The Real Ranil and Aragalaya Report 3.0 – The Island
By DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
Ranil Wickremesinghe is a leader without any popular vote; a leader without mandate; a leader without legitimacy. And yet it seeks to crush citizens using military and police force. Aragalaya The 3.0 must be born as the Resistance against the Ranil regime and can only end with its political withdrawal.
Actions speak louder than words, as the old saying goes. The shares came from Ranil. Speech is also an action. He seemed belligerent for days. After he was elected by the majority Rajapaksa to Parliament as the leader of this country, and he stopped on the way to thank the army and the police, he was heard to say something derogatory about the Aragalaya. At the Hunupitiya Gangarama Temple, he unnecessarily criticized the Aragalaya. After being sworn in yesterday, he went to the Ministry of Defense where he was greeted by Gota’s closest comrade in arms, General (Retired) Kamal Gunaratna, the Secretary of Defence.
By pure coincidence of course, a few hours after this meeting, the army invaded GotaGoGama and, together with the police, beat the few activists there and rounded up others. They did this despite the fact that the evening news had clearly shown the evacuation of the Presidential Secretariat compound!
Every decent human being capable of moral outrage, in Sri Lanka, as well as Sri Lankans everywhere, and indeed every decent human being capable of moral outrage, must protest what is happening and what is clearly to come .
Ranil’s Roots and Disc
For my part, I am shocked but not surprised, because I had warned about this in my last articles. It’s because I know Ranil and have been a critic for decades.
In order to understand what just happened at GGG, what will happen, and what needs to be done to resist it and roll it back, one only needs to know where Ranil is coming from. His parents, Esmond and Nalini Wickremesinghe whose base was Lake House, were on the far right in politics in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. I know this first hand because my late father Mervyn de Silva had battles with them at Lake House, even when he was editor of the Daily News (in 1970) and Ranil’s mother was still a director.
One of the stakes of the acute conflicts between Ranil’s father and mine speaks directly of Ranil’s regime and the repression which has just been unleashed. It started in 1965 and went on for years. It was about dictatorship and military rule. The Indonesian army had just taken power in September 1965 and began a repression that devoured more than a million and a half people. The unarmed Communist Party was massacred. Suharto’s dictatorship has begun. A strict economic model has been put in place. There was a well-known film about this dramatic period, called “The Year of Dangerous Living”. I was there with my parents.
Back in Sri Lanka, there was a huge rift in the ruling UNP between the liberal democrat Dudley Senanayake and the authoritarian JR Jayewardene-Esmond Wickremesinghe factions. Lake House was the cockpit of the ideological struggle. Esmond is often heard advocating the “Indonesian model” and his acolytes write supporting articles in the newspapers.
My father Mervyn, my mother Lakshmi and I (an 8 year old girl) were in Indonesia just before the coup. Mervyn and his family had been personally invited by Dr. Subandrio, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to speak at the Afro-Asian Journalists Association meeting in Bali to mark the 10e anniversary of the famous Bandung Summit of 1955. He was the last foreign journalist to interview DN Aidit, the leader of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). In the pages of the Lake House newspapers and even in the halls of Lake House, Mervyn was the fiercest opponent of Esmond Wickremesinghe’s “Indonesian model” for Ceylon. This is the model that Ranil Wickremesinghe tries to implement.
When the debate broke out publicly in the newspapers and in the UNP itself in the 1960s, Rohana Wijeweera took notice. He warned the country that the JR-Esmond Wickremesinghe wing might depose Dudley Senanayake, cancel the elections scheduled for 1970 and install the Indonesian model. He decided that because the unarmed but massive Indonesian Communist Party was slaughtered precisely it was unarmed unlike the Chinese and Vietnamese CPs, the JVP should be armed in self-defense.
Rohana Wijeweera was right in her alarm but was wrong in her prognosis and her prescription. What went wrong was that there was a powerful centre-left opposition which ensured elections were held in 1970. His JVP coil spring then leaped into armed action in 1971 against a government for which he was campaigning, triggered by arrests hand bombs accidentally detonated.
Ranil hates young rebels
Ranil has always hated young leftists. In the 1970s, when all members of the UNP, including its youth and student wings, were affected by the April 1971 youth uprising and had shifted to the left to some extent, Ranil was the one notable exception.
When he was elected to Parliament in 1977, Ranil’s goons were known to abduct student activists from BTC buses, take them to SriKotha and beat them. He justified in parliament the stoning of judges’ houses by thugs after the Court ruled against police officers who kicked the respected Vivienne Goonewardene on the floor of Colpetty police station. Gonawela Sunil, sentenced to death for leading the gang rape of Dr ATS Paul’s 14 year old daughter, on Galle Face green, was released on presidential pardon by JR Jayewardene, made justice of the peace for the area Ranil represented and by the patronage of Ranil. He was parked and worked in the Ministry of Education which Ranil ran.
When Vijaya Kumaratunga was shot during Mahara’s partial election campaign, his bodyguard jumped in front of the shotgun blast and died. It could have been Vijaya. The lights went out during the counting of the Mahara by-election and when they came on, the UNP had won while Vijaya, who was in the lead, had lost. Guess who was the senior UNPer appointed political head of the UNP in the Mahara by-election? Ranil Wickremesinghe.
It was Ranil whose one-sided and polarizing White Paper on Education (1980) led to massive student protests and revived the JVP student movement, giving it the power it would have for decades. This is the type of “reforms” he will implement during his presidency.
Let’s not even talk about Batalanda. In addition to the Commission’s report, there were nationally televised testimonies from the families of the victims.
The army is now in love with Ranil. He seems to have a collective – hopefully temporary – amnesia about the abject state he was pushed into by Ranil’s unhinged CFA with Prabhakaran. Worse still, Ranil, who has absolutely no qualms about deploying deadly ferocity against the southern leftist youth, called off an LRRP hit on Velupillai Prabhakaran on December 21st.st 2001, quashing army commander Lionel Balagalle’s plea that it would shorten the war and lead the LTTE to a negotiated settlement. This was detailed in the book by Sandhurst lecturer Paul Moorcraft.
How to Resist Ranil
There is only one way to stop the Ranil-Rajapaksa military regime currently taking shape; only one formula that I know of that has been tried and tested in the history of the whole world is the Antifascist United Front or the United Front for Antifascist Resistance. In this case, the United Front against repression and the broadest dictatorship.
If the JVP and the FSP do not unite, and they both do not unite with the SJB, and the latter does not unite with them; if they don’t unite with the SLFP and the 10 smaller parties, if they don’t remove the splinter faction Dullas by then, all will be pulverized by the civil-military junta of Ranil-Rajapaksa. To begin with, let anyone who wishes to unite with anyone else do so today, in clusters. Pick your political partners, but for God’s sake, find one beyond your current circle.
Civic activists must pressure leaderships and political parties to form a single bloc. In the meantime, apply it yourselves at the local level. In every workplace and in every neighborhood, all those of all social strata, who support these parties as well as all those who are independent of party politics, must form common networks, and networks of networks. Tomorrow must be different from yesterday, and you, us, must be different today than you were last night (July 21). Without unity at all levels, everyone will unite anyway, in jail or the graveyard (if they’re lucky) or in an incinerator if they’re not.