Posted on April 30th, 2019

Rev. Fr. Vimal Tirimanna, CSsR  Rome Courtesy The Island

Ever since the Easter carnage the previous week, we had been saturated with all sorts of bizarre and horror stories linked to those blasts which depict how just a few fanatic human beings could be so cruel and inhuman towards their fellow human beings. According to my barber, here in Rome not even animals have ever descended to the levels of those fundamentalist Islamic terrorists though the former would kill if at all to satisfy their natural hunger or in self-defence. Almost all the newspapers and other media channels here in Italy are still replete with news on that senseless Easter massacres in Sri Lanka. One of the main questions raised by many is: “If the Sri Lankan authorities knew beforehand what was going to happen, why did they not act to prevent such a disaster?” Most of us Sri Lankans here are quite embarrassed because we are pathetically helpless in responding to it. But with the media here communicating the superficial and ridiculous responses that had been voiced by our political leaders and those who were in charge of security, the embarrassment has become worse. Consequently, the next question asked is: “Why is the government in Sri Lanka not resigning, if it is a democratically elected government?”

Who will take Responsiblity?

In the aftermath of the Easter massacre, the vital issue that cannot be avoided is what happened to the excellent security network that was in place when the present government took over in January 2015? The extremely effective Sri Lankan intelligence service that played a leading role in militarily wiping out what the FBI itself used to call “the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world”, the LTTE, was unceremoniously and humiliatingly dismantled by the present government leaders, all in the name of human rights. That was mainly to appease the Western governments and the LTTE diaspora who live in those countries. Our government leaders seemed to have forgotten even in countries which self-righteously and hypocritically dare to preach to us about human rights, their national security comes first and in view of that, the intelligence services are always strengthened and never weakened or compromised by those respective governments. But here in Sri Lanka, [in order to please the LTTE diaspora, and in turn, to win the minority Tamil votes], the present government unscrupulously weakened our intelligence services. Of course, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is so notorious for his endemic allergy to these security networks because even in 2003 thanks to his then interventions in parliament about sensitive information, some of our leading intelligence service personnel were routed by the LTTE terrorists at that time. For him, his own survival as Prime Minister seems to override any concerns for national security. So, for the second time in our history during his tenure as the Prime Minister of our country the nation has suffered with such a tragedy. But will he and his government take responsibility for it?

Equally worse is the news that some other foreign intelligence services had informed our security personnel days before this massacre took place (on 4th and 20th April). Quite a number of ministers of the present government themselves have vouched for it. But the way our government leaders had behaved even in view of such information is utterly irresponsible if not whimsical to say the least. To begin with, the Minister of Defence – who is the President himself – was in Singapore at the time of the tragedy. As the government members themselves have pointed out, instead of taking the first flight and getting back home to attend to the unprecedentedly serious security situation, he chose the last flight which reached Sri Lanka almost after 24 hours of the tragic incidents. The President who is the official head of the present government should take responsibility also for not having appointed someone to act on behalf of him as Minister of Defence. Instead of taking responsibility for the lack of security even in the face of prior warnings, the President gleefully dared to tell the media that security heads will change, and that he wished both the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) resign. But by such resignations, who will take the responsibility? As the Italian media reported, the Defence Secretary even as he resigned reiterated that he had informed the relevant authorities (the President?) about the warnings received from external intelligence services. Interestingly, till the penning down of these thoughts the IGP had been giving the impression that at this crucial moment he has gone deaf and dumb!

Not to be outdone by the President, the Prime Minister told foreign media that though the government was aware of ISIS fundamentalist activities in Sri Lanka, none of them could be arrested because the Sri Lankan law does not permit such arrests! As The Island editorial last Saturday so eloquently and convincingly retorted, if what the Prime Minister said is true, under which Sri Lankan law did the then government (also of the same Ranil Wickremesinghe) went out of its way to arrest and hand over some suspected Al Qaida terrorists in Sri Lanka some 16 years ago? If Wickremesinghe’s government really believes in national security of Sri Lanka, they could have emulated the very act they so gleefully performed to please their main patron, the USA, in 2003, the moment they got the intelligence information about ISIS links of local groups. In a democracy personal animosities and tensions between those who lead cannot be reasons for national disaster, but in Sri Lanka apparently the tensed personal relationship between the President and the Prime Minister seemed to have taken the upper hand, and none of them seems to be bothered about what happened as a result.

When the possible threat of Islamic fundamentalism was brought up in parliament by the former Minister of Justice of the present government, Wijedasa Rajapaksa, he was ridiculed and shut down by many of the front-liners of the present government saying that he was raking up racism (“jathiwadaya avussanawa”!). In fact, quite a number of prominent figures of this government, including the Prime Minister do not seem to know to make that subtle but important distinction between raking up racisim and facing the true threats to national security from wherever it may come, whether from the majorities or minorities. The nation as a whole is paying the price so dearly with precious human lives for such ignorance and indifference of our present rulers. The preludes to the last Easter Sunday massacre, such as the ones in Digana and Mawanella, were all hushed up by the present government in the name of protecting minorities, instead of immediately attending to the causes and putting a stop to them. They tried to politicize them by scape-goating only the Opposition for those violent incidents in Digana and Mawanella. In Sri Lanka, today, the fact of being a minority (especially in race or religion) is often used as a political shield to cover whatever the members of such minorities do, and this dangerous attitude is openly patronized by the present government merely to win the minority votes. Again, we see how the main motive of this present government is their own sheer survival.

Security Threats are not yet over!

Worse still, even as these thoughts are jotted down, there is a news item just coming in which says that President Sirisena using the power vested in him, under Emergency Regulations, has at last banned the two extreme fundamentalist Islamic groups, the National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem (JMI). Till now (that is even a week after Easter Sunday ), except for the dedicated and enthusiastic operations of the Sri Lankan security forces and the police, the government seems to be in deep slumber with regard to brining in laws to arrest this curse of fundamentalist Islamist terrorism in Sri Lanka, and also in banning such extremist Islamic organizations. This is the same government which lost no time in passing laws even in an undemocratic way in order to harass their local political opponents. Today after one of the worst national disasters of our country, we have our President and the Prime Minister blaming each other! Why is the government not so enthusiastic to enact anti-terrorist laws even at this late hour, with the same enthusiasm they evinced in bringing in laws to imprison and harass their political opponents? Again, we see how the present government would go out of its way, walking even the extra mile, whenever it wished to pass laws to stay-put in power such as postponing Provincial Council elections, while hesitating to get laws enacted to do with national security.

Ever since the Easter Sunday massacre, huge amounts of terrorist gear with dangerous weapons re being continued to be discovered each passing day, from all parts of the island (even within some of the Muslim places of worship), indicating clearly the nefarious plans of the extremist Islamist groups. This clearly indicates a very serious and continuous security threat to our nation. Yet the present government seems to be least interested in enacting laws for national security, and thus, enabling the security forces their tasks even smoother at this critical juncture. Except to pass laws of emergency and to impose night curfews, on the part of the government nothing special to meet this unprecedented dangerous situation is done. This is the government which came to office haranguing about human rights, democracy and anti-corruption, and by now, it has demonstrated very convincingly that it has failed in all these three important issues, and in fact, it has performed worse than the previous government. That the right to life of any and every citizen is the first and most important fundamental human right is ignored or waived off by their lackadaisical approach to security. By deliberately postponing the elections to the Provincial Councils, the government has destroyed the franchise of the citizens which is a main tenet of any democracy. To top all that, by protecting those who robbed the Central Bank in daylight and sweeping all information about it under the carpet, this government has topped the list of corrupt governments in our post-Independence history. In other words, it has failed to keep the promise to protect the human rights, democracy and be anti-corruption. Does such a government has a right to continue? This question becomes even more acute when we consider the fact, that Ranil Wickremasinghe never got a clear-cut mandate to form a government because his party, the UNP, won only 105 seats at the 2015 August general elections, 8 seats short of an absolute majority. It is simply by offering ministerial posts to others who got elected from different political platforms, with different political agendas, that the UNP managed to form a government.

Government should bow out respectfully!

Why does a country need a government? First of all for its own national security, which is part of the common good. This is an agreed tenet of belief with regard to rulers even much before democratic forms of governments came into being. The bounden duty of rulers even in ancient times has always been to protect its citizenry. It is not to narrate fairy-tales about human rights (though it is a vitally important concept for any contemporary society) at the expense of national security. Whatever their other faults may had been, it is an objective fact that the previous government did safeguard the ordinary citizens, even by waging a war against the ruthless LTTE terrorists as a last resort, when all the other available alternatives failed. Those who had been crucial of that decision to wage a war against the LTTE basing themselves on human rights, should tell us clearly now what is more important for an elected government – to allow ordinary unarmed citizens to suffer at the hands of terrorists or doing everything possible to eliminate such terror and save the citizens? As this writer had been consistently sharing his views in the columns of this newspaper, whether it is the LTTE, the ISIS linked extremist Islamist terrorist organizations (or whether it is his own kith and kin) who are engaged in terrorism, no government can (and should) turn a blind eye to them, leaving the innocent citizens to be brutally murdered by the terrorists. Just because some of those involved in terrorism are my relatives/acquaintances, or just because they are linked to those political parties that support my government, is no excuse to let terrorists have an upper hand over the ordinary peace-loving Sri Lankan citizens. Whoever is a threat to national security is a threat to the democratic functioning of a government, and so, they need to be stopped in order to save the ordinary peace-loving citizens and their fundamental right to live. Without attending to the national security that would first of all safeguard the fundamental right to live, to give fairy tales about human rights, as so many in the present government and their NGO cronies are still doing while sitting in their arm-chairs, is ridiculous.

Just because the Sri Lankan Catholic community is pacifist, our present rulers should not take them for granted. Their patience, too, has limits. The Catholic community had been exemplary in their behaviour with regard to this most outrageous and barbaric act committed on one of their most sacred days and that too in the very heart of one of the Catholic bastions in the island, Negombo. By averting a revengeful bloodbath, they have borne witness to their Lord Jesus Christ who Himself did not act violently against those who heaped violence upon Him on a cross. But their good will and love for peace should not be used to sweep under the carpet what happened on Easter Sunday. The government has to take responsibility and go ahead and bell the cat, even if it means losing the minority votes! Just appointing commissions is nothing but hoodwinking the masses as we had seen in recent times with regard to other notorious crimes of the present government, such as the day-light robbing of the Central Bank through the Bond Scam scandal. The reader ought to recall that it was the same Prime Minister and some of his close cronies who insisted that the main accused of that Bond Scam be appointed the Governor of the Central Bank, and then, went on to defend him in no lesser place than the parliament itself. But has any culprit been brought to the book till now? Has anyone in the government taken responsibility for that day-light robbing? What guarantee is there that the same procedure of buying time to forget things (by appointing committees!) may also not be the fate of this most heinous crime of Easter Sunday?

As already mentioned above, this so-called ‘yahapalana’ government has become a ‘yamapalana’ government for the country in every sense of the word, just feathering nests of their own kith and kin. It is high time now for them to bow out respectfully, before they would be chased out of office disgracefully, by the people. For they have failed in all the major duties of a responsible government. The recent callous attitude towards the foreign intelligence warning before-hand of the impending danger of Easter Sunday, and the lethargic attitude even in the aftermath of that carnage with regard to national security are clear indications that the present government is not interested at all in saving the lives of innocent citizens, the most fundamental of all human rights. As such, they have no right to continue in office. It is time for them to resign as any other democratic government anywhere else in the world would have done, and then, call for fresh general elections. After all, the present government claims that they are democratic. So please God let them resign and face an election and thus save our dear country and its peace-loving citizens.


  1. aloy Says:

    Yes, not only they should resign, we should go back to squire number one to keep those disruptive elements at bay: the 1948 constitution. Only the military can get it done. Hope that there are a few guys who are not chicken hearted.

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