On celebrating Independence sans freedom and privacy

By Gamini Dullewe

The government of Sri Lanka celebrated the 59th anniversary of Independence of the country, sans the masses participation. It is ironic that the majority of citizens felt there was nothing to celebrate, as we have lost the freedom and privacy we once enjoyed. Today, the masses are subject to so much inconvenience and hardship in the guise of security, due to politicians pursuing their own egos.

Recently after a very late night I retired to bed at 2.30 in the morning to be rudely woken up at 5 in the morning by a posse of Army and Police personnel who had come to check out the houses, without a warrant which I defied and got away with, thanks to my dogs. With incidents like this it is common to see people being ordered out of vehicles, made to stand in the hot sun for a good number of minutes till clearance is given to proceed. Every citizen’s privacy is intruded and is subject to a whole lot of personal questions being fired at.

The citizens can do nothing but grin and bear.

I am residing very close to the parliament car park at Battaramulla. This car park earlier served as a venue for many a person, including the young to spend their evenings, or for some others to party with a bottle thrown in and a sing song, spending their evening as many could not afford to patronize five star hotels. This innocent leisure enjoyed by the people then, is denied to the public today, in the name of ‘security’. I find it difficult to understand how it is a threat when people gather. But now, as there is no one in the nights and the area lies deserted, it is easy for someone to set up anything. Now the place is out of bounds for the public. The restaurant ‘Senkada’ providing employment and food for the public is closed and the structure removed. Similarly, many a facility enjoyed by the public then has been denied to the public today.

For instance imagine the plight of a person having something heavy to carry like a TV or some equipment from shop to vehicle or vehicle to shop being prevented from parking in close proximity, which they enjoyed earlier without any problem. Ironically, today and we are supposed to celebrate freedom of Independence.

[A Letter to the Editor, in dailymirror.lk]

[Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse (2nd R) stands with military and police officials during Independence Day celebrations in Colombo February 4, 2007. Sri Lanka gained independence from the British in 1948. Standing (L-R) are Chief of Defence Staff D. Perera, army commander Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, navy commander Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, Air Marshal W. D. R. M. J Goonetileke, and Inspector-General of Police Victor Perera: Photo Courtesy of: Yahoo! News]

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