Sri Lanka’s 65th Anniversary of Independence
Photo via NowPublic
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.