The main weapon Rajapaksa had used throughout is racism, separatism and nationalism.

Both the President and the government have promised at their respective election campaigns to create a better society in the country and move the country forward with a rich political culture. The majority of the country believed this election promise and elected both Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe as their President and Prime Minister respectively.

It had been clearly indicated by the people that the majority of the country had been fed up with racism, political and ethnic polarization of the society and extreme nationalism. The majority in the country expected to get rid of the political ideology that had been practiced for 10 years under the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration. They expected to see a proper ideological replacement to re-unite and depoliticize the society that has been scattered intentionally for the convenience of the Rajapaksa rule.

 

Rajapaksa main weapon

It’s a fact that the main weapon Rajapaksa had used throughout is racism, separatism and nationalism. Rajapaksa created a fear psychosis in the country with the help of intellectuals, media, and with several extreme organizations led by several Buddhist monks. It is no doubt that Rajapaksa had been successful to a certain extent in his vigorous campaign and even today a considerable portion of the society is scared of the demon he had created and the present era can be undoubtedly considered as the worst affected period with fundamentalist and racist ideologies in the country. The unconventional hi-tech media technology has been instrumental in taking and cementing the Rajapaksa campaign in every doorstep of the society for the last 10 years. The media and intellectual suppression, lack of political dialogue in society, lack of political literature in society, lack of political enthusiasm and the inaction of the conventional left has created a huge political vacuum in the country which had created a conducive environment and a culture to grow the Rajapaksa ideology. This can be proved when one looks at the social media networks such as facebook, where a very young cross section of the country has become intolerable hardliners against ethnic and religious minorities. It is necessary to identify and get an understanding of the reason for such a young crowd to become racists and intolerable.

Most of the youth in their early twenties and mid twenties today were teenagers during the time Rajapaksa was elected. For the last 10 years what they have seen and heard was the racist campaign and its ideology maintained by the Rajapaksa administration. They didn’t hear and see the dissent and only enjoyed one track political ideology during their politically growing age. Significantly the LTTE had also used the same strategy against the majority Sinhalese.  During the period from the early 80s to the year 2009, as the Northern part of the country was closed to the rest of the world by the LTTE, they adopted the same mechanism to cultivate the separatist ideology in the Tamil society and as a result the LTTE managed to create an unending hatred against majority Sinhalese in the Tamil minds that was even led to create suicide bombers against Sinhalese.

Even though Rajapaksa is no more in power today, the culture he had created is very much in existence and there are messengers all over the country to take the message islandwide. The incident that took place at the Homagama Magistrate’s Court is a clear example of the existence of this culture. There is no record in legal history of this country which is similar to the behavior of Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara. The incident which took place there shows the zero tolerance of his loyalists to the exercise of the law against military personnel for whatever atrocities committed by them for the sake of saving the country.

When one looks at the comments and posts posted in social media in respect of the issue, no one could imagine that the country would be able to reach any form of reconciliation process and genuine coexistence in near future with other minorities.

Further the incident has created serious doubts of having an impartial judicial mechanism and investigation mechanism, which the international community has demanded throughout. Most importantly it would cause serious disappointment and frustration among the people who have been affected by the war and who bona fide believed the promises of the new President and the Prime Minister. The military should also understand that the international pressure cannot be compromised with local thugs and nationalist sentiments.

The country has been pushed to a dead end during the Rajapaksa regime due to these types of cheap tactics. It should be realized that the lethal journey which was heading towards the guillotine was diverted to this direction by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and created some breeding space to the country and to its citizens. It should be further realized that the foreign policy adopted by the Rajapaksa administration would not deliver anything favourable to the country, rather than expediting the international process against us.

 

Uphill task

Today the government is on an uphill task to change what the country had been taught and practiced for the last 10 years. There is an uphill task to regenerate coexistence and reconciliation in the country. It is the responsibility of the government to take bold and radical decisions to change this cultural pattern even if it is a hard decision. Today the country needs leaders not politicians. The country is having many politicians from the Pradeshiya Sabha to the Parliament but it lacks visionary leaders to take the country on to the right track.

The government should understand the embarrassment they have been subjected to due to the actions committed by these elements and this is high time to go for retaliation and elimination of what the country does not want.

 

(The writer is a senior lawyer)