Item in The Island, 1 August 2022, where the title runs thus “Dons Condemn Suppression of Aragalaya”
“Tyrannical governments and illegitimate leaders throughout history have led their societies to destruction”
The Federation of University Teachers (FUTA) says that the Wickremasinghe-Rajapaksa government lacks any legitimacy and it should stop taking cover behind the Constitution.In a statement condemning what it termed as “repression of aragalaya activists by the current regime” the university teachers have said that “the tyrannical governments and illegitimate leaders throughout history have led their societies to destruction.”
“The FUTA unreservedly condemns the repression of aragalaya activists by the current regime led by President Ranil Wickremasinge. The aragalaya represented a truly democratic movement in Sri Lanka’s political history where people with diverse political, ideological, cultural and social beliefs and orientations united for a common purpose. The aragalaya slogan ‘Gota go home’, which resonated across the county (and beyond), was not just about the individual politician Goatabhaya Rajapaksa but about the rotten political order he represented. It was a rallying call to regain the promise of democratic politics and to demand a new political culture where the political class is accountable to the people who elect them. On July 9th when hundreds of thousands of people gathered to Colombo it was not because of the promise of a rice packet, a bottle of arrack and some money – the usual handout doled out by the political class to attract people to their rallies – but due to the people’s collective frustration with the extreme economic deprivations they faced and the need to restore a minimum democratic order where the political system of the country was answerable to them.
“However, in a tragic turn of events – the parliament captive to the pohottuwa majority –distorted the democratic promise of the aragalaya by electing Ranil Wickremasinghe as president. It is a tragedy because Ranil Wickremasinghe along with this pohottuwa dominated parliament lost its legitimacy a long time ago. Wickremasinghe’s first action as Executive President was the planning and execution of a cowardly, illegitimate and violent attack on Gota Go Gama, the symbolic heart of the aragalaya. This was not accidental.
“It was a calculated move to strike fear into society as a whole. Immediately after this attack the Wickremasinghe-pohottuwa government has begun a systematic campaign to delegitimize the aragalaya, hunt down the aragalaya leadership and to recreate the culture of impunity and repression that was the hallmark of the Rajapaksa style of governance. The government has now begun to even target established political parties –raiding their offices. However, if this regime believes that isolating and repressing a few aragalaya leaders and targeting political parties and activists will kill the spirit of the aragalaya, they are sorely mistaken. On March 31st, May 9th and even in the day leading up to July 9th the regime repeatedly underestimated the depth and breadth of the people’s will. That will still live on and will rise again.
“The government’s repression has also been roundly condemned internationally. Various foreign representatives in the country were swift to denounce the violent attack on Gota Go Gama. Numerous international human rights organizations, civil society organizations and other international actors also immediately condemned this action. In fact, even politically neutral financial rating companies like Fitch Ratings recognizes that there is widespread discontent about this government. Therefore, the Wicremasinghe-pohottuwa government’s narrative that it can bring economic stability is patently false. Without political legitimacy this government cannot and will not be able to stabilize the Sri Lankan economy and due to its repressive actions, it is further eroding its stock of international goodwill and therefore jeopardizing economic aid and other support the country can potentially receive – including the much touted IMF bailout package.
“Tyrannical governments and illegitimate leaders throughout history have led their societies to destruction. The Wickremasinghe-pohottuwa government is now treading a dangerous and tyrannical path that will end in bloodshed. We call upon the government to immediately halt the repression of aragalaya activists – they represent the people and the people’s will. FUTA stands with the democratic spirit of the aragalaya and will take active action to resist and protest the illegitimate action of this government. We remind the Wickremasinghe-phohottuwa government that it lacks any legitimacy and to stop taking refuge behind the constitution. Rather than hunting aragalaya activists we demand that this illegitimate government immediately gives way to a fresh political mandate and to restore the legitimacy of this political order of this country.”