Sri Lanka’s 65th Anniversary of Independence

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Photo via NowPublic

Greetings Lanka!

Today marks the 65th Anniversary of Independence of our country. This year would also mark the fourth year anniversary of ‘defeating terrorism’. But, little has changed, and there is little to celebrate this year. The country is treading a catastrophic path and our future is a disaster waiting to happen.

For the one who hath his eyes open, it would be obvious that we are gradually plunging into an abyss from which there will be no return. Even though we have been treading this path for quite a while now, over the course of last few months we have taken gigantic leaps in our journey.

How did we get here?

It would seem that the common attitude that binds the different peoples of this land is stupidity. The stupidity that gave life to three violent armed struggles; the stupidity that made the Tamils remain silent when thousands of Muslims were evicted from the North; the stupidity that allowed the Sinhalese in the South to celebrate on the 19th of May 2009, albeit the death  and displacement of thousands of innocents; the stupidity that makes the Muslim leaders stick with the regime while singing empty songs about rights and dignity; the stupidity that elected our honourable parliamentarians and ministers who have now successfully paved way for dictatorship; the stupidity that makes this government thrive. Some of us even lit crackers when the fate of the Chief Justice was announced!

In our stupidity we believed that everything could be achieved through violence. We watched as the LTTE quenched all opposing opinions and claimed sole leadership. We celebrated when innocents perished in the South to hidden bombs and claymores. We thought of such inhumane acts as great victories. Our boys are invincible, our intelligence is superior and they fear us, we told ourselves. We submitted our conscience and pledged blind allegiance to a power hungry organization. During the final phases of the war we rallied around the world carrying the red flag, even as the very organization kept thousands of civilians as shields to postpone their judgement day. In the end the leaders of Tigers took along with them thousands of our kin. Now, naïve to reality we have planted our destiny into the hands of a selfish world – that is, the so called international community. We have not changed have we? We will never practice the virtues that we preach, will we? Even as we crow against Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, we promote Tamil Hindu nationalism, and treat other religious minorities, in our lands, the same way we have been treated. We reek with hypocrisy.

Yes, we were harassed and marginalised by both sides. In response, we made up our mind to stick with the powerful. Even as our mosques burn and religious leaders robed in saffron fuel hatred against us, our leaders are struggling to take a stand. Our leaders are more concerned about their posh cars and fat pay cheques. They beg of us our vote. We never hold them accountable do we? We are content that our leaders hold higher portfolios than the other minorities. We are happy that when need arises our leaders can get several petty things done, through their little influence. Recently, our leaders in the parliament happily sent ‘the judiciary to hell’.

We have always treated minorities terribly. Indeed, it did not take long after independence before we launched an assault on the Indian Tamils. We adopted a mono-cultural attitude that would doom this country into thirty-years of civil war.

We created the LTTE. We were told that ‘you are either with us or with the terrorists.’ We believed their lies. The Brothers, upon defeating the LTTE, promised us freedom, liberty and prosperity. The regime promised us peace and reconciliation, in our stupidity, we believed it. “Lion defeats the Tiger and Dutugemunu conquers Ellara,” we proclaimed. We wrote songs about daring soldiers, but we forgot the slain innocents. The victory hangover got the best of us. In our stupidity, we swallowed twisted history and compared the president to a king. He is indeed proving to be one. We bought into spooky ‘international conspiracy’ theories and stories of malicious internal forces. We still do. We watched as good men were branded traitors and as more disappeared. We turned a blind eye towards the regime’s mistakes and ignored corruption.  We re-elected the president and gave his party a strong mandate in the parliament. Why?  We never thought they would come for us one day, did we? They succeeded in corrupting our reason, did they not?  In our stupidity, we failed to notice ominous signs that predicted a terrible future.

Serve the family and be saved. Pronounce our names and prosper. Lick our boots and be a good doggy. Be silent. Be content. Don’t ask questions. Have faith. We will make this country the Wonder of Asia. This is what they ask of us, our silent obedience.

The very foundations of our democracy have collapsed. The madness of this regime is now at our doorstep. Our country is no longer ruled by any law. The North is infected with the military while the South is infested with Mervyn Silvas and thugs. The purpose of these forces is the same: soliciting our conformity to whims and fancies of the regime. There is no respect for universal principles of justice and truth. Our sons are being killed in state prisons. Their sons will race on Lamborghinis while our sons toil for low wages. Their sons will go abroad to foreign universities while the local universities receive less and less attention. They are shipping our resources and wasting money on failed development projects, while we pay the price by sacrificing our daily meals. We cannot even hold a protest without being confronted by government sponsored thugs. They have indeed come for us.

Where do we go for justice? Where is peace? Where is freedom? Where is independence? Where are we headed?

Today, let us remember that true patriotism is not blind submission to the leaders but conscious vigilance. Today, let us remember that there is no substitute for our reason, after all that’s what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. Let us remember that leaders are but reflections of our society – us, and that we all share the guilt of the present state of affairs. Let us remember there is no excuse for stupidity. Today, let us mourn our collective stupidity and hope for the day when we can celebrate the death of this plague.

  • victim

    This is the reality of Sri Lanka. Congratulations for telling the truth as it is. will those people who support this regime for the perks and crumbs listen and realise that the “so called leaders” are only for them selves and their families and the same fate will befall them as that of the chief justice once they don’t toe the same line as they were told!!

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    “This year would also mark the fourth year anniversary of ‘defeating terrorism’. But, little has changed…”

    Little has changed, huh? Any schoolkid you know got blown up at a bus stop recently?

    • victim

      The change is that now Terrorism is legalized and it is coming from people who are supposed to be elected to safeguard its citizens!!!

    • Dayan’s Nemesis

      We have another form of terrorism – state terrorism.

    • Panabokke

      Dayan
      You say you’re a political scientist ?

    • Sarath Fernando

      Hey Dayan,

      That pathetic quip from you is quite telling – telling how undeserving you are of any one of the hats you so eagerly want to wear: an utterly foolish statement, if presented as an academic; too-dead a horse if trying to impress even the naïve-est in the diplomatic front, and nothing short of a miserable jingoistic stand if suggested as a political strategic defence, four-years past the goal line and while the country is desperately striving for reconciliation.

      Let me explain. Is it so difficult to realize that the defence you are putting up is precisely what the die-hard LTTE’ers employed to lure hesitant Tamils when they went about chest-thumping “it is our bombing and killing in Colombo that finally silenced the Colombo thugs thus allowing Tamils to live without fear.” Wasn’t that the mantra they used in their hay-days for more funding? How long did that boast last?

      If you feel my criticism is unfair, please check on the wisdom of your quip with one of your learned, worthy friends, one courageous enough to be truthful.

      I am not unsympathetic to your “next-pay” predicament – but cheap grovelling should not be the only option for one privileged with your kind of academic and diplomatic opportunities; or, perhaps you have squandered them all.

      On a related issue: within this forum, several weeks ago (Dec 03, to be precise) you very vehemently denied ownership of three similar “pseudo-wisdoms” that I attributed to your past writings. You were mortally outraged. You stridently demanded that that I recant and apologize, or else! I promptly posted the necessary citations to prove that my attributions were absolutely on the up-and-up. How come you suddenly vanished into thin air? Too ashamed? [Edited out] don’t you think you have an obligation of an apology for your harsh and unfair disowning.

  • RM

    Brilliantly said…. when will we ever learn?

  • Dayan’s Nemesis

    Antany Peter, did you read the piece? There is no relevance to what you are saying and what the article is about. You suffer from the same illness Dayan Jayatilleka and Rajiva Wijesinghe have. (both, I must admit, show some signs of recovery).

  • Jayalath

    To Antany Peter.
    You are lying way out the course my friend , I cannot believe your inferior language being in one of the best country in the world . Your language isn’t better than a rogue politician in Sri Lanka and your behaviour and understanding about the world and west is not bigger than a peanut .
    If you want to learn much about how did Australian gov say sorry to indigenous people , please go to Prime minister Kevin Rudd of Australia 2007 and find out as much you want .

    He said. To the stolen generations, I say the following, as prime minister of Australia, I’m sorry on behalf of the gov of Australia, we apologise for the hurt, the pain and suffering that we,have caused you by the laws that previous parliament have enacted .we apoloze For the indignity, the degradation and the humiliation these laws embodied . We offer this apology to the mothers, the fathers, the brothers, the sisters ,the families and the communities whose lives were ripped apart by the action of successive governments under successive parliaments .

    Our challenge in the future is ….. To embrace a new partnership between indigenous and non indigenous Australians . The core of this partnership for the future is to close the gap between indigenous and non indigenous Australians on life expectancy educational
    Achiements and employment opportunities.

    Let us allow this day, this day of national reconciliation , to become one of those rare moments in which we might just be able to transform the way in which the nation thinks about itself , where by the injustice administered to the stolen generations in the name of these, our parliaments, causes all of us to reappraise, at the deepest level of our belief ,real possibility of reconciliation writ large. Reconciliation across all indigenous Australia, reconciliation across the entire history of the often bloody encounter between those who emerged from the dream time a thousand generations ago and those who, like me, came a cross the seas only yesterday.

    It is for the nation bring the first two centuries of our settled history to a close, as we begine a new chapter with pride, admiration and awe these great and ancient cultures we are truely blessed to have among us , cultures that provide a unique, uninterrupted human thread linking our Australian continent to the most ancient prehistory of our planet .

    Let us….write this new chapter in our nation’ s story together.

    This is how they work and I know you might say what white did to indigenous people . But I know exactly what Australian gov expected which is a long story . If you wish I will remind you , but it isn’t impossible to find out through the inter net any one want to know any further .
    Im not admire what happened but it wasn’t impossible to halt in that time , and same thing happened to the Red Indans in America , and millions of slaves died on their way to America and Europe when they were transport .
    So , the damage has been done , at least now lot of black Americans are having a good life in America and else where , because of sacrifices of their ancestors .

    Do you think we would have not invaded India if we been able ? I think we would have ,but we didn’t , because we didn’t have tools and equipments to do so , unless not because we were Buddhist country that we don’t do such things .

    And one more thing I will remind you my friend , you and me are not out of the country if we had good life there , we are here because we had been robbed by our bigotry politicians , when the money been allocated to do the road properly , bloody politicians robbed half of it and done the road by other half , then it’s quality gone to a dog , and same road need to be done again in few years , this is one of million examples . This is how we were robbed by our politicians since 77 .

    So what are you doing is , doing some thing else of forgetting what you came for , therefore I remind you to be generous where ever you are , because i can see you are misusing the opportunity to teach them lessons .

  • Gamarala

    Sarath Fernando,

    It is good to see an excellent response to the oft repeated dismissal, by many a person post-war, that Dayan too used so blithely. The unraveling of our ill-gotten peace seems to be well underway – as is evidenced by the anti-muslim fervour, the cementing of the Rajapakse oligarchy and the total dismissal of proper procedure and law. I say ill-gotten because there has clearly been no acceptable principle behind all the carnage – such as ensuring a dignified peace. As a person who believed in the war myself with such a hope, I’m deeply saddened by our present trajectory. To Dayan’s credit, it is good that he seems to have understood this too and is speaking up at last – better late than never eh?

    His colleague Rajiva Wijesinha on the other hand, appears to be too busy laundering royal garments to so much as notice.