Tue, 19 Oct 2021 Today's Paper

Her Majesty’s Ceylon became a Republic triggered by January 27 Coup

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January 6 coup d’état backed by Pro-Trump Mobs? 

 

  • Arrests of conspirators, the introduction of new laws and the creation of special courts were unique features in this affair
  • A dictatorship is a dictatorship irrespective of who is behind it or what motivated them to conspire

 

“Remove Coup Plotter Trump Immediately!” Was the headline in a foreign News sheet. Last Wednesday while our Minister of Justice placed before Parliament a bill for amending the term “Queen’s Government” in some legal enactments, the world witnessed the terribly distressing images of violent pro-Trump mobs breaching police barricades and raiding the US Capitol Hill. They stunned the democratic world; when they sought to compel Congress to undo Donald’s election loss. Donald Trump early Friday on a Twitter video admitted his Presidency is ending and assured a smooth transfer. 

 Trump’s January 6 Coup d’état!

With advance notice received weeks ahead, that thousands of rioters would be gathering on DC and the Congress on the instructions of Trump, Police made little effort to prevent their entry. 
Video evidence has already surfaced of Police dereliction, and also instances of Police taking a selfie with the rioters. 


The Democrats are joining with the Republicans in agitating for an investigation against those politically responsible for fascist violence. Questions are being asked about police stand-down on the attempt. Was Trump mounted Fascist insurrection at the US Capitol, an attempt to subvert the Constitution and establish himself as an autocrat?—Testimony is emerging concerning the coconspirators in the police, military and the right-wing that took part in the rebellion. 


In another, the video an officer is spotted driving rebels in the direction of the Capitol. One protester had told that the police was ‘very cool’ and courteous, wishing the rioters to “a good night” after attacking the complex. “They were on our side,” he said.
The 2020 US Presidential Election was one of the most unpredictable and closely observed in history, amidst legal, social, and political confusion and speculations that foreign states are busy in efforts to hamper with States politics. 

The threat to democracy 59 years ago

This reminds us how a group of senior Military and Police officers attempted to overthrow Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike, the world’s first Woman Prime Minister, in a coup conspiracy in January. 
The operational plan was to arrest the Prime Minister on her return from Kataragama, while in Colombo, several senior members of her Cabinet and Commanders of the three forces, the IGP, and a few top public officers were to be arrested and held incommunicado at the Army headquarters’ Arms dungeon, a happening in contemporary Sri Lankan history that made an enormous and long-lasting impact on it. 


The transition of 1956 was sealed when Mrs Bandaranaike’s Government blocked all the remaining loopholes that the botched attempt of 1962, exposed. Based on facts revealed during the investigations, she was quick to act.
Some analysts saw it as, ‘the endeavour was to safeguard their eroding status, loss of power and position, caused by the transition of power in 1956 which contributed to the motivation of those responsible from a minority ‘Brown Sahib’ elite to the common majority’. 
Arrests of conspirators, the introduction of new laws and the creation of special courts were unique features in this affair. Those involved in the COUP in Sri Lanka may claim that they were aiming to prevent a dictatorship by another powerful authority.


A dictatorship is a dictatorship irrespective of who is behind it or what motivated them to conspire. If the country had been taken over by a group of military and police elitists, it would predictably have led to a sort of civil war. 
We can boast of having elected governments as much as 15 times, changed regimes ten times followed by prompt and democratic transfer of power during the 72-year Post-independent history. We can proudly claim that only in one instant, in 1965, when UF government led by Sirimavo lost, about hundred peaceful demonstrators gathered outside Temple Trees agitating her not to step down. 


In a mail circulated by eminent senior lawyer Elmo Perera and forwarded to the writer by Air Vice Marshall Bren Sosa, captioned, A thought on the storming of the Capitol Hill, says…
 “On October 31, 1776, in his speech before The Parliament, His Majesty King George III spoke about the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the revolutionary leaders who signed it, saying, “for daring and desperate is the spirit of those leaders, whose object has always been dominion and power, that they have now openly renounced all allegiance to the crown,


If the British General William Howe and his brother, Admiral Richard Howe, acted differently after colonists’ humiliating defeat at the Battle of Long Island 13 American states would have remained part the British Empire probably British Commonwealth of Nations accepting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of State like Canada, New Zealand, Australia and many Commonwealth countries and the political mindset that led to the storming of the Capitol Hill by Rabble Rousers would not have taken place.“However, the storming is not surprising considering that Capitol Hill was created by a band of rebels who renounced all allegiance to the crown 244 years ago” and as long as their successors keep on using the despicable word “Revolution” in the Historical Phrase American Revolution “ they boast about, the gene of indiscipline will always be in the veins of the US Society.”
Back to coup d’état of 1962 where the handling of investigations was done meticulously, the prosecution of accused and drafting of legal enactments lacked smartness. 


The conspiracy wouldn’t have received any radical support or backing from the masses, as the people were well acquainted with democratic Parliamentary rule. They were used to the power of more convenient, modus operandi of the universal franchise since 1931, in effecting them. 
The Governor-General Sir Oliver Goonatilleke was removed from office his name being transpired in the course of investigations. 


However, nobody had the power to question the duly appointed representative of the Queen of England. Under the Soulbury Constitution, with the consent of the Queen of England, William Gopallawa was installed as new Governor-General. 
The 1970-77 second term Mrs Bandaranaike with her two-thirds majority, made far-reaching changes like the introduction of a new Republican Constitution, abolishing the Soulbury system where a Governor-General represented the British Monarchy as the ceremonial head of state as from May 22, 1972. Thereby they squashed London Privy Council’s jurisdiction over the nation’s Supreme Court; a lesson learnt as a consequence to the Privy Council’s verdict on the Coup Trial. 


To quote former distinguished civil servant and diplomat… 
“Overall, therefore, the attempted coup, far from reversing 1956, accelerated it and also ensured that the political and social values that propelled the plotters were irretrievably buried. If 1956 had failed completely to erase the old colonial heritage, the failed coup of 1962 ensured that it would never be resurrected. The coup attempt was the last gasp of the ancient regime but it was totally suicidal for that class. They dug themselves a hole from which they never climbed out” –Neville Jayaweera, CCS: The Ceylankan -May 2012 

New Laws: post-hoc and ad hominem

‘Criminal Law (Special Provisions) Act, No.1 of 1962’ the bill was post-hoc, given retrospective effect- The new law created new courts, new offences and enhanced punishments. With widespread modifications to the Criminal Procedure Code, it became law on March 16, 1962. 

The writer can be contacted at kksperera1@gmail.com

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