Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Colombo Remains (Surprisingly) Calm

The JVP's rally in Colombo yesterday turned out to be quite a dud compared to what they were expecting. One JVPer I spoke to a couple of nights ago said they were quite confident they would be able to bring about 100,000 people to Colombo and make some waves. But they only managed to get about a tenth of that. Tamilnet says they had 10,000 people but the JVP says they had 25,000. I think the real figure would be somewhere around 15,000.

They marched from Campbell Park to the Lipton Circus and shouted their guts out and went back home. They didn't try to march to the president's house (like the pervious bunches of idiots did before they got hammered) because they had the sense to know the cops were just waiting for a chance to beat this shit out of them.


But it's when you look at where these people came from that you begin to reallly develop a sense of what a dud their rally was. There were also several other anti-Joint Mechanism meetings organised in Colombo yesterday. The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), the Patriotic National Movement (PNM) and the National Bhikku Front (NBF) all had their big meetings in different parts of the city in the morning. In the afternoon many of the people who had been bussed into the city for these meetings also moved over to the JVP rally. This is what made the JVP look like it had the numbers they had (which was not very much).

The only thing the JVP proved in Colombo yesterday is that they are not as popular as they think they are, especially now that they have threatened to pull out of the Government. The people would much rather stick around and see what the JVP does tonight (when the deadline to quit expires) than join them for a protest. They were simply unable to mobilise the kind of support they are used to, and they know it.


So the big question in town is, whether the JVP is going to pull out of the Government. The deadline they set for themselves is midnight tonight.

Sirasa TV is actually taking bets on it. So far a lot of the people who have voted via SMS seem to think the JVP will quit. One person among those who predict it right stand to win a lot of money from Sirasa TV. They're doing it just to piss of the JVP which is something very high on their agenda, but it might be setting a very bad precedent.

Today the pro-JVP trade unions have organised a protest outside the Fort Railway Station and we don't know if it's going to turn violent. If it's anything like yesterday they'll just come and shout and go. But if they do decide to get smart like the guys last week then they'll try to march on the President's House to make a point and then they'll be beaten back.

Dambara Amila, the monk sitting outside the Fort Railway Station fasting is quite close to death say the doctors. But I don't really trust them. I met someone who was his gulping down a lime juice a few nights ago.

The docs say one of his kidneys packed up last night. But I don't think he's really going to die. He's going to get a little more sick, and then he's going to call it off. Let's look at the record of fatal fast-unto-death campaigns. Nil. No one in Sri Lanka's died fasting for a cause. And I don't think Dambara Amila has the balls to be the first.

(For those of you who are not familiar with the situation: the Government of Sri Lanka has proposed a Joint Mechanism to allow the rebel group LTTE to have a stake in the aid distribution process. Several ultra-nationalist groups are opposed to this agreement because they believe that it will help the LTTE's seperatist agenda. One of the groups opposed to the Joint Mechanism, the JVP is a key member of the ruling coalition and they have threatened to pull out of Government by midnight of the 14th of June 2005, if the President does not abandon the Joint Mechanism)

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