‘REGIME CHANGE’ BEFORE ‘YAHAPALANA’
Posted on January 6th, 2017

KAMALIKA PIERIS

‘Regime change’ made its first appearance in Sri Lanka in September 1959 when S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was assassinated by a Buddhist priest, Somarama, on the verandah of his home. The assassination was planned. That was obvious. But it was not difficult to execute. Bandaranaike had no security protection whatsoever.  Anyone could kill him anywhere.

The public agreed that the person responsible for the assassination was the High Priest of Kelaniya, Buddharakkhita. They readily accepted the ridiculous argument that Buddharakkhita got Bandaranaike killed because Bandaranaike had refused to give Buddharakkhita a contract to import rice and another to set up a sugar factory. Heads of state are not assassinated for such flimsy reasons.

D.B.S.Jeyaraj has openly questioned whether any ‘foreign hand’ was involved in Bandaranaike’s assassination. Did Buddharakkhita and Somarama act on their own? He points out that USA had a strong anti-communist policy at this time. It was well known, he said, that between 1959 and 1962, the CIA was involved in assassinations and assassination attempts on political leaders who were pro-Left, like Lumumba, Sukarno and Fidel Castro. In the 1990s it was found that the CIA had given money to the Dalai Lama who was opposing Communist China’s takeover of Tibet. (http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/33515)

The 1956 MEP government of Bandaranaike marked the start of genuine political independence in Sri Lanka. Bandaranaike took the country away from its darling British loyalties. He made Britain hand over its military bases, Katunayake air base and the Trincomalee naval base to the government of Sri Lanka. Diplomatic relations were established between Sri Lanka and Communist China. Chinese Premier Chou en Lai visited, Beijing Opera followed. Sri Lanka  co-sponsored the resolution to restore China’s legitimate seat at the UN. Bandaranaike’s policies were supported by the powerful ‘sangha, veda, govi,   kamkaru’ pressure group. Bandaranaike had to go.  He went.

There is an interesting religious twist to the Bandaranaike assassination. Somarama   gave up robes during the trial and weeks before his execution was converted to Christianity and was baptized in his cell by the Anglican priest Mathew Peiris. Somarama had used a revolver which had belonged to a notorious underworld figure, Ossie Corea. Ossie Corea was a Catholic. Vimala Wijewardene, another accused, converted to Catholicism and gifted her houses and land to the Catholic Church.

The participation of the sangha in this assassination was expected to be a triumph for anti-Buddhist forces and a terrible blow to the powerful Buddhist movement of the time. But that did not happen. The intended regime change did not take place either.  Bandaranaike’s wife, Sirima took his place as Prime minister in the SLFP led government of 1960 and, to the surprise of everybody, including probably, Sirima herself, ran the country better than SWRD had done.  She     took firm decisions as PM, without dithering, and was excellent in her foreign policy. She seemed set to go on forever. Another round of ‘regime change’ was necessary,

A coup d’état was planned for 27 January 1962. The coup was planned by an assortment of army and police officers.  They were almost entirely, Christian, upper class, westernized, right wing and UNP. The leaders were F. C. de Saram, Commanding Officer, Ceylon Artillery  who later made a confession assuming full responsibility, Maurice De Mel, former Chief of Staff of the Army and Royce de Mel, Captain of the navy. They were joined by  five subordinate officers  from the Ceylon Artillery, several commanding officers from the Ceylon Signals Corps, and one from Ceylon Electrical and Mechanical Engineers .The Police  was represented by C.C.Dissanayake Deputy Inspector General of Police, Sidney de Soysa, former Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) , three Superintendents of Police and two Assistant Superintendents  of Police.

The coup was to be carried out by troops from the 3rd Field Regiment, 2nd Volunteer Antiaircraft Regiment of the Ceylon Artillery, almost the entire officer corps of these regiment were involved, 2nd (V) Field/Plant Regiment of the  Ceylon Engineers, 2nd Volunteer Signals Regiment of the  Ceylon Signals Corps, the  Armored cars of the Sabre troop of the Ceylon Armoured Corps and some members  of the Police.

It was to be a swift, surgical strike, accomplished within a few hours from midnight on the 27th.Police cars equipped with radio and loudspeakers were to go around Colombo and outskirts at midnight, announcing a 24 hour curfew. People had to remain indoors. Anyone seen outside would be shot on sight. Soldiers with vehicles and radio equipment were to be stationed at key locations in suburban Colombo and strategic junctions within Colombo city. Armoured cars and army vehicles fitted with radio equipment were to be stationed at the two Kelani bridges.

Police headquarters, Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and the Central Telephone and Telegraph exchanges would be taken over and all tele-communication suspended until further notice. A special telephone line from the Army headquarters to the Army barracks in Echelon square in Fort had been set up earlier, to be used for urgent intra-army communication. Fully armed Signals corps dispatch riders on motor cycles were to be positioned from 11 pm  at Torrington (Independence) square, to storm Radio Ceylon” and take it over when the password ‘Holdfast ‘ was given.  Lake House and Times of Ceylon were also to be taken over and newspapers were to cease publication for a few days. At Temple Trees the duty officer for the night had been replaced.

After 1956, many Sinhala-Buddhists were taken into the armed forces to counter the large number of Christians who had been recruited in British times. These soldiers it was anticipated would be loyal to the government. The coup leaders had to therefore prevent a potential counter-strike by such officers and troops.  Soldiers stationed at the Panagoda cantonment had to be prevented from entering Colombo at all costs, until the transfer of power was completed. Armoured cars and army vehicles fitted with radio equipment were to be stationed at the Kirillapone Bridge.

The Prime Minister , Cabinet Ministers,  Parliamentary Secretary for Defence and External affairs (Felix Dias Bandaranaike), Permanent secretary to the Ministry of Defence and External affairs (N. Q. Dias),  Army Commander,  acting Captain of the Navy,  Inspector General of Police as well as DIG (CID) (S A. Dissanayake) and SP (CID) (John Attygalle) were to be arrested and taken to the Army Headquarters, where they would be held as prisoners in the ammunition magazine, which was an underground bunker. Government members of Parliament and all LSSP, MEP and CP members of the opposition were to be detained en masse at e the Sravasti” MP’s hostel. Other officials, including service commanders, were to be placed under house arrest in their own homes in Colombo.

Maurice de Mel was to coordinate from Army headquarters, F.C. de Saram from Temple Trees” where the password  was to be British Grenadier” and Dissanayake from President’s House, then known as ‘Queens House”, password was Dowbiggin”. Queen’s House was the official residence of the Governor-General Sir Oliver Goonetilleke. Once the coup was successful, the coup leaders would meet Sir Oliver, request him to dissolve Parliament and take direct control. The country would then be run by a ‘junta’ of ex-Prime Ministers, Dudley Senanayake and Sir John Kotelawela.

The coup never happened. The government was alerted by P de S Kularatne, the leaders were rounded up, charged and found guilty. They got off on an appeal to Privy Council, London. This aborted coup had certain weaknesses. Stanley Senanayake, who held the key position of Superintendent of Police, Colombo was only told of the coup and invited to join it on the morning of the coup. He was also given the option of refusing! Senanayake said he would think about the matter and around noon told Dissanayake that he was not prepared to participate in a coup attempt against a democratically elected government. If a change of government was to be brought about it could only be through elections. Senanayake reported the matter to Kularatne, who alerted the government. Coup leaders should have sounded out Senanayake well before the day of the coup.

Successful military coups are either led by the head of the army, as in the case of Pakistan in 1977 or with the support of the king and army chief as in the case of Greece in 1967.  The Colombo coup was not led by the head of the army which meant that other high ups were masterminding it. It was alleged that several VVIPs were in on this. Sir Oliver Goonetilleke, who was never charged, resigned as Governor-General and went into self-imposed exile in Britain.

I cannot recall what the public thought of this coup at the time, but people are now saying, on the Internet, that western powers were probably behind it. One commentator said the coup was Plan B. Plan A was the assassination of Bandaranaike, which was easily achieved but did not bring the expected outcome. Another said he thought the CIA, MI5 and ‘other such organizations’ were trying to set up puppet governments in the emerging nations. A third commentator wondered whether ‘those guys were being groomed by the CIA to carry out their agendas. Such actions were openly carried out in other countries’.

The next attempt at ‘regime change’ came in 1971, with the JVP insurrection. This  also  was speedily crushed by the government .This insurrection took the country by surprise because it was against a popular,  people oriented  SLFP  government  which  had just one year before, won 91 seats out of 151 in the 1970 general election.  Several politicians, including N.M. Perera   thought the JVP were CIA agents. It is alleged that Rohana Wijeweera had been recruited as an American agent when he was studying in Russia! My view also is that this was a CIA project which jumped the gun.

This particular ‘regime change’ had Marxism as its theme. By 1970, Marxism’s role as a genuine social movement had come to an end and Marxism   was nestling in the arms of non-Marxists like the USA’s CIA.  Shocked readers found in 1967 that the highly regarded magazine ‘Encounter’ had been secretly funded by the CIA. Mature  students from the third world were recruited as ‘socialists ‘ in London and elsewhere  in the early 1970s  and  told to start   a revolution when they went home.

The JVP, like other destabilization movements was headed by a Politburo with district secretaries who met every two months in Colombo. Cadres were organized according to police divisions and police districts. Aliases were used, communication was by code. Training camps were held in secret places. A rudimentary form of military training was given with sketches of guns, rifle drills and karate.

The movement was still at a nascent level when the young JVPers jumped the gun and attacked police stations in April 1971.   They gained control of some areas but did not know what to do next. Instead of taking over neighboring towns and cities and marching on to other areas, they simply waited until those areas were also captured.   They also failed to set up a new government or new administration in the areas they controlled.  They were not trained for that. They were trained to await orders from a higher authority.

There is evidence to show that the JVP had western links. In the late 1980s the JVP had the money to buy three houses. Araliyawatte in Lilambe area Wariyapola, the house at Gonapola junction, Batuwita and the mansion, Katugaha walawwa in Neluwa near Attampitiya road. When an armed gang abducted eight bhikkus of the Manawa Hithawadi Organization in 1988, Somawansa  Amarasinghe phoned Amnesty international in London. Somawansa’s wife and son were sent out of Sri Lanka in 1989, to UK via Italy. Somawansa left the country in 1990, first to Italy and then Switzerland. He returned to Sri Lanka in 2001 from Paris.  In 2010 Nalin de Silva observed that the JVP was being used by the western forces.

The next attempt at ‘regime change’ was the Presidential election of 2010. This became a dress rehearsal for the 2015 election. Sarath Fonseka was persuaded to   contest Rajapakse for the post of President. Commentators noted that the ‘regime changers’ were faced with the problem of ‘how to present a coarse, humorless general as an erudite individual of some refinement and polish and dent Rajapakse unbelievable popularity.’ In one speech broadcast on television, which I listened to, Fonseka referred to one individual as ‘mey ura’ and another as ‘kalaguna salakanne nethi kalavedda’ to which the delighted opposition replied ‘kalavadda kalaguna nosalakana bava dene gatte adai.’

It was said that foreign powers were behind Fonseka’s candidature,’ UK, US and Norway were supporting Sarath Fonseka. Sunday Observer ran a headline, ‘west behind moves to regime change’ and   said that if Fonseka won there would be external interference in Sri Lanka on an unprecedented scale. (Sunday Observer 24.1.10)    Wikileaks leaked a classified US missive, dated 6.11. 2009, which showed that there was US involvement in the election. Asian Tribune said that a massive USD 140 million was pumped into the country through conduits, including NGOs that were friendly to US interests.

Many said Fonseka was a tool of the US government and western interests.  Fonseka had been given permanent residency in USA, they said, Fonseka went to the US in Sept 2008 to tour Washington, while the Sri Lanka army was fighting at Muhamalai and Killinochchi,   another, ‘highly controversial’ trip to the US was arranged in 2009 with US ambassador Blake choreographing the moves they added.  It was also rumored that USA had instructed Fonseka to give US exclusive access to the   Pulmoddai sands. (Daily News 28.1.10 p  7 .  Sunday Leader. 8.8.10 p 13.)

Fonseka won in North and East. TNA’s Sampanthan said at an election rally that Rajapakse had refused to consider TNA demands, while Fonseka said he would consider the demand for merger of North and East.  Fonseka also won in Dehiwela, Negombo, Galle and Colombo Municipality, all electorates where there were less Sinhala Buddhists. Only about 8% Sinhalese voted for Fonseka.  Fonseka lost even in his home town of Ambalangoda.   Rajapakse became the president for a second time through the Sinhalese Buddhist vote. In some electorates he got about 70%. The rural voters were strongly behind Mahinda.

After the election, there was open discussion about the impending foreign intervention in Sri Lanka. Gunadasa Amarasekera said in 2010, ‘We should now be able to see the conspiracy which had been initiated, hatched and executed meticulously going from stage to stage. This is the last stage of that conspiracy and probably the most decisive one which would determine whether we would be able to preserve our country. They would have worked on it for quite some time. In my view Fonseka has been contracted to perform three main tasks, defeat Mahinda, divide the Sinhala vote and get the Tamil vote in Fonseka’s favor. Then secondly, to garner necessary information that could be used as evidence for war crimes. Thirdly, to contest the general elections and break the power of the other parties, with JVP and breakaway sections of the UNP and SLFP. Since the UNP and JVP cannot work together there will be anarchy. And then this would help Fonseka to become a dictator to quell this ‘anarchy’.

The media warned in 2012 that protesters should be careful that they are not being manipulated by vested interests, they should check if any of the NGOs involved are funded by ultra right foundation or by proxies of foreign intelligence organisations. The Jathika Sangha Sammelanaya said, at a press conference, that international conspiracies were being hatched to undermine the sovereignty and independence of Sri Lanka.

In 2014, President Rajapakse said certain powerful nations with vested interest are trying to destabilize countries by installing puppet leaders as head of state. Foreign forces which do not wish to see a stable government in Sri Lanka are plotting with some political elements to set up a puppet government, he added.  Nalin de Silva said ‘What the west wanted is another government like that of Ranil and Chandrika, between 2002 and 2004 when the Ceasefire Agreement was signed.’

5 Responses to “‘REGIME CHANGE’ BEFORE ‘YAHAPALANA’”

  1. Christie Says:

    Banda was a puppet of the Indian Empire and Indian colonial parasites.

    Who became the Irrigation Minister of Ceylon in Banda’s Government Mr. D.B Jeyaraj? You know Mr Jeyaraj what Indian Empire and Indian colonial parasites are doing to their hapless victims in all its colonies be it Ceylon. Fiji , Mauritius, Guyana, Kenya, South Africa and so on.

    Kamala; Did Banda nationalize any business owned by Indian colonial parasite? Under Bandas and JR the Indian colonial parasites prospered. All Dravidayans, Boras, Parsis became richer and richer. They are the ones who Funded Bandas and JR.

    The Captains, ..lingams, Gnanams, …mals, ..jees, ..boys,..manis,…rams etc etc became richer and richer and are controlling the Sinhalese.

    We blame the West and that is part of the brainwashing by the Indian Empire and Indian colonial parasites.

  2. Christie Says:

    Kamala the problem we have is we blame the West for all our problems but not India, Indian colonial parasites or Indian vermin.

    Fonseka, was another Indian recruitment, I am sure Pakiyasothi Sarawanmuthtu and Weliamuna knows this. Fonseka was paid with US dollars but that does not mean it is a US job.

    It is India who got Mahinda as President by asking Indian colonial parasites block vote to abstain from voting. Indian Empire has alternative plans if something goes wrong. From the time Mahinda turned against India; it already had other plans and one of them was Fonseka.

    US is the front for most of the Indian imperialist activities. Remember Indians are a very powerful lobby when it comes to the West be it in USA, UK, or Europe.

  3. helaya Says:

    In 2008 Fonseka came to Washington some of our patriotic group arranged a dinner in a Hotel he was staying. He spoke highly about Gota and MR. Specially mentioned about army had freedom to conduct war without political interference. We all wrote checks for Api Wenuwen Api organization Fonseka’s wife was the head of it. I was disgusted what he did after wining the war.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Helaya,

    Don’t feel bad about Gonseka, all of us who cheered for him as our heroic defender, were betrayed by him.

    Our country lost a lot due to his “white flag” betrayal which initiated the witch hunt of victorious Sri Lanka by its foreign enemies.

    Gonseka joins a long line of military men in world history who have betrayed their country because of UNBOUNDED personal Ambition and Greed.

    Benedict Arnold was a very skilled general of the Continental Army of the nascent United States during the US War of Independence against the British. He was instrumental to the US victory against the British in the Battle of Saratoga.

    He always resented Gen. George Washington, the C-In-C, for not giving him sufficient credit for his skills and performance, and ultimately became insanely jealous of Washington.

    So, he started collaborating with the British and hatched a plot to kidnap Washington and deliver him captive to the British. In return, he struck a deal to get a generalship in the British Army and a land grant from the British after the independence movement was crushed.

    The plot failed, the plotters were caught and hanged, and Benedict Arnold fled to the British. When the British surrendered at Yorktown, he fled for refuge to England and died there an embittered man in abject poverty, denied the fame and fortune for which be betrayed his Motherland.

    Benedict Arnold fell from being a hero to his people to having his name become synonymous with TREASON most foul! Even today, traitors are reviled as Benedicts Arnold in the United States!

    Despite his elevation to Field Marshal by the Yamapalanaya govt, full of TRAITORS like himself who hope to ecploit him for gheir own purposes, Sarath Gonseka has suffered the same fate as Benedict Arnold as a consequence of his UNLIMITED AMBITION and GREED for power, fame and wealth.

    There is an even greater fall from grace in the eyes of his countrymen that is in store for Sarath Gonseka before his life ends. He DESTROYED himself through his dishonourable deeds!

    SAD, but TRUE!

  5. Christie Says:

    When India can dish out millions of US$ a check for few dollars is nothing.

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