8 June, 2023


Blessed Are Those Who Seek Justice 

By Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka

Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

I do not know Hejaaz Hizbullah. I have come to know of him from the several accounts published in the media over the past few months, by a classmate, a contemporary and colleague, a student and a brother. I do not know what pain of mind he must feel, isolated in a cell, without being charged, but accused of a heinous crime by the authorities and judged variously in the careless courts of public opinion. But I do feel pained, for him, for us on this island. This cannot be our lot, in this age, at this time. We cannot settle for such a future, for any of us. 

I do not know why he chose to become a lawyer. From what I hear, he was extremely good at his job, ending up a Supreme Court lawyer at a young age. I do know what it is to want to study law, because that was my dream too, and qualified to do so at university entrance, although my life took a different turn. Despite all the failures, delays and shortcomings of the legal system, young people still aspire to practice law, and people still want to believe in the justice system, and hope against hope that it broadly works. 

I do not know of his alleged association with the perpetrators of the Easter bombings. I do know that after that fateful day in April 2019, things were never the same for many people. I was in Moscow, but distance didn’t make much difference. Russians cried, and young people came in groups to place flowers outside the Embassy, hanging around the Buddha statue at the front of the Embassy in disbelief, lit candles, prayed. Eight purple-robed Bishops conducted the service we requested for the victims at the Catholic Cathedral in Moscow, and unprecedentedly, the Church was filled with the diplomatic corps.

I do not know what motivated him to be an activist who helped people with various issues. I do know that his schoolmates and colleagues and students were impressed by his sincerity and dedication, because he seemed to have shown early signs that he cared about people. Those who knew him seem to be stunned that he should be involved in anything as mindlessly evil and brutal as a massacre of worshippers. 

I do not know why the suicide-bombers chose Catholic worshippers in church on Easter, to carry out their carnage. I do know that there was no history of animosity, conflict or any kind of ill-feeling between Muslims and Christians of any denomination, on this island, which had seen plenty of violence of many sorts, including ethnic and religious, in its long history. As such, this was a shock and all the explanations and speculations by the confused don’t really make sense. 

I do not know who his clients were as a lawyer. I do know that lawyers defend all sorts of criminals, because they are considered innocent until proven guilty. This is the only guarantee that we as citizens have of getting representation in a court of law, if by some unfortunate turn of fate one is accused of some crime one did not commit. It is a lawyer who can ensure the protection of the law to those unfamiliar with the legal arguments, as most of us are, and justice for the innocent.

I do not know why the authorities haven’t charged him. I do know that what he is accused of is to do with an involvement in a crime so heinous that in this country, it has been paralleled only by the Tigers killing worshippers at Anuradhapura (1985) and Kattankudy (1990). There is something particularly sickening in killing worshippers at a shrine, whatever the cause that set the killers on a path of violence. 

I do not know how many others are in the same plight, incarcerated without adequate evidence for the purported crime, not properly charged, bewildered at their sudden removal away from their families, from everyday life, and not knowing how long the nightmare would last. I do know, only second hand, the feeling of utter horror and despair of such a fate as the pages of a novel by Kafka came alive for me.

I do not know how long it will take to bring justice to the innocent victims of the Easter bombings. I do know that Malcom Cardinal Ranjith has been urging it upon the government; this one, and the previous one.  It is his flock that faced the horror of seeing their loved ones blown to pieces, the blood-splattered image of the risen Christ against the backdrop of utter destruction inside the Kochchikade Church becoming the unforgettable symbol globally, of that utterly inexplicable avalanche of terror upon Easter worshippers. 

I do not know if the authorities will ever be able to bring closure to those who are left behind, those who suffer every day, the loss of their loved ones. The problem with suicide-bombers is also that some of the evidence dies with them. I do know that there were many mistakes made in failing to prevent such a shocking event, that governments changed as the voters gave their verdict. 

I do not know if the inquiries will yield proper results or if it’s even possible. I do know that even if nothing comes of the inquiries anytime soon, there is something that a government can do, so as not to make things worse for the people. And that is not to pour vinegar on the wound. Every day that an innocent person suffers in prison without charge while the authorities scramble for evidence, and as days turn into months, the collective wounds of those left behind looking for answers, are renewed and their insecurities are redoubled. It begins to look like someone is being made a scapegoat because there is not much else the authorities can do.  

I do not know if anyone’s listening. But I do know that people are speaking. They want peace. They want to know they are safe. They want to know that the right people are punished, but that there are no more innocent victims of a tragedy already too horrific to forget. Nobody asks for a show trial to appease the calls for Justice, where yet another innocent life, and those of his family are ruined. That is not Justice for the victims of the Easter bombings. But for the grace of God, it may well have been their lives, their families. People want to know that the authorities can be trusted to release those who may be innocent, if no evidence is available to prove the contrary. They, “would not condemn the innocent”.  

Blessed are those who are merciful.

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Latest comments

  • 4

    Justice is an alien concept for the savage people who belong to a period before the stone age.

  • 7

    Who cares about the fact that a man’s life has been destroyed, by racists, who used him as a political tool, to win elections? Just like the Muslim doctor, his good reputation, livelihood, and his family, are destroyed, on baseless fake news. If the Rajapaksa’s followed our laws, he should be informed about what crimes he has committed, allowed access to his lawyers, and given his day in our courts, giving him his judicial rights. He is simply languishing in our wonderful jails, in limbo. Spreading fake news about why he was arrested does not justify this vile act.
    No wonder the international committees abroad are outraged.

    What have we become? It seems an authoritarian government is throwing people who may have done nothing to warrant being arrested, in jail. Is this how it is going to be now that the Rajapaksa’s have power?

  • 2

    Thero’s double faced(Caterpillar & Butterfly) comics.

    He fools everybody, but King.

    (So now, I do not know if Thero’s entire family is forced to vacate Moscow? That is sad, man!)

  • 3

    If you do not know anything , why write at all !

    • 2

      deepthi silva

      “If you do not know anything , why write at all !”

      It appears if wrote everything you know it would not take more than five lines. Please give it a try.

  • 1

    Here what the Russian Justice is:
    “The German government has said Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a chemical nerve agent while in Russia.
    In a statement on Wednesday, two weeks after Navalny suddenly fell ill during a flight in Russia, the German government said a special military laboratory carried out a toxicological test on the Kremlin’s critic, who is undergoing treatment at a Berlin hospital.
    The statement said tests confirmed the nerve agent used comes from the Novichok family — the type of nerve agent that was used in the poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the U.K. two and a half years ago.
    “Thereby the unequivocal evidence of a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group was detected,” the statement said.
    “It is a startling event that Alexei Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” the statement added.
    “The federal government condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms. The Russian government is urged to provide an explanation on the incident.” “

    – NBC News

  • 5

    The Reason given by the Authorities for Arresting him is that he was a Member of the Trust that was funding/managing the Madrasah in Puttalam where Zahran was allegedly actively involved in preaching his Violent message. A friend told me that he knows of another person who was also a member of the same Trust who has also been arrested.around the same time as Hisbollah. May be All members of the Trust are similarly incarcerated.

    Does it take such a LONG Time for the Authorities to Establish any connection between the Trustees and what was allegedly happening in the Madrasah? Surely, that should be simple enough?

    On the other hand, those in the Security Establishment who have been given precise details of the Attack including Locations and Names of Attackers but who did NOTHING to STOP the Attacks are walking free along with the Highest in the land who were Responsible for providing Security for the people.

    Sri Lanka, proving its Reputation as a Land like No Other.

  • 1

    It is a sad, very sad story! Justice in Sri Lanka?

  • 3

    I just learnt that Pillayan, the convicted murderer and LTTE terrorist, has been brought to Colombo today from the Batticaloa Prison, under heavy Security to give evidence before the Presidential Commission on the Easter Attacks. Pillayan, was taken into custody in October 2015 on a Murder Charge and has been in Jail since.

    Can he be considered privy to any kind of information on the Easter Attack when he was in Jail when the Attack took place and also during preparation for the Attack when Zahran’s NTJ group itself was formed in 2016 when Pillayan was in Jail?

    Just imagine the enormous trouble and Cost involved to provide Security and Transport to Pillayan from the East Coast to the West Coast and Back, when it is quite clear that he can provide hardly any credible information on the Easter Attack. Wither Sri Lanka.

  • 3

    Any voice for justice for those wrongly imprisoned should be encouraged. But where were these voices when the same was happening to countless innocent Tamils earlier?

    When J.S. Tissainayagam was jailed for the flimsiest of reasons, the author’s husband, once considered a friend of JST, was SL’s UN ambassador in Geneva, and came up with odious justifications for it and then said that JST could challenge it in the SL Supreme Court. Has it ever worked out that way when there is a PTA that gives arbitrary power for the GoSL to hold anyone without a trial or evidence? Chameleons should be exposed for what they are.

    • 2

      “When J.S. Tissainayagam was jailed for the flimsiest of reasons, the author’s husband, once considered a friend of JST, was SL’s UN ambassador in Geneva, and came up with odious justifications for it “
      Well, Agnos, you have to admit that whoever employs Dr. DJ gets their money’s worth.
      I am sure that this was written by Dr.DJ himself. He’s the bad cop and Sanja is the good one.

  • 0

    Blessed Are Those Who Seek Justice

    The point here is Thero is blessing, knowingly or inadvertently, his arch enemies, “who seeks justice”.
    Ranil & JR are as much for me as with Thero. I know who Ranil is, without any doubt, but I respect his simplicity in life an his political etiquette.
    I am sure even by mistake,Thero would not have blessed Ranil, who fought for justice for Old King in UNHRC, with Thero.

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