Saturday, February 18, 2012
Antony Fernando – a symbol of the ages – and a turning point – funeral
Fishermen and their families in Chilaw protested (non political) a few days ago against price increases of 50% on Kerosene and 37% on Diesel. They were vociferous but unarmed and in the ensuing engagement with the police and various units of the armed forces, Antony Fernando was shot in the head in COLD BLOOD along with others, and Antony died of his wounds.
Force of that nature against a group of fishermen was unwarranted. There was NO reason for the presence of ARMED personnel to quell a regional protest over a legitimate issue that affects ordinary people’s livelihood, and as usual no direct responsibility was accepted by the Government. Antony’s funeral is later today.
Antony’s wife has only recently left for employment in the Middle East and is expected to be at the funeral, and he left behind a son and daughter, both of primary school age. This is reflective of the struggle of the majority of people in Sri Lanka. A parent going overseas to earn some money to supplement an insufficient family income for survival is quite a common event.
There is no reason for violence at the funeral, if the Armed Forces and Police stay out of sight. Their presence is not necessary for crowd control, as the Catholic Church is capable of organizing the crowd that comes to pay their respects to one of their own, even if it gets too large. It is normal for the people to blame the government as they must have expected people to agitate and protest against this unprecedented fuel price increase, and should show restraint against this natural phenomenon, rather than act surprised or point the finger at people bent on causing mayhem. The fact they did not do so is reflective of the thinking of suppressing the freedom of expression on a justifiable protest. One dreads to think of the consequences of future protests, as the issue is expected to grow nationwide.
Each unnecessary death, Antony’s, and Roshen Chanaka’s during the protests in Katunayake, only adds to the legitimacy of the protest movement against policies that are clearly aimed at imposing undemocratic edicts upon people that have not been sufficiently debated in parliament and a consensus reached. The current form of Dictatorial rule, where the Cabinet is used only to rubber stamp does not sit well with those affected by them, who wish to defy impositions as being unreasonable.
It is now apparent that rule where non violent protest is suppressed, is the beginning of the end of that style of government. It cannot last long and the sooner we see their downfall without bloodshed, the better it is for society and country.