Kandy people’s assembly met at the YMBA hall on 31 Sunday. This is the 3rd such assembly to meet, after Colombo and Kurunegala. All these were organised by the civil society organizations led by the Platform for Freedom. The Protest of the Opposition, the action alliance convened by the leader of the opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe, supported this social programme.
The main idea behind this project is to give an opportunity to all areas, for the militant and radical leaders to participate in discussions. It is expected that such discussions will lead to protest actions against the policies of the government. Kandy people’s assembly was chaired by lawyers Navaratne Bandara, Widyaratne and a social activist.
UNP assistant leader Joseph Michael Perera, women’s leader Nimalka Fernando and I participated as guest speakers. In the discussion that followed several participants raised the question about weakness of the political opposition. Partially, it became a criticism on UNP leadership. Though the UNP Assistant Leader gave a substantial answer it could not conclude the debate.
Though many people attack the oppositional action programme, no one has come forward so far, to start their own action programme against injustice and misery caused by the government. These so called active leaders have not come out to be examples to the others. Unfortunately, it is true that the UNP was unable to come to an agreement with the JVP, former General Sarath and the FSP. But this is not the fault of the UNP or any other member of the oppositional alliance.
The truth is that these parties are not willing to accept the recommendation of the LLRC. In addition these parties are not willing to come into an action alliance with Tamil parties including the TNA. On the other hand TNA is also not willing to join, even in an action alliance, with such parties.
They believe that these indirectly support the repression of Tamils. So the dilemma of the opposition is not connected to the style of the UNP leadership; but it is related to the UNP policy of defending LLRC recommendations. At a moment like this it is difficult to expect much from a public protest if there is no agreement on issues relevant for common action, among the oppositional parties.
It is quite obvious that rising prices and the problems of the development programme of the government is not the sole issue relevant to an oppositional campaign. Today we have to fight against the communal attacks directed at Muslims and smaller Christian groups.
Both such attacks are on the rise according to reports from media. The attack on the Pepiliyana outlet of the ‘Fashion bug’ happened less than a fortnight after the outfit led by Rev. Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara Thero, launched an attack against the Muslim owners of the ‘Fashion Bug’, accusing them of conspiring to turn Sinhala Buddhists into a minority in this country! According to media reports, the mob-attack happened after rumours of a 15 year old Sinhala-Buddhist employee of Fashion Bug being raped, within the premises, by a Muslim fellow-employee.
The tactics used by the regime and the Bodu Bala Sena, to clear themselves of any blame for this deadly incident, are simple. The attack was disconnected from politics by depicting it as an ordinary crime, caused by an ordinary girl-boy issue. The purpose is to deceive the international community and that part of the Lankan public who are still sane enough to be alarmed by the thought of another Black July.
These incidents are related to the act of intimidation harassment faced by new Christian groups. They were asked to shut down and leave and they were told only those who belong to sects and creeds registered as religions are allowed to discuss or propagate any religious or philosophical ideas! In such a scenario opposition should be committed to defend fundamental rights trampled by the regime and its auxiliaries. Also there is no way we could agree to link up with the oppositional groups who are sympathetic towards the BBS campaigns