“The destruction of property and other illegal or violent activities that are becoming a part of the protests should stop, and non-violent methods of expressing opposition should again be adopted.”-The Morning

(Text of Editorial Appearing in “The Morning” of May 11th 2022 Under the Heading “Protesting with cognitive violence over brute force”)

In less than 24 hours, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned, anti-Government groups retaliated against pro-Government groups, people were killed, and properties amounting to an unknown value were destroyed. Most importantly, violence, which was hardly a part of the ongoing protests, somehow took centre stage.

However, the tense situation is not over. Organised attacks by anti-Government groups and the monitoring of politicians leaving the country are still taking place, and some people are of the view that this should be the new face of the anti-Government struggle, because it brings what some consider justice without delay.

While some may view these new developments as an explosion of suppressed anger and suggest that it must be unleashed throughout the rest of the anti-Government struggle, what it will actually bring about is more chaos and instability, which in turn will worsen the impact of the economic and social crises on the people. The struggle cannot continue like this, and what happened on Monday (9) and yesterday (10) should not be seen as an example, but a lesson.

Once the curfew is lifted today (11), the people will have to rethink the future of the anti-Government struggle.

Attacks on the properties of politicians and strong political activists have already led to the destruction of a large number of properties throughout the country. While the public’s tendency to express their anger against corrupt politicians is justifiable, destroying property will not strengthen, but weaken, the struggle.

That is because the more illegal and violent acts that are committed by the protestors, the more the Government and the law enforcement authorities can use force to suppress the anti-Government movement, on the pretext of maintaining public order. We also cannot ignore the rumours that some of the houses that were destroyed on Monday and Tuesday were not destroyed by anti-Government protesters, but politicians themselves, in order to further portray anti-Government protesters as a violent group.

Therefore, the destruction of property and other illegal or violent activities that are becoming a part of the protests should stop, and non-violent methods of expressing opposition should again be adopted.

There are non-violent ways to exert pressure on corrupt politicians. One way to achieve that in a peaceful manner is for the people to boycott businesses owned by corrupt politicians – that is a bigger blow than destroying a building.

What is more, instead of attacking provincial politicians who backed pro-Government mobs, the people could exclude such politicians from their communities and strip them of the social status they have.

Supporting to expose corrupt politicians by revealing information regarding such through social media platforms, and by filing complaints with the authorities, is another way that the anti-Government movement can evolve into an anti-corruption movement. That is crucial because Sri Lanka needs uncorrupt politicians, not corrupt politicians from the Opposition.

Instead of carrying out organised physical attacks that end in bloodshed, the time is ripe for intellectual strategies that lead to real change.

One meaningful statement that was circulated on social media platforms after the GotaGoGama protest site was attacked was that “anti-Government protests are in the heart of every Sri Lankan and in every house; the ‘GotaGoGama’ is merely where protestors gather”. That is one sentiment that should be upheld in the coming few months, and that message should be conveyed at the grassroots level in every part of the country.

This will initiate a discussion about how every person can be a protester even without stepping into the ‘GotaGoGama’, thereby making every part of the country a protest site that cannot be ignored by provincial politicians.

At the same time, such grassroots-level discussions will help stop the brainwashing, threatening, and bribing of rural people to blindly support pro-Government campaigns.

Once the curfew is lifted, protests should continue stronger than ever. However, protestors should choose brain over muscle, directing their strength to tackle issues, not hurting people or destroying buildings.

Courtesy:The Morning