We, the People of Sri Lanka, gathered on streets around the island and Gotagogama protest communities around the world, hereby declare the victory of the #GotaGoHome2022 movement.
We rallied under one call and one creed, bridging boundaries and acknowledging differences. Today, we declare this win; a significant milestone of the people’s uprising.
We, the generations that grew up with new media and the internet understand the power of nonviolent actions. In a land soaked with the blood of frustrated youth, through a history filled with defeated people’s uprisings, we demonstrated resilience, forefronted creativity, and unified all good things to make this historical win, against extraordinary odds.
We had no centralized command or leaders to tell us what to do next. Yet, we worked as a hive; stepping up to each moment’s need. We tried to overcome decades of hatred, religious indifference and other barriers that divided us—at times with success and at others, without. They sent spies, they sent thugs. They sent agents of destruction. They turned our own people against us; some in sarongs; some in uniforms. Yet, we prevailed.
We stood together when canisters of oppression brought tears to our eyes. We cared for each other and we protected each other. We fought with each other; we fought with ourselves. We were lost at times, but we kept fighting.
From the Matale Aragalaya in 1848, many people’s struggles have made history in this land. But with this struggle, we realized that history is not one story. The struggle is not one person’s.
Throughout history, the Galleface Green has provided a fertile ground for protests and civic actions. With the #OccupyGalleface movement, the protest site at Galleface was re-named Gotagogma; a sacred space for peaceful social transformation, organization, and activation. Gotagogama, together with all Gotagogama spaces around the world, created a vibrant community of people caring for each other and supporting each other above all differences. We were and are one community. We created spaces for people to belong, express, and take action. We created spaces for activation by taking nonviolent actions.
For the briefest of moments, let us imagine an alternate future where Gotagogama did not happen. The Central Bank would still be handled by an incompetent fraud during a dire economic crisis. The family and the ring that controlled Sri Lanka would still be untouchable, and the newfound hope in the power of the People would be a strange concept.
But, the People made the impossible happen.
We’ve chased away one of the most powerful and corrupt political dynasties in South Asia. We’ve lifted the veil of lies we’ve been fed generation after generation. We’ve broken through the divisions of ethnicities, languages and gender. We’ve established a new generation as the identity of the country. We’ve set an example for the world with peace, love and resilience.
This is for the people who sacrificed their lives. This is for those who kept fighting for hundred days and beyond, in the heaviest of storms and the hottest of days. This is for the mothers who fought, clutching their babies, inspiring us all. This is for everyone who stood still, who charged forward, who shared a water bottle or made a concerned call. This is for those who showed up. Let us not forget what we have achieved.
Now we know that history can be written and rewritten. What cannot be undone is history created.
Gotagogama was not just a place, it is a moment in history, a permanent shift in our collective thinking. We will forever honour and cherish its existence among us.
The Aragalaya continues. It will persist until we create a Sri Lanka that her people truly deserve.