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Sri Lanka: New Wave Of Brainwashing

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By Nilantha Ilangamuwa *

 “An ignorant mind believes itself omniscient and omnipotent; those impulses in itself which really represent the inertia and unspent momentum of its last dream it regards as the creative forces of nature.” — Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense- George Santayana

Despite all protests by the public, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, who is retired lieutenant colonel of the Sri Lanka Army, a green card holder of the United States of America, and one of brothers of the President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has appointed select school principals as “brevet colonels.”

In a ceremony that marked the occasion, the Secretary minced no words when he opined about failures of the nation. He claimed that the recent loss of the Sri Lankan team in the cricket world cup final was due to a lack of self-confidence in the players. Any laughter such statements might bring are tempered by a realization of the size of the Sri Lankan tragedy. It is the direct result of a real curse – that of handing power to dangerous criminals having a blinkered take on reality and disrespect for law or humanity.

This curious militarization of state schools, which involves selecting school principals after 10 days of armed training and appointing them as “brevet colonels”, may well have another agenda beyond the obvious. Control of the armed forces after the war, as well as the arrest of the former army chief, who led the country to victory, has been a debacle. Many veterans have been forced into retirement and the possibility of internal conflict hung in the air. The regime thus felt it had to think about, not only appointing a few yes men, but, also of destroying the dignity and power of the service.

As a result, the country’s head of intelligence was tasked to deliver a political statement that justified the ruling family. Just as in politics today, the military setup in the country has lost its independence to decide what it should and should not do. Gotabaya Rajapaksa did not deem it necessary to give “brevet colonelships” to the parliamentarians, because he knows there will not be a revolt against the ruling family within the paralyzed and lifeless members of the legislative, which is under the firm control of the executive.

In the piping ceremony, those appointed as “brevet colonels” received their certificates attired in army uniform. This unusual, rare, occasion has perhaps created a fear worse than anything Stalinism or Nazism might hold over the future of the country and the freedom of its people. The man who sees everything through the barrel of a gun may never understand the value of freedom. In other words, as political history has taught us, the man who believes in armed power, rather than power through knowledge, will gain destruction more than construction.

The universities countrywide have been on strike for more than three months, and every education institutions is lifeless, while thousands of students find themselves in darkness devoid of a future with a clear direction. The government is creating an “our guy” culture to cynically manipulate the people of the country. Nonetheless, what the regime believes it needs to achieve is the creation of the culture of silence to mock the stated missions of the schools. In this way, the regime can place the entire island’s student bodies in a cage, where no one can refuse whatever instructions come from the Ministry of Defence, which controls one fourth of the national budget.

As recent news reports indicated, the biggest allocation from the 2013 Budget will go to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, as it was in the previous year, with nearly Rs. 290 billion. This amount shows an increase of nearly Rs. 60 billion from what was allocated to the Defence and Urban Development Ministry in 2012. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has been allocated Rs. 37.9 billion, up by around Rs. 3.43 billion over 2012, while the Ministry of Higher Education has been allocated Rs. 27.9 billion, up by around Rs 4.1 billion over 2012. This is a number game in a country where more than 20 million people live, but 70% of the national budget is controlled by one family. Experiences in daily life has taught Sri Lankans to accept that the ruling family is incapable of understanding or does not care enough to find the real meaning of life in the common society.

In the words of John Locke, “knowledge is the perception of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas.” But, what the present regime is forcing students to follow is entirely different. In other words, the regime is engaging in methods that were used during the Nazism and Stalinism where education was none other than a tool of total social control.

The whole idea about “social realism” was introduced by Stalin, who was known as “Uncle Joe” in USSR, and it taught people to glorify the leadership. Stalin banned all other resources to history and created a new history called the “short history of the USSR” to be taught at schools. Education was strictly controlled by the state. In 1932, a rigid programme of discipline and education was introduced. But, the amusing thing is that in the Sri Lankan context, the Ministry of Defence is intervening in local education, while the children of ruling party members are studying and establishing their personal lives in schools and universities located in the west. For them, Sri Lanka is just like a casino board, and the people of Sri Lanka are the dupes. Like in the Nazi education system, in Sri Lanka, the purpose of education is no longer personal development, but to prepare the individual for service to the ruling family.

Education must be free for everyone; the right to choose is a basic right. But the ruling family, which has created its “tremendous” power throughout the prevailing ‘democratic electoral’ system is engaging in the destruction of personal liberty to undermine the possibility of revolt against the unjust. Meanwhile, the militarization of state schools is showing us how personal liberties can and are being buried by a wave of brainwashing.

* Nilantha Ilangamuwa is journalist and editor of the Sri Lanka Guardian, an online daily news paper based in Colombo Sri Lanka. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[Source: Countercurrents.org]

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