The Galaxy of Goons in Sri Lanka’s Violent Political Culture
For, be the constitution of a government what it may, if there be within its jurisdiction a single man who is not subject to the law, all the rest are necessarily at his discretion. -Jean Jacques Rousseau. Discourse: What is the Origin of Inequality among Men, and is it authorized by Natural Law?
This column dedicated to the notion of fulfilling the aspirations of Sri Lankan society turns its spotlight on the existence of political goons as Sri Lankan society would aspire to be rid of such goons in order to lead a peaceful existence in our country.
Last week it was reported in the media that a person named Julampitiye Amare who had 100 warrants issued by the Courts and who is a prime suspect in the murder of a young boy and a woman who attended a JVP pocket meeting, surrendered to Court accompanied by prison officials. With the introduction of the all powerful Executive Presidency a galaxy of such goons (The Oxford Dictionary describes a goon as a criminal who is paid to frighten or injure people) came to be known in Sri Lanka. During the time of President J. R. Jayewardene, Gonawala Sunil held sway while during the time of President R. Premadasa, Sotthi Upali reigned supreme. During President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge’s regime it was Baddegane Sanjeeva who was apparently above the law for some time.
During the present time we hear of the late Vambotta and now Julampitiye Amare. It has been said that some of these goons entered Police stations immune to arrest even when there were warrants issued for their arrest and sat on the chair reserved for the officer-in-charge of the Police station and gave directions to such officers who were standing in their presence addressing these goons as ‘Sir’ out of fear for reprisals such as transfers to difficult stations and/or to curry favour with the goons who were close associates of high powered politicians who were able to procure promotions for such cowardly officers in the police service.
Julampoitiye Amare with all the warrants for his arrest pending had visited a prison inmate without any hindrance. This incident speaks volumes of the pathetic state of the law and order situation presently prevailing in our island paradise. The learned ludge has questioned the prison officers under whose protection Amare surrendered to Court, the manner in which such officers came along with the suspect. Their response was that they were simply following the orders of their superior officer.
In the good old days, during the time Sri Lanka was governed under the Parliamentary System, when Prime Ministers such as Rt. Hon. D. S. Senanayake the Father of the Nation, Dudley Senanayake, Sir John Kotelawala, S. W,R, D. Bandaranayake and Sirimavo Bandaranayake such goons who received political patronage were either unheard of or non-existent. To his credit President D. B. Wijetunge never tolerated such goons.
When we examine the past records of some world leaders who are no more, it is seen that Idi Amin, Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and the leaders of many Banana Republics in Africa operated squads of such goons to assassinate political opponents and/or to still dissident voices. Alas, they all met with miserable deaths as if to prove the truthfulness of the saying that those who resort to violence or weapons are destroyed by such violence or weapons.
As Lord Acton said power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A person intoxicated with power does not realize that such power is not eternal and that the day of reckoning will soon dawn. As Rousseau said in his discourse quoted above such actions are not authorized by Natural Law and leaving all religious beliefs apart the power of the universe will not condone such horrendous acts. As Lord Buddha preached, that the karmic force generated by such sinful acts will follow the perpetrator from birth to birth in his sansaric sojourn as the wheels of the cart are certain to follow the legs of the bull tied to the cart. There is a saying that a politician may speak as a Bodhisatva, or one who aspires for Buddhahood or as a Saint but acts as a Devdatta or a person who was the sworn enemy of the Buddha and prone to criminal acts or as the Devil.
One may ask the pertinent question, ‘Why are such goons necessary for powerful politicians when they are provided with squads of official well trained security men?’The answer may lie in the fact that such official security men cannot be trusted to keep the secrets of the dark deeds of their masters who order them to assassinate unarmed helpless human beings for the simple reason of becoming a threat to their political power. The assassination of Vijaya Kumaratunge, a genuine well loved leader, has been attributed to the said fact. Those who perpetrated that crime paid for it dearly. Natural law delivered the sentence when the law of the land failed due to lack of evidence or extreme political power. What the goons do not seem to realize is that they themselves would face death the moment their dark deeds become public or their usefulness is at an end in order to preserve the secrecy of such deeds.
As President Rajapaksa has often said that power is held by the President as a matter of public trust, the time has now come for our politicians who are prone to such violent acts to put an end to political violence and learn to lead honourable lives gaining the admiration and respect of our people. The abominable gun culture spreading in our island paradise has turned it into a miserable hellhole where people are murdered daily in broad daylight showing scant respect for human life.
Indiscriminate shooting by the Police at protest rallies and persons demonstrating for their rights have to be terminated forthwith. As seen in the recent past many innocent human lives have already been lost in such incidents placing the Government in disrepute. The Inspector General of Police must reorganize the police force so as to train the officers to be law abiding, fearless men and women who would stand up against unlawful acts of corrupt politicians as the Courts and the very great majority of our Judicial Officers would stand by them in the event of any harm faced by them on account of discharging their sacred functions owed to society without fear or favour.
The present officers in the Police must learn to emulate those great gentlemen who were senior police officers of yore who maintained the respect of their service at all times and never bowed down to the will of corrupt politicians. The Sri Lankan people look up to their Police Force for protection and maintenance of law and order and not for their annihilation and destruction. Preservation of the lives of innocent citizens is a prime function of the Police. The Police in Sri Lanka have failed in recent times to arrest the assassins of many media personnel who were critical of the regime, indicating their subservience to political power and not to the preservation of law and order which is their prime function. The Police must realize that their salaries are paid with public funds and not with the personal funds of the political masters.
As usual let me conclude with an amusing anecdote. A lawyer’s closing submissions were dragging on into its second hour when he suddenly stopped and told the judge: “Your Honour, a juror is asleep.” The judge responded: “You put him to sleep, you wake him up.”