Quō vādis?

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As the Rajapaksa regime grows in unpopularity, the voices of dissent keep getting louder. The streets shake from protest marches. On Sunday (24), Police in Colombo erected spiked barricades to try and stop their most dreaded advisory – the Inter University Students’ Federation (Colloquially called Anthare). These days, protest marches have become a national pastime. It’s not just frantic feet stomping towards the houses of tyrants and those concerned, it is a vehicle that is carrying the beaten and bruised national soul for the whole world to see.

There is a popular saying in Latin called Quō vādis? which means ‘Where are you marching?’ It is also commonly translated as ‘Where are you going?’ The phrase originates from the Christian tradition regarding St. Peter’s first words to the risen Christ during their encounter along the Appian Way. According to the story, as Peter flees from crucifixion in Rome at the hands of the Government, and along the road outside the city, he meets the risen Jesus. In the Latin translation, Peter asks Jesus, Quō vādis?  Christ replies, “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.” Peter, encouraged to continue his ministry, returns to the city, where he is martyred by being crucified upside-down.

Recently, another ‘march’ to Rome took off from Sri Lanka, including the Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and a delegation of the families of the Easter Sunday Attacks’ victims. On the third anniversary of the attacks, Cardinal Ranjith delivered a hard-hitting sermon at St. Sebastian’s Church, blaming President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government for failing to keep his pledge to grant justice to the victims and protecting Sri Lanka from terrorism. The Catholic leader has been consistent that the Government has been covering up the investigations into the Easter bombings of three years ago to protect the brains behind the attacks and has been appealing to the international community due to the impasse.

“The people of the country have doubts as to whether the present government is protecting the former President out of fear that their involvement in the Easter Attacks may be revealed,” the Cardinal said. He said the former President, Intelligence units and the Police concealed details of the impending attacks despite having prior knowledge and thereby failed to ensure public safety.

He further alleged that the attack was used by a presidential candidate to garner support on the issue of national security.

“We are suspicious that the present regime continues to delay the implementation of the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission which probed the Easter Sunday Attacks including taking action against former President Maithripala Sirisena because such action may result in more disclosures.”

Meanwhile, voices demanding the Rajapaksa government’s ouster grew in volume after the tragic Police shooting in Rambukkana, where a protester was killed and several others were injured. The slaying emboldened the protesters to bring up controversial deaths and disappearances that had happened during the previous Rajapaksa rule. Also, there is broad consensus regarding the culture of State-sponsored killings in Sri Lanka’s recent past.

The people of Sri Lanka are finally coming out against being used as pawns in the bloody power games politicians have been playing. For the sake of common decency, for the sake of a nation, the public simply want to be treated like humans instead of livestock, ready to be slain to satiate the greed of those who stubbornly cling on to power. Quō vādis?