Shock and awe

Saturday, 30 July 2022 00:03 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The devilish nature of the indiscriminate assault on men, women, children, disabled people, and clergy in their sleep bears the hallmarks of an attack of vengeance of a killer squad who did not seem to follow any accepted norms of a battlefield – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara 


By Helasingha Bandara

Shock and awe is a military strategy of using overwhelming force at the outset of a conflict in order to break the enemy’s will to resist.

The phrase became well known after the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States. Since then, the phrase has been used in different contexts. In this article it is used in its entire sense for some events and in others it is used as two separate words with their respective meanings of surprise and an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime and extremely powerful.


Shock and awe 1

On 5 May 2022 Rajapaksa supporters, who were mostly local, municipal, or parliamentary politicians and their close allies gathered at the then Prime Minister Mahinda’s official residence to plead him not to resign. Encouraged and misled by the fighting spirit of his supporters, Mahinda decided not to resign but to send the hooligans to attack the unarmed and non-violent protestors at the Galle Face Green. The goons had been provided with alcohol, clubs, and iron bars and were angered by provocative speeches delivered by some ministers. Enraged by intoxication and encouraged by the State backing, the marauders rampaged the protest sight with overwhelming force, assaulting and severely injuring men, women, children, and clergy.

Within a matter of hours citizens, enraged by the brutality unleashed by the Government and the injustice caused upon legitimate and peaceful protesters, retaliated with much more ferocity and urgency that none of the busses that transported the thugs could leave the city of Colombo but were either burned or damaged. When Mahinda woke up to his error, most of the houses of his supporting parliamentarians all over the island had been burnt down. People had surrounded his official residence and he had to flee to a navy camp with the help of security forces, just moments before the outraged citizens broke into his residence overpowering the security personnel who tried to prevent the people from entering the residence. The following day, having left with no options, Mahinda resigned the Prime Minister’s post.


Shock and awe 2

Once a prosperous country was nearing bankruptcy. Long queues for fuel, gas, and other essentials were forming throughout the country. The farmers started protesting a fertiliser ban and the teachers asking for salary increase which had been delayed for years. President Gotabaya, Mahinda’s brother was immune to people’s grievances and a protest movement started gathering momentum asking him to go. Even after his brother’s departure, Gotabaya was adamant in his resolve not to leave. The situation in the country was getting worse by the day. All warnings by the people were nonchalantly ignored and the president relied on the security forces and the fortifications.

An appeal through social media and other avenues started circulating asking people to gather in Colombo on 9 May 2022. The State declared a State of Emergency and imposed curfew to prevent people from entering the city. President’s security advisors estimated around 10,000 people to be expected and they advised the president that the security contingents could disperse such crowds with ease. Around 11 o clock in the morning of the 9th the entire area around the president’s palace was surrounded by people. Pictures from above showed a sea of heads estimated to be around two million. The shock and awe made the heads of security forces and the president to flee. Until now Gotabaya’s whereabouts are not known. All this was caused by unarmed and non-violent ordinary people.

The election of Ranil Wickremesinghe to the post of the eighth President of Sri Lanka does not deserve to be included in this category of events as it was expected. However, the event must be mentioned here to maintain a coherent narrative. With the election of Ranil and some divisions within the protestors, emerging, Ranil supporters managed to float the idea that Ranil should be given some time to bring back the country to normalcy. During his 45 years in politics, he has held all forms of responsible positions in the Parliament. Since he had not been able to achieve anything worth talking about, those who could think, had concluded that it wouldn’t be different this time either. 

Besides, he became the president against all ethics as he had no people mandate even to be an MP. He is totally unethical as a person and a politician. Under cover of a constitution which is not itself constitutional, he became the President by stealth. He must be disqualified and banned from politics as he is equally responsible for the catastrophe that the country is experiencing at the moment.


Shock and awe 3

Those who have experience in how elections are held and for what people in Sri Lanka vote, would expect pole vaulting to happen at the slightest sign of a victory wave. With the appointment of Ranil as the Prime Minister, abandonment of the protest by his supporters did not come as a shock. 

However, the revelation of the true nature of masquerading Darshana Handungoda was certainly nothing short of shock and awe. All along he managed to deceive many progressive people including this writer with his YouTube programs against the Rajapaksas. I am not sure whether it was him or Ranil who used the terms protestors and rebels (terrorists) first, to undermine the efforts of young protesters and to justify Ranil’s ascendency and the subsequent chain of events, but I heard it first in one of his programs. He thinks that he is too smart that he can deceive people all the time. Now it is pretty clear that Darshana is one of them who are hanging on to Ranil’s tail to go to heaven while using one or two mild phrases in favour of the protest from time to time to evade wrath of the people. 

To me, among all the betrayers he was the biggest shock and awe. I had no clue about his true affiliation until I watched the said program. At one time I even regretted that I did not include him in my Magnificent Seven. I included Abisheka instead. Thank God, I did not do it. With the existence of such drama queens, the achievement of true liberation is almost impossible. Although the section that shows true progressive qualities are asked to be more inclusive, it is difficult to choose from untrustworthy people.


Shock and awe 4

With the people packing No Deal Gama, we expected the revolution to end as all signs of a failed revolution were visible. The young people did all what they could do to achieve a dream country. Our gratitude and thanks to them. 

However, all along they showed political immaturity in some of their decisions, and they manifested that they did not have the political acumen to counter the political propaganda of an unashamed wily fox like Ranil. In addition, the egotistic political rivalry and political jealousy between JJB (NPP) and Peratugamin played a vital negative role just hours before achieving the ultimate goal. 

Speaking about the public of Sri Lanka we may highlight that a significant percentage of the population consists of illiterate fools, a large section of it is political party slaves, a huge portion is selfish opportunists, some are traitors who has treachery in their genes, and the rest are like frogs in a well who arrogantly believe that there is nothing greater beyond the shores of Sri Lanka. A country full of such people cannot hope for any bright future and they deserve what they are getting. 

Among all this negativity, the protestors were left with no option other than to abandon the Presidential Secretariat and they had informed the authorities that they would leave the following day.

Around 1 o’clock in the morning of 21 July 2022, under cover of darkness, a group of murderous marauders camouflaged in dark clothes with faces covered, launched a shock and awe on unsuspecting and unarmed civilians who were in deep slumber in the cooling breeze blowing from the nearby sea. The assault was vicious, brutal, and inhuman that it was the most unnerving beastly assault that we witnessed in years after the LTTE attacks on border villages. 

Now the Government security forces have claimed responsibility through a police spokesperson that they carried out the assault. However, eyewitnesses and the victims alike claim that the assault was carried out by a drunken killer squad of a certain businessman with the blessings of the State security forces. The devilish nature of the indiscriminate assault on men, women, children, disabled people, and clergy in their sleep bears the hallmarks of an attack of vengeance of a killer squad who did not seem to follow any accepted norms of a battlefield. 

Ranil Wickremesinghe must be responsible and must be held accountable for the unprovoked attack on innocent civilians which is a crime against humanity. Someday he and his security cohorts will be made to pay a huge price for the blood they have shed by a court of the people.

A police spokesperson held a press conference and tried to explain the circumstances that led to the attack. He did not try to justify the attack. 

Here are some questions for the policeman:

1 What was the need to launch an assault on sleeping protestors early hours of a morning?

2 What law allows assault on unarmed, women, children, disabled people, and clergy?

3 Even in apprehending an anarchist, can the police use clubs, iron bars and other sharp weapons to assault?

4 Are you saying that the assault on journalists was a mistake?

5 Can you give acceptable reasons to justify the attack on inmates of Gotagogama and the people who attempted to help and rescue them?

Sri Lanka armed forces and the police can no longer claim that they are a disciplined and civilised force but a force that can wag tails to the tunes of unethical politicians who cause destitution upon everyone including the forces personnel themselves. In Sri Lanka it is not difficult to buy people who introduce themselves as doctors and professors to justify anything and everything. Shame on them.

Shock and awe 5 awaited


(The writer has been engaged in people development work in a senior management capacity in the UK over the past 30 years.) 


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