Sri Lankan army admits to opening fire during protests

 Sri Lankan army admits to opening fire during protests

A statement from the Sri Lankan army admitted that soldiers opened fire during Saturday’s protest, after video clips of the shootings were widely shared, but denied there was any “intent on causing deliberate harm to the protesters”.

In a statement entitled ‘The army sets the record straight about Saturday firing’, the military said its attention “has been drawn to a few video clips going viral”.

Video footage shared earlier today shows heavily armed soldiers and masked soldiers, lining up, taking aim and firing at the walls of the presidential palace, with protestors clearly visible on the other side. Bullets and debris ricocheted just inches away from the demonstrators, who would go on to storm Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s official residence.

Sri Lankan security forces open fire before protesters storm President’s househttps://t.co/o6zo8drtrp pic.twitter.com/djy7nxS38V

— Tamil Guardian (@TamilGuardian) July 10, 2022

“The Army categorically denies having opened fire towards the protesters, but fired a few rounds to the air and the sidewalls of the main gate entrance to the President’s House compound as a deterrent,” it claimed.

“Firing into the air and sidewalls do not therefore necessarily mean that those Army personnel on duty were intent on causing deliberate harm to the protesters.”

Separate footage captured by the protestors shows several incidents of brutality by the security forces, with journalists among those assaulted.

Read more: Protesters shot and journalist assaulted by Sri Lankan security forces in Colombo

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22A: GR Retains Powers, Does Not Help To Assuage The Crisis

22A: GR Retains Powers, Does Not Help To Assuage The Crisis

By Jayampathy Wickramaratne –
JULY 4, 2022

Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne PC

The long-awaited Twenty-Second Amendment to the Constitution Bill (22A) of the Gotabaya-Wickremesinghe Government (or, should we say, the SLPP Government in which UNPer Ranil Wickremesinghe is Prime Minister?) was published in the Gazette on 29 June 2022. This means it could be placed on the Order Paper of Parliament seven days after that. Citizens and citizens’ organisations would be able to challenge the Bill in the Supreme Court within seven days of the Bill being so placed. As this is a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority in Parliament, the only question that can be raised before the Court is whether the People must approve it at a Referendum.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has just finished the first half of his term. The Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution (20A) that he and the SLPP said was essential to develop the country by strengthening the Presidency is just twenty months old. What happened under his watch need not be recounted. The attack on the Aragalaya by SLPP goons, obviously with the blessings of highly placed leaders, led to the resignation of Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa. The President, with all his powers, could neither stop the attacks nor the violence that ensued all over the country. It was then that the beleaguered President offered to go back to the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution and even hinted that he was amenable to the Parliament deciding to abolish the Presidential form of government, two of the main demands of the Aragalaya and also of the majority of the people. A survey conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) in April 2022 revealed that 74% of the respondents wished for the complete abolition of the Executive Presidency compared to 50.3% in October-November 2021. The results of the “Mood of the Nation” poll conducted by Verité Research show that the Government’s approval rating for June 2022 is a mere 3%.

The SLPP and President Gotabaya then pulled a masterstroke by inviting the UNP’s lone MP, Ranil Wickremesinghe, to be Prime Minister. This was a setback to the Aragalaya, with many of its upper and middle-class supporters thinking that Wickremesinghe had a magic wand to cure the country of the economic ills caused by the Rajapaksas. Such hopes are receding fast, but the country-wide is yet to see the Aragalaya picking up again, although that will be only a matter of time.

That the Government is making good use of the sense of hopelessness amongst the people is clear from the contents of 22A. It is nowhere near what was promised.

President’s powers re PM and Ministers and dissolution of Parliament

Under 19A, Ministers and Deputy Ministers were appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister, a provision that significantly strengthened Parliament. The power that the President had to remove the Prime Minister at will was taken away. The unconstitutional removal of Premier Wickremasinghe by President Sirisena resulted in the infamous 52-day constitutional crisis, which ended in a massive defeat for the latter. 20A did away with many of the provisions of 19A, including the requirement that the President should appoint Ministers and Deputy Ministers on the advice of the Prime Ministers. The President’s power to remove the Prime Minister was restored.

22A seeks to bring back the requirement of the Prime Minister’s advice, but there is a catch. It would not apply during the present Parliament. Where the President is of the opinion that the Prime Minister has lost the confidence of Parliament, the Prime Minister can be removed but only during this Parliament. Under 19A, the removal of the Prime Minister was a matter solely for Parliament. The Cabinet of Ministers stands dissolved if Parliament passes a vote of no-confidence on the Government or the statement of government policy or the Budget is defeated — Article 48 (2). One recalls the occasion such a thing happened under 19A. Although Mahinda Rajapaksa was appointed to replace Wickremesinghe who was unconstitutionally dismissed, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya recognised Rajapakse as Prime Minister as there was no court order to the contrary. Rajapaksa was given the Prime Minister’s seat in Parliament and was referred to by the Speaker as “Hon. Prime Minister”. Immediately after a vote of no-confidence against the Government was passed, the Speaker referred to Rajapakse as “Hon. Member Mahinda Rajapaksa”. Rajapaksa did know what hit him and was visibly upset.

The provisions of Article 48 (2) have been retained under 20A as Article 49 (2) with identical wording, and 22A does not seek to make any change thereto. When the Constitution is so clear as to how the Prime Minister can be dismissed along with the other Ministers by Parliament, why allow the President to dismiss a Prime Minister at all? That a new Prime Minister appointed to replace the one that has been removed by the President can be defeated on the floor of the House or that the removal can be challenged in the Supreme Court is no answer. Why open the doors to manipulation in the meanwhile? The country saw the horse-trading that followed the removal of Premier Wickremesinghe. Some MPs were one day with Sirisena and Rajapaksa and the next day with Wickremesinghe. The number of times a particular MP crossed sides defied counting. Empowering the President to remove the Prime Minister while Article 49 (2) is retained is arbitrary and violates the fundamental right to equality and equal protection guaranteed by Article 12 (1) of the Constitution. It also undermines Parliament and thus the sovereignty of the People guaranteed by Article 3. The writer submits that this would require approval at a Referendum.

19A provided that the President would not hold ministries. A transitional provision enabled President Sirisena to hold the ministries of defence, environment and Mahaweli development. Under 22A, the President will be the Minister of Defence. In the past President Gotabaya has brought within the Ministry of Defence institutions such as the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, Disaster Management Centre, National Disaster Relief Services Centre, Department of Meteorology and the National Building Research Organisation, and the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board which have the least to do with defence. There is nothing to prevent him from continuing to do so under 22A. One remembers how President Mahinda Rajapaksa brought even the Attorney-General and the Legal Draftsman under the Presidential Secretariat!

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No solutions to nation’s problems from draft constitutional amendment

No solutions to nation’s problems from draft constitutional amendment

by jehan perera-

The three-wheel taxi driver did not need much encouragement to talk about the hardships in his life, starting with spending two days in the petrol queue to get his quota. He said that he had a practice of giving his three children a small packet of biscuits and a small carton of milk every morning. But now with the cost tripling, he could only buy one packet of biscuits and his three children had to share it. This is because their beloved country is facing one debacle after another for no fault of those kids or the larger nation. The latest is the failure of the government to make headway in accessing either IMF funding or other funding on any significant scale. Several countries have made donations, but these are in the millions whereas Sri Lanka requires billions if it is to come out of its vicious cycle of a dollar shortage.

There was much anticipation that the appointment of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would bring in the billions that are desperately needed by the country if it is to obtain the fuel, food and medicines to keep the people healthy and the economy moving. But things have not worked out in this manner. The pickings have been slim and sparse. The IMF has given the reasons after the ten day visit by its staff to Sri Lanka. They have specifically referred to “reducing corruption vulnerabilities” in their concluding statement at the end of their visit. The international community in the form of multilateral donors and Western governments have prioritized political stability and a corruption-free administration prior to providing Sri Lanka with the financial assistance it requires.

The pressing need in the country is for the government to show there is political stability and zero tolerance for corruption in dealing with the prevailing crisis. It is not enough for government leaders to give verbal assurances on these matters. There needs to be political arrangements that convince the international community, and the people of Sri Lanka, that the government is committed to this cause. Several foreign governments have said that they will consider larger scale assistance to Sri Lanka, once the IMF agreement is operational. So far the government has not been successful in convincing the international community that its own accountability systems are reliable. This is the main reason why the country is only obtaining millions in aid and not billions.


The draft 22nd Amendment that is now before the parliament (which will become the 21st Amendment should it be passed) would be a good place for the government to show its commitment. The cabinet has approved the draft which has three main sections, impacting upon the establishment of the constitutional council, the powers of the president and dual citizenship. However, the cabinet-approved draft is a far cry from what is proposed by the opposition political parties and civil society groups. It is watered down to the point of being ineffective. Indeed, it appears to be designed to fail as it is unlikely to gain the support of different political parties and factions within those parties whose support is necessary if the 2/3 majority is to be obtained.

In the first place, the draft constitutional amendment does not reduce the president’s power in any significant manner. The amendment is drafted in a way that the reduction of presidential powers will only occur with the next president. The president now in office, who has publicly admitted failure on his part, continues to be empowered to appoint and sack the prime minister and cabinet ministers at his arbitrary discretion. He is also empowered to appoint and dismiss the secretaries to ministries, who are the highest-ranking public service officials. In short, the executive arms of the government are obliged to do the president’s bidding or risk their jobs. This indicates the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose party has only a single seat in parliament, has no independent strength, but is there at the will and pleasure of the president.

In the second instance, the draft amendment was expected to set up a system of checks and balances for accountability and anti-corruption purposes. The pioneering effort in this regard was the 17th Amendment of 2001 that made provisions for a constitutional council and independent commissions. According to it, the members of all state bodies tasked with accountability and anti-corruption functions, such as the Bribery and Corruption Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Police Commission, the Public Service Commission and the appointees to the higher judiciary were to be appointed through the constitutional council. The 17th Amendment made provision for seven of the ten members of the constitutional council to be from civil society.


Unfortunately, in a manner designed to deal a death blow to the concept of checks and balances, the draft amendment sets up a constitutional council with the proportions in reverse to that of the 17th Amendment. It reveals a mindset in the political leadership that fears de-politicisation of decision making. Seven of the ten members will be appointed by the political parties and the president in a way in which the majority of members will be government appointees. Only three will be from civil society. This ensures a majority representation in the Council for government politicians, and the ensures government dominance over the political members. The composition of the constitutional council proposed in the Bill undermines the independence of the institutions to which appointments are made through the Council who will be unable to stem the wildly growing tide of corruption in the country.

It is no wonder that the furious people in the endless queues for petrol and diesel should believe that there is corruption at play in the continuing shortage of basic commodities. The government promised that ships would come in laden with fuel a week ago. Then, inexplicably, the information was disseminated that no ships were on the horizon. In any other country, except in a country like no other, the concerned leaders would have resigned. Due to the lack of fuel, perishable farm produce rots in rural farmhouses and markets in urban centres are empty and prices are rocketing up. In the meantime, the media has exposed rackets where the privileged, politically powerful and super rich, are given special access to fuel. It is patently clear that the government has failed to deliver on the results that were expected. The situation is getting worse in terms of corrupt practices.

To the credit of the Sri Lankan people, they are being patient. The bonds of social solidarity still prevail. But the anger at the self-seeking and incompetent political leaders is reaching the boiling point, as it did on 09 May. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa pledged to set up an interim government in consultation with party leaders in parliament. However, he did not do so but appointed UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister and thereby ended efforts of other parliamentarians to form a national unity government. The president’s pledge, made in the aftermath of the cataclysmic and unexpected violence that took place that day, was to reduce his presidential powers, transfer those powers to parliament and to appoint an all-party and interim government of no more than 15 ministers. These pledges remain unfulfilled and need to be implemented to be followed by elections as soon as the situation stabilises.

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 This is the spot where Gotabaya, Mahinda, Basil and his family are hiding…! Why does Gotabaya take 4 days to resign…?

 This is the spot where Gotabaya, Mahinda, Basil and his family are hiding…! Why does Gotabaya take 4 days to resign…?

– A revelation by LeN Internal Intelligence Service

(Lanka-e-News 10.July.2022, 7.15PM) Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa of the most crooked and murderous Medamulana Rajapaksa family regime was finally ousted by the new People’s Sovereignty of the Sri Lankan People’s Struggle on 9 July. But he has not yet resigned.

Lanka E News Internal Information Service confirms that Mahinda Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa, and their family members, who devastated our motherland, were safe at the ‘Navy House’ of the Trincomalee Naval Base as of this morning (10). Namal had not been there.

Traitorous Admiral Nishantha Ulugethenna…

From 2005 until the last moment yesterday (9), this gang of traitorous thieves looted and shipped the national wealth of the people to foreign countries and turned our motherland into a bankrupt beggar country.

This treacherous group of thieves are now being illegally protected against the ‘New People’s Sovereignty’ by a man called Admiral Nishantha Ulugethenna, who is working as the naval commander and is paid by the public. His mobile number is 076 833 0034.

The security guards who provide protection to these Rajapaksa embezzlers are there in civilian clothes carrying automatic mini Uzi firearms. Even the security personnel of the naval base have been prohibited from coming within the firing range of those firearms.

Ships loaded with goods of VVIPs…

Yesterday (09) a video was circulated on social media showing two Navy ships called ‘Gajabahu’ and ‘Sindurala’ docked at Colombo Port and being loaded with the VVIP cargo said to be belonged to Rajapaksas.

LankaeNews Internal Information Service investigated about this since yesterday, and the disclosed information is as follows:

It is true that the Gajabahu ship was loaded with valuable goods of Rajapaksas. After the loading, the two ships were anchored outside Sri Lankan waters for a long time. Later, by this morning, both the ships have gone to the naval base in Trincomalee.

‘Sindurala’ and ‘Gajabahu’ captains are…

The captain of the ship called ‘Sindurala’ is Captain H. I. A. Gunawardhana and the captain of the ‘Gajabahu’ is Captain M.A.T. Perera alias Mat Perera. Both of them are blue-collar thieves in the Navy.

Mat Perera is one of highly corrupt officers in the Navy. While working in the Navy’s Salary and Pension Department, he defrauded salaries and pension monies of dead sailors; and was indicted by the Navy for his wrongdoings several occasions. The Rajapaksas have saved him in most of those cases. Therefore, he now protects Rajapaksa corruptors as an apple of his eye.

Why does Gotabaya need 4 days to resign…?

On 9th at 11 am, LankaeNews revealed that Gotabaya has planned to resign. There we said that he had on the night of 8th expressed that he would announce his resignation from Dubai on the 12th. Then the speaker officially announced yesterday (9) night that he was informed that Gotabaya would resign on the 13th. These two statements imply that Gotabaya needed 4 days to resign. What is that for?

Gotabaya will never live in Sri Lanka without the post of President. He knows that all the old cases against him will be brought up again. Moreover, when Gotabaya’s presidential protection was lost in the face of strong Rajapaksa opposition in the country, even the other Rajapaksas will not stay in this country. Gotabaya is also afraid of going to America. He thinks he will be a victim of American law there. And Gotabaya knows that America has an easy trump card in hunting him down. Talking about it is not the purpose of this article, so let’s talk about it later.

Dubai is a paradise for thieves…

One of the information received by LankaeNews Internal Information Service indicates that the political authorities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country known to many as Dubai, have expressed their willingness to give refuge to Gotabaya and Rajapaksas.

As everyone knows corruptors and criminals from all over the world operate from or through Dubai. It is a well-known fact that Afghan warlords, Russian underworld leaders, notorious Nigerian rulers who used political power to steal their country’s resources (Nigerian kleptocrats), European black money launderers, Iranian smugglers doing deals under sanctions, and East African gold smugglers are among them who use Dubai as a safe haven for their operations.

So, it is not surprising that Rajapaksa kleptocrats too are allowed to live in Dubai paradise, one of the main centers where Rajapaksas’ black money has already been invested. The best example is the story of the infamous Marriott Hotel in Dubai.

Accordingly, Gotabaya will have to go to Dubai alone or with an entourage.

Psychological operations of military intelligence divisions…

A video was released yesterday (9) on social media showing a VVIP security convoy traveling to the Katunayake Airport, and how they were directly approaching the runway of the airport. It seems that one of Rajapaksas are escaping by air, but that video was a psychological operation socialized by military intelligence divisions. The convoy had gone there to bring the Chief of Defense Staff, former Army Commander Shavendra Silva, who had come from abroad.

Resignation after setting foot in Dubai…

If Gotabaya is going by sea, it can be suspected that he will be going by the Gajabahu ship of the Navy which is already loaded with goods.

The speed of the ship is 29 knots. That is, the number of nautical miles that can be traveled per hour is 29. But these days, according to the weather conditions in that sea, the sea waves and wind will not hinder the speed of a ship traveling from Sri Lanka to Dubai, instead it will be supportive, in nautical terms it will be a ‘support current’. Accordingly, it will take a maximum of 3 days for the Gajabahu ship to travel from Sri Lanka to a UAE port. Gotabaya will need another day to settle there. That’s why he takes 4 days to announce his resignation.

As he thinks that if he tries to escape from the country after resigning, he will suddenly become a person without privileges and will be in trouble. So, he must be thinking of announcing his resignation after setting foot in Dubai.

If the situation is like this, we think that there is still room for the struggle leaders and lawyers to use the law to detain Gajabahu and Sindurala ships. The Rajapaksas, who looted the national wealth on a large scale and bankrupted the motherland, should not be allowed to escape. They should be caught and brought before the law and punished for their crimes. It is a must.

– By a reporter of LeN Internal Intelligence Service.

by     (2022-07-11 08:46:44)

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 Anatomy Of A Crisis & Its Perceivable End

 Anatomy Of A Crisis & Its Perceivable End

By Vishwamithra –JULY 5, 2022

“I think that any time of great pain is a time of transformation, a fertile time to plant new seeds.” ~ Debbie Ford

Every crisis has its origin; that origin is not necessarily traced to one single source; nor does it transpire without a cause. That cause in turn may not be one single reason. It is always a combination of many causes and many reasons. Attempting to dash to the origin is as nearly impossible as is the modern day scientists’ quest in search of the first cause of the universe. However, for a discussion of the current crisis that we are faced with, I have deduced to place a milestone at the year 1915 and the event that occurred in that year, explicitly, the famous Sinhala-Muslim riots.

In addition to creating a sharp and direct inroad into a yet-unexplored national mindset, the aftermath of the riots threw up a group of individuals who hailed from the elite of society at the time. They all belonged to the low-country Sinhalese whose social upbringing was far too removed from the rural classes. Their education was either in premier schools in Colombo or Oxbridge variety abroad. That education made them stand aloof of the usual national stream of life. Yet, ironically, it was a leading Tamil legislator, namely Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan who championed their cause in the British seats of powers in London.

Hundreds of Sinhalese Buddhists were arrested by the British colonial government during the Riots of 1915. Those imprisoned without charges included future leaders of the independence movement; F.R. Senanayake, D. S. Senanayake, Anagarika Dharmapala, Dr C A Hewavitarne, Arthur V Dias, H. M. Amarasuriya, Dr. W. A. de Silva, Baron Jayatilaka, Edwin Wijeyeratne, A. E. Goonesinghe, John Silva, Piyadasa Sirisena and others.

In 1919 the Ceylon National Congress (CNC) was founded to agitate for greater national autonomy, short of full independence. This same elite who graduated from the Sinhalese-Muslim riots to national politics via CNC, vigorously opposed the grant of universal suffrage by the Donoughmore Constitutional Commission.

It was this CNC that later evolved into the formation of the United National Party (UNP) under the leadership of D S Senanayake. The then leader of Sinhala Maha Sabha, S W R D Bandaranaike too joined D S and contested the first parliamentary elections under the UNP-ticket. With the formation of the first post-Independence government, D S became the first Prime Minister; The Leader of the House in the D.S. Senanayake Cabinet was S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who held the portfolios of Health and Local Government. The Agriculture Minister was Dudley Senanayake and Finance Minister was J.R. Jayewardene. The Minister of Transport and Works was John Kotalawela.

In D S’s Cabinet, except D S himself and J R Jayewardene, all others were educated abroad, Oxford, Cambridge or some other universities in London and Europe. D S Senanayake was educated at St Thomas’ College in Gal Borella, (predecessor to St. Thomas’ in Mt Lavinia of today) up to the 8th standard while J R Jayewardene was educated at Royal College, University College and Ceylon Law College Colombo. A Cabinet of well-educated professionals was led by an 8th Standard–educated D S Senanayake and never was his manner, steadfastness and honesty of leadership matched or surpassed by any of his successors in the last seventy four years.

But D S Senanayake was not perfect and his flaw dwelled in his nepotism- by nominating his son Dudley to be his successor to the post of Prime Minister and thereby facilitating S W R D’s departure from the UNP and formation of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Furthermore, this departure also meant the birth of another national movement that gave rise to the unsound yet populist Swabhasha-policy that made provision for the Sinhala-only movement and driving Sinhalese Buddhists led by the Maha Sanga to an erroneous end. The era of the so-called ‘Common Man’ and its false premise of a majoritarian rule dawned on the country pushing a very vital and vibrant educated community of Northern and Eastern Tamils to the edge of desperation and despair.

What resulted in the sociopolitical and cultural arena since the 1956-transformation is yet being under sharp scrutiny and much open for debate and argument. Bandaranaike’s well or ill-intentioned policies have changed our society and the fundamental direction of its natural progression. Polarization of society along racial and religious lines, mutual intolerance of the other, led up to many racial riots in the fifties, sixties and seventies and finally climaxed in a brutal and unkind war between the government-led security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam led by Velupillai Prabhakaran. That division between the respective schools of thought of either of the ethnic groups also led to near-permanent distrust between the two communities of Sinhalese and Tamils and may have provided material sufficient for volumes of books and papers yet to be written and read.

While these parochial political dynamics was on the move, another novel system was taking root on the economic front, thanks to the calculated brainwashing of the then leftist movement engineered and led by Dr N M Perera, Dr Colvin R de Silva, Philip Gunawardena and Peter Keuneman. A sense of false economic security was provoked and the resultant ‘entitlement syndrome’ took deep root in our populace making them collective hostage to the vagaries of uncontrollable political changes that were taking shape in the global marketplace. At the time, the global political arena was dominated and defined by the cruel presence of the ‘cold war’ between the USA and USSR and its intentional polarization of the people at large along ‘haves and have-nots’.

For a country situated in the Indian Subcontinent, being subjected to the quirks of geopolitical moves of the big players such as America, the Soviet Union, China and India, Ceylon did not have many choices. Being identified as an insignificant player amongst a vastly developing arms-race, Ceylon’s mindset was being throttled by a divisive political thought of the global kind on the one hand and driven to the edges of ethnic warfare internally on the other. The country’s volatile and susceptible local population suffered at every election cycle from successive betrayals by incoming governments.

After the assassination of Bandaranaike by a Buddhist Monk who was part of a diabolical conspiracy headed by Mapitigama Buddharakkhitha, another Buddhist Monk who happened to be the leader of Buddhist clergy unleashed by Bandaranaike himself in the ’56 election campaign. The cruel irony of life has played its most unkind act on the man who ushered in the era of the ‘Common Man’. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, S W R D’s widow succeeded in the sixties (barring a month-old government led by Dudley Senanayake in 1960 March) and her role in the shaping of Ceylon’s economic journey is as significant in its negative results as her second term in the seventies.

Being a novice into politics in her first term, Sirimavo showed her total inadequacies as a sophisticated Prime Minister but her display of superior leadership skills did play a crucial part in preventing a coup d’état led by some retired army, navy and police personnel. Yet her period of governance did not make any attempt at resolving the issues that placed the two leading communities, Sinhalese and Tamils at each other’s throat. On the contrary, her policies on University admissions and discriminatory treatment of Tamils as a whole paved the way for the perpetuation of the wounds inflicted on Tamils. Horrendous economic principles and policies adopted during this unforgettable ’70 to ‘77 period and its adoption as ‘Bandaranaike-principles’, the country was placed on an economic precipice towards the end of her second term in 1977.

In 1977 occurred another landmark event: defeat of the Sirimavo-led socialist government and introduction of free market economic principles. Sri Lanka experienced an economic development never seen before; yet that development brought with itself the most dangerous and consequential effects of a capitalist economy. But what really eclipsed the economic recovery such as self-sufficiency in rice thanks mainly to the Accelerated Mahaweli Development Scheme, is the introduction of the Presidential System of government and Parliamentary Elections on the Proportional Representation (PR) method. Corruption at political level which may have been marginal up to that point took an accelerated pace towards total venality of the system, especially by J R’s successors, R Premadasa, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and the Rajapaksa brothers, Mahinda and Gotabaya.

Each and every holder of power at the helm, as Prime Minster or President, took the voter for a huge ride and especially the Bandaranaikes and Rajapaksas corrupted the system by enslaving the voting majority to such an extent, the ruled became part and parcel of the corrupt system whose rapid decline they helped to deteriorate further.

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Russia’s invasion ‘may have contributed to the situation in Sri Lanka’ – US Secretary of State

Russia’s invasion ‘may have contributed to the situation in Sri Lanka’ – US Secretary of State

Speaking to journalists in Thailand, US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, maintained that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have contributed to the crisis in Sri Lanka.

11 July 2022

“I think we are seeing that impact around the world, and it may be one of the contributing factors to what’s happened in Sri Lanka, although I think there were, as I’ve just said, many others that have come together” Blinken stated.

He further added:

“What we are seeing around the world is growing food insecurity that has been significantly exacerbated by the Russian aggression against Ukraine […] there are more than 20 million tons of grain that are sitting in silos in Ukraine that can’t get out, can’t get out to feed people around the world because Russia is blockading Ukraine’s ports in Odessa, the Black Sea”.

Despite growing condemnation of Russia’s brutal invasion, Sri Lanka has increasingly deepened its ties with the Russian state to acquire fuel. Within the past few weeks, Sri Lanka’s President met with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and spoke with Vladimir Putin over the phone about acquiring Russian fuel.

Read more on the growing ties between Russia and Sri Lanka below:

Desperate Sri Lanka looks to Russia for more oil, despite threat of sanctions

‘Overwhelming support for Sri Lanka’ – Colombo claims success at United Nations

Russia and Belarus rush to Sri Lanka’s defence at UN Human Rights Council

Russian tourists lead the way in Sri Lanka, including an oligarch or two

Sri Lanka abstains as UN overwhelming condemns Russian invasion of Ukraine

What are thermobaric and cluster bombs? A look at their use by the Sri Lankan army

As world slaps sanctions on Russia, Sri Lanka looks to deepen trade with Moscow

Sri Lanka ‘won’t take sides’ on Russia and Ukraine, as conflict intensifies

Putin and Rajapaksa exchange letters to celebrate ‘abiding friendship’

Blinken further condemned the violence of Sri Lankan police against “peaceful protestors and journalists” whilst also calling for a “full investigation, arrest, prosecution of anyone involved in any protest-related violence and incidents of violence”.

He further stressed that Sri Lankan government must “work quickly to try to identify and implement solutions that will bring back the prospect of long-term economic stability” and “address the Sri Lankan people’s discontent”.

Read Blinken’s full remarks here

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Why Sri Lanka’s economic policy trajectory must change

Why Sri Lanka’s economic policy trajectory must change

After all these disastrous policy choices, what would be an actual course correction that alleviates people’s suffering?– Pic by Ruwan Walpola 

Friday, 8 July 2022

Sri Lanka’s elite has missed many opportunities to reduce the severity of the present economic crisis. It ignored calls to invest in food production and self-sufficiency, even as the crisis became more and more apparent. It frittered away precious time to drastically reform the balance between imports and exports, which, because of the delay, reduced the country’s bargaining power with external creditors to zero. Meanwhile, it has swung between either ignoring the problem or claiming that austerity in the middle of an economic depression is the solution. The policy choices at each of these moments have been disastrous for our working people.

After several months now of a change in economic policy trajectory, we can already see what continuing down the path of austerity would mean. Accordingly, it is crucial that the struggles now converging on regime change also democratise the economic policymaking process to prioritise the concerns of the public. The market-oriented ideological bent of those in power and for that matter the Opposition in Parliament can further devastate the economic lives of our people. The desperate need is course correction of the economic policy trajectory, for which we as a people take responsibility for Sri Lanka’s future rather than surrender ourselves to the belief that the IMF can solve the country’s problems.

The question of who bears the burden must come to the fore in all discussions about making “difficult” policy choices. Specifically, whichever interim government that comes into power after this failed regime must understand that there are clear guardrails. The people’s movement will prevent any successor government from continuing to impose severe cuts on the masses. They will bring up the question of class. It will not be enough to gesture to the demands of creditors to waive away the need for redistribution. This struggle will continue, even while organising and mobilising is undertaken to prepare for a substantive economic overhaul once elections become possible.

Recent policy consequences

We must re-emphasise the same points that we made earlier regarding the economic policies over the last many months that claimed to offer a course correction, but which, in fact, have made a difficult situation even worse. These policies, many of which were recommendations of the IMF in its Staff Report made public in March 2022, have further aggravated the economic crisis that spiralled out of control because of the mismanagement of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Government.

The sudden floating of the rupee, without State relief, has doubled the costs of many essential goods for the working people. The timing of the floating of the rupee, with no regard for the war in Ukraine and the global price hikes, even caused some essential food items such as bread to triple.

Raising the Central Bank’s policy rate from 6% to 14% under the guise of addressing inflation is now crippling small producers, for whom the cost of borrowing working capital has more than doubled. The rate for pawning gold jewellery – the emergency liquid asset of working people – has increased from 9% to 25%. This alone risks widespread dispossession of people’s assets, which they have accumulated over generations.

Austerity measures that have brought a halt government expenditure amidst this crisis are further undermining the seasonal income streams of the informal sector. They depend on construction and road works during the off-season of agriculture, fisheries and similar livelihoods.

The market pricing of energy has led to a situation where fuel prices, particularly of petrol and diesel, have more than tripled. In addition to shortages, these price increases are bringing the entire economy to a grinding halt. Kerosene oil, which is used by working people for cooking as well as to irrigate small farms and as fuel for boats by small-scale fishermen, are being supplied in meagre quantities to avoid providing them the subsidy. These price shocks and shortages are undermining much needed local food production.

Increasing the Value-Added Tax from 8% to 12% has been a further punishing cost imposed on all, without any consideration of taxing the wealthy instead. Deficit spending has only been used to pay for government staff salaries. In contrast, there has been little relief for the working people involved in the large informal sector.

Finally, desperate to reach an IMF agreement, the Government took the disastrous neoliberal advice to pre-emptive default on its external debt. Sri Lanka is now caught in the trap of the IMF demanding that it first negotiate debt restructuring with its creditors. The country is unable to gain short-term credit from its donors such as Japan and China. And its international financial transactions, including the ability to purchase essential goods on credit, have also been severely disrupted.

Hard-headed negotiations

After all these disastrous policy choices, what would be an actual course correction that alleviates people’s suffering? The only way out is to think about the ways of reviving Sri Lanka’s bargaining power by envisioning a redistributive economic framework. For several months now, we have seen what happens when the Government blindly follows IMF recommendations. The urgent need is a critical debate over the economic dimensions restructuring the country’s debt, which are to be eventually negotiated. While the IMF is one piece of the puzzle, it exists in a broader global network of competing geopolitical powers and institutions. To address every possible angle and the consequences, however, requires far deeper national introspection.

The intellectual task for those invested in the movement to democratise the country should involve making any international agreement more bearable to a suffering population. Progressive intellectuals should question the hegemonic policy consensus and put forward alternatives. This strategic approach alone would support the broader democratic transformation of the relationship between State and society.

As for the international actors, it has become increasingly clear to them that the path forward cannot include the current Government led by Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Ranil Wickremesinghe. Meanwhile, the politicians and their respective parties waiting in the wings are focused more on parliamentary manoeuvring. But Sri Lanka is facing a much deeper crisis of institutions, including the disastrous effects of policies promoted even within the Central Bank and Treasury that are styled as politically independent. Only a clearly-defined solution involving redistribution and democratic mobilisation will be able to create a sustainable framework for governing during this overwhelming crisis.

Reckoning with constraints

People in Sri Lanka are facing broken promises and shattered realities, even as they are drowning under a tremendous economic depression. Only those who understand the scale of the crisis, the magnitude of the efforts required to overcome it, and the equally necessary transformation of political economic thinking, will be able to offer a real solution. While the main parties and even extra-parliamentary movements put forward their specific policy proposals, it is critical to frame these in terms of the core need to make sure redistribution comes first.

There are increasingly hard constraints on the ability to propose specific solutions, such as universal welfare and relief. The country confronts the desperate need to repurpose existing resources, to scrape by and to consolidate because of these hard economic limits. Yet the specific way in which a program of recovery is carried out is not the same thing as letting the failed market continue to try and work its dubious magic. Rather there needs to be a new strategic role for the State in addressing the external sector, redistributing wealth, and bringing the question of class to the fore.

Given the plunging depth of the crisis in Sri Lanka and the inherent uncertainty of the long global capitalist downturn, we cannot assume that there is any kind of ready-made macroeconomic or political framework for resolving these issues. The task, then, is to put forward a bold, imaginative set of alternatives that can perform the necessary role of galvanising public consciousness and supporting the organising work required to implement them.

Even as oppositional parties and movements consider the gravity of the moment and prepare for another wave of ceaseless struggle to oust the Rajapaksa regime, they must prioritise efforts to resist imposing any further burdens on the people if an interim government comes into power. Such democratic mobilisation needs to redefine Sri Lanka’s economic policy trajectory if the country is to have real political and economic stability during the difficult years ahead.

(Devaka Gunawardena is an independent researcher who holds a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles and Ahilan Kadirgamar is a Senior Lecturer, University of Jaffna.) 

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Sri Lanka youth protesters issue 6 immediate demands

Sri Lanka youth protesters issue 6 immediate demands

By Sri Lanka Brief-

The GotaGoGama activists on Saturday issued six immediate demands from all political parties and a future President, Prime Minister and Government.

They proclaimed their demands addressing the people and media from the President’s House.

In their statement GGG activists said the following.

The following Action Plan articulates the supreme purpose archived by the historic Sri Lankan people’s uprising, launched on the demand that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his entire brutal Government resign with immediate effect; drafted with deep respect for the various views of the multitudes who have joined the
people’s protest; held together through consensus but allowing for the right to disagree; created through the strength of solidarity, in the midst of multiple debates, arguments and conversations; drafted in the month of July in 2022, released to the public from the Galle Face Protest Site, for the purpose of bringing relief and peace of mind to all of the people of Sri Lanka.

GGG demands

1. Gotabaya Rajapaksa must/should resign from the post of Executive President with immediate effect

2. Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the Government including the Rajapaksa regime must/should resign with immediate effect (This includes all Cabinet, Non-Cabinet, Deputy and Project Ministers, Secretaries, Directors and Consultants to Ministries, Presidents of State Institutions and Corporations, Ambassadors)

3. Subsequent to the resignation of the Gota-Ranil Government, an interim Government which subscribes to the economic, social and political aims and aspirations of the ‘people’s struggle/Janatha Aragalaya’ should be established. A People’s Council which has legal standing, through which representatives of the ‘Janatha Aragalaya’ will be able to effectively engage and mediate with the Interim Governance should be established.

3.1 Frame an urgent short-term course of action to provide relief to the people oppressed by the current economic crisis. Areas to be addressed:

  • A program for the provision and distribution of essentials such as food, fuel, gas, and the provision of facilities such as education, health, public transport and energy
  • Cancellation of Micro finance and Farmers debts
  • Cancellation of Leasing and Small Enterprise debts or framing a methodology for long-term repayment

3.2 Release peaceful protestors who are currently under arrest, including all political prisoners. Ensure a process of justice for those who are victims of political intimidation and revenge

3.3 A program to provide justice to all families of victims of extra judicial killings and disappearances

3.4 An investigation based on an audit, to recover all monies and assets stolen by the political regime and deal with all those guilty according to the law. Areas to be addressed:

  • The wealth acquired deviously by politicians
  • Tax evasions of Corporates that make enormous profits
  • Unethical profits earned by individuals and companies that received political patronage

3.5 A complete revision of the current system of taxation: Revise the tax policy IN order to minimise the percentage of indirect taxation and increase the percentage of direct taxation, so that large corporates and businesses will be charged higher taxes under a serialised tax system

4. Subsequent to the expulsion of GR from power, the following steps need to be taken until a new Constitution that affirms the power of the people is in place

  • Reduction of the Executive powers of the President
  • Just law for all
  • Strengthening democratic institutions and wherever possible, a further democratisation of the existing Constitution

5. A new Constitution that endorses people’s sovereignty to be established through a referendum as quickly as possible. Areas to be addressed:

  • The right to life to be recognised as a fundamental right
  • The Executive Presidency to be abolished
  • An appropriate process for a fair election
  • A process that provides the right to recall elected representatives who are not accountable to the people
  • A process that enables the people to participate in making and amending the law
  • Address the limitations in the current Constitution on human rights and the rights of women and children and strengthen these rights
  • Endorse the right of the people to education and health
  • Take appropriate legal action against those responsible for violating the environment under the guise of development. To make the following scientific approach mandatory when decisions regarding the environment are taken
  • To eradicate racism and racial oppression. To strengthen the relevant legal foundations that affirm the equality of religion, language, sexuality, and other cultural identity as well as democracy and political freedom
  • The right of the people to call for a referendum subject to the consent of a given percentage of registered voters

6. The fundamental objective of the interim Government is to implement the above proposals. It should function for a maximum period of a year during which time the new Constitution should be passed

  • Accordingly, clauses 3 and 4 above should be considered urgent requirements and should be implemented within a maximum period of six months
  • Clause 5 should be implemented within a maximum period of 12 months
  • Until such time as all the above are achieved, the peoples Aragalaya will continue in new ways


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To The New Administrator

To The New Administrator

Protesters storm Sri Lanka President House, set PM's residence on fire

Photo courtesy of Tribune India


The fourth wall has crashed and the audience

is now on stage making tea and frying omelets

in the kitchen, lounging on the guest beds, diving

into the swimming pool. Unheard of, unimaginable

until now these scenes, what Town & Country magazine

would have commissioned for an inside look at how

the rich president lives, exposed to ordinary, starving

people with a sense of fun, taking selfies, recording

on Facebook Live. But nobody is beating up anybody

except for the dozens hurt, two critically, in the initial breach.

This has been largely a pacific encounter with the buildings

of the reviled dictator and the hapless prime minister

who took on the thankless task of leading with nothing

and promising hardship and pain and is now in hiding

while his home blazes. Very sorry that a few miscreants

in the great people’s movement have tarnished the image

of the uprising. At least the p.m. and family are safe.

At least the president has agreed finally to resign. At least

the country can start to get off the front pages. But millions

of people have cut meals to one a day. Millions have no petrol.

Millions have no paper to write their sums at school. Nobody

is going to wake up tomorrow to a miraculous new world,

But it will be brave. and their revolt is right. Foreign aid

will come no matter who takes over administration of

the suffering–and native resourcefulness, wily adaptation,

just like victims of the uncivil war who improvised light

in the darkness, we—I mean of all us with a part in the play—

will find the way out of the maze, will go ahead riding bicycles.

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 Overcoming ‘Defeatist & Bystander’ Mindsets; Lessons From Guatemalan ‘Aragalaya’

 Overcoming ‘Defeatist & Bystander’ Mindsets; Lessons From Guatemalan ‘Aragalaya’

Lukman Harees

Seeing the mud around a lotus is pessimism, seeing a lotus in the mud is optimism.” ― Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words

Learned helplessness, first observed by Martin Seligman in 1965, when he was doing classical conditioning experiments on dogs, occurs when people or animals feel helpless to avoid negative situations. Seligman concluded that the conditioned dog had learned that trying to escape the shocks was futile, and thus would not try to escape it even in the new environment of the second experiment. He described this condition as learned helplessness. Humans too are just like these dogs. If, over the course of their lives, they have experienced loss of control, they become a nihilist who trusts futility above optimism. Democracy needs alert and active citizenry; it cannot afford indifferent, careless citizens. Learned helplessness as a behavioural theory, explains how people can remain passive even at the forefront of injustice violence corruption, discrimination and other forms of negative situations because of their prior knowledge or there might be other reasons like defeatist attitudes, and fear of failure.

As people of a country in a continuous state of turmoil, Sri Lankans too carrying a crushing weight of helplessness in their shoulders, and negative emotions which are leading them to a point of despair and accepting their fate or Karma. However, if they remain in this nihilist state for a long time, the danger will be that they will decide that the present status quo- of facing suffering inflicted by a corrupt political administration and need to get used to a lower quality of life and desperation are facts of life and thereby pass up opportunities to fight the evil and unjust political system which created this mayhem in the first place. The loss of control in any situation can lead to this state. The people will thus at best settle down to idiomatically ‘save the babies floating in the downstream instead of going upstream to discover how the babies are getting into the river in the first place’. Sri Lankans can no longer be political bystanders anymore, given the developing scenario of gloom and doom.

A growing recognition emerges that we Sri Lankans don’t have the stomach or the backbone to do the things we have to do to win this fight- to chase out a stubborn despot/ misfit elected due to our own stupidity and to tackle the multitude of crises he has created. Our fingers have been burned. Our international image has taken a terrible beating. As it stands, we don’t’ seem to look and like what we see in the mirror. While the self-bloated ruling politicians of the Diyawanna Oya have gone into hiding from public view , thousands if not more are joining the passport queues to take their first flight out of the country which they loved and lived in. As the crisis after crisis hit this Island nation, and many are the hitting the streets to protest and wage the struggle calling for social justice and political accountability, as a nation however, people are still wanting to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that the crises will fade away when the next fuel bowser arrives and that some other nation will salvage their country. This is merely an illusion. If there is no collective nationwide commitment to the struggle (Aragalaya) to change this toxic system of governance and if everybody feels that somebody will do it for them, it will end up with nobody doing what everybody as a collective could have done.

Seldom that the people realise that corrupt Robber Baron Rajapaksas in particular and the ruling parties in general whom they have been electing democratically since Independence have been ‘actively plotting and planning their destruction’ in a sense by sucking and siphoning out the nation’s wealth and also their future over the years. People have thus paid a terrible price for connivance with and climbing into the gutter with these political opportunists and taking the nation into an oblivion and wilderness, naively believing and trusting laughable and unenforceable election promises and manifestos. However, having realised their folly, as a collective, people can do things to change the status quo and make qualitative and decisive changes in the political system. ‘Not losing hope and having self confidence’ is the starting point.

Having hope,” writes Daniel Goleman in his study of emotional intelligence, “means that one will not give in to overwhelming anxiety, a defeatist attitude, or depression in the face of difficult challenges or setbacks.” Hope is “more than the sunny view that everything will turn out all right”; it is “believing you have the will and the way to accomplish your goals”. Defeatist thoughts are the mother of inaction. A defeatist spirit must inevitably lead to disaster”. One of the greatest fears people is the fear of failure, imagining all possible scenario why what you do will not work based on all past experiences with party politics, thereby going in a state of analysis paralysis. The best way forward will be to overcome this defeatist attitude and actually take a leap of faith, take that first step, and put themselves in a situation where there is no turning back. Many examples abound worldwide. What happened in Guatemala in 2015 closely resembles the Aragalaya which is unveiling now in Sri Lanka! Their campaign hashtag #RenunciaYa (Resign Now) corresponds with ours; ‘#GohomeGota’.

The political leaders of Guatemala and even Honduras have become targets of a broader frustration fed by the conviction that there is little to stop well-connected business groups and politicians from conspiring to skim off their states’ scant resources. As a Honduran journalist, said: “The government wasn’t listening to the clamour of the street. People want resounding answers. They don’t want half-answers. The peak of tolerance for corruption has reached its limit. Citizens are just fed up”(sounds familiar!).

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