Throughout the Presidential Election, my Newsfeed’s been inundated with people praising the former President of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse, for stepping down peacefully after a decade in power. Many were expecting a bloodbath. Despite reported last-minute attempts by H.E to use the military to suppress the voters, that didn’t happen (thanks to a few strong civil servants who had their heads screwed on right) and Sri Lanka was spared a wave of violence that would have torn the country apart. And for this, we called Mahinda Rajapakse a gentleman and sang his praises.
However, today my Newsfeed is full of something else: a damning clip of Mahinda Rajapakse speaking to a crowd. In this video, which was recorded off a mobile phone, the audience questions him as to why he did not kill <Maithripala, I presume> and seize power. Replying to this, he goes on to rant and brand the voters in the North and the East as “Eelam” – a taboo word in Sri Lanka, a word that inspired three decades of civil war, re-branding much of Sri Lanka as the terrorists he successfully suppressed. He categorically states that the country’s new government will not be stable without him, mocks the proposed Parliamentary changes, and vows that he will not leave.
See for yourself.
The video in question first appeared on Facebook approximately nine hours ago, uploaded off a private user profile. In the name of privacy I’ve located what seems to be a fresh upload of this to YouTube. I cannot verify the time or location of this video.
Just to clarify the social ramifications of this: the term “Eelam” – the name and the values it’s associated with – bears the weight of 30 years of death for men, women and children, and many, many sacrifices by the Armed Forces; a history of suicide bombings, assassinations, orphans, body parts strewn over streets. To the best of my knowledge the very mention of the word is banned. Here is the former President of Sri Lanka, who, after much struggle and conquest, liberated the North and the East from the clutches of Eelam, branding this half-integrated part of the island with the fresh flame of terrorism and rousing those that listen against them. It cuts both ways. Even those who voted for MR are now disgusted by what they see as this cheapest of tricks – nobody wants that war again.
But there are always people stupid enough to listen, and in listening, to act.