If Sri Lanka was crying now she is bleeding. This is because the Aragalaya is now pushing the country’s peaceful protest to a human disaster. The Prime Minister has urged the security forces to defeat a fascist movement which is setting foot in this people’s struggle.
This editorial is in no way condemning the protest by the people. Sri Lankans protesting must understand one truth about their people. They are coming from all walks of life; hence what is wrong in the minds of someone can be acceptable for another. Protesters entering the prime minister’s office, at Flower Road on Wednesday (July 13), looked inevitable given that those representing the Aragalaya outnumbered the security forces on duty that day. Going inside the Premier’s office was a huge victory for those who want a system change. It also gave a strong message to the rulers that handling the youth and catering to their demands is a sensitive and crucial issue.
On July 9 the President’s House, the Presidential Secretariat and Temple Trees were stormed into by the protesters. On July 13 there was total stamping of authority at these institutions and one other by the protesters; the latter including an aggressive appearance at the state-run Rupavahini. What soured their actions was the tone in which they spoke and how they behaved after
Several protesters were injured in clashes with the security forces personnel over the last couple of days. Social media reports state that the tear gas used on protesters is harmful and much stronger than the ones used in the past when dispersing crowds. Are these protesters open to massive threats and unwanted trouble because they stepped out of their ‘safe haven’-the GotaGoGama in Galle Face?
Critics are of the opinion that these protesters must return to base which is Galle Face. There they still have the support of elders, the clergy and genuine volunteers who’d cook for them and offer all support services. In cricketing parlance schoolboys in uniform must be at the grounds when the big match is in progress because if they are roaming the streets during ‘play time’ then something is terribly wrong. The protesters are at their safest when they are at Galle Face because the Aragalaya has so much meaning when the protests are taking place there.
Remember the day when the government hired goons were sent to GotaGoGama when it was a happening place? The government couldn’t stomach the success story at GotaGoGama. There was talk that frustration forced the then Premier to initiate the attack on peaceful protesters on May 9. Have the tables been turned on the protesters this time around? Are the aggressive moves made by the protesters a sign of frustration?
Now the picture has changed for the protesters. They are dealing with an acting president who is a seasoned campaigner in the field of politics. Earlier their focus was on a president, elected by the people, who chose not to speak much or be seen with the people. In politics the underlying theme is that only the fittest are ensured of survival. There is no other person better than the veteran politician from the Green Party who can teach these youngsters a trick or two about survival.
The youth who are protesting must survive in the name of the present generation; whose members carry the country’s future on their shoulders. These protesters must be watchful of the factions within their group. They must be alert about elements which are trying to draw their attention to confrontations taking place outside Galle Face.
These protesters- to date- have received the backing of lawyers. Till Wednesday (July 13) these lawyers gave the impression that they’ll back the protesters in most of what they’ll get involved in. But the latest advice from the lawyers to the protesters is for them to hand over the Prime Minister’s office back to the authorities; and that they should do it immediately. These youth need guidance and it not coming till now made the Aragalaya vulnerable to elements which wanted to see their back.
The youth who are protesting must always remind themselves that the protests must continue peacefully and if there is one thing that they mustn’t do that is ‘agitate’ in an aggressive manner.