that no matter how much you shuffle a card pack full of jokers, you still get jokers.
8. Emergency Law and curfew declared after Mirihana incident was withdrawn within a day or two, as it was no match to contain large peaceful protests by the citizens.
9. Due to sustained protests by the citizens, the government was forced to appoint a competent Central Bank Governor, Treasury Secretary and a Monetary Board.
10. Corporate sector including CEOs and staff have joined the protests. (BTW, not enough in my opinion, but it is a start.)
11. An unmistakable message to not only the current government but also to all future governments – don’t mess with citizens’ money & rights. Citizens are awake to hold all of you accountable. All of this without a rice packet and a bottle of arrack from a politician!
12. An unmistakable message to the Government Officials (and the Corporate Leaders) that citizens will hold you accountable.
13. All the above were achieved through peaceful protests, without political affiliations or centralized leadership. Bravo! That shows that a citizen’s movement can be organic and peaceful for a common purpose.
14. Sustained pressure to abolish the 20th amendment in the short term, and Presidency in the medium term, thereby reducing / eliminating the draconian and dictatorial powers given to one person.
15. Citizens learnt how to think critically about politics, and to not just go with a majority opinion or what politicians say to appease them. This I think was the most important achievement.
That is a LOT to achieve in 40 days! We the citizens should feel proud!
Are we done now?
NO! A lot more to achieve.
It is a long and difficult road to regain our country, and we must stay the course. It is a marathon, not a 100-meter dash.