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Sunday, April 14, 2024

FUTA march generates hate attacks: Minister should apologise

Vickramabahu Karunaratne
The FUTA protest march was a success. Its success could be measured from the hate generated in the government camp. Minister SB said, “We do not intend to look at FUTA as our foe. But for example, take the foreign countries that were visited lately by Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri. He is a second grade junior lecturer on History. In the recent past he toured Oslo and the US. Who provided the air tickets for his sojourns overseas? Even Kumar Rupasinghe has joined them now. He has publicly stated that the FUTA strike has the makings of an Arab Spring that will emerge in the future. But that guy is nothing but a knucklehead who is unable to understand that this is not Arabia but Sri Lanka and that there is no scope or room for such springs to take root in this part of the globe. No doubt there are scores of NGOs behind the FUTA strike. They have also been supported by the UNP, JVP and Sarath Fonseka as well. They have also cleverly got around the breakaway faction of the JVP, the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) towards this endeavour. I must say that Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri is nothing but a mentally sick and ill person. He has publicly ridiculed our esteemed King Dutugemunu and he has also publicly clamoured to get same-sex marriages legalized here as well. It has been alleged that in the past, he has even crowed from the rooftops to get Eelam for the Tamil people in the North-East.
Dewasiri has also allegedly gone to India with the EPRLF and obtained training in arms as well. He does not understand who the genuine university lecturers are. He continues to grope in the dark. The genuine university lecturers are now beginning to understand who the FUTA chief really is. That is one reason why the FUTA strike is now showing signs of coming apart at the seams.”
All these words do not bring FUTA or Nirmal into disrepute; but go a long way to further deteriorate image of the minister. I have never heard of a category of lecturers named second grade junior lecturer. I joined the staff of the Engineering Faculty at the University of Peradeniya in 1966 as an assistant lecturer. Thereafter, I was promoted to the lecturer grade in 1970 when I came back from Cambridge with a PhD. At the time I was interdicted in 1978, I was a senior lecturer. The next title awaiting me was assistant professor which was earlier referred to as Reader. These are the categories of university lecturers at the time. I never heard of this category that SB refers to. I am sure he is wrong and he needs to apologize to Nirmal, who in my estimation, is a reputed academic in his field. Also, I must add that History is not as marginal a subject as SB assumes. E.H. Carr, the great historian said in his famous lecture ‘What is History?’ – “When we attempt to answer the question ‘What is history?’ our answer, consciously or unconsciously, reflects our own position in time, and forms part of our answer to the broader question – the view we take of the society in which we live. I have no fear that my subject may, on closer inspection, seem trivial. I am afraid that I may seem presumptuous to have broached a question so vast and so important.”
The march to Kataragama
SB must remember what happened in Arabia, happened in Lanka way back in history; when we marched to Kataragama with Mahinda and participated in many mass actions which finally brought the downfall of the last UNP regime. It can happen again, perhaps more virulently. When SB says that the Frontline Socialist Party was cleverly trapped into this protest, he displays his ignorance as to what is happening in the Higher Education sector. In fact the government paper, Sunday Observer reported: “The JVP did not have much say in the Inter University Students’ Federation, better known as Anthare, the protest march that proceeded from Kandy to Colombo in support of the dons. It was the JVP’s second breakaway group – the Peratugaami (Progressive Front), which secured control of the student protest from Kandy. In contrast to the FUTA protest march, the Peratugaami student leaders holding power at Anthare were clever enough not to entertain any of the opportunist politicians of the Opposition in their protest march, not even the JVP leaders. Hence, JVP parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake was seen taking shelter at the FUTA protest to mark their political presence. Here we can disagree with the opinion but facts are correct.
Nirmal never ridiculed historic figures; he only ridiculed mentally sick politicians who try to reenact stories of the Mahawansa in the modern world. If Nirmal stands for same sex marriages he is with great intellectuals’ the world over. If he has gone to the EPRLF for training, then he must have gone through the United Socialist Alliance headed by Chandrika, because the EPRLF was in a common front with us at that time. We all got training in the Vanni jungles to save our selves from the DJV attacks. In fact the leader of the Independent Students Union, Daya Pathirana, was killed by the DJV. So it is perfectly correct to learn to defend one self. As far as I know Nirmal always stood for a United Lanka based on devolution of power. Any sensible person who expects a United Lanka should hold that view. There is no other way out.
Special attacks
Ridiculous arguments by SB display the bankruptcy of the Mahinda regime. They have forgotten their past and what they were campaigning for at that time. The government media has made special attacks mentioning my name. I am happy to think that the NSSP intervention got such recognition. One report said: “Though Sajith even had his usual team which whistles and cheers each time he comes on a political platform, Fonseka and Vickremabahu appeared to be isolated. On-the-spot reports said Vickremabahu, who tarnished Sri Lanka’s image at the UN Human Rights Council earlier this year, had only three supporters with him while Fonseka had only his security guards, that too provided by the government as a former army commander.”
It added “The FUTA protest march which was followed by a rally in Colombo was used as gathering points for anti-government elements and political parties while UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Karu Jayasuriya, Sajith Premadasa, Sarath Fonseka, JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe, Vijitha Herath and Vickremabahu Karunarathne were seen voicing for their political survival.”
No, we were all voicing for the end of this chauvinist dictatorship!


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