Sri Lanka’s Galle Face Protests & Egypts Tahrir Square protests
An article by Ron Nixon written to the New York Times in April 2011 highlighted the following
- US democracy-building campaigns played a big role in fomenting protests
- Key leaders of the movements were trained in campaigning organizing through new media tools & monitoring elections by US.
- Those directly involved in the revolt on 6 April Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights & activists like Entsar Qadini (youth leader in Yemen) were trained by the International Republican Institute, National Democratic Institute & Freedom House
IRI Sri Lanka supports
- election observation
- Emerging Leaders Academy (ELA) was formed in 2019 – convenes youth community leaders, ages 21 to 35, from different sectors across Sri Lanka
- March 2021, IRI launched its Women’s Campaign Academy (WCA) to support and equip grassroots-level women
- Since 2019, IRI has also supported approximately 400 political party actors from six major political parties with communications trainings
- Egyptian youth leaders attended a 2008 technology meeting in New York & were taught to use social networking, mobile technologies to promote democracy – the meeting was sponsored by Facebook, Google, MTV, Colombia Law School & US State Dept.
IRI receives funding from US State Dept, USAID, NED
The National Endowment for Democracy created in 1983 received $100m annually from Congress.
Egypt’s protests & strikes began on 25 January 2011 – the National Police Day. Protests lasted 18 days.
Like in Sri Lanka, the protestors claimed not to have a leader and all solutions were to be offered “later”. In Egypt the protest site was Tahrir Square, in Sri Lanka it was Galle Face Green.
In Egypt the death of Khaled Said triggered the trained media campaign “We are all Khaled Said” – it is interesting why a similar campaign did not take shape following the Rambukkana shooting incident in Sri Lanka. It could have been that in Egypts case the modus operandi was to go against the police, while in Sri Lanka, protestors had been lured to get the police & armed forces onto their side, though some youth were seen verbally attacking the armed forces in very vulgar & inappropriate language & none of their elder mentors seem to be bothered to correct them! It showcased a complete disregard for elders, for law & order – all signs of walking into a state of statelessness, where everyone was encouraged to take the law into their own hands. This was perversely encouraged by the immature and unprofessional behavior of the legal fraternity, brought to ridiculous heights in the manner some 100 lawyers were seen even clapping as the arrested were given bail. Their offers to provide free legal assistance made matters worse. We have to wonder why these lawyers made such a spectacle of themselves & to please whom?
Social media has a power of its own & has the ability to turn an insignificant incident into a mega drama. The training given to youth and journalists is part of this larger effort to choreograph any incident into a largescale movement. Governments need to address this area without compromising on people’s freedoms and rights by addressing people’s duties and responsibilities.
US uses & dumps
Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak was a long standing friend of the US since 1981. US however used a people’s revolt to depose him in 2011, he was imprisoned and died in 2020. Mubarak was no ‘dictator’ so long as he supported US/West. Mubarak’s ouster resulted in Islamist groups coming forward as political parties. Eventually Muslim Brotherhoods Muhammad Morsi was elected President in June 2012. That elected leader was overthrown by the military a year later (2013). Did this overthrow have footprints of the US? It sure did and this should keep post-aragala leaders in Sri Lanka warned that it is too early to be celebrating Christmas.
UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting shows US channeled funds through US State Dept to the Middle East to support activists & politicians that resulted in February 2011 ouster of Mubarak. We have every right to wonder if a similar funding was disbursed to Sri Lanka given the active role of the US ambassador in Colombo.
The US funding went to an exiled Egyptian police officer (Omar Afifi Soliman) who plotted the violent overthrow of the Morsi Govt in 2013 – information from Freedom of Information Act (there are several Sri Lankan police officers in exile appearing even on notorious C4 documentaries)
US regulations ban use of American taxpayers money to fund foreign politicians or finance subversive activities that target democratically elected governments – however USAID, NED, NDI, Freedom House and associate entities are doing just that!
Journalist Emad Mekay of UC Berkeley has shown NED funding for the above exiled police officer from 2008-2011 to incite violence in his native country Egypt. Soliman is living as a refugee in US after NED offered a human rights fellowship. NED has removed public access to its Egyptian grant recipients, according to Emad.
All those who took part in the aragalaya storming of Presidents House, Presidents Secretariat, Prime Ministers Office & Residence as well as attempt to storm Parliament in 2022 may like to also know that US-funded exiled Egyptian police officer took credit for a failed attempt to storm the Egyptian Presidential palace with handguns & Molotov cocktails to oust Morsi in 2013. The US was funding Soliman since 2008. Therefore, the copy cat attempts certainly has parallels.
Emad also highlights a 34 year old woman – ‘longtime grantee’ of NED funding who called for people to lay siege of mosques & drag Muslim preachers & religious figures out. US federal records show her NGO received funding from NED, MEPI & NDI. In 2011 from NED alone she had received $75,000. This aligns with the ugly posters against the Buddhist clergy displayed by the aragala protestors.
Another comparison with Egypt is the manner US taxpayer money has been sent to some of Egypt’s richest anti-Morse protestors where even TV channels went anti-Morsi as a result of US-funding. Can we notice similarities with Sri Lanka, here as well?
One such Egyptian organization was founded by opposition figures among who was Egypt’s richest man a Coptic Christian billionaire and a top US oil company partner and a politician with close ties to the US embassy in Cairo. Don’t we see similarities in Sri Lanka too? Though these organizations deny receiving US funding, the US govt documents are exposing them.
Egyptian soldiers & police killed over 50 Morsi supporters, luckily in Sri Lanka supporters only landed in the Beira. There was also use of women & children as shields in Egypt – no different to the same tactic used in Sri Lanka. An audit of US funding to entities & individuals in Sri Lanka will reveal much.
Egypt took action against 43 local & foreign NGO workers on charges of illegally using foreign funds to stir unrest in Egypt. Do we have similar provisions in Sri Lanka?
US got rid of US-friend Mubarak in 2011 and ousted elected Morsi in 2013 by military coup & installed dictator Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who suspended the 2012 constitution. Egypt produced 3 constitutions 2012, 2013, & in 2014. This was democracy in action in Egypt. Gen El-Sisi contested elections in 2014 & won & US even congratulated him. El-Sisi is responsible for 2017 blockades against Qatar, supporting Khalifa Haftar in Libya and brutal suppression in Egypt itself. Egypt like Sri Lanka is geopolitically located & the West wishes to prevent both from turning towards Russia or China.
It would be good for Sri Lanka’s Galle Face protestors to look at the colored revolutions that have taken place while others should look for the funding that choreographed these “revolutions”
Shenali D Waduge