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  • Anti-terrorism Bill will be changed
    The highly controversial Antiterrorism Bill is subject to amendments and changes in Parliament and as such no one should have any fear or feeling of threat from the proposed Bill, Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said. The government is aware of concerns raised by the global and local community on certain provisions contained in the draft of the Anti-terrorism Bill and the Government is ready to alleviate them by discussion, compromise and flexibility, he added. Addressing a news conference at the Information Department auditorium, Minister Rajapakshe said the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) passed in 1979 under President J.R. Jayewardene’s rule as a temporary measure to counter the emerging separatist insurgency. The PTA has been misused and exploited by successive Governments since then for their personal and political...
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  • WhatsApp adds option to use the same account on multiple phones
    WhatsApp users are no longer restricted to using their account on just a single phone. Today, the Meta-owned messaging service is announcing that its multi-device feature — which previously allowed you to access and send messages from additional Android tablets, browsers, or computers alongside your primary phone — is expanding to support additional smartphones. “One WhatsApp account, now across multiple phones” is how the service describes the feature, which it says is rolling out to everyone in the coming weeks.
    Setting up a secondary phone to use with your WhatsApp account happens after doing a fresh install of the app. Except, rather than entering your phone number during setup and logging in as usual, you instead tap a new “link to existing account” option. This will generate a QR...
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  • CBK commends Dr. Shafi’s noble gesture of donating past salary to buy essential medicine
    Falsely accused by racist elements for alleged illegal sterilisation, Kurunegala Teaching Hospital doctor says racism will not take country or organisation forward except make poor people suffer more; calls on all to make Sri Lanka racism-free   Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has commended Dr. Mohamed Shafi Shihabdeen over his gesture of donating the past salaries amounting to Rs. 2.6 million during his suspension and imprisonment on false charges to buy essential medicines. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

    Dr. Mohamed Shafi Shihabdeen



    Following...
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  • Dr. Shafi donates arrears of his salary to purchase medicines for hospitals
    Dr. Shihabdeen Mohamed Shafi, the doctor at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital has decided to donate arrears of his salary amounting over Rs. 2.67 million for the purchase of essential medicines for hospitals.

    Dr. Shafi who was on compulsory leave on charges of performing infertility surgery, has received a cheque of over Rs. 2.67 million salary arrears from the Health Ministry last week.

    The salary arrears include the basic salary, interim allowance, cost of living, and allowance in lieu of pension for the period of compulsory leave imposed on Dr. Sihabdeen.

    Dr. Shafi who was employed at the Kurunegala teaching hospital was arrested on May 25th, 2019, on charges of performing infertility surgery.
    On July 25, 2019, the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court ordered that the doctor be released on bail.
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  • Govt. used Sinhala-Buddhist shield to its maximum benefit Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thera
    This Govt. nurtured thug-like monks promoted them and deployed them in various  places Certain monks have severe psychological wounds If  society isn’t healed cases of domestic violence, harassment and child  abuse will be on the rise Reconciliation  was about having workshops, providing a report and earning dollars Accountability  has not been included in the Constitution or the Judicial system Terrorism  sprouts in a country that has no justice Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thera who currently heads the Walpola Rahula Institute for Buddhist Studies has been addressing issues related to social justice and harmony while promoting an inclusive and plural society. Having gathered a wealth of experience during the height of war for instance and having encountered various incidents during his lifetime, Ven. Dhammananda Thera has...
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  • Health ministry to pay back-wages for Dr. Shafi before July 10
    The Ministry of Health today gave an undertaking before the Court of Appeal that the salary and allowances payable to Dr. Shafi  Shihabdeen will be paid before July 10 this year. The Ministry of Health gave this undertaking pursuant to a writ petition filed by Dr. Shafi  Shihabdeen, who was at the centre of the controversy surrounding the alleged sterilisation of female patients. The Director General of Establishment at the Ministry of Public Services had earlier informed the Court that the basic salary, interim allowance, cost of living and allowance in lieu of pension could be paid to Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen, for the compulsory leave period. Meanwhile, the petitioner expressed willingness to attend the preliminary inquiry before Director of Kurunegala Teaching Hospital Dr. Chandana Kendangamuwa. Taking into consideration the facts,...
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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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හිස්බුල්ලා පෙන්නලා බිල්ලා මවනවා

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(යොහාන් භාසුර)

 

ශානි අබේසේකර සහ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා වැනි පුද්ගලයන් පෙන්වා බිල්ලන් මවා ජාතිවාදය වපුරවමින් රට විනාශ නොකරන ලෙස සමඟ ජනබලවේග මන්ත්‍රී හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා පාර්ලිමේන්තු විවාදයට එක්වෙමින් පැවසීය.  එහිදී මන්ත්‍රී හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා වැඩිදුරටත් මෙසේ ද පැවසීය.

“ශානි අබේසේකර, හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා පෙන්වලා මේ රටේ බිල්ලො මවනවා වෙනුවට අලුත් ගමනක් යන්න ඕන නම් දේශපාලන වශයෙන් අපි සර් කියන්න කැමති මිනිස්සු ගන්න”

“ලංකාවට ගණිකා වෘත්තිය ගේන, අපේ ලංකාව තරම්වත් ආර්ථිකයක් නැති සංචාරකයො ගෙනල්ලා යාල වස්සලා. සීගිරිය පොළොන්නරුවට ගේන්න හදලා. මේ කරන විනාශයට විරුද්ධව ඔබතුමාලත් හිට ගනී කියලා හිතනවා”

“ගරු මුලාසනය හොඹවන මන්ත්‍රීතුමනි, අවාසනාවකට, එක රටක් එක නීතියක් කියන විට මට මතක් වෙන්නේ අපි වැස්ස දවසකට ත්‍රීවිල් එකක යනවා වගේ. කොයි වෙලාවෙ මොන වළේ වැටෙයිද? කොයි වෙලාවේ ත්‍රීවිල් එක නවතීද? කොයි වෙලාවේ අපිව තෙමෙයිද? හරියට තීන්දුවක් නොමැතිව විශ්වාසයක් නොමැතිව බලාගෙන ඉන්න අවදියක එක රටක් එක නීතියක් ගැනත් පුංචි ප්‍රශ්නයක් තියෙනවා”

“ජනාධිපති සමාව දෙන රැල්ලක් පටන් අරන්. ඔය රැල්ල එන්නෙ මොන පොල් පැළේ කන්නද කියලත් අපි හොඳට දන්නවා”

“මේ රටේ මිනිස්සු හිතුවේ අවුරුද්දක් යනකොට කොහොමද නීතිය කියලා ඇහුවම අතිවිශිෂ්ටයි සර් කියයි කියලා. අද මේ ලංකාවේ තියෙනවා අමුතු නීති රාශියක්. රාජපක්‍ෂ නීතිය, ගජමිතුරු නීතිය, කෝවිඩි නීතිය, දුප්පතුන්ගේ නීතිය, යුක්රේන් ජාතිකයන්ට දෙන නීතිය”

“සර් නෙවිඩාලෝ කියනවා. මේක යුක්රේන භාෂාවෙන් සර් ෆේල් කියන එක. ආපු පළමු ගුවන් යානයේම කෙල්ලො 18 දෙනෙක්ටම මාස තුනක වීසා දීලා. මේකට හේතුව තමයි දේශපාලනයේ ප්‍රාදේශීය සභාවකවත් හිටපු නැති කෙනෙක් ජනාධිපති වීම. සිස්ටම් වෙනස් කරන්න ආවට සිස්ටම් එක තේරෙන්නේ නෑ”

“අද රට පාලනය කරන්නේ කවුද? සර්ගේ සාපේ අපි කියන්නේ ‘ස’ සාපේ. පස්දෙනෙක් තමයි රට පාලනය කරන්නේ”

“උදයංග වීරතුංග, සංචාරක බුබුලේ ඉන්න ඕන කෙනා මාස් එකක් දාන්නෙ නැතුව මාධ්‍ය සාකච්ඡා තියෙනවා. හොඳ නළුවා විල්සන් කරූ හිරේ යනවා. ලැජ්ජයි, කැතයි...”

“අපිට ගැහුවා මහ බැකුවෙන් බිලියන 10 ක් ගැහුවා කියලා. එක ෂොට් එකෙන් සීනිවලින් ගැහුවා බිලියන 10 ක්. මහබැංකු හොරකම වෙනුවෙන් බිලියන 10 ක සංචිතයක් තියාගත්තා. එහෙම තිබුණා”

“මිනිස්සු 64,000 ක් එන්න බැරිව දුක්විදිනවා. හිතලා බලන්න, ටෙලිකොම් එකේ සන්නාම නාමය වෙනස් කරන්න බිලියන දෙකක් වියදම් කරනවා”

“මෙතුමන්ලා ජයග්‍රහණය කරන්න හදන්නෙ ජාතිවාදයෙන්මයි. මම හිටගන්නේ ජාතිකවාදයත් එක්ක. අලීස් අබී්‍ර මහත්තයා අධිකරණ ඇමති කළාට අලීස් අබී්‍ර මහත්තයා පිටින් තමයි ඔක්කෝම යන්නේ. ඔබතුමා මුස්ලිම් ජාතිකයෙක් නිසා ඔබතුමාලම පත්කළ ආණ්ඩුව ඔබතුමාට වටකරගෙන ගහනවා. අපි ගහන්නේ නෑ. අපිගාව තියෙන්නේ ජාතිකවාදයයි”

“හර්ෂණ රාජකරුණා මන්ත්‍රීතුමාගෙන් අහනවා ඔබේ ජාතිය මොකක්ද? ශ්‍රී ලාංකික, ආගම මොකක්ද? බුද්ධාගම. මගේ ජාතිය මොකක්ද? ශ්‍රී ලාංකික, ආගම රෝමානු කතෝලික, ඔබේ ජාතිය මොකක්ද? ශ්‍රී ලාංකික, ඔබ මුස්ලිම්. මේක දේශපාලනය කරගෙන තමන්ගේ බඩගෝස්තරය නිසා ජාතිවාදය අවුස්සමින් ඉන්නවා”

“හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා කියන්නේ ගල්කිස්ස සාන්ත තෝමස් විදුහලේ කීර්තිමත් ශිෂ්‍යයෙක්. ප්‍රධාන ශිෂ්‍යනායක. ශ්‍රී ලංකා වෝටර්පෝලෝ කණ්ඩායමට ක්‍රීඩා කළා. සාන්ත තෝමස් වෝටර්පෝලෝ කණ්ඩායමේ නායකයෙක්. මෙතන තෝමියන්ස්ලා ඉන්නවා එක්කෙනෙක් කථා කරන්නේ නෑ මොකද මුස්ලිම් නිසා”

“හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලට තියෙන චෝදනාව මොකක්ද? පුත්තලම පැත්තෙ පාසලකට ගිහිල්ලා මොනවද දේශනා කරයි කියලා. හැබැයි ඒ පාසලේ විදුහල්පතිගෙන්, ගුරුවරයෙක්ගෙන් හෝ ළමයකුගෙන්වත් සාක්‍ෂියක් අරන් නෑ”

“එතුමාව 8 වැනිදා උපාවියට ගේනවා. අපිට ආරංචියි අලුත් චෝදනාවක් දානවා කියලා. ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනතින් ජනාධිපතිගේ අත්සනින් තමයි එතුමාව ඇතුළට ගත්තේ” යයිද හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා පැවසීය.

http://www.lankadeepa.lk/latest_news/%E0%B7%84%E0%B7%92%E0%B7%83%E0%B7%8A%E0%B6%B6%E0%B7%94%E0%B6%BD%E0%B7%8A%E0%B6%BD%E0%B7%8F-%E0%B6%B4%E0%B7%99%E0%B6%B1%E0%B7%8A%E0%B6%B1%E0%B6%BD%E0%B7%8F-%E0%B6%B6%E0%B7%92%E0%B6%BD%E0%B7%8A%E0%B6%BD%E0%B7%8F-%E0%B6%B8%E0%B7%80%E0%B6%B1%E0%B7%80%E0%B7%8F/1-584307

 

CID dont produce Hizbullah , say positive for Covid 19

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The Criminal Invesitgations Department which were scheduled to produce detained Attorney at Law Hejaaz Hizbullah this afternoon before the Fort magistrate , did not produce him and informed court that he had been tested positive for Covid 19.

Mr. Hizbullahs wife , attorneys and the Court were informed by officers of the CID that he would be produced today at 2. 00 PM at the Fort Magistrates court. Officers of the CID informed court staff that they intend producing Hizbullah following which Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage had made order that the case be taken up at 2. 00 PM today.

The news of production came after Mr. Romesh De Silva PC supported a writ application for lawyers access and made representations on behalf of Mr. Hizbullah.

Earlier a writ application was filed before the court of appeal seeking access to detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah for lawyers. Lawyers said they have had no access confidential to Mr. Hizbullah since the time of his arrest. Mr Romesh De Silva PC with Shanaka Cooray, Niran Anketell, Harith De Mel instructed by Sanath Wijeywardena appeared on behalf of the Petitioner in the writ case. Lawyers for Mr. Hizbullah awaited his production until they were informed of the renewed position of the CID.

The court staff informed journalists present at around 3.00PM that Mr. Hizbullah would not be produced. Mr. Hizbullah was arrested a year after the easter Sunday attack for allegedly having phone calls with an easter sunday terrorist.

Mr. Hizbullahs lawyes filed papers before court stating that the said terrorist was a client of Mr.Hizbullah whom he represented in two land matters.

http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/CID-dont-produce-Hizbullah-say-positive-for-Covid-19/108-203321

 

Analysing Sumanthiran: A Reality Check On Hejaaz, Muslim Politicians & Lawyers

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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/

 

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/

 

Behind The Muslim Burial Issue

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By Ameer Ali –

In no country in the world except Sri Lanka and perhaps its “predator” ally China that Muslims are cremated when they die because of Covid-19; and no epidemiologist, virologist or medical expert in the world except the chief health officer in Sri Lanka believes that Corona virus would spread if the victims are buried. This officer spuriously justified his stand on the ground that the underground water level in the country is too high. His argument, backed by a so-called soil scientist, Meththika Vithanage from Jayawardenapura University, who wrote, “break the ground and infect us all”, has now been accepted as heavenly truth by sections of local Buddhist clergy, members of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Viyathmaga and Rajapaksa’s government. Allowing burial for Muslims is to bury the regime itself, said one such monk. No amount of appeal or protest from any Muslim group either locally or internationally, and not even advice from WHO and other world experts could reverse the regime’s decision. Yet, whether cremated or buried the virus is spreading in almost every part of the country, and the entire Muslim community is traumatized.

Why is this intransigence? Is there something more sinister than just the water level argument and so called One-Country-One-Law (OCOL) mantra? Are there other advisors like for example, Chinese experts occupying the Shangri-La in Colombo? The close relation between the Rajapaksas and China is no secret, and with deteriorating economic conditions at home and desperate need for funds to invest in economic recovery, China has become a friend in need and lender of last resort. There is no use in hiding the fact that Sri Lanka under the current regime is virtually becoming China’s client state. With that type of economic nexus, China’s experience with her own Muslim communities like Uighurs may have some useful lessons for local supremacists behind Rajapaksa regime to learn from.


To the local supremacists, Muslims are aliens and they should either be sent back to Arabia or be ‘molded’, as the obstreperous monk Gnanasara said in June last year. China was silent when the Rohingyas in Myanmar were massacred and expelled, and is now engaged in molding Uighur Muslims and in brainwashing them with Chinese thought and values. It is reported that the Uighurs in Xinjiang are put into three hundred internment camps, force fed with pig meat, prevented from praying, fasting and reciting the Quran. Hundreds of Uighur burial grounds are being destroyed and turned into parks and playgrounds in the name of development. Shockingly for world Muslims, it was reported that Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the supposed architect behind Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder, supported China’s cultural cleansing measures on grounds of “anti-terrorism” and “de-extremism”. Isn’t Islamic extremism and Islamic fundamentalism the rallying cries for Buddhist supremacists in Sri Lanka, especially after the Easter Sunday massacre? Isn’t also true that President Gotabaya looks for development as the solution to the Tamil problem and by extension to Muslim problem also?

Sri Lanka does not have internment camps for Muslims yet. However, a series of incidents where Muslims are being forced to evacuate their lands and dwellings like in Devanagala in Mawanella, Thampala in Polonnaruwa and Sampur in Trincomalee bound to make them homeless and vagrants. Gotabaya’s Archaeology Task Force is also accused of being more interested in grabbing private lands for Sinhalese colonization than excavating ancient ruins. If this mode of forced evacuations increases in number, Muslim homelessness will become a national issue demanding speedy solution from government. It may not happen tomorrow but probably in near future. Won’t internment camps be an attractive solution when such situation arises?

With economic difficulties mounting almost daily and sporadic street protests hidden from public view by government backing media, the regime is running out of options to control mass anger. It needs an issue badly to deflate anti-regime fury and divert mass attention elsewhere. Muslim burial issue is becoming handy for supremacists and their government to do just that. This appears to be the agenda behind the burial issue.
In the meantime, there is growing anger among Muslim youth specially over government’s intransigence on this issue. It goes to the very heart of Muslim religious rites and it torments the entire community. There are enough idiots within that community like in any other community to do something silly to spark widespread violence against Muslims. Are the supremacists waiting for such a spark for a return of July 1983, and this time against Muslims?

It is time for the Muslim community to give up any hope for a solution to this issue from the government, and dismiss completely the value of a Muslim minister in the cabinet let alone lame duck Muslim parliamentarians. The supremacists have more clout over Gotabaya than his Attorney- at-Call Muslim Minister. Allowing the state to cremate the Muslim dead at its own expense seems to be the best response to its intransigence however much the distress it may cause to Muslim families. It is sheer non-sense even to contemplate Maldives to provide a solution to Muslim burials. If burying under the sands of Maldives, which is fast sinking in to the sea because of global warming, won’t spread the virus why should it spread if buried in Sri Lanka, whose elevation from sea level is far higher than Maldives? Where is the water level argument? The burial issue has nothing to do with soil or water and every thing to do with politics.

The community should think of the long term, and work towards the return of a democratic and “plurinational” Sri Lanka with more powers vested in the parliament than in the hands of an autocratic president. Shamefully, it was leaders from the Muslim community who were instrumental in creating the current situation. Let them agonize in silence for their treacherous behaviour.

There is a committee of experts appointed by the government to draft a new constitution. The Muslim community should make use of this opportunity and join hands with such inter-religious and inter-communal groups that are striving to create a Sri Lanka with a constitution “that is modern, futuristic, and incorporates the rights stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as swell as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”. Ball is in the community’s court.

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/behind-the-muslim-burial-issue/



 

අමාත්‍යංශ නියෝගය එනතුරු සිරුර ශීතාගාරයේ

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අමාත්‍යංශ නියෝගය එනතුරු සිරුර ශීතාගාරයේ


(සිරංගිකා ලොකුකරවිට)


ගාල්ල දෙද්දුගොඩ ප්‍රදේශයේ පදිංචිව සිටිය දී කොරෝනා ආසාදනය වීමෙන් මියගිය පුද්ගලයාගේ මළ සිරුරු ආදාහනය නොකර ශීතාගාරයක තබන ලෙස ගාල්ල අතිරේක මහේස්ත්‍රාත් පවිත්‍රා සංජීවනී පතිරණ මත්මිය අද (21) නියෝග කළාය.

අතිරේක මහේස්ත්‍රාත්වරිය මෙම නියෝගය කළේ, එම මරණය අධිකරණ වෛද්‍යවරුන්ගේ නිර්දේශය මත කොරෝනා මරණයක් බවට තීරණය කිරීමෙන් පසුව ආදාහනය කිරීම සඳහා යොමු කරන බවට ගාල්ල ශික්ෂණ රෝහලේ වැඩබලන හදිසි මරණ පරීක්ෂකවරයා තීන්දු කිරීමෙන් පසුව එයට එරෙහිව ඥාතීන් විසින් ගොනුකළ පැමිණිල්ල විභාගයට ගැනීමෙන් අනතුරුවය.

මියගොස් ඇත්තේ 84 හැවිරිදි මුස්ලිම් ජාතිකයෙකි. ඔහු තිදරු පියෙකු වන අතර, කොරෝනා වයිරසය ආසාදිතව සිට රෝහල්ගත කිරීමෙන් පසුව හෘද රෝගයක් හේතුවෙන් මිය ගියේය.

මෙම තැනැත්තාගේ දේහය නිරෝධායන නීති යටතේ රජයේ නියමයන්ට අනුව ආදාහනය කරන ලෙස ගාල්ල කරාපිටිය ශික්ෂණ රෝහලේ වැඩබලන හදිසි මරණ පරික්ෂක චන්ද්‍රසේන ලොකුගේ මහතා  නියෝග කර තිබියදී, ආදාහනය කරන්නේ නම් දේහය බාරනොගන්නා බව මිය ගිය අයගේ පුතා සඳහන් කර තිබේ.

කොරෝනා මරණ භූමදාන කිරීමේ හැකියාව පිළිබඳ සෞඛ්‍ය අමාත්‍යාංශය කරුණු අධ්‍යයනය කරමින් සිටින බැවින් ඒ පිළිබඳ අවසන් තීන්දුව ලැබෙන තුරු සිරුර ආදාහනය කිරීම වැළැක්වීමේ නියෝගයක් දෙන ලෙස එහිදී මරණකරුගේ ඥාතීහු අධිකරණයෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටියහ. කොරෝනා මරණ භූමදාන කිරීමේ හැකියාව පිළිබඳ අගමැතිවරයා සමඟ අධිකරණ අමාත්‍ය අලි සබ්රි මහතා ඇතුළු මුස්ලිම් ජාතික පාර්ලිමේන්තු මන්ත්‍රීවරු පිරිසක් ඇතුළු නියෝජිතයන් සෞඛ්‍ය නිලධාරීන්ගේ ද සහභාගීත්වයෙන් පැවැත්වූ රැස්වීමක දී සාකච්ඡා කළ පරිදි ශීතාගාර පහසුකම් ලබාදීම සම්බන්ධයෙන් සෞඛ්‍ය අධ්‍යක්ෂ ජනරාල්වරයා විසින් අධිකරණ අමාත්‍යවරයාට යවන ලද ලිපියක් ද පැමිණිලි පාර්ශවය විසින් අධිකරණයට ඉදිරිපත් කර තිබිණි.

එම කරුණු සැළකිල්ලට ගත් අතිරේක මහේස්ත්‍රාත්වරිය මළ සිරුරු භූමදානය කිරීමට හැකියාවක් පවතින්නේ ද යන්න පිළිබඳ සෞඛ්‍ය අධ්‍යක්ෂ ජනරාල්වරයා විසින් අවසන් තීරණයක් ලැබෙන තුරු මෙම තැනැත්තාගේ මළ සිරුර ශීතාගාරයක් තුළ තැන්පත් කර තබන ලෙස නියෝග කළාය.

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ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයන්ට මව්බිමේ මිහිදන්වීමට අයිතිය දිය යුතුයි

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ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයන්ට මව්බිමේ මිහිදන්වීමට අයිතිය දිය යුතුයි


(නිමල කොඩිතුවක්කු)

ඕනෑම ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයෙක්ට තම මරණයෙන් පසු ගෞරවාන්විතව සිය මව්බිමෙහි මිහිදන්වීමට ඇති අයිතියට ඉඩ දිය යුතු බව සාධාරණ සමාජයක් සදහා වූ ජාතික ව්‍යාපාරයේ සභාපති හිටපු කථානායක කරු ජයසූරිය මහතා සඳහන් කරයි.

ලෝක සෞඛ්‍ය සංවිධානය හා එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ සංවිධානය විසින් මේ වනවිටත් ලබාදී ඇති නිර්ණායකයන්ට හා මඟපෙන්වීම්වලට ගරු කරමින් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ මුස්ලිම් ජාතිකයන්ගේ අවමංගල්‍ය කටයුතු ඔවුන්ගේ ගරුත්වයට හේතුවන ආගමික සිරිත් අනුව සිදුකිරීමට අවශ්‍ය පියවර ගන්නා ලෙසට රජයෙන් ඉල්ලීමක් කරන බවත් ජයසූරිය මහතා නිවේදනයක් නිකුත් කරමින් සඳහන් කරයි.

එම නිවේදනයේ තවදුරටත් මෙසේද සඳහන් වේ.

"ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ උපන් සිංහල දෙමල,මුස්ලිම් හෝ වෙනත් ඕනෑම ජාතිකත්වයකට හෝ ජන වර්ගයකට අයත් පුද්ගලයෙකුට තම මරණයෙන් පසු ස්වකීය මව්බිමෙහි ගෞරවාන්විතව මිහිදන්වීමට අවස්ථාවක් නොදී බලහත්කාරයෙන් වෙනත් රටක භූමදාන කිරීමට කටයුතු යොදන්නේ නම් එය මියයන පුද්ගලයන්ට මෙන්ම ශ්‍රී ලංකාවටද කරන්නා වූ බලවත් අවමානයකි. එවැනි යම් හෝ උත්සහයක් මඟින් සිදුකරන්නේ රටක් ලෙස ශ්‍රී ලංකාව බලවත් හෑල්ලුවට ලක්කිරීමකි.

කොවිඩ් වසංගතයෙන් මියයන ලාංකීය මුස්ලිම් ජාතිකයන් මාලදිවයින තුළ භූමදාන කිරීම සඳහා ශ්‍රී ලංකා රජය එරට සමඟ සාකච්ජා කළ බවට පලවූ වාර්තාවන් පිලිබදව සාධාරණ සමාජයක් සඳහා වන ජාතික ව්‍යාපාරය බලවත් කනස්සල්ට පත්වූ අතර මේ ආකාරයට අප මාතෘ භූමිය කවරෙකු විසින් හෝ හෑල්ලුවට ලක්කිරීම ගැන සංවිධානයක් ලෙස අපි දැඩි ලෙස සංවේගයට පත්ව සිටින්නෙමු.

කෝවිඩ් 19 වෛරසය හේතුවෙන් මියයන පුද්ගලයන්ගේ අවසන් කටයුතු සිදු කිරීමේදී අනුගමනය කල යුතු ආකාරයන් පිලිබදව ලෝක සෞඛ්‍ය සංවිධානය මෙන්ම එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ සංවිධානයද ලබාදී ඇති උපමාන වලට පරිබාහිරව කටයුතු කිරීම  මඟින් මෙන්ම වෛද්‍ය විද්‍යා ක්ෂේත්‍රෙය් පිලිගත් පර්යේෂණ නිගමනයන්ට බැහැරව යමින් අදානග්‍රාහිත්වයෙන් යුතුව කටයුතු කිරීම නොකල යුත්තකි. අප කුමන හෝ කරුණක් මුල් කරගනිමින් එවැනි අගතිගාමී ස්ථාවරයන්ට එළඹෙන්නේ නම් එමඟින් සිදු කරන්නේ ශීලාචාර ලෝක ප්‍රජාවගෙන් අප මාතෘ භූමිය දුරස් කිරීමකි. ශ්‍රී ලංකා රජය මේ පිලිබදව ගැඹුරින් තේරුම්ගත යුතුව තිබේ.
මෙම සංවේදී කාරණයට අදාලව රජය නොයෙක් ආකාරයේ සාකච්ජාවන්හි නිරතව සිටින බවට වාර්තා පළවන්නේ වුවද මේ දක්වාම නිශ්චිත වූ යහපත් තීරණයක් ගැනීමට ප්‍රමාද කිරීම තේරුම්ගත නොහැකිය. එමඟින් සිදුවන්නේ ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ මුස්ලිම් ජනතාව වෙනස් කොට සලකන බවට බාහිර සමාජය තුළ අපකීර්තිමත් මතයක් ගොඩනැගීමට අනුබල සැපයීමකි. එමෙන්ම ශ්‍රී ලංකාවට එරෙහිව කටයුතු කිරීමට අපේක්ෂා කරන ඕනෑම ආකාරයේ අන්තවාදී බලවේගන්ට අවශ්‍ය ඉඩකඩ නිර්මාණය කිරීමකි. මේ වනවිටත් ලෝකයේ රටවල් ගණනාවකම ප්‍රධාන නගර කිහිපයකදීම ශ්‍රී ලංකාවට එරෙහිව සංවිධානය කර තිබූ විරෝධතා රැළි කෙරෙහි අවධානය යොමුකිරීම මඟින් ද ඒ බව අවබෝධ කරගත හැක.

ඒ අනුව සාධාරණ සමාජයක් සඳහා වන ජාතික ව්‍යාපාරය මේ අවස්ථාවේදී රජයෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටින්නේ යුක්තියේ, සාධාරණත්වයේ මෙන්ම මනුෂ්‍යත්වයේ නාමයෙන් බුද්ධිමත්ව තීන්දු තීරණ ගන්නා ලෙසටය. ලෝක මට්ටමේ පිලිගත් විශේෂඥ උපදෙස් මත ක්‍රියාකරමින් ලෝක සෞඛ්‍ය සංවිධානය හා එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ සංවිධානය විසින් මේ වනවිටත් ලබාදී ඇති නිර්ණායකයන්ට හා මඟපෙන්වීම්වලට ගරු කරමින් ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ මුස්ලිම් ජාතිකයන්ගේ අවමංගල්‍ය කටයුතු ඔවුන්ගේ ගරුත්වයට හේතුවන ආගමික සිරිත් අනුව සිදුකිරීමට අවශ්‍ය පියවර ගන්නා ලෙසටය.

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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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“There were no virologists in the committees set up” - Prof Vitharana

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  • The authorities have to prospectively study and see if Ayurveda and traditional medicine would be beneficial
  • Govt. wanted to take credit when first COVID wave ended
  • Current viral strain is more infectious, but isn’t severe
  • Outcomes of vaccine uncertain as of now
  • Bulk of the budget should have been allocated for COVID-19 relief
  • If we are going to use the vaccine we can rely on what is recommended by WHO
  • So it’s the duty of the Government to ensure that economic activities are sustained at the maximum possible level
  • So far, the coronavirus doesn’t show a big shift, but a gradual drift
  • We have experts in the field, but none of them has been called for discussions
  • Our capacity for PCR testing is inadequate and we aren’t doing sufficient tests

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) National List MP Prof. Tissa Vitharana recently said that COVID-19 is now in the community and nobody has immunity against it since it’s a new virus. He made these observations in his capacity as a specialist in the fields of bacteriology and virology. Having obtained a Diploma in Bacteriology from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a Ph.D. in virology from the University of London, he also served as the Director of the Medical Research Institute in Colombo. He headed MRI’s virology department and apart from that he was a consultant virologist at the Edinburgh City Hospital’s Regional Virus Laboratory and deputy director of the Victoria Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne. He was the leader of the Lanka Samasamaja Party prior to joining the SLPP.

Following are excerpts of an interview Prof. Vitharana had with the Daily Mirror:

 

" The PHIs, midwives can do this health education programme, but the decision has to be taken from the top. This will be the lasting and cheapest solution rather than getting vaccines from abroad which are questionable"

 

Q Many are not aware that prior to being a leftist politician, you have had an extensive career as a medical expert specialized in virology and bacteriology. What should have been our plans to fight a global pandemic like COVID-19?

This is a global pandemic from a virus that probably originated from an animal source and it is completely new to the world. Therefore there’s no immunity against the virus and it’s like an open field. It’s a virus which spreads like the common cold, but the difference is that it goes right down to the chest and presses the lungs. Other viruses are confined to the nasal area. Around 80% are asymptomatic and therefore the infection can easily spread within the society. Therefore it has a so-called second wave which itself may extend further and become a big wave or drop off a bit if human behaviour is conditioned properly. Or it may reappear as a third wave. It’s not only easily spread, but would affect elderly people and those with chronic conditions, tipping the balance between life and death. Therefore it’s a novel problem and in every country there was no possibility of being prepared for it till it actually hit the society. Though people are finding fault with governments and various people I call it unfair. By and large the Government reacted quite quickly.

Q What is the alternative in that case?

What I have recommended is that at this particular stage we need an intensive health education programme where we make it known to every individual in the country that now it is a point of us not knowing whether we have it or not. We need to follow health precautions as a habit. Now there’s an element of fear and it is the authorities who are communicating the message and people are reacting to the authoritative approach. We see people wearing the mask on the neck and wearing it properly when they see the police. By this health education system it will be digested mentally and every person will realise that there’s a danger to one’s life out of self-interest. If we protect ourselves by observing these three rules then the virus itself will die out of the country and we will be free of the epidemic. The PHIs, midwives can do this health education programme, but the decision has to be taken from the top. This will be the lasting and cheapest solution rather than getting vaccines from abroad which are questionable.

Q Do you observe any loopholes in the way Sri Lanka attempted to stop the spread of the virus?

During the cluster stage everything was efficient. Both the service personnel as well as the health personnel who participated in it from the highest level down did a great job. Now in this new stage necessary action is not being taken. It maybe taken here and there, but not like a definite programme. Earlier in my medical career the main cause of death was diarrhoea especially among children. Therefore the health ministry setup a diarrhoea eradication committee. We had a lot of discussions on causes, treatments etc. But before we did all those we said we’ll take some simple public health measures. These include washing hands with soap and water once they use the washroom, doing the same before sitting down to a meal and the water should be boiled prior to consuming. That health education was introduced at school level and incorporated into the curriculum. As a result everybody developed it into a habit. So we can do the same with regard to COVID-19 as well. But this has to be accepted from the top.

Q One key concern was getting technical expertise. What are your views/concerns about keeping aside experienced individuals like you and allowing the military to take control of the matters?

It started as a military exercise for the simple reason that the military was ready at hand, organised, quick to get into action and enforce restrictions initially. But now it is entirely a matter for the health personnel to handle which should be supported by the army and the police.

Q Prior to the second wave, Sri Lanka maintained a lesser number of cases and retained number of deaths to 10. Why was it impossible during the second wave? Was it due to the heavy viral load in this strain or because patient zero was unknown or the authorities didn’t take matters seriously?

The Government also wanted to take credit and said we have controlled the situation. If there’s a particular cluster, say in Borella for example, people living outside that area thought that there’s no cluster there. But we would have been intermingling with people having the virus. Especially when the occurrence of cases and deaths came to a standstill, people thought the problem was over. From there it flared up again and that led to the so-called second wave. It’s clearly a matter of human behaviour. We have to have a real understanding and follow health guidelines for our own survival, incorporating them into our normal behaviour patterns.

"More than 20-30 companies are now claiming over 90% positivity. Since fear has been generated, people are being rushed to buy it. But we shouldn’t fall for that trap. If we are going to use the vaccine we can rely on what is recommended by WHO"

Q Although you mentioned that the spread has gone beyond clusters towards a community spread, statements by the authorities such as Epidemiology Unit repeatedly deny such claims. They were referring to the definitions given by WHO thereby claiming that we haven’t reached community transmission stage. Is this a situation where people can go by such definitions?

The WHO guidelines have been based on available knowledge. These are only guidelines. They don’t lay down the rules, but we have to decide on how we will tackle it. They only point out possibilities and guidelines to protect the community. But we have to use our judgements to decide what is best for the people. There may be social practices that facilitate the spread and after all people’s behaviours differ from country to country.

Q Let’s talk about PCR and Rapid Antigen testing. Does Sri Lanka  have the capacity to conduct them and what are your thoughts on the results?

In the case of PCR tests, they have been used for diagnosing so many illnesses. But for each virus you need to develop a special test. For instance, the efficacy of the test itself is about 70% and around 30% are being missed. Our capacity for PCR testing is inadequate and we aren’t doing sufficient tests. Therefore more research needs to be done to improve the quality of tests. At the Medical Research Institute and Sri Jayawardenapura University, we have trained people to improve tests to obtain 100% results. This needs continuous research where you need to change conditions such as acidity, alkalinity, quantity of different reagents and experiment. PCR tests are done widely for different conditions and generally the positivity rate is over 90%. But what is now available in Sri Lanka and around the world is below par. We have experts in the field, but none of them has been called for discussions. On the other hand, this is a virus, but as far as I know, there were no virologists in the committees that were set up. When you’re trained in a particular discipline you get to know all aspects of it and be able to adapt it to suit the problem.  We should have made use of the trained personnel we have, but the idea that it should be done by people with connections is the kind of thinking we have.

Q Are Rapid Antigen Tests any better?

The Rapid Test is very much cheaper, the test itself is quick and results are produced quickly. But the number of positive cases it picks up is around 60%, which is less than that produced by PCR tests. I suggest that both tests should be used.

Q This global pandemic said to have spread from Wuhan in China is also seen through a geopolitical perspective. Even there are allegations that the pandemic is being used as a biological weapon. In a way there is evidence to support this as some economies, specially in the Europe, have failed while other economies have managed to survive or thrive. Your comments?

In China, when you have a population of 1.5 billion, it is not a surprise to see a virus emerging. It cannot start from a population of 20 million like that in Sri Lanka. When it comes to viruses, there are stable viruses that don’t undergo genetic changes. For instance the small pox virus is stable and the vaccine that was prepared was effective and stayed effective till the end, so we could eliminate it altogether. But there are other viruses that change their genetic configuration and could be of two varieties; there could be a gradual change that takes place once or once in two years, which causes minor outbreaks which is called an antigenic drift. Once in about five to ten years there is a big change, which is called an antigenic shift. Therefore the body faces a different virus from what it faced earlier and the immune system is also not recognising the virus. Then you find that it spreads like wildlife and turns into a pandemic. So far, the coronavirus doesn’t show a big shift, but a gradual drift. What I heard from my virology contacts is that the strain of virus that is now circulating is more infectious, but isn’t severe. So we have to watch how it evolves and respond proactively.

Q The pandemic also highlighted a stark contrast among social classes. In a way, the rich can survive through it while the poor are left to die. How do you see this as a leftist political leader?

This is where we are facing a challenge like facing a foreign invasion and we have to protect our people. The most vulnerable individuals need to be safeguarded. The requirement to maintain distancing means that many companies have cut down on staff or closed them down and small businesses too will be badly affected. So it’s the duty of the Government to ensure that economic activities are sustained at the maximum possible level. People should receive livelihood support and if there’s a shortfall the Government should top it up. Measures also have to be taken to take care of people getting displaced and those having to go home with no source of income need to be financially assisted. It may then be possible to get alternative sources of income, new ventures can be developed and the Government should play the leading role. The Government can obtain assistance from private sector if the need arises.

Q But there were discrepancies in distributing the Rs.5000 relief and the budget didn’t address a relief system for those affected. Do you think it should be revised?

Definitely. There should have been a much bigger allocation for COVID-19 and its consequences. In fact the bulk of the budget should have been for that. I would have put long-term ventures on hold and given priority to the immediate needs of the people. We need to workout on priorities and address them accordingly. Those who are affected now are suffering. That should be given priority.

Q As an expert in this subject don’t you think that a vaccine against a viral infection should have been tested for a number of years?

It’s a new type of vaccine called mRNA and it’s a new illness. Even during natural infections what has emerged from laboratories is that antibody formation is short lived. Therefore the vaccine itself may not offer protection for very long and therefore people may have to be prescribed repeated doses. As such it’s uncertain how effective it will be. In order to get a sufficient vaccine to effectively break the transmission you need to  immunise at least 70-80% of the population. This is going to be costly and the outcomes are uncertain.

Q The availability of a life saving vaccine will depend on the capitalistic market system. Would there be any possibility to avoid it?

I’m sorry to say this, but after the armaments industry the second biggest source of profits is the medicinal drug industry. One aspect of it is the production of vaccines. There has to be investment and so on, but when they come up with a vaccine, they try to cash-in on the fear to sell the product and may even come up with bogus data. Those should be tested by accepted reference and laboratories linked to WHO and the outcomes must be confirmed. Then they maybe used. More than 20-30 companies are now claiming over 90% positivity. Since fear has been generated, people are being rushed to buy it. But we shouldn’t fall for that trap. If we are going to use the vaccine we can rely on what is recommended by WHO. This is because they always ensure that the best laboratories test them out, carry out population studies and results are examined carefully. Once they establish that its efficacy is over 90% then they give the go-ahead to use it. In that case we can act on it.

Q Another division of social class will be seen once the vaccine is made available to the populace. How should governments such as those in developing nations look at ensuring the equal distribution and accessibility to the vaccine?

If the WHO gives it free for 20% of the population, that would be adequate to protect the vulnerable groups. This means those who are liable to get severe diseases and die. Once you get that, people will still get infected but those who are healthy to withstand the infection may not succumb to it.

Q Ayurveda and traditional medicine have become a trending topic today. Can traditional medicine cure a mutating viral strain such as COVID-19?

Traditional medicine has been used widely in our country. They have been used over a period of time and people continue to use it if they feel they have benefits. But this is a new problem. There’s no past history which we can fall back on. So we have to prospectively study and see if it will be beneficial or not. There are traditional medicines which have been attributed to increase one’s immune ability and people take them for a long period on that premise. If there are responsible scientists who have verified and tested outcomes they can establish whether it is beneficial or not. They could check if the medicine could prevent the infection or make it milder or whether they have any curative effect. There are medicines available that were effective against other viral infections, so they can try it out against COVID-19 and see if they’re effective. Antivirals tend to be specific for some viruses and the range is smaller. All these need to be tried out. We can only draw conclusions in the future when we compare the outcomes.

We are approaching a new year and it looks like we will have to live with the virus for sometime. What are the immediate measures the Government should execute at this point?

We don’t need to harbour  an unnecessary fear. We know that the percentage mortality is less than 5%. So there’s no major degree of threat and in our country the count has been less. That doesn’t mean that we have to be overconfident and careless. But we need to realise that we are in a position to protect ourselves and in the process get rid of the virus. Therefore Sri Lankans who return should be carefully isolated minutely, so that they don’t infect anybody. If we can act in that way I’m sure we can minimise the risk to ourselves. We must get back to normal economic life while taking necessary preventive measures.

http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/There-were-no-virologists-in-the-committees-set-up-Prof-Vitharana/172-201444

 

 

MP Sumanthiran questions denial of justice for Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah

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Written by Pavani Hapuarachchi    10 Dec,

2020 | 4:14 PM



COLOMBO (News 1st): Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah who is a brilliant lawyer has been denied justice for eight months now with no evidence to prove he is guilty of being charged, MP Sumanthiran told Parliament on Wednesday (Dec. 09).

YouTube Link :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1mikU04Rwg&feature=youtu.be



“What are you doing for eight months if you had evidence that he was involved in anything at all? You could have charged him with that?” queried Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) Member of Parliament – M.A. Sumanthiran, while claiming that false allegations were being levelled against Hejaaz Hizbullah.

According to MP Sumanthiran, when Hizbullah’s house was searched, authorities had even seized his case briefs, which is a violation of sacrosanct attorney-client privilege.

“When his house was searched and he was arrested, they took away two of his case briefs; not even in a court of law can questions be asked with regard to communication between client and attorney, you know that very well. There are only two instances of privilledge, one husband/wife and the other is attorney/client privilledge. That’s how sacrosanct communication between a lawyer and his client is,” MP Sumanthiran emphasized.

The Parliamentarian also questioned as to whether a lawyer can be blamed for crimes committed by a client later on adding if there is a connection, it should be brought to light with Hizbullah being produced in court.

“Can’t he have clients? Can’t he handle cases for people who are later found to have committed other crimes? Is a lawyer to be blamed? Alright, even if you did that, in those files if you found anything you could’ve brought that to light. You could’ve produced him before the court. Nothing to-date,” MP Sumanthiran told parliament.

Further commenting, he pointed out that the allegations with regard to Qatar Charity and a school are both baseless as Qatar Charity and the said school are functioning without any hindrance to this day.

While claiming that the state itself benefits from Qatar Charity, MP Sumanthiran questioned as to how can Hizbullah be accused of having been involved with it; “He is said to have got some assistance from Qatar Charity. Qatar Charity is still running, it’s still involved. The state is a beneficiary as well. What is wrong with Qatar Charity? You can have it, you can use it, but you accuse him of being involved in Qatar Charity?”.

Commenting on the family of Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah, MP Sumanthiran said he has been denied of seeing his wife and newborn child, while free access to lawyers has also been denied, with a police officer being present to take down notes on the conversations between Hizbullah and his attorneys.

Thereby, the MP queried the parliament as to how anyone can expect to be treated equally when even a lawyer himself is denied the legal privileges and treated poorly.

“I’m picking one emblematic case to show how many more thousands are suffering like this. I’m picking that case because he is a lawyer. If you treat a lawyer like that, how do you expect anybody else to be treated any better? A lawyer who is well known, a lawyer who is regarded as a brilliant advocate in our courts is being treated like this,” ITAK MP M.A. Sumanthiran told parliament on Wednesday (Dec. 09).

https://www.newsfirst.lk/2020/12/10/mp-sumanthiran-questions-denial-of-justice-for-attorney-at-law-hejaaz-hizbullah/?fbclid=IwAR3Cm-DrN8-47Zxl3Izjv_rgcVczONj7S6NdMtdVazVwWgguBWDtYkf_gyY



 

Time To Stem The Rot; Next Generation Growing Up Hating The “Other”

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By Mohamed Harees

Lukman Harees

When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

There is lot of hate out there simmering, waiting for the social volcano to burst. With the corona pandemic, in parallel, racist pandemic has burst open a can of bigotry worms. There is lot of ill feelings and mutual suspicions among communities for various reasons, mostly thanks to Media sensationalism and State sanctioned racism. There appears to be politics being played over dead bodies too. Presently, Tamils are going to Courts to remember their dead; Muslims to bury their dead and Christian community asking for justice for their dead. No justice in sight to redress these grievances. An increasing tempo of targeting of the Muslim community has been in progress, while very interesting revelations are coming out at the Commission hearings pointing at some political scheming behind the perpetrators’ senseless massacre of innocents and the apathy of the State in preventing it. Hate groups emboldened after the successful election of an ultra- nationalist government in August 2020, have been at their game of demonization of minority communities in both public and private space, leading to mainstreaming of hate. The ultimate tragedy is an entire generation of young people, are being caught up in this national quagmire, with Sri Lanka fast losing hope to be an inclusive nation. Is this Nation’s blind-spot?

 

The cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand has shown how environmental shocks can cause societies to become “tighter” – meaning the tendency to be loyal to the “in-group” gets stronger. Such societies are more likely to elect authoritarian leaders and to show prejudice towards outsiders. This has been observed under past ecological threats such as resource scarcity and disease outbreaks. Under most climate change scenarios, we expect these threats, in particular extreme weather events and food insecurity, to only get worse. The same goes for the coronavirus pandemic. While many hope such outbreaks can lead to a better world, this pandemic appears to have done exactly the opposite.

This enhanced loyalty to one’s local tribe is a defence mechanism that helped past human groups pull together and overcome hardship. But it is not beneficial in a globalised world, where ecological issues and our economies transcend national boundaries. In response to global issues, becoming bigoted, and xenophobic and reducing cooperation with each other will only make the impact on our own nation worse as seen in Corona stricken-Sri Lanka. Making matters worse, the State building in Sri Lanka has been riddled with paradoxes. The curious notion of numerically dominant ethnic group, Sinhala manifesting a “minority complex” or anxieties about minority groups, Tamil and Muslims, has been evident in the rise of State sanctioned ultra- nationalism not just during the 19th and the 20th centuries, but also in this decade of the 21st century too. In this context, many canards, misconceptions and fake news are being circulated about the minority people among the majority population, which also affects the thinking patterns of those young minds, designed to take over the leadership of the Nation in the not too distant future.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said it eloquently in his “I Have a Dream” speech, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.” But we have heard similar sentiments even in our country through the ages, by one national or intellectual leader to another. The belief that our children’s generation will be less racist gets repeated by teachers, parents, politicians and activists. And understandably so. Much of our culture is predicated on the idea that we can create a better future for our progeny, instilling in them values that we as a nation have often failed to uphold.

However, are the new generation less racist than their parents or grandparents? Sadly, present day IT savvy kids, with most of their time being spent on social media, don’t give us any reason to believe that the new generation of leaders will naturally or inevitably hold more open-minded and tolerant viewpoints on race or religious co-existence than previous generations. Any observer about the developments and biased media coverages specially in Post-war Sri Lanka, will vouch that warped beliefs based on racial superiority, xenophobia and hate towards the ‘Other’ are being promoted both consciously or unconsciously in our society, and families and being passed from generation to generation. Thus, there is scepticism about racism fading away when old bigots die? Thus, dismantling racism therefore will require more than just passive hope.

Looking at the picture as a whole, unfortunately there appears to be far too much evidence of politicians only looking ahead as far as the next election, rather than thinking about the next generation. Be it as it may, when politicians fail to look beyond the next election, they are neglecting the rights and future of the next generation. Thus, if they are a generation apart, this is less to do with apathy, and more to do with their well-orchestrated strategy to meet ulterior political ambitions in Sri Lanka. The Media too is in hand in gloves with those in the government in promoting a warped disjointed culture which does not augurs well with the much needed nation building exercise, which will be both inclusive and also conducive to the well-being of the younger generation who will take over the mantles of leadership in the future.

According to a Report ‘Next Generation Sri Lanka’ by British Council Sri Lanka(2019), ‘Most Sri Lankan youth feel cultural and religious biases have been taught to the younger generation by the older generation, and most young people also see themselves and their generation as different from the older generation. However, an overwhelming number of youth still identify parents as the most influential adults, with teachers and adult relatives coming in next…. Sri Lankan youth believe the communal issues facing society were created by the older generation. Focus group participants perceive cultural and religious biases as having been taught to the younger generation by the older generation.

 

‘They see themselves as different to previous generations, whom they characterise as holding cultural and religious biases, and are willing to play an active role in their own communities – if they had improved direction and support… young Sri Lankans are ready to play an active role in the peace and reconciliation process, but need avenues to be opened up by the government, relevant ministries, policymakers and civil society. The diversity of aspirations regarding reconciliation should be factored into the reconciliation mechanisms that are currently being designed and implemented’.

‘The majority of young people stated they have a close, trusted friend from a different religion, ethnic group and/or from a different part of the country, there remain many who are not familiar with the cultures of different ethnic and religious groups, due to language difference and segregated education systems’. ‘Eighty-five per cent of young Sri Lankans think their generation is ready to play an active role in peace and reconciliation, but they don’t yet know how to fit into the current process. .. Looking ahead, nearly three-quarters of young Sri Lankans, both male and female, do not believe the country is heading in the right direction’.

‘They identify a number of problems for themselves: the inability to complete education due to economic hardships, unemployment, discrimination in the government job sector, the high cost of higher education, and corruption in public institutions, as well as poor governance and political instability’. The Report says ‘Need to enable the voices of Sri Lankan youth from all communities to be heard within the wider society… [and] ultimately contribute to policies that address their needs’.

In a day and age where teens are sending Snapchats instead of passing handwritten notes and “selfie” has become a regular part of our vocabulary, there’s no denying that social media is impacting the way teenagers view themselves. It has been a tragedy that that apart from many benefits, social media also acts as an amplifying echo chamber for much hateful rhetoric and racist views. Even the racist mass media like Hiru and Derana are using the social media in this regard. Their racist videos are going viral among their teen audience. In the social media, the main user group are those who are young and the millennials. And it reinforces how they see the internet as a place where it’s acceptable to post comments with racially motivated language, often with the caveat that they are not racist but simply hate an ideology. It’s important to recognise that these comments on social media reflect wider attitudes that are endemic in the offline world. Social media can appear to act as a megaphone for racists, but these opinions are much more mainstream than we think. As a society we need to grapple with how these ideas have become normalised, and challenge and expose them.

It need to be recognized what is defined as ambient racism by experts, in everyday articulations on social media. Ambient racism occurs at the micro-level of Internet communication, in user comments, tweets and affective responses circulating between users. In open-networked publics such as Facebook groups, racism is connected with and produced at both the micro and the macro level. Through the constant articulation and circulation of messages between ‘ordinary’ users and racist and bigoted political actors, mundane forms of racial and racist expressions and far-right content become conflated. Social media publics facilitate a seamless flow of communication that does not distinguish between the intentional strategies of hate peddlers and the affective responses of everyday users. Their strategy builds on the idea that racist views become acceptable when mainstream discourses increasingly target minorities in various ways. Reciprocally, the increase of racist ideas from the fringe has an equivalent effect on mainstream discourses.

By taking advantage of commercial social media, hate peddlers gradually normalize previously unacceptable attitudes and utterances, and as recent research suggests, ‘radical right-wing sentiments on social media may instigate and/or facilitate violent (anti-minority) political action’ This also suggests that racist discourses on social media do not exist in a vacuum; they are manifested as part of a greater political scheming and majoritarianism. This process of brainwashing and indoctrination through the social media particularly affects and impacts upon young people. If the blind-spot is not identified and young generation not rescued from the clutches of the impending disaster of “Hate towards the ‘Other’” without delay, it will be too late to stop the sudden descent of the entire nation down the cliff and be another failed State.

It therefore behoves on government to keep a close eye on the social media, instead of playing dirty games with the rogue sections of the media to promote hate for cheap political gains. It is important for the intellectual and religious leaders to impress upon the political leadership not only to inspire action to tackle racism in the society and to support people to work together in new ways to tackle racism and create lasting solutions to racial injustice, but also to set an example to the next generation to enable them to live in a fair, just and equal society. People should be encouraged to pledge to take action too and support everyone working together on solutions we know to be effective, sharing ideas and strengthening this message. A business might pledge to work harder to ensure its employees reflect the make up of the population at all levels of the business, including the boardroom. A school or university should introduce lessons on peaceful co-existence and inclusivity in their curricula and inter faith activities as well as declare that it will take action in ensuring equality of educational experience for its minority students. Voluntary sector organisations could pledge to highlight how its work reduces racial inequality. And the government too should be compelled to put into action what were proposed in the constitution and laws to ensure inclusivity and pledge in a similar manner in respect of government jobs too. There is also a huge responsibility cast on the majority community as well and see through the vote winning short term tactics of political leaders. Otherwise this polarizing strategy will eventually affect the majority too.

Yes! as A. Sivanandan, British Sri Lankan Tamil novelist, activist and writer, emeritus director of the Institute of Race Relations UK explaining the roots of ethnic cleansing in Sri Lanka in a speech to ‘Marxism 2009’ echoed, ‘What, in sum, we are faced with in my country today, is a brainwashed people, brought up on lies and myths, their intelligentsia told what to think, their journalists forbidden to speak the truth on pain of death, the militarising of civil society and the silencing of all opposition. A nation bound together by the effete ties of language, race and religion has arrived at the cross-roads between parliamentary dictatorship and fascism. It is for the Sinhalese people I fear now – for if they come for me in the morning, they’ll come for you that night.’. Well! this reminds of the poem of Martin Niemöller, a German theologian and Lutheran pastor, which ended: ‘Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me’. Men build too many walls and not enough bridges and then do not see the blind-spot until it is too late! Aren’t they?

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/time-to-stem-the-rot-next-generation-growing-up-hating-the-other/

 

විනිසුරු අර්ජුන ඔබේසේකර හිස්බුල්ලාගේ පෙත්සම සලකා බැලීමෙන් ඉවත්වෙයි

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පාස්කු ඉරුදින එල්ල කෙරුණු ත්‍රස්ත ප්‍රහාර සිද්ධිය සම්බන්ධයෙන් අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන රඳවාගෙන සිටින නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා හමුවී උපදෙස් ලබා ගැනීම සඳහා ඔහුගේ නීතිඥවරුන්ට ප්‍රවේශය ලබා දෙන ලෙස අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ අධ්‍යක්ෂවරයා වෙත නියෝගයක් නිකුත් කරන්නැයි ඉල්ලා ගොනු කළ පෙත්සම සලකා බැලීමේ කටයුතුවලින් ඉවත් වන බව  අභියාචනාධිකරණයේ සභාපති විනිසුරු අර්ජුන ඔබේසේකර මහතා අද (10) විවෘත අධිකරණයට දැනුම් දුන්නේය.

හිජාස් ඉස්බුල්ලා මහතාගේ අයිතිවාසිකම් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටින නීතිඥ චලන පෙරේරා මහතා විසින් ගොනුකළ මෙම පෙත්සම අද අභියාචනාධිකරණයේ සභාපති විනිසුරු අර්ජුන ඔබේසේකර සහ සෝභිත රාජකරුණා යන මහත්වරුන්ගෙන් සමන්විත විනිසුරු මඩුල්ලක් හමුවේ කැදවිණි.

එහිදී සභාපති විනිසුරු අර්ජුන ඔබේසේකර මහතා විවෘත අධිකරණය හමුවේ සඳහන් කළේ පෞද්ගලික හේතුවක් මත තමා මෙම පෙත්සම සළකා බැලීමෙන් ඉවත්වන බවය.

ඒ අනුව මෙම පෙත්සම ලබන 14 වනදා ප්‍රියන්ත ප්‍රනාන්දු සහ සෝභිත රාජකරුණා යන මහත්වරුන්ගෙන් සමන්විත විනිසුරු මඩුල්ලක් ඉදිරියේ සලකා බැලීම සඳහා කැඳවන බව ද සභාපති විනිසුරුවරයා තීන්දු කළේය.

මේ බව දැනුම් දෙමින් පෙත්සම සම්බන්ධයෙන්  වගඋත්තර කරුවන් වෙත නොතීසි දන්වා යැවීමට  පියවර ගන්නා ලෙසද විනිසුරු මඩුල්ල පෙත්සම්කාර පාර්ශ්වයේ නීතිඥ වරුන්ට දැනුම් දෙන ලදී.


නීතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා වෙනුවෙන් ඔහුගේ නීතීඥවරයා ගොනු කළ මෙම පෙත්සමේ වගඋත්තරකරුවන් ලෙස අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ අධ්‍යක්ෂවරයා, විශේෂ විමර්ශන ඒකකයේ ස්ථානාධිපතිවරයා, නීතිපතිවරයා ඇතුළු පිරිසක් නම් කරනු ලැබ සිටිති .


පෙත්සමින් සඳහන් කර ඇත්තේ දැනට රැදවුම් භාරයේ පසුවන නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා හමුවීම සඳහා ඉකුත් සැප්තැම්බර් මාසයෙන් පසුව මේ දක්වා ඔහුගේ නීතිඥවරුන්ට අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව විසින් අවස්ථාව සලසා දී නොමැති බවය.

අත්අඩංගුවේ පසු වන හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා හමුවීම සඳහා අවස්ථාව සලසා දෙන ලෙස ඉල්ලීම් ගණනාවක් ඉදිරිපත් කළ ද ඒවා අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව විසින් ප්‍රතික්ෂේප කර තිබෙන බවද පෙත්සමේ වැඩිදුරටත් සදහන් වේ.

ඒ අනුව අත්අඩංගුවේ පසු වන නීතිඥ හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා හමුවී අවශ්‍ය උපදෙස් ලබාගැනීම සඳහා ප්‍රවේශය ලබා දෙන ලෙස වගඋත්තරකරුවන් වෙත නියෝග නිකුත් කරන ලෙසද පෙත්සම මගින් අධිකරණයෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටී.

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We will continue to struggle for justice and the right to bury our dead

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  • All they want was only to be buried adhering to all health conditions.
  • Eminent lawyers represented the petitioners and argued that the state had provided no evidence
  • We placed greater hopes in the courts. However, for reasons unknown our applications have been rejected. Now we feel dejected, let down and abandoned

 

20 civil and human rights activists have stated in connection with the recent Supreme Court judgement related to cremation of Covid-19 dead bodies. The full statement is as follows;

The faith the victims of forced cremation of COVID-19 or Covid-19 suspected dead had in the highest court in Sri Lanka has been shattered. Victims and communities are now left without recourse in Sri Lanka for the continued injustice they suffer.“We placed greater hopes in the courts. However, for reasons unknown our applications have been rejected. Now we feel dejected, let down and abandoned”, said a son of one of the victims who challenged the offensive regulation in court.


On Tuesday the country’s Supreme Court, by a majority decision refused to grant leave to proceed to the 11 applications filed by petitioners belonging to Muslim, Christian and Catholic communities challenging the Sri Lankan government’s forcible cremation policy because it violates the right to freedom of religion and belief of some faiths and that the said regulation violates the law under which the regulation has been made as the law itself permits either burial or cremation.


Several eminent lawyers represented the petitioners and argued that the state had provided no evidence that the burial of COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 dead is a danger to public health. Hence, they said the government by imposing this new restriction violated the constitutionally protected and safeguarded the rights of religious beliefs and practice for whom burial is a critical religious practice, in addition to being a fundamental right.
One of the judges had dissented probably on the basis that there were issues that required consideration. Given the sensitivities and importance of the issue, it was felt that the court could have granted leave to be heard in full or referred it to a larger bench.


Some of the petitioners said on Tuesday that the distraught families of the victims have been asking them to explores the possibilities of how they could continue to fight for justice and hence would consider all options. 
“We fully understand that due to the pandemic there is a public emergency under which certain rights can be limited including the manifestation of freedom of religion and belief. We also understand that Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims and others have all been affected by these restrictions; but in all other cases where rights are limited there is evidence of the need to do so,” said one of the petitioners against the policy on forcible cremation. It was brought to the attention that Catholics and Muslims, in deliberations have agreed to all the restrictions including with regard to gathering, handling, washing, praying and specialized mode of burying and all they want was only to be buried adhering to all health conditions.


Under international law limitations of rights such as the freedom to practice one’s religion has to be prescribed by law and the limitation must be necessary and proportionate.
Restrictions and limitations on religious gatherings, congregational prayers and mass celebrations of religious festivals can be necessitated because social distancing is vital to reduce the spread of the virus and are being adhered to and cooperated voluntarily.


“Over and over again we have asked the government to give us the reasoning for this policy and they have failed to provide any evidence that burial of COVID-19 dead can contribute to the spread of the virus or provide any health threat,” a son who did not consent for the cremation of his father and hence had to abandon the father’s remains said.


There have been national and international criticism of the government of Sri Lanka on its rare decision to cremate COVID-19 and COVID-19 suspected dead, despite clear guidelines by the World Health Organisation explaining that the burial of such victims poses no danger to public health. The Resident Coordinator of the United Nations office in Sri Lanka, United Nations special experts and regional human rights groups have separately written to the government calling for the policy to be changed to ensure COVID-19 dead were handled with dignity and human rights of all are protected. Numerous national civil society organisations, religious groups and individual activists have also written letters and signed petitions to the government calling for a change to the policy.


Human rights groups have been warning that the ethnocentric position of the government, in the context of the state’s failure to challenge hate campaigns and violence against Muslims, points to racism and discrimination targeting the country’s approximately nine per cent Muslim population.
These measures affect more than one religious group, but it is particularly terrifying Muslims for whom the burial of the dead is a non-negotiable religious practice. They feel targeted, bullied and threatened by the manner in which the government is acting on this.
As of3rd December 2020, Sri Lanka had over 25,000 cases of COVID 19, 124 deaths, of which over 50 were Muslims.


This press statement is signed by: Centre for Policy Alternative, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Law and Society Trust, Women’s Action Network, Alliance for Minorities, Affected Women’s Forum, Suriya Women’s Development Centre, Sisterhood initiative, Hashtag Generation, Rural Development Foundation, National Peace Council, Mannar Women’s Development Federation, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement, Human Elevation Organisation, Eastern Social Development Foundation, Islamic Women’s Association for Research and Empowerment, Association of the Parents and Family Members of the Disappeared, Muslim Women’s Development Trust, AalumaiWomen’s Group, Nisha Development Centre,

 

http://www.dailymirror.lk/news-features/We-will-continue-to-struggle-for-justice-and-the-right-to-bury-our-dead/131-201291

 

Does beef cause cancer?

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"Studies have indicated that hard dry fish is not associated with cancer whereas soft dry fish is associated with cancer."

Recently some prominent medical doctors in Sri Lanka claimed in electronic media that beef is a carcinogenic food which means a causative agent of cancer. We as responsible medical professionals would like to analyse this statement in the light of science and give a balanced, neutral opinion on “What causes cancer.” In this article we will be presenting a broad overview of cancer-causing foods, food habits and other lifestyle factors backed by scientific evidence.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally and is second only to cardiovascular diseases. It was responsible for 9.6 million deaths in 2018. More than two thirds of these deaths occurred in low and 
middle-income countries.


Five leading cancers in the world are lung, breast, colorectal, prostate and skin cancer. In 2014 the commonest cancer in Sri Lanka was breast cancer followed by oral, thyroid, bowel (colorectal) and oesophageal (food pipe) cancer. Generally, the incidence of cancer increases with age. Different cancers affect males and females differently. For instance, the breast cancer affects females mostly whereas most sufferers of lung cancer are males.


Tobacco smoking has been implicated in 17 different cancers. In addition to that there is limited evidence of causing breast cancer and leukaemia in smoker’s children. Even second-hand smoking (that is, people who passively inhale the air contaminated with tobacco smoke) is a well-recognised cause of lung cancer. 
Consumption of alcoholic beverages is associated with breast (female), colorectal, laryngeal, liver, oesophageal, oral and pharyngeal cancers. According to WHO data, on average a Sri Lankan male (≥15 years of age) consumes 18.9 litres of alcohol and a female consumes 6.7 litres of alcohol per year. These figures have steadily increased over the past 40 years.


Meat is an important source of protein, some vitamins (e.g. vitamin A and B) and minerals (e.g. zinc, iron) . Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. They are the building blocks of life. Out of 28 amino acids found in humans, 9 cannot be synthesised in our body. They are known as essential amino acids. Meat is an important source of essential amino acids. Therefore, they should be provided with diet. (11) (12)
According to IARC, the consumption of red meat is classified as “Probably carcinogenic to humans”. This means that unprocessed red meat is not a confirmed causative factor of cancer. Red meat refers to all types of mammalian muscle meat and this includes beef, lamb and pork. Chicken, turkey, duck, goose and rabbit do not fall under the category of red meat. The processed meat like; sausages, salami, ham and bacon are categorised as “carcinogenic to humans” (category 1), i.e., proven to cause cancer, but it is dependent on quantity eaten.


The other important factor to consider is the amount of red meat or processed meat consumed. It appears that higher amount of their intake is associated with cancer. It is clearly shown that the increased intake of fruits and vegetables protects against cancer. There is conflicting reports regarding the role of fish and sea food consumption in cancer prevention and causation. There is evidence of Cantonese-style salted fish (dry fish/ ‘Karawala’) causing nasopharyngeal cancer specially if consumed during young ages. Studies have indicated that hard dry fish is not associated with cancer whereas soft dry fish is associated with cancer. In summary, processed meat has been shown to be definitely a cancer-causing food while red meat is categorised as potentially carcinogenic, but only if consumed in large quantities. Preserved foods, saturated/animal fats, cholesterol, high sugar foods, spicy foods and refined carbohydrates have a positive association with bowel cancer. Vegetables and fruits play a protective role against bowel cancer.


Trans-fat is an important cancer-causing agent. Many routinely consumed food items have high concentration of trans-fat. Frying with coconut oil is less likely to produce trans-fat, but when it is re-used, the production of transfat will increase. Routine physical activity is linked to reduced incidence of many types of common cancers. Additionally, it reduces the risk of death among patients with breast and bowel cancer. Long-term, uncontrolled diabetes is a risk factor for cancers. Obesity is also proven to be a risk factor for cancer.


The causal relationship with processed meat or red meat and bowel cancer should be understood in the correct context. Moreover, there are many other foods and lifestyle factors which can lead to cancer. Therefore, it is important to strike a balance between necessity and harm when making food choices and following different lifestyles. Making healthy lifestyle changes is the most effective way to reduce cancer risk. These include regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, avoiding smoking, and not drinking too much alcohol.

Dr Kamal Naser, MBBS (Jaffna), MD (Colombo), FRCP(Lond), FRCP(Glasg), FACE Consultant Physician, Sherwood Forest NHS Hospitals Trust, UK
Dr Suhail Abdul Wahab MBBS (Peradeniya), MRCP(UK), Sherwood Forest NHS Hospitals Trust, UK)

 


http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/Does-beef-cause-cancer/172-201446

 

   

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