What is Wimal Weerawansa fasting for? What great injustice is he seeking to set right?
The subject focused in the column has concluded his fast and admitted to the prison hospital, hours later printed the newspaper
Sunday Punch Courtesy: The Sunday Times, Colombo
( March 27, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Four walls do not a prison make for a drama queen to flaunt showman skills. Or to attempt a Houdini act to break free from remand bondage.
And for Wimal Weerawansa, the manicured, pedicured, goatee sporting former JVP member-turned-founder of his own party of four in the House, the Welikada Prison Gates may well confine his liberty, but it cannot contain his dramatics within its remand walls from breaking free. Nor deny the public the free invite to burst into hysterics over his latest act, even though it’s a repeat performance.
On Wednesday morning, the Prison Warden was told by his officials that remand prisoner Weerawansa, the Honourable Member of Parliament who was presently sojourning there on charges of corruption, had refused to partake of the prison porridge. Given the state of Welikada meals, it would have hardly raised his brow if some other guest at the government inn had skipped his breakfast.
But news of Weerawansa — being not the run-of-the-mill sort ever known to have refused anything served free but has shown an admirable propensity to generously distribute it amongst his kith and kin as well — turning his thumb down on the morning repast served gratis, would probably have made the Prison Guv to raise both brows in alarm and to prick both ears in consternation at the explosive report his officials served him as his breakfast.
Soon the Prison Warden’s worst fears were confirmed.
The National Freedom Front said its leader MP Weerawansa had commenced a hunger strike against the political revenge of the government. “He has taken this step as a personal decision. He has also informed Speaker Karu Jayasuriya about his decision. At present, he is on a hunger strike at the prison cell. Perhaps, he would continue it.”
Perhaps, he would continue it?
Even the party minions are not sure, how long his hunger strike will last. Is it to be a Ramadan fast from sun up to sun down as Muslims do? A Skanda Shakthi fast, perhaps, for six days as some Hindu devotees do every year in September? Or is it a Lent event as Catholics keep in March in the run up to Good Friday to break in feast on Easter Sunday? Or is it a political fast to end in death if some injustice was not rectified?
The kind of death fast Irish terrorist Bobby Sands who, after being convicted for possessing a revolver was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, went on a hunger strike unto death in Crumlin Road Prison on March 1st 1981? His demand was to be classified as a political prisoner and not as a criminal. He lasted 66 days and on 5th May 1981, he died. The coroner recorded his death as ‘starvation, self imposed’.
The former construction minister under the Rajapaksa government, who came to town on a push cycle just a few years ago and ended up in the Rajapaksa lap of luxury, and is now charged with abusing state property
Or is it the kind of fast unto to death LTTE terrorist Thileepan staged in public for all to see on September 15, 1987 on a specially erected dais in front of the Nallur Kovil in Jaffna. His demand was that the Indian Peace Keeping Force withdraw from Lankan soil forthwith. He died on September 26 after having refused food or water. How long do you think Wimal will last?
Bobby Sands fasted to make IRA prisoners be recognised as political prisoners and not as common crooks. The Irish Republican Army was, after all, fighting to reunite Ireland and he had been jailed for being an active member and demanded due recognition for himself and all the other IRA cadres who were engaged in a battle to gain liberation from the British. LTTE Thileepan fasted unto death because he wanted the Indian Army which had occupied the Northern Province to leave since it posed a major threat to the LTTE which was fighting for a separate state.
But what is Wimal Weerawansa fasting for? What great injustice is he seeking to set right?
Why is this former construction minister under the Rajapaksa government, who came to town on a push cycle just a few years ago and ended up in the Rajapaksa lap of luxury, and is now charged with abusing state property by distributing state vehicles like confetti amongst his family and cronies, causing a loss to the state to the tune of Rs. 91,600,000 and remanded by a magisterial court since February 15 and who had his appeal to the High Court for bail also rejected this Monday and has been further remanded till April 5, indulging in self-imposed starvation presumably unto the death?
What is the reason behind his death wish? He claims, like most other Joint Opposition members of the Rajapaksa Regime who have been similarly charged with corruption and remanded by the courts, that it’s all due to political vengeance. But does he and those of the same ilk who vehemently raise the patriotic flag and express their vehement protest against foreign judges on any UN war crime tribunal and declare complete faith in the self same local judiciary to deliver justice to the victims of the Eelam war, hold that the same local judges, whose independence and impartiality remain unquestioned, will willingly act as instruments to deliver Government vengeance to Weerawansa’s Hokandara mansion?
But no fuss. And don’t fret. Wimal has his own guardian angel, his own personal ishata deviyo, who will miraculously appear in the nick of time to save him from death’s door with his glass of holy water.
Like it happened the last time when this Rasputin of Lanka’s politics went on a hunger strike before the United Nations Office at Bauddhaloka Mawatha protesting the appointment of a panel to probe Sri Lanka’s war crime allegations by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
For three days before the glare of television cameras he went without food, until his guarding deity appeared incarnate in human form to pour down his parched throat holy water and resurrect him to life. This time around, alas, the publicity that kept him alive then will not be there since he is locked up in Welikada behind bars on charges of corruption. But the spectre of Rajapaksa coming to his aid at the eleventh hour will no doubt keep his spirits up. And act as a spoilsport to Wimal’s prison bid for martyrdom.