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Weerawansa creates medical history: Fasting unto death while being on a saline drip

Jul 19, 2010 6:30:53 AM- transcurrents.com

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

NFF Leader and Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s failed attempt to politically re-engineer his image as a firebrand politician through a fast unto death outside the UN Office in Colombo has had many adverse repercussions on the country as well as on domestic politics.

The comedy of errors staged by Weerawansa from July 6 to 9 was nothing short of entertaining, where for the first time, Sri Lankans were able to witness an individual on a fast unto death while being on a saline drip

A closer look at the whole fast unto death saga reveals the political game behind Weerawansa’s exercise carried out for three days outside the UN Office in Colombo.

Weerawansa, who claimed that he would not budge an inch until Ban Ki-Moon withdrew the panel of experts on Sri Lanka, immediately sipped a glass of water offered to him by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and ended his ‘fast’ without even uttering a reason for his decision to call it off.

After Weerawansa ended his fast unto death on Saturday (10) at 4.30 p.m., until the following day, Sunday (11) none of the NFF spokespersons gave a reason to the media as to why the fast was ended.

On Sunday, NFF spokesperson Jayantha Samaraweera said that the fast was called off after the President had agreed to several conditions, which included the appointment of a committee to inquire into the allegations to be taken up by the UN panel of experts and for the Sri Lankan government not to cooperate with the UN panel.

It therefore seems, that Weerawansa’s fast unto death was in fact aimed against the President more than the UN Secretary General.

Realising the disaster in the making, the NFF then resorted to claim that the life of their leader was at risk due to his continuous fast for three days. They claimed that doctors have said Weerawansa’s kidneys were badly affected due to the non-consumption of water.

A medical expert when questioned by The Sunday Leader said that a saline drip is generally administered to provide sustenance to a person who does not consume food or water.

He explained that the normal saline that contains water and sodium chloride along with 5% of dextrose (a form of glucose) and when administered to any individual, that person does not need to consume food or water, as the substances required for physical sustenance are provided medically.

When asked about the case of Weerawansa’s ‘fast unto death’ while on a saline drip, the doctor said there was no need for him to consume either food or water as he was on the saline drip.

“A person could wait close to seven days without consuming water and an even further period without food,” he said.

He added that not eating food for two days would not have a severe impact on a person’s kidneys, especially when a saline drip has been administered to the person.

According to the doctor, in order to determine for certain if there indeed was a problem in the kidneys’ filtering system, a serum electrolyte and a serum creatinin test could have been performed on Weerawansa. Meanwhile, doubts have also been raised about Dr. Sisira Siribaddhana’s involvement in the fast unto death, especially given the fact that he is one of Weerawansa’s close confidants.

A former supporter of the JVP, Dr. Siribaddhana had also changed his loyalties with Weerawansa’s defection from the JVP.

It is Dr. Siribaddhana, who initially claimed that Weerawansa’s kidneys were affected due to the non-consumption of water.

Several opposition politicians who called Weerawansa’s actions a bluff said that Weerawansa had single-handedly managed to stop any possible protests that could have been organised against the panel of experts on Sri Lanka appointed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

A senior politician from Weerawansa’s former party, the JVP, said that while a fast unto death is a protest campaign resorted to as a final option, Weerawansa’s fool hardy action of carrying out such a campaign at the outset of the protest against the expert panel has ruined any possibility of carrying out a future protest against the issue.

“A fast unto death is the last protest campaign to be launched under any circumstance, but Weerawansa resorted to it in the first protest itself. No, there is nothing that can be done. No protest, march or rally could match it now,” he said. According to him, the only other option would be to get about 10 individuals to commence a fast unto death – if any one is to consider the matter seriously.

The fire breathing Wimal Weerawansa has been a contradiction to the many heroic and patriotic statements made by him.

Weerawansa was earlier accused of sexually harassing an employee attached to the Lake House group and with the story making headlines in the media, the fire-breathing hero, it is learnt, has not acted according to his so called “principles” of fighting back by rising to any challenge placed before him.

Soon after the alleged sexual harassment story was publicized in the media, Weerawansa, unable to take responsibility for his actions had resorted to making an attempt to end his life.

The Sunday Leader is in possession of a copy of a hand written letter by Weerawansa to his wife that reveals his intentions of committing suicide.

Although the letter and its contents are of a personal nature, the issue is being highlighted for the people to determine for themselves the real nature of a ‘patriot,’ without any malice intended.

Weerawansa has signed the letter under the name “Gam,” which was a name used by some of the JVP members following the pseudonym used by him, “Wimalasiri Gamlath.”

The letter it is learnt was sent to his wife Sashi, who in turn had faxed it to the JVP headquarters.

Soon after receiving the letter, the party leadership had taken steps to send several JVP members to Weerawansa’s residence to ensure his safety and to prevent him from committing suicide.


Following is an English translation of the letter written by Wimal Weerawansa in Sinhala:

Dearest Sashi,

Please forgive me! I do not wish to live any longer since you do not give me the chance to correct myself and move forward. Please forgive me! I wish you all the very best for the future. Look after the two children for me. I love the little daughter and son very much. I have lived enough. I am sad. But there’s nothing else to be done.

Please forgive me!