GALLE FACE PROTEST AND HOW “OPERATION 2.0” WAS FOILED?
Posted on September 14th, 2022

By Sena Thoradeniya

1.  A Repetition of History

In an article published in an English daily on June 9, I brought to the attention of local and international supporters, sympathisers and theorists of Galle Face Protesters an impending catastrophe that would have sent shock waves through their nerves. Instead of making a detailed description of the approaching events I just pointed out the imminent Warning Shadows”.

Old timers may remember the 1971 insurrection launched by the unemployed, disgruntled, petti-bourgeois rural and urban youth and destruction of property and mass killings seventeen years later, during 1988-1989 respectively. I questioned whether in 2022, twenty-four years later have we come to the verge of observing a repetition of history, a 3-G catastrophe.”

I have categorically stated that the Galle Face Protest was no more a peaceful”, non-partisan” agitation of angry young men and women”. Even at that time it was led by activists and front organisations of JVP and FSP. IUSF and JVP Kalakarayas had become its formidable force. Soon a banner at the protest site appeared as Sarvapakshika Aragalakaruwo” or All-party Protesters”. A JVP MP had admitted in a TV talk show that the protest had become a Sarvapakshika” and Bahupakshika” (multi-party) struggle and it had a political leadership.

2. 1971, The First Attempt

In 1971, JVP launched a one-day armed insurrection to capture state power overnight. Wijeweera was inspired by his contemporary at Moscow Hanga, who captured power of the tiny island of Zanzibar in the west coast of Africa in one night along with his comrade Karume.  Zanzibar,called the Venice of the Indian Ocean was famous for its spices. It is of the size of Colombo city, governed by a Sultan, which did not have its own army. Before an imperialist onslaught Zanzibar amalgamated itself with the then Tanganyika (present Tanzania). JVP tried to transplant this ‘‘One Day Revolution” in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon).  Wijeweera said that one day, the Lankans would go to sleep under an old government and on the following day awake under a new government! They were so sure of capturing state power in one night and did not have an alternative plan if the insurrection failed. All subsequent plans were mapped out by the retreating men and women in combat fatigue themselves as a means of survival. Kudos for their ingenuity, bravery and endurance.

3. 1988-1989, The Second Attempt

1988-1889 attacks took a different shape, beginning with the very crude and unrefined slogan in Sinhala JR Maramu” (Let’s kill JR).” Unidentified gunmen” started the killing spree. Learning from their past mistakes we observed that the JVP and its ally FSP were adopting a different strategy and tactics in 2022.

We warned the supporters and sympathisers of Galle Face Protesters and those who provided theories to this Protest and Colombo glitterati how the JVP/DJV in 1988/1989 eliminated former JVP stalwarts such as Nandana Marasinghe, Deva Bandara Senaratne, T.B.Wijesuriya, Jamis Ethugala et al. The Protesters do not read what these theorists write in English and violence will come to their doorstep too.

4. Preparing for the Third Upheaval

In no time the JVP and FSP had succeeded in becoming the leading force at Galle Face and other protest sites. These two rival factions had forged an alliance and admitted in public that their youth activists were already working together at Galle Face protest site. This was no more than a marriage between a populist group engaged in Populism and a group paying lip service to Marxism; what type of a Marxism they uphold we do not know.

JVP General Secretary said that, our party had been there right from the beginning; we have our youth, cultural, students’ and women’s wings at Galle Face”. He defended the jeering at and shoving of opposition leader on May 09: People hate to see politicians travelling in luxury vehicles with security contingents. People detest politicians trying to stay above them. The opposition leader went there in a luxury vehicle with the security guards and his henchmen; So, he had to face the wrath of the people”. Who were his people”? It was a JVP soap opera actor who shoved the Leader of the Opposition.

We observed that their third upheaval” acquiring a protracted nature. But it is an affront to Chairman Mao’s theory of Protracted War which emancipated millions of workers and peasants in China, if someone calls it a Protracted War” or a Peoples’ War”.

General Secretary of the FSP in a press interview (published on June 1) had told that the current public agitation should be sustained in the long run, that it should not be confined to Galle Face alone and spread across the country. This was something similar to creating multiple fronts inthe onslaught in a Peoples’ War. Expansion. But the protesters in the final analysis failed either to consolidate in one place or expand to new areas and organising the masses.   

Lal Kantha, the JVP bigwig addressing a meeting at Thambuththegama (reported on 01 June), threatened to lay siege to Parliament until the present Parliament was dissolved. He said that his party had discussions with many other parties, trade unions, religious and civil society leaders, artists, intellectuals and lawyers to decide the place of the struggle. He further stated that the date that ends the on-going struggle will soon be announced. It will be a day of Parliamentary sittings, he said.

His plan was to besiege the Parliament, closing down all roads and demanding that all MPs passing a motion to dissolve the current Parliament; that MPs would not be allowed to come out from the Parliament without voting for a motion to dissolve the Parliament. He also asked the Protesters to shift the venue of the protest site from Galle Face to Diyawannawa. No proof was necessary to show that these two groups had become the decisive force behind the Galle Face Protest. A protest site at Polduwa Junction was established and another at Diyatha Uyana; slogans changed to Aragalaya Diyawannawen Obbata” (Beyond Diyawannawa).

It was very clear that their aim was reenacting a Guatemalan type struggle in Sri Lanka. Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s drama at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute, presenting of set of files as documentary evidence of corruption of Rajapaksas and some other politicians, already exposed in detail by political commentators of Sunday newspapers many years ago, and their own Dooshana Virodhee Peramuna” during Yahapalana regime was part of that stratagem. Similar anti-graft activities preceded protests that took place outside the Presidential Palace in Guatemala too.

Vijitha Herath, JVP MP, addressing a meeting at Nugegoda said that they had made Mahinda Sulanga” (Mahinda Wind the first meeting of MR after his defeat in 2015 held at Nugegoda), a ‘‘Mahinda Kunatuwa” (Mahinda Hurricane”) to throw away all Rajapaksas. Repeating the same at a meeting at Matara he said that they would dethrone the entire Rajapaksa clan (all names mentioned) as happened in Guatemala.  

A 22-minute video shared among Samakaami” (peaceful) and Nirpakshika” (non-partisan) Galle Face Protesters drew parallels between Guatemalan rulers and Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka. The narrator in Sinhala said that the peaceful protest should go beyond – aiming violent overthrow of the corrupt rulers. The narrator with the aid of a visual portrayed the present struggle as the tip of the iceberg, its massive mass underneath waiting for the Titanic.

5. May 09: The Dress Rehearsal

On May 09 WhatsApp groups sent registration numbers of busses that had transported Pohottuwa supporters to Temple Trees meeting and exact locations of the houses of other Pohottuwa MPs to their Helmet Brigades”.  Within a few minutes the island was turned into an inferno. It was not a spontaneous response to the goon attack as the Colombo socialites had written. New technology was used to locate the houses. 

This time arson took place with the aid of drones and Molotov cocktails. Ordinary farmers who demanded fertiliser, housewives who demanded cooking gas, milk powder and essential food items, motorists who clamoured for petrol and diesel did not have these items in their shopping lists.

Lal Kantha, the JVP stalwart in a YouTube interview said on May 09 he called all trade union leaders to Galle Face and telephoned all his senior cadres in every important city and advised his local party leaders in the districts to launch protests in their areas  against the goon attack on the Galle Face Protesters, to take revenge for destroying tents and other( illegal) structures of the Galle Face Protesters. Those who do not support the protest movement were not citizens (puravesiyo”), he defamed. JVP’s trade union leader called for a General Strike. As the unidentified gunmen” in 1988-1989, there emerged members of the unidentified helmet brigade” who carried out island wide arson and destruction, whose affiliation to a political party was not revealed, but the connections were evident.  

In the night of May 09, the protesters tried to breach into Temple Trees; Molotov cocktails were hurled; who is capable of making such devices? Only those who blasted claymore mines in the South during the height of insurgency. Their aim was to lynch MR. Protesters gathered in front of Trincomalee naval base, demanding MR to come out when MR found temporary refuge there. It was unthinkable that this had happened in an area liberated from the clutches of LTTE by the same person who by now had become the hunted.     

One-time JVP MP Handunnetti, soon after May 09 addressing a meeting at Matale said that, violence must be encountered with violence; thus, he justified the arson and destruction that took place on May 09. This was no more than vulgarisation of a dictum of revolutionaries; but he should be reminded that revolution is not arson and plunder. British colonialists unleashing a massive wave of violence, burnt houses, paddy fields and barns, destroyed irrigation works and homesteads, slaughtered cattle of the people of Uva, Wellassa and Dumbara in 1818.  Does Handunnetti say that this was correct, how the colonialists reacted to peoples’ uprising with violence?  

While revisiting May 09 attacks, arson and killings, we reluctantly ask whether this was a miscalculation as happened on 04 April, 1971, attacking Wellawaya police station one day prior to the fixed date? 

JVP had advised their front organisation, Ethera Api” (We Are Overseas”) not to send remittances to Sri Lanka, strangling the economy further. JVP publicist Sunil Handunnetti had twittered commenting on the grow more food campaign”, Wavanna Pera Peralanna” (Oust them before you grow”). The Aeroflot incident was only a part of this grand conspiracy aimed at suspension of Russian tourists and tea exports to Russia. The attorney-at-law who was in the midst of this highhanded act went scot free. BASL washed its hands under the pretext that they did not get a complain about this misdemeanor. Did it get an invitation to form human chains” to protect protesters, chant slogans in front of courthouses and applaud when arsonists/vandals/criminals in the guise of protesters were bailed out?

We warned that the third upheaval will be different from the first two. It can be a forcible occupation of TV stations and Parliament, abrogating the existing constitution and declaring a new government. Events of 1988-1989 Bheeshanaya” (Reign of Terror) would have unfolded in an unprecedented scale. We also asked not to be fooled if this happens; that it will bring socialism to Sri Lanka. It will be a Sri Lankan version of Talibanism. Nothing else.

6. Wrong Singles from Time to Time

It is well-known that the JVP leadership true to its formula says something today and another some other day. When Sajith Premadasa called for a Parliamentary election sometime back it asked him to get his head examined. Later Lal Kantha said that their cadres were ready to engage in election duties voluntarily if an election will be held. This showed that they did not have even a rudimentary knowledge of conducting a General Election, that an election cannot be conducted easily as distributing handbills to railway commuters. His proposal reminded us how a train load of UNP thugs transported from NWP, conducted” the Jaffna District Development Council Elections under JRJ and burning of Jaffna library thereafter.

Another day the JVP said that they could resolve the present crisis provided that they will be given power; but they did not accept what was offered to them by GR. A few weeks later it said that it was willing to join an all-party government set up for a specific period of time under certain conditions. These pronouncements  compelled Editorialists of English dailies to comment in mid-June, Reality Mellows Reds”. But true to its nature JVP along with SJB decided to boycott Parliamentary sessions, reminding us JVP’s cohabitation with the Yahapalana government.

Galle Face Protesters applauded the SJB-JVP move. This was the time that Nirpakshika Aragalakaruwo” (Non-partisan protesters) metamorphosised into Sarvapakshika Aragalakaruwo” (All-party protesters).  They cried in unison that the second wave was coming soon”.This should not be confused with the Two-stage Revolution, New Democratic Revolution and Socialist Revolution. Its only parallel was LTTE’s unceasing waves.”

Ironically JVP having only three parliamentary seats contested for the Presidency after the resignation of GR. Now they castigate that the incumbent President elected by the Parliament has no mandate from the people; if that election was illegal and has no mandate from the people why did they field their candidate in the first place instead of rejecting the whole process, lock, stock and barrel? It was comical to see that the man who proposed AKD’s name, acting as his Counting Agent” too.

We still remember how the JVP managed the affairs of the four key Ministries assigned to them by CBK. These key Ministries , Agriculture (Anura Kumara Dissanayake), Fisheries (Piyasiri Wijenayake),  Rural Industries (Lal Kantha) and Culture and National Heritages (Vijitha Herath) taken together were like the heart and soul of the peasantry, fishermen, rural artificers and craftsmen and cultural activists respectively, good enough to capture power waging an ideological campaign as the above stakeholders consisted of more than 90% of the total population of Sri Lanka. In a time of plain sailing in tranquil waters, undisturbed by any natural calamity, all four ministers failed miserably without keeping any lasting footprint. Enough for their future governance.

7. What the Protesters Wanted?

At the time the JVP leadership said that they were willing to join an all-party government, Kerner, a leading member of Galle Face Protesters called for an uprising” and threatened those who were not in favour with them to face the Janatha Adhikaranaya” (in other words their kangaroo courts). He threatened certain media institutions also that if they do not fall in line the same treatment will be accorded to them. Colombo-based Youtubers said that the Gona” ( the elk: denoting GR) had been caught in the snare and the time had come to skin it! Colombo academics, bourgeois intellectuals and retirees still valorise illusory peaceful” protesters not knowing these ground realities. They do a bigger damage than the vandals.

JVP leader addressing a rally at Matara had said that the people must take to the streets, that they will announce a day and call upon people to suspend all their work and come to the streets to join the final push” or the second wave” to send rulers out of power: saying so the JVP also like the other peaceful” protesters indirectly accepted responsibility for May 09 incidents. 

Trade Union action by anti-government trade unions, releasing of water stored for the generation of electricity from the Randenigala and Rantembe hydro power reservoirs by some CEB personnel on June 08 ( closing of Mavil  Aru anicut by LTTE, depriving  irrigation water only for a few hundred of peasants, was the immediate cause for the beginning of the final thrust against the LTTE), sporadic unrest and disturbances at petrol filling stations, clashes with the law enforcement officers, blocking roads,  and a few arson incidents heralded this final push”. Nearly 200 such incidents were reported island-wide.

Some SJB grandees also warned of a looming insurrection.

8. Who is Kerner? 

Do the Colombo glitterati know that Pathum Kerner, another peaceful” protester warned the people to get ready for the 2.0 stage of their struggle?  Simply 2.0 means a superior or more advanced version of an original concept, product or a service; a new and improved version, something new, something different and totally revamped from the old 1.0 (in this situation more advanced” than May 09). It is simple math that 2.0 is twice of 1.0. This is applicable to politics also. With this call these innocent”, peaceful”, non-partisan” protesters took responsibility for the May 09 arson and looting and asked the people to prepare for a totally revamped version of May 09, for the Second Tsunami” in their words.

Kerner who was nurtured, breastfed and trained in UK, has his roots embedded to colonial plantation   clique. He led a group of Protesters to Derana, and forced them to transmit a live programme of the Protesters on July 09. It was a pathetic sight because it was a Derana anchor, who idolised this man inviting him for a talk show. Thus, this anchor and Derana were humiliated by this ungrateful person who was running after personal glory and publicity.

As we have predicted, a group of protesters led by a Muslim, raided the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) and forced them to suspend all Poya Day programmes. Similarly, government owned Independent Television Network (ITN) had to suspended its transmissions.

Later Kerner was charged and arrested by police for snatching a firearm from a security personnel.

Kerner claimed that he was the inventor of the hashtag of the protesters, said in an interview that he had planned this campaign in August last year and the hashtag was designed in 2021 December. He said that what they were doing was creative destruction” using technology. He admitted that the protest was not accidental or a chance reaction, but a planned one.

He was the founder and leader of Kalu Hamudawa ‘(or Black Army) since December 2019. We do not know what sort of an army he commanded and the types of attacks his army conducted. He had contested the 2019 General Elections from Gampaha District.

A respected senior lawyer told the writer that he had met a would-be conspirator, one and a half years ago and that he had told him that they would topple GR’s government soon.

THIS AMPLY DEMONSTRATES THAT GALLE FACE PROTEST WAS NOT A SPONTANEOUS REACTION TO GAS AND FUEL SHORTAGES AND OTHER ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS PEOPLE HAD TO UNDERGO. SHORTAGES AND ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS HAD CAUSED SOME ORDINARY UNSUSPECTING PEOPLE TO JOIN THE PROTESTERS.

Against this backdrop how do we assess Vajira Abeywardene’s forecast made several months before the commencement of the protest, that RW, who was rejected even by Columbian elites at the 2020 General Elections, who later entered the Parliament through the national list as UNP’s sole representative, becoming the President?  UNP loyalists who took roots at the Galle Face site such as Asu Marasinghe (as Presidential Advisor), Sudharsana Gunawardena (as Chairman, ITN) and Sunil Ratnapriya (as Trade Union Director) were among the first few beneficiaries who were elevated to high positions under the new dispensation.

Why did Kerner, who accompanied his spouse proceeding to England on a government scholarship to do post-graduate medical studies, return to Sri Lanka immediately after Mirihana and Rambukkana incidents?  According to him his plan was to wage the struggle in May 2022; but against his wishes it erupted on 31 March. 

Before July 09, a group of protesters headed by Kerner threatened to hang those who would not resign and he did it symbolically at Jaela hanging an effigy of GR in a lamppost.

9. Protest and the Security Forces

This part needs to be dealt as a separate article.

All protesters had assumed that the security forces would play a passive role as on May 09 allowing them a free rein. Police and armed forces were mere onlookers when arson took place on May 09, when marauders searching vehicles on the approach roads to Katunayake International Airport. At Mirihana when an army bus was torched security forces did not take any action. At Rambukkana the police were forced to fire to protect an oil bowser from blowing up and killing hundreds of people. A senior police officer and a few constables were arrested forcing the police not to use lethal force thereafter.  Western Embassies and High Commissions, INGOs, NGOs, BASL and the Black Coats” were carefully watching every moment. The protesters threatened that they knew where the IGP and other senior police officers live. Major instruments of State Power including the judiciary were threatened. 

During this period Imran Khan repeated that the US had orchestrated his ouster.  

What was the reason for the Ministry of Defense unable to take measures to safeguard Presidential Secretariat, Presidential House, Temple Trees and Prime Minister’s Office being overrun and thwart the protesters occupying these public institutions? July 09- Ratama Colmbata” (All roads lead to Colombo) call was disseminated and shared several days prior to July 09.On July 09 morning TV channels telecast trainloads of protesters coming to Colombo commandeering trains from Kandy and Matara. It was revealed later that for the entire trainload of protesters who came from Kandy a former UNP MP had paid the train fare.

My article titled, Operation 2.0: Repetition of History” sent on 06 July 2022 (never published) foresaw what was going to happen on July 09.

I wrote that the unified protest planned for July 09, was the final push” and JVP and IUSF could bring their cadres and undergraduates respectively from all corners of the country to Colombo. The newest campaign of Galle Face Protesters Aragalaya Diyawannawata” was named Anthima Satana” or the final battle.  Placards appeared as Tsunamiya Itha Bayanakai” (Tsunami is more dangerous), Second wave will come soon”. The protesters warned that the rulers have only a few hours. Last 24 hours”. A video was shared proclaiming that the heartbeat of Nandasena would stop”.  

When the JVP/FSP/Protesters called people to Colombo they may have had a plan what to do on July 09, to storm the Presidential Secretariat, Presidential House and the Parliament and occupy these institutions. Convener of the IUSF had said that there is no struggle without its involvement.

10. Wrong Signals Again

We thought that Wimal Weerawans’s call to form an all-party government inclusive of JVP and SJB, reported on June 29 was to thwart the impending events. But his judgement that the JVP no longer demanded GR’s resignation , became erroneous within a few days. JVP women’s wing called the people to leave the queues and join to overthrow the government, saying that anyone who props up Gota-Ranil Government was an enemy of the people. A provincial leader of JVP had asserted that the ninth day of previous two months gave marching orders to two Rajapaksasas (MR and Basil) and inevitable would happen on July 09, i.e. ouster of GR. Anura Kumara asked the people to take to the streets to chase away the government.

JVP leader had met with TNA leaders and addressed a meeting at Jaffna attended also by leaders of former armed groups. Why? To garner support? US Ambassador Julie Chung met with AKD just two days before the July 09 rampage and she spoke glowingly” of JVP. The good Ambassador paying AKD a glowing tribute said that he (AKD) resonates well with the public”. JVP Youtubers hailed AKD meeting US Ambassador Julie Chung: World’s superpower talks to AKD and blesses him”.

SAMANTHA POWER, THE USAID CHIEF WHO WAS ON A SHORT VISIT TO SRI LANKA, ALONG WITH JULIE CHUNG MET WITH A DELEGATION” CONSISTING OF JVP’S NATIONAL LIST MP, HARINI AMARASURIYA. SAJITH PREMADASA (SJB), DAYASIRI JAYASEKERA(SLFP(M) – (not in his usual political” attire), RISHARD BATHIUDDIN (SLNC), ABRAHAM SUMANTHIRAN (TNA), RAUF HAKEEM(SLMC) AND MANO GANESHAN (TPF) WERE THE OTHERS WHO WERE IN THE DELEGATION, POSING FOR AN HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPH WITH POWER AND CHUNG. POWER AND CHUNG HAD GIVEN INDICATIONS OF A FUTURE ALL-PARTY GOVERNMENT WHICH RANIL FAILED TO FORM. WE CAN BE REST ASSURED THAT A GRAND ALLIANCE IS IN FORMATION TO RESCUE” OUR NATION AT THE BEHEST OF US!  TWO NOTABLE ABSENTEES WERE REPRESENTATIVES OF ALAHAPPERUMA’ S NIDAHASA” (BORN AGAIN?) GROUP AND CBK’S NAVA SRI LANKA PARTY.

Julie Chung re-twittered on 12 September,” Leaders and representatives of opposition parties in Sri Lanka shared their views on how the Government must enact long overdue reforms to protect human rights and govern with transparency and accountability. Grateful for their perspectives”.

Their meeting coincided with the 51 st sessions of UNHRC, no wonder.

Anura Kumara had said that the JVP had organised a series of public protests throughout the country and urged the people to join the protesters to throw out the government. JVP rallies were held at Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Matara, Kalutara and a few other places prior to July 09. All were set for the D-Day.

Lal Kantha called to bring Parliament under their control. He said that victory over the Rajapaksa dictatorship” would not be completed without seizing the Parliament.

Convener of IUSF convening a press conference said that they will continue to occupy Presidential Secretariat, Presidential House and Prime Minister’s Office until the entire government resigns and announced that they would take over of the Parliament.

11. How Did Their Final Battle”, The Occupation of Parliament Fail?

One reason was that in the final battle” JVP was isolated, although they had forged an alliance with the FSP. FSP controlled IUSF and the majority of Galle Face Protesters did not support the JVP’s move. The latter did not support them not because they had become saints as painted by Colombians. They were happy with the occupation of Presidential House and Presidential Secretariat and enjoying pleasures in a Presidential House.  Only some individuals like Kerner who became a deviant” and chased out by the Galle Face fraternity was at Polduwa Junction.

JVP firebrands including Lal Kantha (the demagogue), Handunnetti and Ratnayake(the two smiling” fomenters) and Samarasinghe, (the JVP labour aristocrat”) were seen inciting occupiers and giving voice-cuts, but at the crucial moment when military crackdown began, they slipped away.

This is the JVP’s modus operandi from the days Wijeweera commenced his political activities from mid-1965. 

As an eye witness I recall,  Wijeweera addressing a mass gathering at Hyde Park esplanade on the eve of 1971 insurrection declaring that, let Gajabahu (the only naval vessel of the Royal Ceylon Navy) be our Aurora and Achillan  Square (then Army Headquarters) be our Petrograd garrison (Warship Aurora’s thunder ushered a new era, the era of the Great October Revolution).  But Wijeweera, the founding father of JVP at the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) said that the JVP was not responsible for the attacks that took place in April 1971; according to him the insurrection was executed by a killer gang led by Loku Athula (Nimalasiri Jayasinghe, a key suspect in the Maha Naduwa).

During the latter part of 1988-1989 Wijeweera led a comfortable life in a tea estate at Ulapane. Hundreds of students, men and women village folk who were mobilised to demonstrate in front of security personnel perished. People of Mahawatta-Kundasale still remember the massacres that took place afterwards. Billas or Goni Billas” survived, (cowards or betrayers) to escape arrest, torture and death, either to live as rehabilitated” insurgents or to come back to the political arena later. Some actually did.

During the Mau Mau Movement in Kenya, similar spies dressed in huge hoods with eye-holes, who became known as Little Sacks” or Gahunia” were used by the British Special Branch to identify Mau Mau activists and those who took the Mau Mau Oath.

Protesters tried to storm the Parliamentary complex as well as the Speaker’s official residence. Attacking Speaker’s official   residence was the first step in their outburst. They destroyed police barricades using heavy machinery. Dozens of army personnel sustained injuries. Clubs, iron rods, stones and helmets were used to attack armed forces. Protesters snatched army helmets, two T-56 weapons and a few rounds of ammunition.

Kerner’s call for besieging the Parliament was not supported by the other protesters. This is how informal groups behave; as the number of informal groups increases more problems erupt and there is more tendency towards disintegration; there was no cohesion as we have explained earlier writing about Group Formation of the Protesters.

JVP attempt to storm the Parliament was thwarted by the armed forces; the same police and armed forces which did not take any action when protesters were storming the Presidential Secretariat, Presidential House, Prime Minister’s Office and later vandalysing RW’s private residence. Earlier we saw policemen seated on fine colonial age vintage chairs, armchairs and sofas at the occupied buildings, taking selfies and playing piano music as a segment of the vandalysing mob!

If the JVP and other protesters did not withdraw from Diyawannawa, it would have been a repetition of 1988-1989.

12. Conclusion

In 2022, the JVP had a unique opportunity to further their political ambitions, which they did not have either in 1971 or 1988. Since the peoples’ sufferings increased due to economic meltdown, a fertile field was ready to sow seeds of struggle, concrete conditions were ripe enough to wage a protracted struggle which they failed to capitalise.

Reasons were many:

i. Although the JVP and FSP were able to dominate, they failed to do any political work among the other protesters and harness their support for their course of action even after four months of shared living” with the rest of the protesters; it was not an easy task to deal with tech-savvy millennials for the IUSF herdsmen, as they did with university freshers, ragging, intimidating, coercing and  taking them into their flock; JVP or FSP was ill-equipped to transact with such a vast crowd;

ii. They did not have a definite strategy about the next phase of the protest;

iii. Power, if by any chance had fallen into their hands, they did not have any plan to hold that power and encounter the economic meltdown, winning the support of the local populace and harnessing international support; this was demonstrated by the JVP when there was an opportunity for them to form a government, after the resignation of MR;

iv. They failed to mobilise the people, actual people who were suffering due to economic hardships; there was no peoples’ participation in their protests; all their protests and rallies were attended by their cadres or sympathisers;

v. Economic hardships were not something unfamiliar to people; real economic problems of the people were not those highlighted by the protesters; people knew that the protest will not give solutions to their perpetual and endless problems; people were unaware that the protesters were protesting for them; every economic struggle should be combined with a political and a cultural struggle; we saw that Galle Face perpetuated a low” culture;

vi. Very soon the people understood that the actual nature of the protest; that it was a joyful event; a money spinner for some;

vii. They understood that it paved the way for Ranil and his UNP to re-emerge; many UNPers were given key positions and appointed as advisors; it is very interesting to draw attention to a banner displayed covering the entire front portion of Sirikotha”, the UNP headquarters soon after Ranil was appointed as the Prime Minister; it borrowed two lines from a poem from the ancient  poetry book ”Subhashithaya”: Kalala gilunu matha varanidu goda ganutha – Thumula balethi gijindeku misa un kewatha”  ( only a King Elephant with extraordinary power can rescue a King Elephant drowned in a swamp). 

Although Subhashithaya” does not tell us what happened to the two King Elephants afterwards, we may add that the rescuer had cut the two majestic tusks of the drowned King Elephant!     

viii. FINALLY, THE PROTEST AND THE OPERATION 2.0” ENDED, SUBDUING THE MASS OPPOSITION TO THE GOVERNMENT! 

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