‘REGIME CHANGE’ BEFORE ‘YAHAPALANA’
Posted on July 13th, 2017

KAMALIKA PIERIS

Revised 13.7.17

‘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. ‘There are interests which make attractive the disrupting of our democracy. Corruption is the charge now made for changing President Rajapaksa. Before the next wave of development comes after the war, there interested parties who want to breakdown what we have built on the efforts of our soldiers. There are individuals working as puppets to western big powers, said the media.

Many said Fonseka was a tool of the US government and western interests.  Fonseka had been given permanent residency in USA, 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 said.  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 ).

Presidential election 2010 was characterized by the amount of rumors, by the ‘katakatha brigade’. Using emails and SMS.  Most of these were from the elite in Colombo and other urban areas. the English speaking ‘intellectuals’ mainly Tamils or NGO Christians not to mention a few ‘broad minded’ Sinhala Buddhists  took the lead in the misinformation. Week after week they told us that this was going to be a close fight. Chandrika Kumaratunga had also supported Fonseka. In Jan 2010, BBC reported that she had said she was backing Fonseka. She had warmly      welcomed Fonseka when we visited her in Horagolla in a motorcade with media personnel in tow and posed for a picture with him.

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.

Prior to the election Fonseka was moving to Colombo, soldiers he considered loyal to him from the Sinha regiment and the Special Forces. He was also collecting deserters. After the elections results were announced, Fonseka and his entourage behaved peculiarly, Fonseka took up residence in a posh hotel, hiring a whole floor, together with, as I recall, Karu Jayasuriya Mangala Samaraweera and army deserters. A few slaps had been exchanged. My view, at the time was that Fonseka’s foreign handlers had arrived to run the country. Nothing happened however, the defeated group eventually left the hotel. President Rajapaksa had taken the precaution of stationing the army in front of this hotel.

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.’

 

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

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Gomin’s article on 2015 is an eye opener. The West attempted in 2005 and 2010 too but failed. Western involvement was always there and very well known. Inability to counter the western conspiracy is equal to supporting it in the eyes of the people. There is no use of a government claiming to be patriotic but survives at the mercy of western and Indian conspirators. At some point it became an annoying joke as entire families of the ruling group were Americans themselves and the rest rushing to US hospitals for medical treatment yet claiming there is an American conspiracy.

    The first regime change was in 1956. The UNP government went ahead with the rubber-rice pact with China in 1953 against stiff US and Indian resistance. Prime Minister even threatened to nationalise US and UK oil companies if they refused to refuel Chinese ships. Not stopping at that, the government let the Anglo Ceylon Defence Partnership Agreement (signed in 1947) with the UK and USA elapse in favour of winning Soviet support on UN entry. It worked. Soviet Union after 7 years stopped vetoing Ceylon’s entry to the UN. As a result, the West gave up on the UNP paving the way for the only Christian leader of Sri Lanka with a westernised upbringing take the reigns. It doesn’t make him bad.

    Fonseka won about 30% of Sinhala votes, not 8%. Mahinda won about 25% of minority votes in 2010.

  2. Vaisrawana Says:

    Thank you very much, Kamalika Pieris, for this interesting as well as useful recap of the history of despicable conspiratorial manipulations by the US against our independence, sovereignty, communal harmony and normal economic development since the overthrow of the local Western stooges in 1956, a change that was reinforced in 1972, and in 2009, each time however, conspiratorially undone. In 1956, this progressive change was democratically effected through the mobilization of the Fivefold Force of the Sangha, Native Physicians, Teachers, Farmers, and Workers. That was how SWRD Bandaranaike had analysed the composition of the politically aware non-elite Lankan populace (the common people). Though the structure of our society/electorate has undergone change in the course of time, it still stands in the same (prey to predator) relation to the so-called ‘international community’ (the Western bloc) whose power (political, economic, military, diplomatic) over us today manifests itself in the form of neo-colonialism, neo-liberalism, globalization, etc., or whatever analysts choose to call it. The last term is hardly used in discussions nowadays, probably because it is taken for granted.

    Popular awareness is the most effective weapon against treacherous anti-national forces. Even well meaning individuals could be used as unsuspecting agents of these diabolical conspirators, who always operate hand in hand with local stooges. In this respect, your contribution could be very useful to the present adult generation, including particularly today’s youth, to whom (through no fault of theirs) even the recent political history of the country is a closed book.

  3. Christie Says:

    Jeyaraj?

    Yoe believe all his. Good brainwashing by Indian interests Kamalika.

    Let me tell you Banda and his partners were funded by Indian and Indian Colonial Parasite Merchants in Colombo. Direct financiers were Cpatains (N M Perera) Gnanam (Phillip) Kundanmals and Hidramanis (Banda). All Tamils, Parsis, Boras, Keralayans and others provide funds as they do it today.

    Indians blame the West that is they do it and hide behind the usual West.

    If not for the British we would not have all these Jeayarajs, Mais, Mals, Jees, Boys

    Kamalika are you saying conviction of Banda killings were a Legal Fraud. So you say the Courts and Judges were more corrupt then than now.

    What comes through the West is what Indian vermin (Bharat Prawasi Das) in the West do to us.

    Eat a Thosai, Biriyani or a Chikent Tikka and bark at the West and while the Indians stick Sivalinga up our ….

    Modi did exactly that when he visited us last to celebrate Veask. Direct flight to Varanasi for Buddhists and Hindus from Katunayaka.

  4. NAK Says:

    Kamalika is generally right about the west’s interference in our country,including the JVP. Indian’s will want their pound of flesh but never spend money on it. Money was there to be seen when brand new US$ bills were found in bank vault of SF’s son in law’s mother.
    Anura kumara then publicly declared that an explanation will be made forthwith but yet to be made.

    Christie through his colour card sees only Indian vermin.True Indian vermin were there in the 2015 but not before.
    Like the LTTE JVP played double agent for both India and US.
    LTTE ended their journey without achieving their goal and the JVP is on the throes of that fate that too without achieving anything.

  5. Christie Says:

    Indians spend money when they have to and they spend the minimum required to achieve the maximum results.

    Indian vermin from USA send almost 70 billion US$ a year to India. They are Indian migrants or ones on H & B visas. So spending a billion dollars to interfere in our internal affairs is not much for India.

    It is Indian money or money from Indian vermin in the USA that was paid to get hold oh Sarath Fonseka.

    Sarath Fonseka I am sure had a lot of money to spend for his election provided by India paid in US dollars and Sri Lankan Rupees.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Cold War type politics – the bane of govts of Lanka.
    Lanka Ports & strategic location, ditto.
    Indian fears of western take over of Lanka and taking separatist prone Tamil Nadu & South along, ditto.

    Lankans can go PATRIOTIC to survive.
    Lankans can go Self Sufficient in every way to survive.
    Lankans can measure their wellbeing with the PQLI method and unify and survive.
    Lankans can make sure that the Man : Land balance is maintained by giving FREE & safe birth control material to adults.

    Many more ideas needed to overcome strife in Lanka !
    Do write in ideas to survive.

  7. vyasan Says:

    I agree generally with what Kamalika has said about the western involvement into the affairs of Sri Lanka, and the use of people from the elite circle to achieve their goal, i.e. regime change. In the same pattern, after the failure of the JVP uprising in 1971, I believe they started to use the Tamils of Sri Lanka to destabilize Sri Lanka politically paving way for the eventual division of the country which would have made the country into two, one of which would be the southern western and central parts of the country combined under one rule, and the North-eastern part including the coveted port city of Trincomalee under the Tamils. The West then would have been able to use the so-called “Tamil Eelam”, as their puppet state to further their interests in the region of South Asia. Also, another possibility would have been that following the division of Sri Lanka, the various ethnic states in India, at least the Southern states if not the Northern ones, would start to push for separation within India, thinking if were possible for the Tamils in Sri Lanka to succeed in dividing the small country why not we, a much larger population couldn’t do it in India, making it easy for the West to set their foothold again all over the South Asian region. Keep it in mind, that there are always people ready to fall at the feet of any power if they could be personally benefited, whether it means getting large sum of money, positions or just a permanent residency in those countries.

    Having said that, what I personally believe in the case of Tamil militancy is that the Tamils ( the youths as well as the politicians) were first manipulated and used by India as the Indian saw the then Mrs. Bandaranayake government as pro-China in the early 1970’s and the J.R.’s government as pro-USA (or pro-Western)after he assumed power in 1977, who seemed to be ready for allowing the US have a base in Trincomalee. However, the Tamil militants, initially trained by the RAW of India, especially the LTTE group, were eventually used by the West, after Anton Balasingam, the LTTE spokesperson, arrived the U.K. in the early 1980’s. Remember those who were seemed to have friendly relation with India, whether politicians like Amirthalingam or other Tamil groups like TELO and EPRLF were eliminated by the LTTE.

    Fortunately, for the country of Sri Lanka, the leaders who kept dancing to the tune of foreign powers were either gone or defeated and Mahinda Rajapakse was elected as president. The country was saved not only from terrorism but also from falling into the trap of Western powers. Now it is up to the people of Sri Lanka to decide again what they should be doing and whom they should be trusting to save the country once again. In my view, as far as I can see, there is no true leader in Sri Lanka with the single exception of Mahinda Rajapakse!

  8. Dilrook Says:

    @Vaisrawana

    There are many things that don’t add up in conspiracy theories. First, why did those who blamed Sirisena of conspiracies join him just a few months later “to strengthen his hands”, contested under Sirisena Chinthanaya and refuse to leave him! One cannot both join conspirators and blame the conspiracy at the same time.

    In 2007 Weerawansa as JVP leader and Vasudeva as CMC Opposition Leader blamed the government over a US conspiracy of the military inter-operability agreement (the second military deal with USA in 60 years). They demanded the government release details, cancel it and wanted to know the role a US citizen at the Ministry of Defence played in the conspiracy. Strangely, both of them joined the alleged conspirators a few years later. Now the current JVP leader is also blaming the same conspiracy and warns Sirisena not to renew the military deal with USA. From 2010 to 2014, USA held more joint military exercises with Sri Lanka than with any other South Asian country. Other US allies with anti-China views promised to donate 4 warships to Sri Lanka during this time. Surely it was a conspiracy to drive a wedge between Sri Lanka and China?

    TNA and Tamil groups blame a US conspiracy for not prosecuting US citizens they allege involved in war crimes. As they are US citizens, USA can unilaterally prosecute them, if it wants. No such action was forthcoming. Is it because USA believes they were not into war crimes or is it due to another US conspiracy?

    Fourthly, some of those who allege US conspiracies are US citizens themselves bound to complete allegiance to USA by oath and they have vowed never to give up US citizenship.

    This reminds me the folk story of Andare’s plan to eat sugar. The scary question is, who is not part of the conspiracy?

  9. Vaisrawana Says:

    Dilrook may be indulging in sophistry as entertainment?

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