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.