The right to be right
Daily Mirror Editorial
Mar 1, 2011

The interpretations have changed beyond recognition. According to them, the patriots are those who surrender to local pressure in order to defeat international pressure while the traitors are those who speak out their hardships in public protests against the sky-rocketing cost of living.

One may hardly find a day devoid of a protest or strike in the capital. People have opted to the method, not because it is the most effective mode of putting across their message to the rulers, but because that is the only possible way to grab the rulers' attention. As sad as it may sound, people are compelled to take to the streets, when the so-called people's representatives give a deaf ear to their burning problems. The result is, the masses standing under the scorching sun, holding placards and shouting slogans; a compulsory hardship one has to undergo to demand what is rightfully theirs.

It may be true that the government was largely instrumental in bringing peace to the country, thanks to which the public can get onto the streets, without fear of getting blown off in another LTTE massacre. However, the powers that be, at any rate should not misuse this factor, in order to decide the reasons and time for the people to protest. Bringing peace does not give the authorities the undue privilege of making decisions on behalf of the people, who exercise their freedom of association in this manner.

The recent massive protest opposing the U.S'S resolution to be brought at the UNHRC goes to show what the government was capable of when it comes to manipulating the masses. The same government, which is silent about the shooting at a protest in Chilaw which killed a fisherman, justified their absurd idea of the anti-us protest by saying it was of national interest. The authorities as well as the masses had conveniently ignored the fact that, a protest in Sri Lanka can hardly make a difference in the already heated Geneva. If the concerns of the masses were genuine or if they were sufficiently informed of the dangers of such resolution; then the government deserves the credit for educating them without tempting them to the city with other means. However, history does not whitewash the governments and their public secret that the underlined plot of any state organized protest is something to do with other ways of motivation.

Ideally, without suppressing the dissent, the government needs to look into the grievances of the people and remedy them promptly in order to avoid recurrence of such incidents. It should not be eliminating those who raise their voices against the government, but uprooting the reasons as to why they take to the streets, demanding justice.

Under no circumstance, should a politically matured government make the voice of the masses their trumpets nor should it convert mass protests into public stunts. After all it is the citizenry of the country that decides what is right and what is wrong and the government is only an institution that operates according to the common will of the people.

In that matter, the government of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, cannot be an exception.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka