Photo courtesy of NationalTurk
Free Joseph Stalin. Let Father Jeewantha Peiris walk
out of hiding in peace to attend to his parishioners.
Let Mahanama Thero stop on the side of the road
to counsel passers by to allow all residents of Earth
the chance to find food and shelter and not worry
that masked men will come at night wielding
truncheons and poles to break down tents
and to beat the sleepers at Gotagogama.
Free Joseph Stalin so he can return to work
as Secretary General of the Teachers’ Union,
to insist that paper is found for exercise books
and exams; so he and colleagues and students
can take buses again to school, Do not arrest
Father Jeewantha Peiris. He is ministering
to malnourished families without prospects
in Ratnapura. He is bringing donations
from those who can afford to give
to those who cannot afford to live.
Do not arrest Father Jeewantha Peiris.
Tear up the arrest record of Danish Ali.
Accompany him on a new flight out
of the island. He like us must be free
to travel when he wishes. What crime
did he commit? To tell television viewers
that the Aragalaya is real, that it is meeting
to help the country overcome the nightmare.
Trespass? Ok, a misdemeanor. Part of
history. Pay a fine. No need to pull him off
a plane No need to punish. No need to arrest
protesters one by one until the whole country
becomes a jail and the Aragalaya is renewed,
word spreading fast, forty four activists nabbed
so far. Get back to Gotagogama, to public land
to settle the public’s business. The library there
is free. The first aid tent is free. The communal
kitchen is free. All languages are welcome,
all Black sins of history recognized, ablutions
performed. No, the Aragalaya will not be arrested
at night by masked men wielding truncheons,
or warrants sometimes missing, sometimes obtained.