Why The FTA Shooting Could Lower The Administration’s Popularity Ratings And Play Into The Hands Of Its Enemies
Posted on June 13th, 2011

In retrospect By Sarath Kumara

May13th. 2011
When 22-year-old Sri Lankan worker Roshan Chanaka was pronounced dead at the Colombo North Hospital on Jun. 1, killed indiscriminately byƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  trigger happy policemen who sprayed live bullets into an unarmed throng of protestersƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ in the vicinityƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Sri Lanka’sƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Katunayaka International Airport in a declared Free Trade Zone it brings to bear the shame of authoritarian force which the Rajapaksha Admininstration is often accused of, this timeƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ with the tangible evidence of what a misdeed it has turned out to be and thereƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ needs toƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ beƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ accountability beyond the pathetic compensation offeredƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ to the victim as it points to some of the vulnerabilities the Administration in recent times has shown and could easily play into the hands of the opposition ever ready to prey on such circumstances ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ towards the betterment of their own political perspective.
ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 
It is hardly compensation for this heinous and irresponsible act on the part of Sri Lanka’s Law Enforcement Organization the Police Force that its head has tendered his resignation in the aftermath where nothing would really compensate for the loss of Mr. Chanaka and lessons need to be learned for future consideration or else consequences will need bearing.
On May 30, Mr. Chanaka had joined a protest against a proposed private sector pension scheme at the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ),ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ about 30 km north of the capital Colombo, where he workedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ .ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ He wasƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ well within his legitimate entitlements as a union member to do so, he was not in violation of any lawsƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ but for reasons best known to them alone the police used excessive force and firedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ live bullets to quell the protest, fatally wounding Chanaka. More than 250 others, including over a dozen police officers, were injured in the ensuing melee.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This was followed by the resignation of the Inspector General of Police who had done so in apparent contrition with hardly an alternativeƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  beyond the admission of guilt emphasizing how the tough run when the going gets roughƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ but the accountabilities in all probabilities need to be shared by the Rajapaksha Administration which seemed to have unleashedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  a terror campaign to disperse the protesting workers which is not only totally unacceptable but also a violation of their democratic rights andƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ a pathetic shame.

It has been reported that even before 22-year-old Sri Lankan worker Roshan Chanaka was pronounced dead at the Colombo North Hospital on Jun. 1, in the aftermnathƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ of this terrible tragedyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ a large contingent of military personnel had moved in to secure the building and laid seige to the small undertakerƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s premises to which hMr.Chanaka’s body was later brought whereƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ the soldiers had ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ followed almost asserting an unbelievable authority (on whose orders it is not known?) but takes no rocket science to assume as they probably rest on the head honcho himself if one were to make an educated guess but to what purpose one might ask?.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ While it has obviouslyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ taken a huge emotionalƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ toll on Mr Chanaka’s family with whom we need to condoleƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ and those who remember him as a promising young worker gunned down needlessly by a ruthless Police forceƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  as it appears where in continuance of the aggravation the Armed Forces haveƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ furtherƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  asserted their force and authority untilƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Mr Chanaka, a worker from a Sri lankanƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ industrial park, was laid to rest three days later, giving the funeral the appearance of a military drill which many of his co -workers as well as his familly have found objectionable and totally uncalled forƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ on an insult to injury( death in this case)ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ basis despite the reality that theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ heavy military presence was a message the government was not going to let the funeral become a vehicle for further demonstrations but in a humanitarian sense as well as from the dignities pertaining to the rights of the individual, unacceptable.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 
ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ On the day of his funeral, hours before the planned procession in the afternoon, the military removed ChanakaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s body from his fatherƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s house and brought it to a small church nearby. The villagers protested, but the body was kept at the church for over five hours and whatever the Government as well as its armed forces were trying to accomplish they seem to have irked the wrath of many decent law abiding Sri Lankans where there adversaries in opposition are alsoƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ probably having a huge chuckle.

As the military laid out a heavy dragnet, armed soldiers stood beside the entrance and lined the short path the funeral procession took. Only relatives were allowed to remain inside the church. Everyone else, thousands of them, had to walk single file, pay their respects and move out which by itself is a mockery to the dignities of those who turned out to mourn the loss of Mr Chanaka.
“It was as if the government wanted to make sure it had control of the entire funeral,” said one mourner who did not wish to be identified and attested to some of the opposition calls of authoritarian rule needlesly implemented by the Rajapaksha Administration at a time when it needs to tread cautiously, particularlyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ in light of the many accusations being levelled at them from certainƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  powerful enclaves of the global community which could harm its image and bring it to disrepute.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 
Perhaps it is time the Rajapaksha Administration focusedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  on the importance of getting its act together in beingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ empathetic towards the needs of all Sri Lankans without exercising paranoias which have destroyed previous regimes on this identical basis as the people who voted him into power may be watching in dismay some of the excesses his regime seems to be indulging in purely because of the two thirds majority he has in parliament today which however does notƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ necessarily give him carte blance to what some of his critics suggestƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ are apparentƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ abuses of power where the only means by which he could contradict this notion is to show a greater retraint in how he deals with public demonstrations or else he will surely be playing into the hands of his enemiesƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ both locally and globally!

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