Tilvin Silva, General Secretary of the JVP
At this moment, we are all aware of the disastrous outbreak of the Covid pandemic in the country. The government is terribly silent in the face of such a catastrophe. The President and the government pretend not to see. They have abdicated responsibility to the general public. The government has been behaving ignorantly and arrogantly since the very start of the Covid outbreak. Specialists, epidemiologists, and others who should have taken the lead on this issue were set aside and military leaders known to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa were brought to the forefront. We acknowledge that the military and the police have a role to play in this catastrophe. But decisions must be made by experts, including specialist doctors. Ignoring them today has resulted in a serious tragedy.
About three hundred people died in the Easter attacks. It caused a great shock in our country. Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to power using that shock. The then Ranil-Maithri government was blamed for the attack. The people took action to defeat that government because they neglected their responsibility to intervene and prevent the attack, although they had been informed about it. The government of the Rajapaksas, which came to power on the back of that issue, is now allowing even more deaths. We believe that these two are the same. Failure to intervene to prevent Covid deaths when information on the scale of it is being reported daily is more serious than the Easter attack. Allowing more than 100 deaths every day despite the warnings of doctors and experts in the field is even more grave. This government led by Gotabaya Rajapaksa must take more responsibility for Covid deaths than the Ranil-Maitri government for the Easter attack.
On the 9th of August, 111 Covid deaths were reported – 118 on the 10th, 124 on the 11th, and 156 on the 12th, indicating a rapid increase in deaths. We know that even these numbers are not the complete truth. 971 citizens of our country have died in 10 days since August 1st. This is not a simple matter, it is extremely serious. If there is a heart, if there is humanity, there has to be empathy and compassion. There must be a need to intervene immediately and find solutions. Everyone in the health sector is doing their utmost to control this situation. Yet, the government fails to take the necessary decisions. The Rajapaksa government’s strategy is not to ‘defeat Corona’ but to say ‘let’s live with Corona’. Instead of choosing the slogan ‘life without Corona’, they took up the slogan ‘let’s live with Corona’. How to live with a pandemic? That means a lot of people will have to die. We have to ask whether the government wants to reduce the population by killing a large number of people. They say ‘let’s live with Corona’ because they don’t have this problem. Their lives are very secure. At a time when all public servants have been called to work, the Presidential Secretariat has decided to restrict public meetings for the security of the President.
It is a good decision to restrict those working in the Presidential Secretariat for his safety. But, why not make the same decision for the country? They are of the notion that only the President, the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet need protection. But the cabinet members are too is now infected with the virus. Is it that ordinary people’s lives don’t matter? We demand the government to stop this irresponsible arrogance. We urge immediate action to reduce the death toll. There are recommendations given by a collective of experts like Dr. Nihal Abeysinghe. Recommendations made by medical associations and the Ministry of Health call for immediate restrictions on travel to reduce the number of deaths. But the President says the country will not be locked down. If so, we challenge them to propose another way to save human lives. This work cannot be left to God. They are unwilling to take a step back. The racketeers around them are more protected than the general public. There is indeed an economic crisis. People are not responsible for that. Now they are foregoing control of the disease and working to rebuild the economy. However, we emphasize that these actions will end in the collapse of the economy, the loss of human lives, and the collapse of the country.
These are the consequences of handing over the country to a group that does not understand politics. They started by saying that the country would be governed by the scientific method of Viyath Maga. Initially, the President, citing the death toll from the war, announced that the country would not be locked down for 25-30 infected patients. Then, when the plague was spreading, they claimed that they did it best.
Instead of getting vaccines to control the pandemic, the whole country was sent after myths such as potions and plunging pots. Now they think that when the vaccine is given, the work is over. But doctors say that even after both doses, people can still be infected. The government is trying to claim that they were the ones who vaccinated the most. On the other hand, the highest number of deaths is also reported. The government is not acting consciously. We do not know whether the data that reaches the hands of ordinary people goes to the President. He gets his data from intelligence units. The intelligence units work on a ‘Yes Sir, OK Sir’ policy. The disease is the worst of all the pandemics we have seen so far. In the event of a malaria epidemic, people can help each other. In the case of any other disaster, people can help. That’s not the case in this situation. The government should understand that. The government should take responsibility for these deaths that were caused because of their lack of understanding.
Even this level of control is due to the commitment of the health sector staff, including doctors. Not only experts outside the government, but also those within the government are issuing warnings. The government does not listen even to the statements of experts like Prof. Tissa Vitarana and Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle. However, Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to power proclaiming to rule the country with the advice of experts. We request those experts to advise the government at this time. What the government is preparing to do is to impose responsibility on the people instead of enforcing laws and setting an example. As the government is not doing that, the people too carry on without hesitation. Despite the arrival of the Delta variant, the government decided to open up the country, disregarding expert advice.
Weddings, massage parlors, and weekly markets were reactivated and travel restrictions were completely lifted. On August 2nd, all public servants were called to duty. Doesn’t it spread when people have to travel on jam-packed trains and buses? Three days later, the circular had to be reversed. This shows how much consideration goes into even a circular. People within the government itself say that brain-dead people are making decisions.
Gas queues were to be seen recently. The government should devise a system to provide gas and milk powder during a pandemic. Otherwise, people start queuing up. After 3-4 days of gas queues, they end up increasing the price of gas as well. If the country is left open while people are losing their rights, they will take to the streets. The government worked to change the cautious mentality of people, pushing the opinion that the vaccine would fix everything, but has now resolved to blame the people. We are requesting the government to put aside pride and take decisions with the sick and dying people in mind. Make decisions based on the recommendations of experts and doctors. Sixty-nine million people voted for the government not to be handed over to God when disaster strikes. If that is the case, we should allow the government to step down and let us deal with this. Finally, we emphasize the need to make the right decisions to control this situation. We also urge those who are capable of thought to exert pressure on the government. This government can only hear if a very loud noise is made. The entire government should be held responsible for this catastrophe. Therefore, the entire government should intervene to prevent it. We ask people to be cautious as we have a government that won’t protect people. A government that cares only about the economy and not about the people will not protect the people. Therefore, I further request the public to learn from this blunder and not to bring such regimes to power.
As an organization, the National People’s Power will do all we can to help control this disease. The decisions should be taken by the government. We strongly urge the government to make the right decisions and intervene to control the catastrophe and protect the lives of the helpless public.