Connect with us

News

Protests will grow until government caves in says Vijitha Herath

Published

on

People have no way but to fight harder for longer

by Saman Indrajith

The JVP, after the LSSP and CP, has the longest Marxist history in this country. It subscribes to a Hegelian dialectic where contradiction between a proposition (thesis) and its antithesis is resolved at a higher level of truth (synthesis).

This is illustrated by a stone mason or sculptor chipping away at a block of stone. Perhaps a hundred hammer blows would not create a crack in the stone but it would split into two at the 101st blow. The stone mason knows that it was not the last blow that did but all that had preceded it.

The JVP led NPP has commenced throwing its fullest weight against the government in support of the ongoing protest on Galle Face green. The party is scheduled to commence a march from Beruwala today (17) and to proceed along the Galle Road to reach the Town Hall in Colombo on Tuesday (19), NPP MP Vijtha Herath said in an interview with the Sunday Island.

“The protest at Galle Face is growing with increasing pressure applied on the government. Artistes, lawyers and almost all prominent and leading professionals have either joined the protest or extended their support. It has the blessings of leaders of all religions except a few monks in the pay of the Rajapaksa family who show no sign of stepping down. Yet, if we continue to apply further pressure it is only a matter of time before the beleaguered government gives up. We believe in this struggle. There is no turning back now. It should end in nothing but victory,” Herath said.

Excerpts:

Q: The protesters have rejected the call by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa for talks. Do you approve of that rejection?

A: What is there to discuss with him? He first tried to ignore this struggle. Thereafter he and his cronies tried to intimidate the protesters and also to denigrate them. Thereafter, they tried to arouse communal disharmony. After all these tactics failed, he has now invited the youth for talks. We emphasize that none in the struggle has anything to talk about with this government or the president.

The first and foremost demand of the struggle is that Gota goes home. The second is for the government to resign. Third is to put an end to the 74-year long political culture that has become the bane of this nation. There is nothing to discuss in these demands. The President and government should step down. The youth want nothing less than that.

The proposal for talks is with the intention of weakening this struggle, by creating divisions. Such tactics would not work because those in the struggle are not like those in the SLPP parliamentary group willing to change their stance for money or privileges. The president and the prime minister are not even genuine and honest to their own parliament group. How could others trust them and go for talks with them?

Q: There is no indication that the government would give up that easily. It is after all a democratically elected government. How could a government make up its mind to give up power just because there are protests?

A: If you look back at the world’s political history in recent decades you will find ample instances where governments had to step down owing to pressure from the people. The ongoing public protests have already achieved victories. They got the cabinet and the Central Bank Governor to resign. There are more heads to fall and the struggle is not yet over.

Either this government does not understand this struggle or it so pretends. This is not a simple demonstration and it is not limited to Galle Face. People all over the country stage protests demanding that Gota goes home. They did not have that slogan at the beginning. First the protests started demanding that government delivers what they promised the people to get their votes.

They hit the streets demanding their rights. The government could not even provide the basic rights and needs of people. First the farmers came out demanding fertilizer. The mothers followed demanding milk powder for their children. There were protests demanding gas and fuel.

The government did not listen to any of them. Its ministers promised there would be no power cuts and there was enough diesel and petrol in the country. Those were sick jokes. Now the situation has changed for the worse. Doctors say that there are no medicines at hospitals. Soon people in hospitals will die without medicine. Already six people have died in petrol and gas queues.

The situation is changing for the worse by the hour. Meanwhile the government is waiting to for the protesters to become fed-up and tired of the struggle. In the meantime it has started the process of buying over MPs to replenish the numbers of those who dissented and decided to be independent. None of these tactics will work. Power of the people is greater than the power of money. The government should step down.

Q: The President has invited the Opposition parties including the SJB and its leader Sajith Premadasa to join the government. What is your response?

A: We cannot think of forming a government with other corrupt parties while Gotabaya Rajapaksa is still the President. That is not the change expected by the people. We reject invitations for such governance.

Q: The supporters of the government are staging ‘We want Gota’ protests countering yours. Where would this lead?

A: That is a flop. The government has got some of its ministers to conduct such protests. That did not work. People are more intelligent than the government thinks. People know that pro-government protests are meant to create a conflict and are used as a diversionary tactic. They know that such plans would not solve their problems of fuel and gas shortages and many more.

Q: The President has said he will not resign. People demand his resignation. How long will this impasse continue? Prime Minister Rajapaksa in his recent address to the nation said that every second the people protest, the country loses dollars.

A: The country lost dollars not because of the peoples’ protests. What we see is an economy ruined by a single family and its cronies. That was done by frauds and theft by manipulating government machinery. The economy suffered Rs 150,000 million loss because of the sugar tax fraud.

They came to power promising to recover the Rs 120,000 million loss by the Treasury Bond scam. But they did better. The economy suffered blow after blow because of the coconut oil fraud and garlic scam. The meagre amount of dollars available had to be spent on the nano-nitrogen fertilizer scam. Compensation was paid for a Chinese fertilizer ship. This is only the tip of the iceberg.

The answer to the first part of your question is that not only the President but also the Prime Minister have said they would not resign. That means they do not have an answer to the crisis. The MPs who announced they would be independent in the House demand that a cabinet should be appointed without the Rajapaksas. The President has not agreed to that demand either.

The crisis will grow further. People have no other way but to fight harder for some more time because the fall of this government is inevitable. It is only a matter of time. So, we have to stay in the same line a little longer and fight harder.



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

Published

on

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

Continue Reading

News

SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

Published

on

By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

Continue Reading

News

A/L may be delayed by one month

Published

on

Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

Continue Reading

Trending