Daily Mirror Editorial
May 21, 2012
The word says it all.

Be it the freedom that was celebrated grandly on Saturday or the one of Former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka anticipated by many, it is always a reason for celebration. Tasting and breathing freedom has always been a lost-and-found privilege of the island's citizenry, who were often compelled to surrender to a few foreign invasions and, during the recent times, the terrorism.

Larger picture being thus, there have always been individuals, deprived of their basic rights and freedoms once their actions and growing popularities were found intolerable by the respective regimes. Irrespective of the prevailing security and political condition of the country, they have been a breed, who carries the cross for symbolizing change. Whether it was a change demanded and aspired by people, or one that merely looked like it, is another matter. Perhaps, what went wrong with Mr. Fonseka is something similar. Whatever the talks and cross-talks that were going on behind the curtains of power, finally the people are to witness and be a part of Mr. Fonseka's long due freedom.

A national weekly reported on its front page that fire-crackers were sold out. There are housewives waiting to warm their hearth for another historic ‘kiributh.' This is the long-awaited epilogue of the war victory that remained incomplete for three years. No doubt, they have the freedom to celebrate the freedom of a fellow citizen. It is their limited right to express elation as they want.

If any regime resorts to suppress the individuals who pull crowds, it is a clear sign of insecurity. The knowledge that green billets, lunch parcels or promises of employment opportunities cannot win faithful supporters may lead a government to act in a manner that contradicts every core principle of democracy. Yet, the powers-that-be ought not to forget that, taking front-liners to custody means taking hostage of people's freedom.

On the other hand, if the Rajapaksa government is trying to find its way to the people's heart by being instrumental in Mr. Fonseka's freedom, it should be mindful of the fact that public preference cannot be bluffed. It cannot be tipexed when it is not on the side of the government. The history in which Mr. Fonseka deserves a mention, cannot be rewritten according to the whims and fancies of a privileged few. If the printed word or carved figures have no place for him, the word of mouth of people will make him a legend.

For Mrs. Fonseka, it is her husband coming home; a modern-day Odysseus, finally landing on the shores of Ithaca after his ship was driven off course by a storm. For the people who rallied around him, it is the liberation of a hero and the crescendo of their relatively newfound freedom.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka