26 May, 2019

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“All Are equal But Some Are More Equal Than Others” In Sri Lanka (With Apologies To George Orwell)

By Mohamed Harees –

Lukman Harees

‘The bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law and that means we have to have an independent judiciary, judges who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing’– Caroline Kennedy (US)

While following the many developments in this so-called Dharmadweepa in the administration of justice, my mind races towards the well –known novella by George Orwell- which although an ostensibly a fairy story of farm animals, was really a thinly veiled allegory for the (Trotsky/Stalin) Soviet Union. The animals are led by a pair of pigs, Snowball (Trotsky) and Napoleon (Stalin), who lead a rebellion against the human owner of the farm. The animals successfully drive him out and establish Animal Farm. They agree to adopt the Seven Commandments of Animalism as their constitution. The most important of these is the last commandment: “All animals are equal.”

Napoleon runs Snowball off the farm and gives himself full leadership. He gradually violates more and more of the commandments as his behaviour becomes increasing like that of their previous human master. The climax comes years later when the animals spot Napoleon walking on his hind legs while carrying a whip (violations of the commandments) and discover that all the commandments have been reduced to simply “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. Logically, this quote is nonsensical. To be equal means to be exactly the same, so there cannot be more or less equal. You are either equal or unequal. What it however symbolizes is the open admission that the ideals of social justice and equality that inspired the animal’s revolution will never come to fruition.

This quote aptly captures the drama revolving round Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thero’s (GST) jail sentence and subsequently letting him off on bail. It was not just a comical stroke of justice in this fast failing state of Sri Lanka, but also sends  dangerous signals to the country that rogues and thugs in politics and saffron robes will and can continue to act with impunity and enjoy immunity from the process of justice; all they need is state patronage and some pressure from those in the saffron class- a powerful class which has been parading in the corridors of power ever since SWRD was voted into office (although lessons are not learnt when SWRD himself fell a victim to a bullet by rogues members of that same class!). This saga indeed lends truth to what George Orwell showed in this famous novel. Yes! “All Are equal but some  are more equal than others” in fairy tale Sri Lanka.

This hardline rogue monk  was incidentally found guilty of having threatened the woman activist Sandya Ekneligoda, who was seeking justice for her husband who mysteriously disappeared during MR time. In 2016, GST interrupted a court hearing over the abduction of this journalist, Prageeth Ekneligoda, in which military intelligence officials were accused. He shouted at the judge and lawyers because the military officials had not been allowed bail, and threatened Ekneligoda’s wife in filthy language. So, the Magistrate Udesh Ranathunga recently sentenced the monk to two terms of six months in jail, to be served concurrently, as well as a fine of 1,500 rupees, and a payment of 50,000 rupees as compensation to his wife Sandya. GST also faces a separate contempt of court case over the same incident. When, he was put behind bars, there were wide discourses all over the country initiated by the top hierarchy in the various chapters about the permissibility of disrobing this monk in jail and getting him to don a jumper. This concern was interestingly not shown when many other rogue Bikkhus were arrested and jailed for numerous offences. 

When the hornet’s nest was disturbed after the sentence was handed over, Sandya  became a target of hate and harassment in both the social media and on the ground. As per her own interviews, she said that she has not done any injustice to or insulted either the concerned monk or any of the protesting monks; rather she is being verbally abused when she is merely seeking justice long overdue for her husband. She said that this sentencing gave a strong signal to those attempting to intimidate those particularly  women who seek redress from the temple of justice to put the social wrongs, right. Precisely why Amnesty International said that the verdict was a victory for human rights defenders in Sri Lanka. “This is an important verdict for all people who fight for human rights in Sri Lanka. A clear message has gone out to those who seek to intimidate, threaten and silence people seeking justice,” said Omar Waraich, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South Asia. Within a week, however , the rogue monk GST was released on bail pending appeal, although not surprising given the intense ‘behind the curtain’ manoeuvres of many opt government politicos! I wonder what Sandya Ekneligoda will feel and what Amnesty International will have to say now about their earlier talk of victory to human rights defenders in Sri Lanka as a result of the court’s sentencing GST to Jail! 

This punishment was nothing to do with his highly poisonous  well-orchestrated hate campaign against the Muslims ever since MR assumed his role as the champion of the Sinhala Buddhism after SL forces defeated the Tigers in 2009. As the world knows, GST was the architect of the infamous Aluthgama mini1983 style anti Muslim communal violence –a culmination during the MR regime. GST has since faced accusations in cases regarding anti-Muslim violence, hate speech, and defaming the Koran, the Muslim holy book. The BBS, with proven State patronage led by him , has been alleged by Muslims and some government ministers to have stirred up violence against Muslims and Christians. In 2014, GST signed a pact with Myanmar’s Ashin Wirathu, who once called himself “the Burmese bin Laden” to form a broad alliance. It was a mockery of justice that this rogue monk GST was given many concessions to have had the privilege of absconding and then released many times within a day for many charges against him on account of  his anti-Muslim tirade. This is a separate story but still goes to prove what George Orwell referred in his novel about equality. GST and his likes are above the law on the streets, courts or anywhere else. 

It was true that MR and his brother Gota used GST as their political pawn to woo Sinhala Buddhist votes and woefully failed as GST became their liability at the 2015 elections. In a post-election interview, MR said that BBS and GST were part of Western conspiracies. Maithree during the Presidential campaign tweeted on 27th Nov.2014 ‘Let BBS go to anywhere they like . We don’t care. We did not even talk to them as their decisions are not important to us’. The Yahapalana gang even promised to bring these perpetrators of hate to justice as part of their promise to restore law and order. The people believed them and gave them power. Yet they failed the masses in a big way . What happened subsequently was history despite few cosmetic stroke plays to deceive the masses. Today, GST has re-emerged as a significant political pawn once again. GST is seen in high places with Maithree taking him even as part of his official delegation for instance to Japan. Many official back door initiatives were taken to save him from getting ‘Achchuwa’ treatment  from the courts both when anti-Muslim charges were taken up  and also in this Sandya abuse case, by bringing unwarranted pressure on the judges to go soft on GST. Recently, Duminda Dissanayake, Maithree’s right hand man visited GST in prison, and talked to the Press. He boasted of close connections with the rogue monk for over a long time and said that intense activity is going on behind the scene to get GST out on bail. Even Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha confirmed this at a press briefing. The result is bail pending appeal. This happened in the case of Lalith Weeratunge too. Why this special interest for GST by this Maithri and his Yahapalana government, except to use him again as a political pawn!   

Yes! There is mockery of justice in Sri Lanka. The public feel very strongly that all are equal; but some are more equal than others. Those at the bottom rungs of society feel the process of justice which are harshly applied when they were in the wrong, even for minor offences like stealing a mango or a coconut, is so lenient on the powerful and the rich. Even arrests of politicians  and jail sentences meted out to them.have become an entertainment and a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. They are arrested, put behind bars as a show and then released after a brief stay in the prison hospital. Many politicians suffer from ‘Mama Danne Nehe’ or ‘Mata Matkaka Nehe’ syndrome like we saw particularly during the recent Aloysius scandal concerning over 118 MPS. They are still roaming free relating fairy tales. Gotabaya Rajapaksa too continue to enjoy immunity from getting arrested for many offenses while the small man wonders whether he will get similar treatment for such offences . But, then getting redress from courts is not cheap; beyond the purse of the ordinary man!

A better future for Sri Lanka depends on a stable democracy supported by an expanding economy. This aim requires an independent judiciary, a free media and a constitutional framework that commands confidence. Underpinning all this must be a respect for the rule of law and its application to all aspects of life and society in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka is nowhere close to achieving this aim.  Human rights defenders (HRDs) and those with dissenting voices are however intimidated and subjected to harassment like in the case of Sandya and the impunity of rogue monks like GST are being glorified by those in the hierarchy for purposes of political expediency. On the other hand, there is no  visible progress on seeking or achieving a political settlement with the minority Tamil community. There also remains concerns over the situation in the predominantly Tamil and Muslim areas in the north and east. Muslims are feeling alienated in the land of their birth. Rule of law is thus biased towards the powerful and the influential while those at the grass-root levels are fast losing hope in judicial justice and social justice, promised to them by their constitution and UDHR ideals. 

Sri Lanka’s poor human rights situation is clearly being exacerbated by the weakness of state institutions and the judicial system. The country’s judiciary is failing to protect constitutional and human rights. Rather than assuaging conflict, the courts have corroded the rule of law and even worsened ethnic tensions. Rather than constraining militarisation and protecting minority rights, a politicised bench with allegations of corruptions against sections of the Judiciary seem to have entrenched favoured allies, while punishing foes. Whistle blowers like Sugadhika Fernando types are being intimidated by the powerful BASL mafia to shut up while Ranjan Ramanayakes are being gagged into silence who are exposing Judicial / Political link ups to allow politically powerful to escape punishment. 

As International Commission of Jurists in 2012 reported  Sri Lanka is facing a crisis of impunity. It is increasingly difficult, in fact nearly impossible, for people who have suffered serious violations of their human rights to receive justice and accountability. Victims and survivors do not receive redress, and perpetrators are not brought to justice. The absence of justice removes an important deterrent to future perpetrators. This situation constitutes a serious breach of Sri Lanka’s international obligation to protect and promote human rights. The failure by public authorities, whether due to legal obstacles or lack of political will, to fulfil that international obligation and bring perpetrators of human rights violations to account, is the definition of impunity’.

It has become a cliché to speak of a ‘culture of impunity’ but the phrase is entirely apt in describing the situation in Sri Lanka, where impunity has over the years become institutionalized and systematized: mechanisms to hold state actors to account for their actions have been eroded; checks on the arbitrary use of power have been diluted, if not dissolved; institutions to protect the independence of the judiciary have been eviscerated; the Attorney-General has become politicized; and political forces have continually sought to influence and interfere with the judiciary. Blatant disregard for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary has crippled the justice system, leaving victims with little or no prospect of remedies or reparations for serious human rights violations’. This quote aptly applies to Sri Lanka with more relevance even today!

It thus falls on the State to guarantee judicial independence and it is the duty of all governmental and other institutions to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary. The judiciary as well as individual judges must not be subordinate to the other public powers, including the political branches of government. The judiciary must be kept independent of the executive and the legislature. Judicial institutions must be allowed to function independently, free from interference, intimidation, threats or violence. Independence of the judiciary is essential in maintaining the rule of law and the notion of a fair trial. Public activism too is equally important that all branches – legislature, executive and judiciary acts to preserve public confidence on democracy and its’ stated ideals. On the other hand, Judges must also realize that the people rely on courts to protect their access to justice and to protect their legal rights. For the sake of the people, then, judicial independence must always be coupled with the second stated measure–accountability. Otherwise, it will be a case of ‘operation successful; patient died’ situation for the masses waiting to enjoy the fruits of democracy. 

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Latest comments

  • 5
    2

    This is called saffronrobephobia

    • 6
      1

      “saffronrobephobia”

      Sure! ………… if history is any guide, in Lanka, the Saffron-peril is to be feared not benignly but greatly ………..It’s role in the destruction of the country is immeasurable.

      Whatever perceived good/benefit vastly outweighs the real/actual harm to the country/society. ………….. Just look around and see if you can ……….

      Yes, and how many times must a man look up. Before he can see the sky?

      • 5
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        The topic of the article probably refers to Muslims in tis country. They now outnumber others in cabinet, legal profession, medicine and of course middle man buisness.

        Iewish Putta (NF) in the meantime rides on the back of his Muslim cousins to spread hatred against Buddhist civilisation. Small dicked freak.

        • 3
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          Dynasti

          So, another new handle eh? …….. Are you the guy who writes under a girl’s name? :))

          I know who you are ……. you got savaged in a tussle with me somewhere else …….. you are still smarting …….. can’t show your face under your usual handle, uh? :))

          Man, you are one insecure dude ………it just shows; you had to just bring out your girlie little bit!

          Pal hide your inadequacies ………. no need to disclose it publicly to all the world :))))

          I just love to observe how Lankans’ minds work.

          You guys make my day! …… Free entertainment. :))

          • 1
            1

            True Nimal.

            These buggers always track your web of pseudonyms and hint on your right, disgraced identity and subversive ideas. Where do they get their IT skills? From Mossad?

            The remarks on small appendage probably comes from angry Baddegama Winter cousins.

            Do they also make your day and free entertainment?

            • 2
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              Hey buddy

              Now you come under another handle and try to hint at your nonexistent IT skills :)) Ha ha ha so, Mossad, eh?

              Go fly a kite pal ………. People will write what they want to write …….. little pipsqueaks like you with a chip on their shoulder is not going to shut anyone up.

              Man, you’re are so pathetic …….. you bore me to death

              Have a nice day. :))

      • 2
        2

        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

      • 4
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        Why cannot we redo the French Revolution.
        Down with the Safron Robes, use them for our food,.

  • 2
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    Lukman Harees quotes Caroline Kennedy (US) ~ “The bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law and that means we have to have an independent judiciary, judges who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing”.
    Caroline should know that ‘independent’ judges cannot uphold this ‘rule of law’. Equally important is ‘independent’ prosecution. We have again and again and again watched US Police shooting blacks and end up with hung jury. After a few hung juries, the cases are aborted. The monotonous repetitions have hardly dented prosecution manipulation.
    .
    How did her uncle Ted get out of the Chappaquiddick incident?
    Caroline conveniently forgets Mary Jo Kopechne.

    • 0
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      You have no idea of who that graceful angel woman called Caroline Kennedy is. You have no sense of difference between when White-Back jury go hung and Sinhala Only Jury release without hangs.

      GG Ponnampalam and SJV(Thiruchelvam) were in the Dudley’s cabinet. So when the election came GG team said, “we were with Dudley, They were with Dudley. What did they do diffrent than us by being with Dudley? “

      Valluvar said the missed spear thrown to an elephant is proud-ful than the arrow killed the rabbit. The quality of the judgment shows the capacity of the person assessing it. When a rabbit is speeding though the bushes, even an excellent sharpshooter will find it hard to kill the rabbit, for his next meal. When a mountain like elephant stand in front and one throws a spear and misses it, even a blind would laugh at that guy. But Valluvar knows if the spear did not have brought down the elephant in one shot, what will be result is. So Valluvar respect the guy, when an elephant enters into a village and terrorizes the children, women & weak, but man pick up his spear and walk in front of it fearlessly throws on the elephant.

      Don’t be worm, which has fallen into a cesspit, but for last few years trying to adjust for that pit.

  • 2
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    The short answer to the question why some people are more equal than others is the country is ruled by tribalists who display a woeful ignorance of the functioning of modern states. In almost all civilized countries religion is separated from the state. History has taught rulers that there will be no equality if religion is part of the state. Those who profess a particular religion, in most cases the majority, tend to be treated as superior people. Sri Lanka’s constitution though it says all citizens are equal, it is not the case in practice. Buddhism has been given foremost place and in addition, guaranteed the protection of the state. This has given the likes of Galgoda Atte Gnanasara Thero to think he is superior to others. The rule of law does not apply to them. And when the President of the country takes thugs like the Thero on his official visit to Japan, the Thero is given added authority to flout the law of the land. To abuse people, threaten courts by disrupting proceedings and virtually behaving like a bull in a China shop. Someone who dons the saffron robe must behave according to rules (Vinaya) laid down by Buddha. Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter: This is called right speech. … For example, Samaññaphala Sutta states that a part of a monk’s virtue is that “he abstains from false speech. He speaks the truth, holds to the truth, is firm, reliable, no deceiver of the world.” It cannot be claimed Galgoda Atte Gnanasara followed the right speech. What is more disgusting is others in yellow robes are defending and supportive of the erring Thero.

  • 3
    13

    Nonsense and bullsh1t as usual!!!! Nothing new.
    /
    REMEMBER, SWRD fell a victim to a bullet by then colonialists. It was colonialists who were behind all the mayhem that SWRD and iron lady Sirimawo faced. JR and the then JVP were puppets of the colonialists as well.
    /
    Aluthgama, Ampara, Kandy, Ginthota, 1915 in Kandy, etc have been ignited by MUSLIMS. Sinhalese has simply defused the Muslims started fire.
    /
    Gnanasara thero should not take a break until Gnanasara theoro save Kuragala, Dewanagala, Wilpattawa, 1000 acre Muhudumaha viharaya, 15000 acre Digawapiya, Knuckles range, Wijitha pura, etc Muslim invaders.

    • 5
      2

      Nonsense stop lying. Muslims here never started anything. It was all started by Sinhalese Buddhist Fascists like you. Granted Muslims are largely opportunistic but they are not the cause of any problem, they are just reacting , it is Sinhalese Buddhists Fascists like you who are the problem. The country is full of them , quoting the Mahavamsa that is part history but mostly myths and fables, to advance the cause of Sinhalese Buddhism in the island. Do not have the intelligence to differentiate what is history and what is a myth and now creating chaos in the country.

      • 2
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        Yes ‘Rohan’. The Sinhala kings who saved from Dutch persecution and murder by providing sanctuary to ungrateful myth believing Thambi hoardes are at fault. They came to up country and took Sinhala names (like Ravi Karunanayake, Mahind Wijesinghe these days) and ate in to our society, culture and economy. Then in 1815 they abandoned the kings when Kandy was cheated and stolen by the British Jews. Then they multipliedlike rabbits and used the district basis and Z-score to invade the professions. Here we are today, Lukman and other Mans wailing of discrimination!

        • 0
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          Sangabodhi, you have so much hatred toward Thambiyas. Were you a keep of Thambiya?

    • 1
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      there had been another commotion by Muslims in Akkarapatthu in trying to encroach into Tamil areas by buying Tamil – lands. that is the muslim way. come and blame others.

      • 2
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        There is no problem when anyone irrespective of their ethnicity buy lands with their hard earned money. But when Muslims buy land with money donated by Muslim countries or appropriate lands forcibly or by providing falsified deeds, then problem occurs. Government is keeping quiet without taking action against Muslims because victims are Tamils and also arresting Tamils who are protesting against this. If they do this to Sinhalese lands and violence results, they will start blaming Sinhalese.

  • 0
    1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 1
    1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 4
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    Excellent analysis Mr Harees,except for your observation that extremist Buddhist monks have been parading in the corridors of power since S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s rule.

    In fact the Panchabala Mahavegaya in which Buddhist monks were an integral element was smashed to smithereens after SWRDB’s killing by a Buddhist monks.In the immediate aftermath monks in general led a ridiculed existence, with little political clout if ever.

    This situation continued for nearly 50 years until the presidency of the masked uneducated racist Mahinda Rajapaksa,and his cabal of uneducated supporters,when once more the Buddhist clergy was brought gradually to the forefront for obvious political reasons .It was during this chap’s rule that the BBS was born(Remember the opening of the BBS Buddhist Academy in Galle in which Gota made a highly inflammatory and well publicized speech?)Then there was the BBS led but but Rajapaksa sponsored and highly publicized visit of Burmese Racist killer Monk Wirantu to Colombo.

    By the end of Rajapaksa rule in 2015 ,the Radical Buddhist clergy which had essentially led an underground caged existence at best since September 26 1959,was back wielding heavy influence over the levers of power, and there they remain today as a deadly toxic influence of evil that threatens to destroy our beautiful land once more.

    Today the politicians don’t know wheather to hug or ignore the radical Buddhist monks like Mr Ghanasara.They are certainly dammed if they do and think they are dammed if they don’t!They simply don’t have the statesman’s ability(like Lee Quan Yew who overcame a similar situation)to rise above the situation and save Buddhism and the country.The situation is hopeless and as educated Sinhalese Buddhists we could only exclaim “Buddhu Saranai”

    • 0
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      RAJIWA: Some of you explain is here are LIES. IT says, None of the buddharakhitha or Somarama involved in SWRD killing. It is OZZI Korea who was wearinf a Women’s wig. wimala Wijewardane was not involved as she was very young in comparison to Ozzie Korea. OZZI korea had been accused, at that time, for another murder, IT is the REvenge for nationalizing the PEtroleum Stations and it was done via the CHURCH. IT is by a foreign country., USA.

    • 0
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      RAJIWA: There is some one in Bellanwila Temple. Go and ask you get all the information.

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