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I am concerned about my safety: Thisara Anuruddha Bandara

#GoHomeGota2022-No one can prove or declare rights to a hashtag

11 April 2022 12:03 am - 18     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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# They did not physically harass or torture me at any point

#  This would be a turning point in terms of activism in Sri Lanka

#  The government doesn’t have a right to suppress our rights

#  The Police took me with them saying that they needed to get a statement 

 

Two days after the public uprising in Mirihana, social activist Thisara Anuruddha Bandara was arrested by the Modara Police under Section 120 of the Penal Code while in Kandy . He was the administrator of a Facebook group titled GoHomeGota2022. Bandara was arrested at midnight in front of his relatives and his whereabouts were unknown until the next day. He was questioned for promoting the GoHomeGota2022 hashtag and a post regarding a protest which was to be held in Kandy. Later on April 2, following interventions by lawyers who appeared pro bono to assist him to get bail and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Bandara was produced before the Hulftsdorp Magistrate’s court and was later granted bail.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Bandara spoke about what happened on the day he was arrested, the aftermath, the reason for operating the page and being vocal about the political situation in the country  and why people shouldn’t be worried about voicing their opinion in the 21st century. 
Excerpts : 

 Q   Tell us about yourself  

I finished my primary education at Jinaraja Boys College, Gampola and then moved to Kingswood College Kandy. I completed a BSc Hons in Science and Management at the University of Colombo, Faculty of Science. Right now I am engaged in several businesses and start ups and also work as a part time tutor for a UK company. 

 Q   How did you get about creating the #GoHomeGota2022 hashtag?  

We have been social activists for the last few years trying to find political solutions for the trending issues in Sri Lanka. We wanted people to voice up against corruption irrespective of the party they believe in.  Technically, no one can prove or declare the ownership to a hashtag. We came across this hashtag which was trending and used it to promote the campaign against dirty politics. Later on we created the FB group and also a network of telegram groups which went viral. All we wanted to do was to ensure the right to information and freedom of expression of citizens. We asked people to speak up for themselves.

 Q   What happened on the day you were arrested? 

The Police did ring our door bell at around 11.45pm on the 1st of April. They checked the IDs of all the residents, checked my personal devices and all. They took me with them saying that they need to get a statement mainly on the poster which was prepared for the Kandy protest. I have to mention that they did not physically harass or torture me at any point. I was well fed and taken care of. At around 8.30am, I was taken into CID, then again to the police station near Floating market and back to the CID. 

 Q   The Modara Police denied that they took you into custody. Do you like to tell what happened while you were in custody. Did they question you, any physical threats?

I wasn’t questioned by Modara police. It was the CID officers who questioned me but it was more like a meeting with four other officers. They expressed their opinions and I expressed mine. No threats but as I was informed from several sources, I have some concerns regarding my safety, mainly because we are independent activists. No physical threats too. They did question me about the hashtag and its creator and the Kandy protest. At that point I made it clear that all we wanted to do was to exercise our fundamental rights of peaceful protest.

 Q   What were their reasons for arresting you? 

As they said, it was regarding the post for the Kandy protest. They did highlight the part GO HOME GOTA and said that people can’t protest against a democratically elected leader.

 Q   Upon pressure from journalists and social media, your location was disclosed and subsequently a large group of lawyers supported you to get bail. What are your comments about this collective effort towards one citizen in the country?

Once again I would like to make this an opportunity to thank everyone who worked restlessly towards my safety and wellbeing. I must mention all the lawyers, family, friends, neighbours, social media and political activists, college and university community and everyone who was there for me when I needed them the most. Without them, this could have been a different story after all. And I am certain that this would be a turning point in terms of activism and politics in Sri Lanka as it ensures that you would be backed by the whole community if you get into trouble while working towards the wellbeing of the country.

 Q   What is your take on the present situation in the country? 

Thank you for asking this question. All those years people used to neglect elections and ignored the importance of electing proper policy makers. We wanted  to make people politically aware and politically active so that they would make responsible decisions. Now that has become a reality and I have no words to explain how happy I am for that. People have gathered together irrespective of religion, race or social status. We can’t build this country without proper guidance or leadership and now the people have understood that.
On the other way around, recently there have been some cases where organized groups were trying to incite violence at these protests, damaging private and public property. I would like to kindly request the public to refrain from supporting such activities. Damaging private property of the politicians cannot be accepted. What we should do is, force the next  government and authority to take legal action against those corrupted politicians and take back what is ours or rather what belongs to the people. People must keep on exercising their fundamental rights until we get a proper solution backed by a strict policy framework and must note that shuffle in heads wouldn’t do any good.

 Q   Your message to social media users who are outspoken on these platforms. 

We live in the 21st century where people interact more with social media than in their real life. It has given us an amazing opportunity to overcome those television channels and mass media where politicians have control of. We can circulate a simple text throughout the world within few seconds. So in my opinion, this is way above the control of the government and they don’t have the right to suppress our rights as long as we abide by the law. So they should never be worried.

 


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  Comments - 18

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  • Ranaweera Sunday, 10 April 2022 10:47 PM

    Well, you are another opportunistic player. You forgot that we had a 30 year war which was ended under Gotabhaya leadership. Last 2 1/2 years have been difficult for the entire world so blaming Gota is not the right thing to do. You are actually helping another bunch of thieves. Rajapaksha may go but corrupt people and politicians will not go anywhere.

    searchsilva8@gmail.com Monday, 11 April 2022 09:54 AM

    Agree 100% with Ranaweera, USA will take this guy, but need come here and wash dishes and wipe tables.

    Anjula Monday, 11 April 2022 09:54 AM

    Cannot believe there are still few bunch of political henchmen living in my country. Touch your heart and ask yourself the comment you made is for just sake of your favor and by destroying our kids future. Shame on you and will spit of if you physically in front of me.

    Nandasena Hora Monday, 11 April 2022 09:56 AM

    @Ranaweera...You are an idiot. Have you conveniently forgotten the billions of rupees stolen by the Rajapaksha clan of thieves, or is that an inconvenient truth. The only correct statement you have made in not blaming Nandasena, the whole family is to blame.

    Gota - Going home tomorrow Wednesday, 13 April 2022 08:28 AM

    Hey Ranaweera, Where in the world did people get rid of thieves in one swoop. You start from the top and you work your way down. Gota did not end the war. The SL armed forces sacrificed their lives and ended the war. Gota just sat in his office twiddling his thumbs sipping tea. Thisara, well done for standing up young man.

    Jeanne Ferrer Monday, 11 April 2022 03:00 AM

    What a fantastic young man. Such a rare gem in Sri Lanka these days. Keep up the great work Thisara - you are the voice and the face of the 21st century Sri Lankans. You have given us hope and will inspire us to turn into true patriots - for the real love of our country - not simply for the corrupt benefits that we can reap and rape from this beautiful land. God Bless you.

    Neil Monday, 11 April 2022 04:31 AM

    Thisara, you are a great son of Sri Lanka. Do not worry, you are not alone. The entire population except a handful of idiots are with you.

    Aanjula Monday, 11 April 2022 09:51 AM

    One of the great son in my mother land. You are well deserved to all our due respects from parents, young generations and future generations as well. Your knowledge and skill that you used for better future for our sons and daughters. We hats of always for your braveness. Theruwan Saranai Puthaa Oyata

    Dineth Nana Tuesday, 12 April 2022 04:03 AM

    RESPECT BROTHER!

    Moh Sleiman Tuesday, 12 April 2022 05:06 AM

    RANAWEERA u are nothing but a lick my ass guy,u dont b in public they will eat u alive,for your information Gota did not win the war,the forces with SARATH FONSEKA who did the job for us.

    R. P. Weerakkody Tuesday, 12 April 2022 01:29 PM

    @Ranaweera. @searchsilva. I have two dogs. They have more human qualities than the two of you. Let's forget everything else. Basil Rajapakse in a slip of tongue admitted he was personally dealing with pettah black market financiers during the war. This is just one example of despicable Rajapakse profiteering at the expense of the country and people. Sarath Fonseka was fighting on two fronts. One up north against the LTTE and the other down south against a clan of dogs in human clothing who had the genetical distortions necessary to plunder aid meant for the dead and destitute of the tsunami. You two I believe, come very close genetically. Don't ever reveal your identity in public, cos, unlike the Rajapakses you don't have official gun toting thugs guarding you.

    Ranaweera Wednesday, 13 April 2022 04:43 AM

    Your safety will be threatened if you do this when Sajith is in power. Of course you will not do that as you will not get paid. If Sajith is in power you will end up burnt by road side like in 1988, 89. That is the bitter truth. Gota will not come after NGO lickers like you.

    Gamarala Wednesday, 13 April 2022 05:18 AM

    Ranaweera you are utterly stupid, It's not even worth a response to a jackass.

    Ram Wednesday, 13 April 2022 08:28 PM

    Well done son show your kandy spirit and we are all with you

    Sam Wednesday, 13 April 2022 09:06 PM

    Ranaweera, have you heard that the fish rot from the head? When the top guys rob the coffers the henchmen follow. How did the finance minister and Cabral did not know that we have to repay $one billion in July? They did this tigether....

    Lumbini Thursday, 14 April 2022 10:15 AM

    @Ranaweera, you are a shame!

    JMan Thursday, 14 April 2022 04:01 PM

    @ Ranaweera u are a waste of a life. I wish you were wasted in the shower.

    Rohan Fernando Friday, 15 April 2022 02:53 PM

    In a country where the Freedom of Speach Is Valued Freedom After speech has a lot to be desired. words made famous by Idi Ameen. sounds too close to home no?


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