Geneva meet: rallies galore in Sri Lanka, not all altruistic though

Updated - July 20, 2016 11:48 pm IST

Published - March 19, 2012 01:26 am IST - COLOMBO:

“Let us not lose the victory achieved by war heroes by sacrificing their lives” read one placard at a pro-government rally soon after the draft of the U.S.-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka, at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, was available in the public domain.

That rally was on February 27. Since then Colombo, and many parts of Sri Lanka, have witnessed rallies, some on their own, some encouraged by the government. In fact, it's protest season and every community and organisation, which depend or want the government to do them a favour, are falling over one another to join in. The protest is against the foreign powers. At most of the rallies, leaders denounce many countries, notably the U.S., U.K., Norway, and European Union in general. Surprisingly, there was little anti-India rhetoric.

In fact, on March 13, Minister Wimal Weerawansa, called for a boycott of American products. The National Freedom Front leader wanted people to boycott even Google. Of course, no one seems to have taken him seriously.

The resolution comes up this week, and hence, last week saw the maximum number of protests. The theme as seen from the placards is: “Keep off Sri Lanka. We know how to deal with our problems.” The rallies also blamed the opposition United National Party, which has not publicly criticised the Geneva move. “UNP, do not betray the country” one placard read.

Last week, it was the turn of the organised professionals, monks, trade unions, Muslims, and Tamils to protest. A group of Muslims, who protested in front of the United Nations Development Programme office here on March 15, demanded that the “UNHRC allow Sri Lankans to live peacefully”. Another placard asked where the UNHRC was when the LTTE massacred the Muslims at the height of its segregation campaign. “Our support”, one placard made it clear, was “to protect our motherland”.

Many organisations that seem to have been floated recently have also joined in with statements. One such statement came from “working professionals and trade union members” under the banner of an outfit named National Organization for the Protecting the Country. It described the resolution as an “unwelcome action”.

What confirms the suspicions who is behind the protests was the fact that one such was organised in Jaffna. Ever since Sri Lanka took control of the northern province, nothing happens in the area without the Army being informed about it. The last protest in Jaffna was against India — in front of the Consulate — demanding its fishermen stay off Sri Lankan waters. The March 17 protest attracted a sizeable crowd, including former LTTE cadre, who were rehabilitated into society. One poster was telling: “ Emadhu naatirkku velinaattu soozchigal vendam. ” (Our country does not need conspiracies by foreigners!).

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