Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The strengths and weakness of silent protests against existing rule

Having followed the recent and continuing uprisings in the Middle East, it has caught everyone flat footed and surprised, and we do not know where it would end. Those in favor of existing dictatorships point to the chaos that now reigns in Egypt, and even the instability in Iraq once the majority Shiite rule with some form of democracy took over from the minority Sunni sect rule of Saddam Hussein. Whilst one should be cautious of making generalizations, it is obvious that more often than not dictators end up with a very bad epitaph even if they achieved certain ends in development and growth.

In the same vein it is becoming increasingly obvious that in Sri Lanka too a ruling dictatorship exists, in much the same way endorsement by the electorate in Venezuela or Iran, is backed by the strength of the vote. The lack of an effective opposition is very detrimental to even a hope of having some form of balance.

However the recent incidents of excess use of force is evidence of cocky behaviour, which after the mass protests and even a more effective quiet silent protest is finally showing signs of a crack, be it still small, as blame is deflected in a very cunning way.

The main opposition is planning on a mass silent protest on Thursday, June 9th at 3pm in front of the Maradana Railway station against dictatorship of the Satakaya. The problem is that they do not have an effective organized network to galvanize support, in large numbers through their own party machinery at the moment. It seems to me that it is merely to answer the call of the party faithful asking what is the opposition doing about the blatant abuse of power? They cannot muster bus loads of people with Rs 1000 note and a promise of a bottle of arrack on their return leg. They appear not to have that kind of money, whereas the govt. does.

Added to that it is possible that the expected heavy rain will keep out all but the most dedicated and resilient. I am afraid this level of protest will not even be as effective as the silent protest of the 100,000 young factory workers who turned up through hardship and their own expense to a funeral of a boy killed by a police bullet while exercising his democratic right to protest against a proposed pension scheme.

Is this but the first step of the opposition to test the national pulse on whether to continue mass protests? I don't know the answer to it.If it was better publicized and the weather better then we could have been surprised by the turnout, however under the current stage of readiness, I do not give it much weight. Only if the govt. uses excessive force or bring out the 5ft stick yielding goons, would it become a rallying cry.

Sri Lanka is not in a position of extreme hardship that most Middle East countries protesters were agitating against. It is therefore not yet ready until there is mass education and even belief that the issues are severe enough to agitate. The truth is carefully hidden and the media is as usual playing the fear card, especially in the electorally rich hinterlands to maintain their support and voter base.

Kalpanakaranna is a dirty word for the govt. They do not want people to 'kalpanakaranna' as that will result in realizing the 'saba thathway'. Until people can think through the ramifications and make up their minds, they will not defer from the current status quo, where the govt. is now in the stage of telling people what they think they ought to know. The first stage being giving the people what they want to get the vote, the final stage which they will come out with shortly is taking from the people what they, the ruling class want, by which time it will be too late. Some say they have begun this but not yet in earnest.

For a silent protest to hold value, it must be with overwhelming numbers to shock the rulers to a wake up call. Giving due weight to short notice and weather nothing short of 100,000 will jolt them.

I am accused of being a political hack devoid of objectivity. Well that is OK, as I write what I feel deep down and not what someone tells me to write. If that is disagreeable so be it. I feel some healthy debate of the issues and the need for checks and balances in the current administration, outweigh mere sycophancy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Report from Daily Mirror


Were these people who were believed to be involved in the FTZ protest?

Three undergraduates who were held under detention orders in the Mirihana Police for charges of conspiracy against the government have been severely assaulted and taken to the CID for further interrogations, Inter University Students Federation (IUSF) said.

IUSF Convener Sanjeewa Bandara speaking to Daily Mirror Online a short while ago said that statements had been taken from the undergraduates forcefully and a fresh detention order had been taken for 30 days to further question them by the CID.

However, Nugegoda Division SSP Deshabandu Tennakoon while dismissing accusations of assaulting the three undergraduates under the custody of the Mirihana Police said that a fresh detention order has been taken for week to further question them on the charges.

According to the IUSF, the undergraduates were arrested by the Mirihana Police last Sunday under charges of conspiring against the government. However, the Police claim that it was the J’pura Vice Chancellor Dr. N.L.A. Karunaratne who handed them over to the Police due to some incidents related to ragging.