‘Gama’ as a symbol of people’s aspirations – The Island

By Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka

It is not unknown in history that a single leader was the cause of the downfall of a nation, the obvious case in modern times being Adolf Hitler – an elected leader – one of the best known among a collection of reviled names scattered throughout history as examples of the evil into which power can degenerate. In each case, they luckily failed to prevail in the end.

On this island, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has become this nightmare for his people, just two years after his election as head of state, a feat difficult to achieve.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, angered by his brother’s attempts to scapegoat him for the country’s growing instability, brought thousands of his supporters from the provinces to the city yesterday (Monday May 9), proclaiming their request for his continuation. They rioted violently in the streets, clashing with the original peaceful protesters, destroying the temporary structures these youths had erected at the protest sites outside the Prime Minister’s residence and at Galle Face Green. They managed to put some of them in the hospital. Police intervened with tear gas and water cannon to stop the hordes of marauding MR supporters from their scorched earth intentions at Galle Face Green and repelled them for the time being.

The peaceful protest in GotaGoGama was eventually overrun, not by law enforcement but by provincial politicians from the MR camp with their supporters. The escalation of the situation is now inevitable.

The president owes it to the people to prevent this nascent situation from deteriorating into further bloodshed in a country that has already seen far too much. He and he alone can put an end to this nightmare, instead of continuing to embody it.

Meanwhile, parliamentary opposition parties need careful scrutiny to understand why some of them were violently rejected at protest sites today, and some were greeted, as they tried to show solidarity with these young people attacked by MR supporters. As an aspiring government, they must examine themselves and reposition themselves quickly, just as the protesters must not descend into anarchy by dismissing even those who are on their side in Parliament.

The abyss looks back

The predictable trajectory to an economic abyss in his hands, beginning with a fanciful overnight ban on chemical fertilizers, following a massive centralization of power in the presidency, to other eccentric policies, leading to multiple dysfunctions in all sectors, saw the unfortunate citizens plunged into sudden poverty, dying in queues for petrol and fuel, as everything from powdered milk to printing paper became a scarce commodity very quickly due to shortage of dollars in the Treasury.

Despite all his attempts to divert attention to other factors, including pushing for his brother the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to resign, the people he leads have seen as clearly as day that the President himself same was the main cause that plunged an ancient medium. income country in such deprivation and desperation that the children of neighboring India have started breaking their coffers to send a few thousand rupees to relieve the needless misery of this country.

The continuing nightmare for the people, however, is that despite desperate protests in every province, with a clear message contained in a single, ubiquitous slogan of “Gota Go Home”, the President appears to have no intention of doing the only something that could instantly begin the rapid recovery of the country.

It’s not like every mode of protest, every possible platform, traditional and digital, hasn’t been used to make sure the message gets to him.

A recent social media post of some women, from Chilaw, ranting against the President in absolute rage showed them using swear words that probably weren’t chained in this way against any leader, wherever it is. Most of them were disturbing, all the more pitiful as she claimed that as a cancer patient, she no longer had the drugs to treat her condition. In his invective, the rage spread to the many close to the President in Parliament, but left no doubt as to who would be hanged in public by a lower part of the body if any of these women got their hands on him.

Exacerbating the already crumbling situation are the MPs and officials loyal to the President who excuse his every gaffe with inane explanations. Delivered with a flattering fervor, they only serve to incense the people even more.

The solution of the president’s rapidly dwindling supporters is to demand that the Prime Minister leave and the Cabinet with him. They say it would be pointless for the president to resign as his replacement will have to be named from among the now despised 225 MPs in parliament who have failed to save the country from spiraling into bankruptcy. They refuse to see that such a replacement, any replacement, would be met with cheers and firecrackers by the people. These protesters at the many GotaGoGama sites have made this clear by promising that as long as the president remains, so will they.

Every day now, people gather in the streets of the city with their empty gas canisters, blocking the roads in protest. Feelings are high and the tension among the crowd is palpable, as minor skirmishes erupt intermittently. About 100 gas cylinders were recently forcibly acquired by people who waited for days to see the trucks carrying them and jumped on them to grab one anyhow. People also turned around as they queued for the essentials. It is clear that serious riots are only a hair’s breadth away. Today’s incident, initiated by MR supporters, assured that.

Revolution is not the only solution

What does the president see when he walks the field? His pet initiative, the Organic Fertilizer Decision, collapsed and led a once self-sufficient land in rice with abundant vegetables, a thriving and world-renowned tea industry and a thriving rural community to irreparable failure in the short and long term. middle term. Likewise, economic mismanagement has led to a desperate shortage of dollars in the treasury, impacting all aspects of life. The ongoing protests have now passed a month and continue to grow.

Confidence in the integrity of this regime is waning as the April 2019 Easter bombing, which instantly lifted this president’s chances of being elected as the law and order candidate, is now increasingly seen as having been used to propel the bid over fears. people. The cardinal himself expressed his fears of a possible serious conspiracy, endangering the Catholic community and other faithful engaged in prayer on this fateful Easter Sunday. The Cardinal’s pleas to the Pope himself raised concerns in Rome about the massacre. The many bereaved and injured who suffer to this day have still not received justice, despite the powerful presidency and a security apparatus with a huge chunk of the nation’s budget.

The president’s party all but gave up in defeat, starting with the new finance minister. The president was forced to call for the establishment of a multi-party government to replace him. No party is jumping at the chance, and discussions are underway with professional associations intervening with takeover proposals.

The president has not been able to appear in public since the protests began.

A motion of censure against the President and the Prime Minister was submitted to Parliament by the opposition. Quarrels within ruling political circles between supporters of the president and his brother the prime minister over who should step down are being played out publicly, as living conditions for the population deteriorate dangerously.

The existentially beleaguered people demand only that the president make the momentous decision to step down, along with his regime, if he has any respect for him or the country. They are convinced that the solutions to everything else will flow from this.

James V. Hayes