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  • Lawyer says teachers were forced to implicate Hejaaz
    Two Fundamental Rights petitions filed on behalf of two teachers of the Al- Zuhriya Arabic College said that two teachers were forced by the Criminal Investigations Department to implicate Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah.

    The two petitions were filed by lawyer Erik Balasooriya was supported before the Supreme Court yesterday.

    M.A. Sumanthiran PC told the court that the two teachers had told their lawyer Balasooriya during a consultation held in the presence of two CID officers who had an audio recording device, that the officers had promised “leniency” if they implicate Hizbullah.

    “They were forced to implicate...
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  • හිජාස්ට විරුද්ධව සාක්කි දෙන්නැයි ගුරුවරුන් දෙදෙනකුට බල කරලා?
    June 1, 2021 මදුරංකුලියේ මද්‍රසා පාසලක ගුරුවරුන් දෙදෙනකු බව කියමින් අත්අඩංගුවට ගත් දෙදෙනා මූලික අයිතිවාසිකම් පෙත්සම් දෙකක් ගොනු කර ඇති බවත්, නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතාට එරෙහිව සාක්කි ලබා දෙන ලෙසට විමර්ශන නිලධාරීන් ඔවුන්ට...
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  • Detained Maulavis claim under pressure to frame Hejaaz
    Two Maulavis who have been arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), have informed court through their lawyer that they are under pressure to frame human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah. Attorney-at-law Erick Balasooriya had filed a Fundamental Rights petition alleging that the two Maulavis are being coerced to frame Hizbullah. In the Petition, Balasooriya said the Moulavis do not know Hizbullah nor did they conduct any extremist teaching at the Al-Zuhriya madrasa. When the Moulavis were first produced before the Colombo Magistrates court yesterday, Balsooriya informed court that the Moulavis intend making a statements to him. The matter was thereafter transferred to the Fort Magistrates court. Meanwhile, President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran who appeared before the Fort Magistrate on behalf of the two Maulavis today (Tuesday)...
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  • A country obsessed with racial and religious conflicts
    Sri Lanka, as a nation has been wasting time debating sensitive racial and religious issues for the past several years, without gaining anything. Only thing the country has been witnessing as a result is communities distancing themselves from each other, while portraying a false unity among them. 
    The situation seems to have come to a head with people of various communities being emotionally charged over these issues subsequent to the attacks on three Christian churches and three major tourist hotels by the Islamic terrorists on April 21, 2019, which was also the Easter Sunday.
    The terrorist attacks which caught the nation off-guard demanded united action by all communities and political parties to handle the immediate situation and to prevent future recurrence of...
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  • Burqa ban: Security, human rights and male chauvinism
    A few years ago, on a Turkish beach exclusively for women, a bikini-clad woman offered her prayers. The video clip of the woman going through the postures of the Muslim prayer went viral and created a major debate among the Muslims.  Some censured her for not adhering to the dress code for prayers, but others said what mattered was her piety and not the dress.
    Following the release of the Easter Sunday terror attack commission report, Sri Lanka is mulling whether to ban burqa – the Muslim dress that covers a female body from head to toe – and niqab, which only shows the eyes of the wearer, but the issue needs to be looked at from human rights, security and spiritual angles to come to a right decision.
    If at the one end of the spectrum is public nudity, burqa will...
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  • South African Muslim bodies seek intervention over burqa ban in Sri Lanka Foreign Minister of South Africa urged to intervene
    South African Muslim organisations have called on the country’s foreign minister to intervene in the proposed Sri Lankan ban on the burqa and closure of hundreds of Islamic schools. This followed the announcement by Sri Lanka''s minister for public security, Sarath Weerasekera, during the weekend that his country would ban the traditional full-face covering worn by some Muslim women because it posed a threat to national security. This was quickly followed by a statement from the Sri Lankan foreign ministry, which said a decision would only be taken on the proposal after consultations and further discussion. The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) has now asked South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor to intervene in the matter. UUCSA had earlier also called for such intervention when...
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  • Banning Burqas and Madrasas illegal: Fmr MP
    Former MP M.M .Zuhair said yesterday it would be unlawful to ban Burqas and Madrasas. Issuing a statement, he said some observations and recommendations of the Commission on Easter Sunday attacks are invasive of the absolute protection given to every person under Article 10 of the Sri Lanka Constitution. He said the Commission’s report though good in parts, can be seen as an attempted assault on Islam for the heinous crimes of a dozen suicide bombers. The right to the freedom stated in Article 10 is ‘assured to all religions’ under Article 9. No one, not even Presidential Commissions can invite or promote the State or any limb of the Executive or Judiciary to violate the freedom guaranteed under Article 10.This protection is guaranteed notwithstanding any national security concerns, as the law stands today. In this constitutionally...
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  • Pakistan says likely ban on Niqab in SL to serve as injury on Muslims
    The Ambassador of Pakistan to Sri Lanka, Saad Khattak today said the likely ban on Niqab in Sri Lanka will only serve as an injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe. In a tweet, the Ambassador said that at today’s economically difficult time due to COVID-19 pandemic and other image related challenges faced by the country at the international fora, such divisive steps in the name of security, besides accentuating economic difficulties, will only serve as fillip to further strengthen wider apprehensions about fundamental human rights of minorities in the country. Minister of Public Security Rear Admiral (Retd.) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera said today that in addition to banning the burqa, the cabinet proposal would also include banning the niqab which covers the face of the wearer except the eyes. The...
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  • යුරෝපයේ රටවල් 8 කින් හිස්බුල්ලාට සහාය
    මානව හිමිකම් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටින ප්‍රමුඛ නීතිඥවරයකු වන හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා වැනි මානව හිමිකම් ආරක්ෂා කරන්නන්ට ගරු කරන ලෙස ශ්‍රී ලංකා රජයෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටිමින් යුරෝපීය රටවල් අටක මානව හිමිකම් තානාපතිවරුන් ඒකාබද්ධ නිවේදනයක් නිකුත් කර තිබේ. නෙදර්ලන්තය, ජර්මනිය, එංගලන්තය ස්වීඩනය, එස්ටෝනියාව, ලිතුවේනියාව, ලක්සම්බර්ග් සහ ෆින්ලන්තය...
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  • Eight EU HR Ambassadors raise concern over Hejaaz Hizbullah
    In a statement issued today, Eight Human Rights  Ambassadors of Europe including the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden called on the Sri Lankan government to " respect human rights defenders such as Hizbullah". The statement issued by the Ambassadors of the United Kingsdom, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and the Netherlands said that after ten months of Detention, Hejaaz Hizbullah was being accused of speech related offences. Prominent Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department on the 14th of April 2020. He was thereafter accused in the media of various activities related to terrorism. He was thereafter produced on the 18th of February 2021 where the Attorney General informed court that the entire case against Hizbullah was to be based on purported statements made by children. Hizbullah...
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Analysing Sumanthiran: A Reality Check On Hejaaz, Muslim Politicians & Lawyers

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By Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

On 09/12/2020, at the Committee Stage Debate in the Parliament on the Appropriation (2021) Bill, Honourable Member of Parliament Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran made some terse remarks given the limited time allotted to him.

He justified the need for an international inquiry and international judicial process to look into serious crimes committed in this country which has an impact on international law. In order to drive home his point, he alluded to several instances and, euphemistically made reference to the “depths to which your judicial system has sunk”. As a recent example he cited Mr. Hejaaz Hizbullah, an Attorney at Law who is currently in detention. Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran said, “a brilliant young lawyer denied justice for eight months. All kinds of false allegations were made against him.” Further, he drew attention to the fact that if there were any grounds for prosecution, they should have filed charges against him. The Opposition Member of Parliament questioned the Minister of Justice Mr. Ali Sabry “what were you doing for eight months?”

 

Voicing concern over the sacrosanct Attorney/Client communication, he pointed out that two of the client briefs of Attorney Mr. Hejaaz Hisbullah were taken away. He also deplored the fact that Hejaaz had not been given proper access to his lawyer. Mr. Sumanthiran then emphatically asked the million-dollar question, “if you treat a lawyer like that how do we expect you to treat anybody else?”

Silencing The Voice

Like Mr. Sumanthiran not many Muslim politicians dare to express themselves in Parliament. One may question, why not? The answer is in the lack of cohesiveness between the Muslim politicians, at least on matters of common interest. It is very rare. Some are gagged by the influence of external factors, political slavery. Ironically, among them are also those probably not really aware why the hell they are sitting in Parliament – day dreaming!

 

As for the handful of the handful who wish to speak, the moment they do say something relating to the detention of Hejaaz and the many others or on any matter relating to the Easter Sunday attack, they would be accused of aiding and abetting extremism. Many government members in Parliament, deliberately do not allow the person to speak by drowning his voice with louder noise of interruptions and unruly behaviour.

Hot on the heels of such accusations are the notorious spin doctors, the media. They would build up a misleading or deceptive story incriminating the politician to create a negative impact of that person. Other vested interests, in this grand agenda, would pick it up from there and give their own interpretation, modify and reframe the allegations exacerbating the negative public opinion created. By this method the voice of the few who have the nerve to speak are often silenced or overwhelmed by disturbance. Freedom of expression, leave alone outside the Parliament, even under the Parliamentary Privileges has been stultified in our august assembly by vested interests.

Psychological Torture

 

Mr. Hejaaz Hizbullah is not alone. Like him there are so many others under detention orders unable to make sense of what is in store for them. Neither charged nor released, they are in a continuous state of suspense. Just like a live bird in a skewer over fire. It does not want to die burning but, yet, it does not have the freedom to fly away. This state of affairs naturally causes much anxiety and depression not only to those who are detained in this manner but also to the near and dear ones. This is plain and simple mental torture violating the fundamental right against torture enshrined in the constitution besides the international ratifications.

(1) The Charter of the United Nations in relation to obligation of States under the Charter states in Article 55 (c):

“universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

(2) The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 banning torture mentions in Article 5:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

(3) The ban is further enshrined in Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

(4) The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment adopted in 1984 defines torture, in Article 1.1:

“For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person …”

Article 2.2

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

The infamous PTA

The infamous and dreaded Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 48 of 1979 as amended provides the legality for such incarceration. The PTA was a law enacted to prevent terrorism but it is alleged that many people with no connection to terrorism have been arrested and detained under its provisions.

Imagine the sorry predicament of an Attorney who is supposed to work for the advancement of civil liberties, fearing for his own civil liberty. Is it something to laugh at or a signification of a continuously corroding system? The constant reminder of what happened to Hejaaz hangs like the Sword of Damocles over the head of Muslim lawyers. They were in other words indirectly pressurized into silence except for some selected Attorneys. Who would want to face the situation that Hejaaz Hizbullah is in? This form of pressure is not sustainable because with the passage of time, people do bounce back when the level of tolerance is exceeded.

Fear Psychosis At Work – Lawyers

With the arrest of Hejaaz, the Muslims lawyers felt an unprecedented sense of insecurity in their professional and personal life. Such was the threat of the PTA and its tool of unpredictable detention. Members of the legal profession are supposed to be in a privileged status because they are part of ‘the administration of justice and essential for the maintenance of law and order and the preservation and advancement of civil liberties and the maintenance in general of the rule of law’. (Professional Ethics, A.R.B. Amerasinghe, Page 43)

We also witnessed the most unfortunate split among lawyers on the matter of Hejaaz. Can it be considered fair if the public questions the depth to which the legal profession has sunk. (See: Gota’s ‘Sinhala-only’ lawyers mount offensive to keep Attorney Hejaaz Hizbullah in illegal detention, Colombo Telegraph: 02/05/2020).

Such unprofessionalism was openly noticed among some of the doctors too, who failed to speak out on Dr. Shafi’s issue, the so called ‘wanda pethi’ and so many other stupidest allegations made.

It is a shame to see professionalism being a pawn to racism and racist agendas. Professional ethics and conduct demand a level higher than the conduct of an average person. “The legal profession has a responsibility to ensure that its guiding principles are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interest concerns of the Bar and its members.” (ibid, Page 43).

Unaware of the pressure, limitations and fear that had mentally terrorised most of the Muslim lawyers, the Muslim community was often accusing the Muslims lawyers for maintaining silence at times they were supposed to speak out.

In the words of Crampton J. in Rex v. O’Connell:

“This court in which we sit is a temple of justice; and the advocate at the bar, as well as the judges upon the benches, are equally ministers in that temple. The object of all equally should be the attainment of justice; now justice is to be reached through the ascertainment of the truth…”

It is time that the legal fraternity get their act together and function in furtherance of justice, equity and fairness. Let the lawyers stand up as true and good professionals and be an example to other professions as well. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka as the premier institution of the legal profession may have a major role to play in this area o

 

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/analysing-sumanthiran-a-reality-check-on-hejaaz-muslim-politicians-lawyers/?fbclid=IwAR2t-wtdscB6fUxBX74FHIfmtnbQqMDuSkjqBUOKSvChvzYYTl2QbWdJGs8

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