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This is 2009: Whither Sri Lanka?



And now comes a new danger that challenges the independence of the judiciary. A new organization given rise from the rotten heaps of racial and religious bigotry has had the audacity to state that lawyers who appear for suspected terrorists or those arrested on charges of terror activities are traitors to the country.

by Vinoli Samarakoon, Ram Sivanesan and Jacinta Cruz

( January 01, Colombo ,Sri Lanka Guardian) Fifty years ago, a foolish and insensitive Government of Sri Lanka opted to recognize the status of the majority community of Sri Lanka as the primary race that should be the principal player; all others were treated secondary and even made to feel unwelcome to be considered Sri Lankans. This proved to be an enormous foul-up, and racial and religious bigots began to support this stand even dwelling deep into dubious historical contentions to claim that anyone other than a Sinhalese did not belong to Sri Lanka unless of course they were willing to accept a secondary status.

A nightmare consequence to this ill-determined racist measure is that Sri Lanka is now poised on the brink of anarchic bedlam. All that the country has had for five decades were racial violence and bloodshed, one of them a near-genocidal one, utter mess in respect of mounting infrastructures essential for economic development, large scale overseas migration of experts and professionals, thousands of young Sri Lankan maids seeking slave employment under horrendous conditions in the Middle East, rampant corruption and saturation of the country with arms, and nurturing a terror force considered the most brutal in the whole world.

As a new year dawns there seem no end to this hideous and horrible state of affairs and the country continues to be held in ransom by racial and religious extremism and terrorism and that in a country where Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam prevail.

On the heels of this awesome reality, we note another destructive force that has begun to drive its roots in the country. For some years now journalists have been game to these evil forces. Sri Lanka probably has earned the infamous reputation as the country that has the largest number of journalists killed in proportion to its population. Just about every diverse extremist and terror organization has the blood of journalists in their hands. The record is absolutely terrifying and dreadful.

And now comes a new danger that challenges the independence of the judiciary. A new organization given rise from the rotten heaps of racial and religious bigotry has had the audacity to state that lawyers who appear for suspected terrorists or those arrested on charges of terror activities are traitors to the country.

Unfortunately, this catchphrase clarion call or whatever one may call this deadly propaganda has been published in some official websites which alone challenges the integrity of the Government of Sri Lanka.

The names of some lawyers who have appeared for people hauled up before courts have been published which virtually amounts to a sentence of death on these officials of the court by terror squads with which Sri Lanka has been familiar for five decades now.

It is the much respected tradition of civilized countries that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Even when found guilty, he or she enjoys the privilege to appeal against such an order to a higher court and can go up to the highest court in the country, the Supreme Court. A mere arrest or charge does not condemn a person as guilty. Furthermore anyone charged with a crime has the right to counsel who is considered an official of the court.

A counsel not only represents the rights of a person charged but also helps the court to arrive at a decision to ensure no person is denied a fair trial. If these fundamentals are to be overlooked and some wild gangs are intent on meting out judgments and if this is being tolerated, then Sri Lanka has surely slipped into anarchy.

While there are certain forces in Sri Lanka who still remain hooked to bigotry, they are also receiving a great deal of encouragement from the Sri Lankan Diaspora who while having it good in their new homelands, are also encouraging the dark forces in their motherland unable and unwilling to understand that everyone who lives in Sri Lanka as a citizen is a Sri Lankan and is entitled to all citizenship rights and privileges without any discrimination whatsoever.

Those who have given up Sri Lankan citizenship should not nurture or promote racial or religious biases of any kind in Sri Lanka.

We are at the threshold of another year and it is hoped the Government of Sri Lanka will take a statesmanship stand and bring this ethnic crisis to an end by recognizing the rights of every citizen as fundamental to the racial and religious unity of this country.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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