Sri Lanka: Anarchism never could provide a solution to terrorism

To defeat the cruel aims of terrorism, we must have to follow the practices of democracy, coexistence, proper education, decent media, efficient administration and economic development.

by Indi Akurugoda

Terrorism can be simply defined as the use of violence and intimidation against civilians in the pursuit of political aims. Except this, terrorists can extend their violence and intimidation against political authorities, political leaders, civil society organizations and private businesses as well. The extremist religious, ethnic and political opinions show a significant tendency in transforming easily into terrorism. The people’s will and the government support towards such extremist opinions can be resulted in strong and widespread terrorist movements.

In a different perspective, political authoritiespossibly can develop unlawful connections with terrorist groups. At the same time, governments and political leaderstend to use military and police to promote state terrorism. This could appear in various ways,such as anarchist rule, authoritarian policy processes and undemocratic governing practices.Simultaneously, this state terrorismtends tomerge with media terrorism, the unethical and indecent media practices that definitely could lead to spread violence and intimidation upon civilians.

In the aftermath of the brutal terrorist attack by Islamic extremists on April 21, 2019 aiming a number of prominent Christian churches and luxury hotels, several hidden characteristics of the Sri Lankan political and social arena have suddenly been re-appeared. Significantly, a major group of people started exhibiting the pictures of dead bodies of the victimized innocent civilians on social media and calling to justify the previous authoritarian Rajapaksa regime. This group of people was missing the enjoyment of the death fantasy and cruel happiness since the regime change in January 2015. The sudden outreach of such group can be identified as a disgusting attempt to justify the extremist political opinions of the Rajapaksa regime and to clear the ground to re-establish their anarchist power structures upon the bloodstreams of innocent civilians.

Clearly, the Sinhala Buddhist extremists have fueled up to force the government to release the imprisoned monks who accused of violent behavior and intimidation. The destructive and violent extremist movements of these monks to diminish the unity and coexistence of the country resulted in imprisoning them under the Sri Lankan law. In the immediate aftermath of bomb attacks, the authoritarian politicians who unconditionally supported and sponsored these murderous extremist monks have suddenly been appeared as heroes and started justifying their previous regime rule. Sadly, most of the Sinhala and Buddhist people who represent every social stratum have shown their support to such extremist monks and politicians to justify ethno-chauvinism against the Sri Lankan Muslims. They started spreading utter hostility upon Muslimstreating them as ultimate opponents.

Another group of people who voluntarily support the above hostilityis the Sinhala diaspora live in Europe. Although most of them do odd jobs in Europe, they dream to obtain permanent residency or citizenship in such European countries. Until the bomb attackson April 21, 2019, they underestimated their motherland through overexaggerating their “luxury” life in Europe. It is interesting to observe their instant patriotism upon Sri Lanka after the bomb attacks. The loudest demand to boycott products and shops of Muslimshave emerged from this diasporic group. Incredibly, while living abroad, they try to pretend as great political analysts promoting a “Sinhala Buddhist only” Sri Lanka (It is important to note that these people are totally anti-Western though they earn doing odd jobs in Western European countries). This group of people attacks the peaceful coexistence in Sri Lanka and continually abuse the valuable and meaningful Buddhist sermons and teachings.

Furthermore, there is another group that reflects a mania of exaggerating war heroism. Since the end of the war in May 2009, these people have not received any chance to promote their favorite war heroism. The hidden agenda of this sudden mania can be identified as a reaction to force the government to release the military and intelligence officials who are accused ofmurders and human rights violations.

Surprisingly, most people have intentionally forgotten the major incidents happened to the duty conscious military officials during the post-war period.General Sarath Fonseka was imprisoned under false accusations and court-martialed for committing military offences. He was cashiered from the army, having been stripped of his rank, medals and decorations, and his military pension was forfeited. Military officials were recruited to clear trash in municipal council areas, clean drainage lines and to sell vegetables and coconuts. Karuna Amman, the former LTTE militant who is accused ofmassacring of 600 police officials,was appointed as a minister and as a deputy president of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. The list is quite long and these are some prominent incidents only. So, at the time of these incidentswhere were the people who have suddenly awakenedat present to promote war heroism? Did they findmore importance of protecting the authoritarian regime at that time than promoting war heroes?

Today, the state-sponsored terrorism which took place during the post-war period has been totally forgotten by a majority of people in Sri Lanka. It can be identified as an opportunistic and intentional forgetfulness. Independent journalists and social activists were murdered in public;several brutal attacks and disappearances were reported; political oppositions were threatened; and a “white van phobia” was created to suppress the independent thinkers and social movements. The innocent civilians who protested,demanding justice were brutally killed; many prisoners in the jail located in the capital city were shot dead. Where were the maniac patriots when the rulers of the previous regime were using the military and police to fulfill their authoritarian agendas? Now they seem attempting to crown such murderous anarchic rulers as saviors of the country and rejecting democracy and human rights demanding blood to blood.

Within this chaotic context, it is a relief to see the groups and individuals who reject the extremist ethno-chauvinistic political views and promote democracy, pluralism and coexistence in Sri Lanka.

The April 21 tragedy can be interpreted as a result of the anarchist initiatives occurred when the present Executive President ousted the legally elected Prime Minister and empowered the rejected political forces on October 26, 2018. It is important to remind the politicians,including the President,who try to escape from their responsibilities, that they represent a major force which fueled the extremists and drove the country towards an anarchic rule underestimating democratic values.Now these extremists are trying to intimidate citizens; grab power stagnating the state mechanism; and to exaggerate the situation to discourage people adjusting to normalcy. Anarchism never could provide a solution to terrorism. It could fuelstate terrorism and extremist terrorism at the same time.

To overcome the present chaos, we need to get rid of the emotional, depoliticized, opportunistic and extremist positions, and to identify real facets of terrorism. The terrorists do a little; but we are the people who continue to carry on their rest of the cruel expectations illogically and uncritically to harm the society. The emotional, depoliticized, opportunistic and extremist groups are the mostdestructive forces of the society. The illogical and uncritical media significantly contribute these forces. In the final analysis, intentionally or unintentionally they destroy the society through wide spreading terrorism. Undoubtedly, the advantage of all these destructive actions rests with the undemocratic, authoritarian and opportunistic politicians.

If we continue staying at the homes fearfully, keeping the children without sending to schools, escaping from offices, boycotting products and shops of Muslimsand spreading hatred feelings against the other religious and ethnic groups, we definitely fulfill the aims of terrorists. When we fulfill such aims, the advantage goes to the murderers who appear as political saviors.

Terrorism, however, is a global phenomenon. The world processes have not declined due to its consequences. To defeat the cruel aims of terrorism, we must have to follow the practices of democracy, coexistence, proper education, decent media, efficient administration and economic development. This is the best and the only alternative we have at the moment.

Dr Indi Akurugoda, Department of Public Policy, University of Ruhuna


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