Rule by the Gun of the Gun for the Gun

| by Vickramabahu Karunaratne

(October 23, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) While the whole nation was shocked by the multiple killings at Mulleriyawa, another set of gruesome murders have been reported from other parts of the country which, according to reports, the police believe to be shots from a T 56 gun. The killings at Mulleriyawa, also were done through the firing of automatic weapons. Murders by automatic weapons have brought the acute problem of the increase in gruesome crimes to a new height. However, the use of such weapons during the conflicts in the south, north and the east were well known. It appears that these weapons are freely available, and there are also former soldiers, members of paramilitary groups and others who are well trained to use such weapons. Under these circumstances this new trend in crime is no surprise. In all these cases the spread of the news brought unrest in the area and the police had to make special arrangements and reinforcements to deal with the issue. Such unrest is now a common feature, as the recent incidents in Dompe after the extrajudicial killings of a young man arrested by the police, and the incident at Mulleriyawa, show. What were earlier called ‘Grease Devil’ incidents, sparked crowd protests against strangers, who had entered into other areas and were suspected of having committed crimes. The fear of any stranger is now a common feature and this reflects enormous stress and unrest among the ordinary folk.

Disturbing factor
However, the most disturbing factor is that the government has neither the willingness nor the capacity to deal with these crimes. Is the instrument through which the government deals with the control of crimes, a competent, independent and adequately funded: policing system? It is through the introduction of the executive presidential system, which has politicized all public institutions in Sri Lanka that the Policing system came to the present state of leaderless incompetence. The pathetic plight of the Police is a truth known to the government, the leaders and others of the policing system itself, as well as the public. Clearly the Mahinda regime is deeply committed to the executive presidential system as found in the 1978 constitution. In fact, the government strengthened the executive presidential system by passing the 18th amendment to the Constitution, thirteen months ago.
The people are unhappy, angry and insecure. Past incidents show them what might happen to them on any day at any time. Once the dispute settlements are taken over by the criminal elements with automatic weapons, anyone could become a target anytime.
Under the present Constitution the most essential aspect of the rule of law, which is the supremacy of the law, was negated by placing the executive president above the law. It is this destruction of the most essential component of rule of law that has brought the Lankan Policing System to what it is today.
1978 Constitution has placed the president above the law. However this has not made Mahinda a Supreme Being who is capable of controlling everyone and everything. In fact he has been reduced to a powerless onlooker who has to keep on watching the most gruesome crimes every day and can do nothing about it.
Even people who are most close to him like his brother, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and a member of parliament of his party Duminda Silva have taken the law into their hands. While he is unable to stop that, it is ridiculous to see him shouting in rage to crush disorder. Under his rule it is the automatic rifle that has become supreme in the country. The government used this situation for their own advantage in elections and in the suppression of opponents. However, now things have gone out of control. As such the government is unable to prevent its own members from killing each other with the use of automatic weapons.
Weapons adulation
Gotabhaya has cultivated a mentality of adulation for weapons and for those who are willing to use them, even if they are part of the underground elements. His close association with Duminda Silva, who is known to be one of the masters of the underground elements, speaks glaringly about the nature of the present day crisis. The problem is that the government has no solution to it. It is today incapable of even disowning a person accused of multiple murders and other socially unacceptable activities. One of the reasons for the government incapacity to deal with this crisis is the importance given to the executive presidential system and the placement of the president above the law. This is a position that the government is neither willing nor capable of abandoning. The government when coming to power promised to abolish this system but since has done everything possible to strengthen it.

The people
The people are unhappy, angry and insecure. Past incidents show them what might happen to them on any day at any time. Once the dispute settlements are taken over by the criminal elements with automatic weapons, anyone could become a target anytime. Even professionals such as lawyers, doctors, university professors and engineers face this danger. It was not long ago that a doctor working at the Uragasmanhandiya was assassinated and even up to now this crime remains a mystery. Even Dr. Nonis, the registrar of the Sri Lankan Medical Council, was attacked in open daylight for carrying out his duty relating to medical exams.
In the future, in all these matters, criminal gangs with automatic weapons may have the final word? People now need to find a political expression to their sense of insecurity, helplessness and frustration by supporting a democratic camp that can stand resolutely against villainy.

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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