Hell on earth
June 4th, 2008
Bombs and battering of journos. Bare-faced lying and stealing. Law of the jungle; immunity for the chosen few. All of Sri Lanka is left wondering, ‘can it get any worse?’
By Dharisha Bastians
The abduction and assault of Keith Noyahar, Deputy Editor and Defence Columnist of The Bottom Line’s sister publication The Nation was outrageous and brutal enough. Worse still is the deafening silence from quarters of the political firmament, especially those who have genuinely or otherwise retained a modicum of decency in a sea of corruption and abuse.
Sri Lanka is left wondering today, where are the Karu Jayasuriyas and Milinda Moragodas who crossed over to the government fold promising to bring about good governance, to set the country on the right track. They couldn’t do it with the UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, they charged. It would be different on the other side, they were convinced.
Today, the Moragodas, the Jayasuriyas and the rest of those who promised to ‘reform’ -they stand mute as Sri Lanka slips into a state of terror and anarchy that has grown disturbingly familiar. A bomb blast at the end of each week killing a dozen or so innocents. Media personnel being abducted and assaulted under the cover of night. A law enforcement arm that has completely lost the confidence of the citizenry. And a body politic that continues merrily on its way, even as the world community glares down on Sri Lanka and her constantly deteriorating human rights record.
They say that all that is required for the triumph of evil is for good men to stand around and do nothing. Good men in Sri Lanka have grown tragically rare. Those who might still put the people and the nation first have chosen the path of least resistance. They have chosen to look away.
The people meanwhile, are being put through physical and emotional hell. Socially, politically, financially they cannot seem to raise their heads. The recent record fuel price hikes have proved the biggest possible kick on the common man’s stomach. His bus fares have risen exponentially as will every commodity he must necessarily purchase for survival in the next few days.
In our neighbouring India, this blow upon blow on the poor man’s stomach would have led to mass protests. Housewives would have clanged their pans, general strikes would be called. Across the Palk Straits in Sri Lanka however, any dissent is proving deadly.
The main opposition-the only ones with a degree of immunity to stage protests and demonstrations is a lame duck. It’s quite possible that their demonstrations go untouched because they are fundamentally ineffective. It is to the administration’s advantage that the UNP keeps the numbers in the house and maintains its status (however undeserving) as the country’s main opposition party. Yesterday’s UNP bullock cart rally was a classic example of its ineptitude. There they were, harnessing the power of cattle to block Colombo’s roads for an hour, ending up at a rally that was rained out. Reporters who went to cover the event ended up being the only ones left at the rally, which had been abandoned with a majority of the party’s MPs within a matter of minutes after the rains started to come down. If the state of this country doesn’t warrant a few allegedly rebellious members of the opposition getting a little soaked if they have to in order to get their message across, what we might ask, would be worth it? Ah, the UNP. It’s been good only for a few laughs lately. And we would be laughing a lot more if it weren’t so damn tragic too.
The problem of Sri Lanka today is that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Any sign of light, is more than likely to be that of an oncoming train. It’s no wonder Sri Lankans are lining up as quick as lightning to get the hell out of the country. Caught in a vicious cycle of lies, politics and terror, the people of Sri Lanka are being compelled to find a safer home elsewhere. Those with the resources will pack their bags and board the jet planes. The poor man, penniless and starving will remain, falling again and again for the same political promises, losing family members to one bomb blast after the next, being driven to suicide when he can no longer feed his children.
With no saviours in sight, Sri Lanka is all but lost. [thebotomline.lk]
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