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A Suitable Enemy

A Suitable Enemy

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Published by Thavam

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Published by: Thavam on Sep 05, 2013
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09/05/2013

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( September 5, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Where would all the fairy tales be without the monsters?How does a hero escape irrelevance, once the last monster is slain?Can a king muster armies and stifle opponents, if the land is not menaced?Sans a suitable enemy, how can the Rajapaksas insist on their indispensability? Or justify satiating a gargantuan military machine when ordinary people, from North toSouth, suffer from want? Or excuse the steady asphyxiating of basic rights, the brutalsuppression of democratic dissent, even in the Sinhala-South? A suitable enemy is to the Rajapaksa state what oxygen is to living beings.Gotabhaya Rajapaksa always had a knack for conjuring enemies. But in his Speech atthe latest Defence Seminar[i] he truly surpassed himself. Not only did he come up witha veritable stable-full of foes; his definitions of these myriad enemies are soamorphous as to be applicable to any Lankan (and quite a few non-Lankans), at will. According to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the enemy is the Extremist, a many-headed,fecund and omnipresent Hydra.
 
Tamil Extremists (International) – They want “the division of Sri Lanka and theestablishment of a separate state for Tamil Eelam”.Resultant Enemies: Any expatriate Tamil/Lankan, any Indian (especially from
 
Tamilnadu), any Westerner, INGOs, United Nations and its constituent organisations.
 
Tamil Extremists (National) – “As a result of their actions and statements, it ispossible that radical elements will feel empowered to once again attempt to take uparms against the state in the name of separation”.Resultant Enemies: The TNA and other Tamil parties and organisations, any Tamil,anyone dubbed a ‘Sinhala/Muslim Tiger’, NGOs
 
Left wing Extremists - Extremist groups “involved in previous insurgencies. Someof these groups are trying to reorganise within Sri Lanka and mobilise people to onceagain take up extreme left wing causes. Even today it can be seen that there areattempts to radicalise students and even the public and encourage them to take to thestreets in various protests on various pretexts”.Resultant Enemies: The JVP/JVP offshoots, trade unions and mass organisations,ordinary people who engage in non-political protests a la Weliweriya…
 
Islamic Extremists – Muslims fundamentalists from abroad “may try to promoteMuslim extremism in Sri Lanka…”Resultant Enemies: Any Muslim organisation or individual who does not toe theRajapaksa line or falls foul of the likes of BBS/JHU/Sinhala Ravaya.
 
Criminal Extremists – Those engaged in ‘Organised Crimes’.Resultant Enemies: Any Lankan.
 
Media Extremists: “….subversive elements with ulterior motives (who)….portray demands by sections of the public to showcase the country in a negative light”.Resultant Enemies: any media personnel/organisation/website, professionals whomake factual analyses, ordinary citizens willing to write about wrongs.
 
 Western Extremists: “There is a possibility that some western powers wish to havea Sri Lankan Government that is closely aligned with their interests. They may seek toinfluence Sri Lanka’s destiny so that it cannot pursue the independent course it isfollowing at present”.Resultant Enemies: The UNP, NGOs and INGOs, liberal intelligentsia, SLFP/UPFA leaders who fall foul of the Rajapaksas.
 
 Anti-democratic Extremists - People who “go beyond peaceful demonstrations andengage in violent protest, incite violence or act in other undemocratic ways”.Resultant Enemies: The entire opposition, SLFP/UPFA supporters who opposeRajapaksa interests inadvertently, such as the ‘true blue’ people of Weliweriya.
 
Irresponsible Extremists – People/Organisations who fail to “exercise theirdemocratic freedoms with responsibility”.Resultant Enemies: Any Lankan citizen, lay or ordained; any Lankan organisation,political or non-political can become an accidental extremist.These categories are so fluid and overarching they can include any Lankan, many timesover.Thanks to the prolific and shoreless imagination of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, theRajapaksa state will never be bereft of an enemy. Indeed, a different enemy can be
 
showcased, depending on the need of the moment. For instance, the ‘Islamic enemy’can be foregrounded, to curry favour with the West/India; the ‘Western enemy’ can befocused on, when political and financial assistance from the Third World (especially  Arab/Islamic world) becomes necessary; the IMF and other international financialorganisations can be offered the ‘Left-wing enemy’.The Rajapaksas are not just another bunch of corrupt and vainglorious leadersubiquitous across the World. They are political fanatics (rather like VellupillaiPirapaharan) obsessively and single-mindedly committed to a project of dynastic rule. And they possess the determination, the drive, the ingeniousness and the disciplineneeded to impose that project on Lankan society. The sui generis 18
th
Amendment,designed to suit the politico-dynastic requirements of the President and his family, wasproof positive of this Rajapaksa exceptionalism. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s list of enemiesis one more indication that the Siblings will go anywhere and do anything to protecttheir rule and destroy their opponents.Selective InjusticeThe regime has reportedly signed a deal[ii] permitting 40 (or so) Chinese fishing vessels, flying the Lion flag, to fish in Lankan waters.The Rajapaksas have adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards Tamil Nadu fishermenfishing in our waters. But the same regime is permitting China to perpetrate a fargreater plundering of our aquatic resources, under the protection of the national banner.That contrasting policy reveals the reality behind every Rajapaksa-hype.For the Rajapaksas crime – both political and non-political – depends on the identity of the perpetrators. The Rajapaksa supporters are allowed to break any law, violate any norm, with impunity; anything can become a crime, if done by a Rajapaksa opponent.The rule of law would bar the Siblings from turning political opponents into terroristsor criminals, at the turn of a word or the affixing of a label. That is one reason theSiblings hounded out Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake through a manifestly fraudulent impeachment; that is why they are continuing the witch hunt against hereven now. They want Shirani Bandaranayake to become for all judges/lawyers whatSarath Fonseka became for all military men – a terrifying symbol of the costs of  barring the Rajapaksa Way.Selective injustice has multiple uses. The threat of being labelled and persecutedunfairly can be used to keep supporters in eternal subjugation and silence/co-optopponents. It can be used to further weaken the existing opposition, discourage theformation of new centres of resistance and habituate the general public intoindifference and apathy. It can be used to violate academic freedom, undermineprofessional integrity and turn honourable citizens into dishonourable subjects.In ‘A Man for All Seasons’, Robert Bolt’s play on Thomas More, the traditional role of the chorus belongs to the ‘Common Man’, who also doubles up as the Foreman of theJury and the Headsman. In the final scene, after beheading Thomas More, the

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