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  • Sri Lanka court orders release of lawyer held for two years
    A Sri Lankan court has ordered the release on bail of a lawyer arrested over his alleged links to the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings and held for nearly two years on charges rights groups say lacked credible evidence. Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested in April 2020 and accused of being linked to the attacks on churches and hotels that left 279 people dead. But after prosecutors failed to provide evidence of his involvement in the attacks, blamed on a local group, he was instead Read More...
  • Hejaaz Hizbullah leaves from remand custody
    Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah today left from remand custody after fulfilling his bail conditions before Puttlalam High Court.

    He was incarcerated for 22 months for allegedly committing offences come under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.Last Monday (07), the Court of Appeal ordered to release Hizbullah on bail pursuant to a revision application filed on behalf him.Hizbullah was ordered to be released on a cash bail of Rs.100,000 with two sureties of Rs.500,000 by Puttlalam High Court Judge Kumari Abeyratne. He was further ordered to report to the DIG office of Puttalam Police Division every second and fourth Sunday of every month.An indictment under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act has now been served on Hejaaz Hizbullah. According to the indictment, Hizbullah...
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  • හිජාස් ගෙදර යයි

    (නිමන්ති රණසිංහ සහ හිරාන් ප්‍රියංකර ජයසිංහ) ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත සහ සිවිල් හා දේශපාලන අයිතීන් පිළිබද ජාත්‍යන්තර සම්මුති පනත ප්‍රකාරව චෝදනා ලැබ වසර දෙකකට ආසන්න කාලයක් රක්ෂිත බන්ධනාගාර ගත කර සිටි නිතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා අභියාචනාධිකරණ නියෝගය ප්‍රකාරව ඇප මත මුදාහැරීමට පුත්තලම මහාධිකරණය අද (09)...
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  • Court of Appeal grants bail on Hejaaz Hizbullah
    The Court of Appeal today ordered to release Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail after nearly two years in detention and remand custody. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal directed the Puttalam High Court to release Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail with suitable bail conditions. The Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Menaka Wijesundera and Justice Neil Iddawala made this order taking into consideration a revision application filed on behalf of Hejaaz Hizbullah. The Attorney General did not raise objections to release Hizbullah on bail. On January 28, an application made by the defence requesting to release Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail was rejected by Puttalam High Court.   The High Court Judge Kumari Abeyrathne refused to grant bail citing that she has no jurisdiction to grant bail under the Prevention of Terrorism...
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  • Attorney at law Hejaaz Hizbullah granted bail
    Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah has been granted bail by the Court of Appeal after being detained for over 20 months. Hizbullah was released on bail today after the Puttalam High Court judge refused to grant bail to him last month. Refusing bail, she claimed that it was not under her jurisdiction, despite the Attorney General having consented to grant bail. The judge further informed the defense to request bail from the Court of Appeal on the 9th of February 2022. The bail application had been filed at the Puttalam High Court after Hizbullah’s lawyer had agreed to a settlement with the other parties in the interest of his client. On 20th January, the Attorney General’s (AG) Department said it has no objections to releasing Hizbullah on bail subject to conditions. The AG’s Department informed the Court of Appeal that the bail...
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  • සී.අයි.ඩියෙ හිටිය දවස් 46ම නිදාගත්තෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බෝතලේ ඔලුවට තියාගෙනයි - දොස්තර ශාෆි කියන කතාව
    “හිර කුටියේදී එයාල මට ලීටර් එක හමාරෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බීම බෝතලයක් තියාගන්න ඉඩ දුන්නා. කාටවත් කොට්ට දුන්නෙ නෑ. ඒත් බිම ඔලුව තියාගෙන ඉන්නකොට මට නින්ද යන්නෙ නෑ. බෝතලේ වතුරෙන් පුරවල ටිකක් වතුර ඉවත් කළාම ඒක ටිකක් නම්‍ය වෙනවා. මම සී.අයි.ඩියෙ හිටිය දවස් 46ම නිදාගත්තෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බෝතලේ ඔලුවට තියාගෙනයි. මම ඒකට හුරු වුණා.” ශාෆි සහාබ්දීන් එම...
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  • Trial of Hejaaz Hizbullah: Main witness flounders
    AG request to amend indictment refused The main witness in the case against Hejaaz Hizbullah, the 18-year-old Mohomed Malik on Friday, failed to give any evidence relating to the charge during his testimony when the case was heard at the Puttalam High Court.

    The young witness floundered when questioned as to the time period of the alleged incident at which Hizbullah is said to have made a speech and the contents of the speech.  As a result, right before the adjournment for lunch, the Attorney General (AG) requested the High Court Judge to amend the indictment. The Defence objected to it by pointing out that the indictment filed was based on repeated statements by the witness to the CID. They said that the statements to the CID by the witness, including statements...
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  • Revision application seeking bail for Hejaaz Hizbullah reserved for Feb.7
    The order regarding a bail application filed on behalf of Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah was today reserved for February 7 by the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Menaka Wijesundera and Justice Neil Iddawala announced that the order on whether bail would be granted or not to Hejaaz Hizbullah will be delivered next Monday (7). Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya appearing for Attorney General informed the Court of Appeal that the prosecution is not objecting to release Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail. This application was called before the Court of Appeal through a motion after the Puttalam High Court decides to refuse bail for Hejaaz Hizbullah on January 28. President's Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for Hizbullah contended that the Court of Appeal has Inherent...
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  • හිජාස්ට ඇප දෙනවා ද? නැද්ද?
    (රන්ජන් කටුගම්පොල සහ නිමන්ති රණසිංහ ) රක්ෂිත බන්ධනාගාර ගත කර සිටින නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා ඇප මත මුදා හරිනවා ද? නැද්ද? යන්න සම්බන්ධයෙන් වන නියෝගය ලබන  07 වැනිදා ප්‍රකාශයට පත්කරන බව අභියාචනාධිකරණය අද (02) දැනුම් දුන්නේය. තමන් ඇප මත මුදා හරින ලෙසට ඉල්ලා නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා අභියාචනාධිකරණයට ගොනුකර තිබූ පෙත්සමක් අද...
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  • Court refuses to grant bail to Hejaaz Hizbullah
    The Puttalam High Court has refused to grant bail to Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah who has been detained for over 20 months. The judge has refused the bail order as it is not under her jurisdiction, despite the Attorney General’s consent to grant bail bail. The Attorney General’s (AG) Department said on January 20 that it had no objections to releasing Hizbullah on bail subject to conditions. https://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Court-refuses-to-grant-bail-to-Hejaaz-Hizbullah/108-230030 Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.
    Read More...
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To Burn Or To Bury? The Deadly Question

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To burn or to bury? That has become the bedeviling Covid-19 question in Sri Lanka with no respect for the dead and no empathy for those who are left to mourn. According to WHO guidelines, Covid-19 victim’s bodies are not infectious, unless other complications are involved – such as hemorrhagic fevers (Ebola, Marburg) or cholera. In general, dead bodies themselves are not infectious, but body fluids are and they secrete even after death. So, there is universal insistence on and compliance with the protocols for handing dead bodies, not only by funeral workers but also by families. But the question, whether cremation or burial, is a redundant question and it has been unnecessarily overwrought. But only in Sri Lanka, and chiefly by the  government itself.

For perspective, there have been public protests against cremating Covid-19 victims in Kerala and in West Bengal. So, one can argue either way if being argumentative is the be all and end all of patriotism. To their credit, the Indian federal and state governments have allowed both cremation and burial, leaving it to the family but with all hazmat protocols and precautions.
In Sri Lanka, it gets ridiculous. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has apparently asked the Maldivian government if Maldives could help by providing burial funerals for Sri Lankan Muslims who die from Covid-19 infection. That would be a first for any country. Already four UN Special Rapporteurs, not counting the ones at UNHRC, have called on Sri Lanka not to ban Muslim burials but allow them in accordance with WHO guidelines. Is Sri Lanka on course to run afoul of every UN Rapporteur? And why?

Fear Mongering

The fear mongering, not the prudent concern, about groundwater contamination is another fallopian nonsense. As with Caesarian sterilization, as with the Millennium Compact (which the US has now revoked), the government has dug itself another hole while banning graves for Covid-19 victims. If it is feared that graves will contaminate groundwater, it is fair to ask, what about contamination from sceptic tanks? Sanitary flows, landfill leachate, open defecation are potential pathogen carriers, but not necessarily of the coronavirus. Are drones going to be flown around to catch people answering the nature’s call in the most natural way?

Whether burial or cremation, there are safety protocols to be followed even in normal circumstances. There should be a sense of proportion. If a thousand non-infected, non-Covid-19, bodies are cremated at one location, over one week, and not far from a residential area, no one is going to be amused. In fact, there will be hellish fury. Even a hundred bodies will cause concerns, petitions, and protests. Similarly, if a thousand bodies are buried in a very short period, in a small cemetery, and close to wells or surface waterbodies, that would be a matter for grave concern. No one is talking about mass burials or mass cremations in Sri Lanka. The numbers are small, but the shouting is deafening.

Until late October, even while the burial debate was already in full flames, the total number of Covid-19 deaths was still under 20. Even if all of them were buried in one cemetery, that should not have been a matter for concern. The current death total is 160 and rising. But not all of Covid-19 victims are Muslims, or Christians, requiring a burial. They are a minority in life, in Sri Lanka, and so in death. And not all burials are going to be at the same location. In fact, it will not be a good idea to select a central location for all burials. So, if burials are allowed to take place the way they have been for centuries, the sky will not fall and the ground water is not going to be poisoned.

Proportionality and risk assessment are among the key considerations that guide the selection and location of public facilities, and that includes cemeteries and crematoriums. While cemeteries and crematoriums serve a spiritual purpose, their operations and maintenance come under more mundane considerations like public safety and environmental protection.

The Environmental Agency in England has addressed these matters in the context of Covid-19 and the potential risks from increased burials. Notably, the agency has waived the normal permit requirement for local authorities or cemetery operators undertaking new cemetery development or expanding existing cemeteries to accommodate the increased burials during Covid19. It has only provided guidelines for addressing groundwater risks for new cemeteries, but risks due to the increased number of burials, not due to Covid-19. The Agency is not concerned about Covid-19 infection in burials, but only the number of burials relative to their locations.

England alone has had over 57,000 people die due to Covid-19 so far, and the vast majority of them have been buried. Sri Lanka’s death toll is 160, and a majority of them are cremated. What higher risk would Sri Lanka face by allowing a few dozens of Covid-19 burials at most, than what England and all other countries allowing vastly larger number of burials are facing and dealing with? How did Sri Lanka, and this government particularly, get into such a grave hole, while protesting burials?  

A cabal government?

According to the National People’s Power (NPP) MP Dr Harini Amarasuriya, “a cabal of state officials and their close associates in the business community have been making important government decisions bypassing the prime minister and the cabinet of ministers.” This has been evident for quite some time, and what is also clear is that there is more than one cabal, and that the cabals have got the ear of the President and isolated him from everyone else –  including cabinet of ministers (which is not saying much), even the Rajapaksa family, and most of all its political godfather – the Prime Minister himself.

The cabals are not limited to state officials and business eople, and include professionals who use their trade union muscle to compensate for their professional inadequacies. The GMOA is the most notorious villain of the piece, but it may not be the only one. In the upshot, the government is unnecessarily complicating matters more than what they already are and they may invariably have to be. The government has become its own arsonist, setting up more fires without putting down any. And letting crisis after crisis to crop up with no end in sight. The burn or bury question is one such crisis. Avoidable and unnecessary.

The latest manifestations of this cabal power are the ultra vires sacking of the national Medical Council, a statutory body established in 1926, and the upcoming electrocution of the Public Utilities Commission, another statutory body . Before these was the eruption out of nowhere of prison riots which were ministerially attributed to hidden hands; but there are no hidden hands, only the government’s bloodied hands. And in the most bizarre topping to this cabal state of governance, three government ministers, two of them medical professionals, have been publicly partaking in homemade potions of a purportedly Covid-19 vaccine or cure. All of this and more in the middle of a global pandemic and economic shutdowns.

Not surprisingly, the economy shrank by a whopping 16.3% in Q-2 of 2020, recovering to grow by 1.5% in Q-3, and contracting overall by 5.3% for the first nine months. Hardly the situation for making rosy projections for 2021. And Covid-19 is not letting up at all. It keeps its infections climbing with apparent vengeance after lying low, or undetected, till early October. Infections and deaths have since multiplied ten times and are at the fearsome inflection point for a potentially exponential breakout. This is not a call for panic, but for signs that the government understands what the stakes are and what it takes to get things under control. The signs are anything but!

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/to-burn-or-to-bury-the-deadly-question/

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