“Fantastic tyrant of the amorous heart. How hard thy yoke, how cruel thy dart. Those escape your anger who refuse your sway, and those are punished most, who most obey.”
There is no escape. Not for anyone who continues to be part and parcel of this administration. The story begins way back in 2009. No. I’m not talking about the war. Over the last thirty years, of course, many hands have been stained with blood; blood of our countrymen and women. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam and their bedfellows of the Tamil ilk on the one hand and Sri Lankan security forces, the Police, Rohana Wijeweera-led Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in the nineteen eighties were all embroiled in an orgy of violence and killing and a massacre of the members of the Maha Sangha is not being spoken about even as a footnote to this macabre carnages.
The people got so immune to the flood of violence and became accustomed to random assassinations as just another ‘killing incident’.The list is endless. From Lasantha Wickrematunga’s daytime assassination to the assault on Poddala Jayantha and Upali Tennekoon from amongst media men and women, the killing of Roshana Chanaka and wounding of more than 500 workers in the Free Trade Zone at Katunayake and the Rathupaswela incident where three persons died due to being shot at by the Army while 33 others sustained injuries, also due to shooting by the Army all carry stains of blood of innocent men and women of Sri Lanka. Lasantha Wickrematunga of the Sunday Leader and freelancer Prageeth Ekneligoda stand out as two vanished monuments to the freedom of expression. Whose hands have been dirtied with their blood?
The list of those who were subjected to torture and mayhem at the hands of the Government’s ‘security forces’ is too long to catalogue in one column. Whether these so-called ‘security forces’ came from official or private sources, nobody seems to know for sure. While the cries and screams of those who perished have gone unheard and unheeded, most of those who suffered physical injuries and warnings have fled the country in search of safer shelters. The self-censorship that has been imposed upon themselves by our journalists for the last few years is claiming its victims, candid and honest reporting being one of many.
Disappearance of a number of journalists and human rights activists has occurred. Two human rights campaigners who are also members of the break-away JVP group, the Movement for People’s Struggle went missing in Jaffna; their families and friends still await information about their whereabouts. Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kuhan Muruganathan, went missing ironically on the eve of World Human Rights Day, after they left Mr. Muruganathan’s house in Atchuvely, Jaffna. The Government and Police say they are investigating the issue while members of the Movement for People’s Struggle believe they have been abducted. A pattern was emerging that these killings, abductions and intimidations are not only confined to the South but it had begun to engulf the whole country. And whose hands have been dirtied with their blood?
If no journalist or human rights activist is safe, even in the remotest corners of the Island, then there is unquestionably sufficient reason and cause for our civil organizations to be apprehensive and anxious; their strategic moves and agitational campaigns need to be better organized and more scrupulously planned and plotted and leadership made to look more intelligent and caring. While attention should be drawn to the ruthless campaigns of the ruling clan to suppress all opposing factions, an equally ruthless campaign needs to be launched to inform and educate the general public of the dos and don’ts of a responsible and reasonable human community striving to advance in a competitive but chaotic world order.
The latest signal of the Government’s desperation was shown in the most inhuman way when the dry-rations donated by the supporters of General Sarath Fonseka for the victims of the Koslanda landslide tragedy were refused. The sheer venom and anger harbored by the Rajapaksas and making the victims of a national tragedy become hostage to such venom and anger is beyond the pale. Another example of the Government’s panic is shown in the way Venerable Rathana Thero’s Facebook and other computer-related services were hacked after the good Monk decided to criticize the governance policies of the Rajapaksas. What is surprising is not that they dared to resort to such street-level vendetta but the arrogance and obvious impunity with which they accomplished these dastardly acts. The exemption with which the Government-backed hooligans are butchering the rights of their opponents is frightening. Whose hands are being dirtied with this blood?
Drug kingpins are marauding the streets in the country; their unlimited capacity for violence, torture and avarice has swamped an unsuspecting generation of youth whose belief in a ‘quick buck’ has been buttressed by the alluring stories of fast-lanes to richness and seduced by the high-priced narcotics, they day-dream that the temporary relief that narcotic drugs induce is next to Nirvana. The addictive lure in these drugs, most of which is smuggled into the country and distributed through an intricate network of Mafia-style web sponsored and protected by highly-placed politicians, leads the youth, when he runs out of money to purchase his daily quota, to resort to violence invariably ending up in a couple of corpses. Whose hands are being dirtied with his blood?
While pontificating to the world a canard of ‘Mathata Thitha’ (abstinence from alcohol), these same politicians have taken the country and its culture to a totally different destination; the bottomless pit is getting deeper and deeper, for diggers are many, onlookers are gathering and those who attempt to get out are a few. This lamentable story needs to be told. Extortion as a means to achieve quick cash is increasing in frequency; abduction of wealthy businessmen is assuming appalling proportions and rape and sexual harassments are getting reported on a weekly basis but nobody seems to care. What is even more dreadful is that very apathy and indifference which is the villain of all crime and sin. The most tragic aspect of this socio-cultural-politico decadence is the new kind of ‘radio-silence’ enforced by the contemporaneous circumstances. Friends talk in whispers and husbands and wives keep quiet about their children’s stray-lifestyles. Their hands are bloodied as much as those who actually commit the crime.
Why are we all blaming the politicians? Because it is very much within them, the politicians, to install corrective measures and structures and legislations, if they really want to stem the tide. But when the installed structures of the State, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature are rotting away from top to bottom and their blood-stained emissaries are deeply engaged in corrupting the systems further and further, the subject people develop a thick skin, either through fear or sheer indifference. Mother waits till her liquor-addicted teenager reaches home; wives look for their missing husbands and invariably find them lying horizontally across the gravel road that leads to an illicit brewery.
Caught up in this vortex of crime and sin, the average reasonable man and woman wander aimlessly. Why tolerate all this to sustain one single family in power. The average lad knows very well as to whose hands are bloodied and dirty. They are indeed waiting for a chance to take decisive action.
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org