The persecution of Aragalaya activists was strongly criticized by the Federation of University Teachers Association (FUTA). Aragalaya was a real democratic movement in Sri Lanka’s political history, according to a statement from the FUTA, where individuals of many political, intellectual, cultural, and social opinions and orientations came together for a single goal. The catchphrase of the aragalaya, “Gota go home,” which reverberated across the nation (and beyond), was not simply directed at the particular politician, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, but also against the corrupt political system he stood for.
A new political culture where the political elite is accountable to the people who elect them is required in order to restore the promise of democratic politics. On July 9, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Colombo, but not for the usual political class handouts of a packet of rice, a bottle of liquor, and some cash to entice people to their rallies. Instead, it was due to the people’s cohesive unhappiness with the severe economic hardships they were experiencing and the need to restore a minimal democratic order where the country’s political system was accountable to them.
According to the FUTA, the unlawful and violent attack on Gota Go Gama, the aragalaya’s symbolic center, was not an accident. It was a deliberate action to instill dread throughout society. Following this assault, the Wickremesinghe-pohottuwa administration launched a systematic drive to undermine the aragalaya, find its leaders, and reinstate the culture of impunity and repression that characterized Rajapaksa-style rule.
The government has already started to raid the headquarters of reputable political groups. However, if this administration thinks that attacking political parties and activists while isolating and suppressing a few aragalaya leaders can kill the spirit of the aragalaya, they are sadly mistaken. On March 31, May 9, and even the day before July 9, the administration continually miscalculated the strength and scope of the public’s will. That would still be alive and will rise once more.