20 October, 2020

Blog

Due Process And Civil Liberties Or Security State?

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” –  ‘The Second Coming’, WB Yeats (1919)

When Sri Lanka was nominated as host of the Non Aligned Conference and chair of the Non Aligned Movement under Madam Bandaranaike there wasn’t a single dissenting voice within that movement or anywhere in the world. As Sri Lanka plans to host the Commonwealth summit, there are. It is highly likely that there will be a global media and civil society campaign which causes considerable embarrassment to this country and further tarnishes its name, as the summit nears. This makes it incumbent upon Sri Lanka to demonstrate that it is indeed suitable beyond a reasonable doubt, in terms of its adherence to and practice of the democratic values, virtues and spirit of the Commonwealth to chair that organization for two years. It is against this backdrop that the Azath Salley saga unfolds.

The state, or rather its hard-core and its propaganda apparatuses, has sallied forth to defend its conduct in the affair. By doing so many things stand revealed. Firstly, that the doctrine of pre-emptive hyper-securitisation has increasingly become the driving doctrine and dominant ideology of a democratic, pluralist state. Secondly that the arguments used to justify the handling of Azath Salley, reveal that the lessons of the recently ended protracted conflict have not been learned. Thirdly that those lessons which are being trotted out as deriving from the thirty years war, are completely at variance with the conclusions of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. Fourthly that the doctrine now enunciated is asymmetrical with the norms and practices of any civilised democracy, most especially those of the Commonwealth that we are gearing up to lead. Fifthly, that the arguments and doctrine now enunciated are portents of a dark and dysfunctional future.

The crucial argument of the state’s security bureaucracy is that Azath Salley issued a call to arms in the pages of a journal in Tamil Nadu. Let us take that head on. Unlike in the case of the mullah in the UK who was detained for incitement of violence, there is no incontrovertible video evidence. There is a statement which has since been contradicted. In the matter of a statement purported to have been made to a publication, a democratic state does not detain the individual for 90 days. It brings him or her in to record a statement. This is all the more so in the event of complaints made against a person. No one can be arrested in a democracy or any society in which the rule of law prevails, on the basis of either an alleged statement or a plethora of complaints. The norm is that he is requested to come down to the station for the purpose of questioning and the recording of a statement. The matter is then referred to the legal officers within the police or in the office of the attorney general who then determine whether there is a prima facie case to move to arrest and detain the individual. That’s called ‘due process’.

Let us assume that Salley did make a statement of a dangerously provocative nature. Who knew about it? Only the readers of Junior Vikatan (and I must apologise for having erroneously identified its editor as Cho Ramaswamy). Who knows about his alleged call to arms now? The whole country, all the Muslims in it, and some part of the world. Who disseminated to all corners of the country with far more efficacy than the muezzin at Friday prayers? The Sri Lankan authorities who chose to detain him for it and blare it out for all to read and hear. If not for that miscalculation, Azath Salley’s alleged call to arms would have remained in the pages of a publication known only in parts of Tamil Nadu. I mean, it isn’t like he said it on NDTV.

Beneath the logic of arresting Azath for his supposed statement to an obscure publication overseas, is another rationale. The argument seems to be that what was wrong in the past, what led to the war, is that the state was too soft; not fast and harsh enough. Evidently Prabhakaran should have been arrested for inciting violence. But Prabhakaran never made any public speeches until Sudumalai in 1987. He wasn’t inciting violence on public platforms. In fact he literally disrupted many such platforms on which Tamil nationalist politicians were campaigning. ‘Thambi’ was organising deep underground. The point I seek to make, is that it is dangerously counterproductive to confuse ‘above ground’ political activism and rhetorical militancy, with underground armed activity. The former is legitimate in a democracy.  Erroneous – even dangerously radical– ideas spouted in the public domain have to be countered by correct ideas, not repression.

A variation in the argument of the hawks, is that Tamil politicians should have been prevented from making provocative statements in decades past, and that had a policy of zero tolerance been embarked upon, there would have been no war. Now that is simplistic on several counts. The Tamil politicians were arrested and detained many times, and that didn’t prevent the armed conflict, not least because it isn’t such elements who practise armed struggle. Furthermore, anyone who pronounces on the politics of Tamil separatism must study its history and that history shows that the nationalist politicians were following the lead of and were propelled by the militant or radical youth movements from below, rather than the other way around. They were echoing the rhetoric from below and from the periphery of society. Intolerantly locking up the mainstream politicians would not have helped, and inasmuch as this was done, it only helped the radicalisation of the struggle.

Another point sought to be made by propagandists is that Salley is a mere City politico-businessman.  If so, why treat him as a major threat to national security? Why assume that a call to arms by him, if he made one, will resonate within his community at all? Why not assume that no one will give a rodent’s rear end about his rousing ‘call’? Why amplify a squeak? Why turn him into an internationally known name? Does this sound logical?

If the counterargument is that post-war peace must be preserved by a crackdown on hate speech and incitement, the obvious question arises as to why no such crackdown was launched against those who hurled vicious abuse and incited hatred against the Muslim community on public platforms and who discourse was followed – and arguably led to –acts of civic violence. Where was the vigilance, due diligence and doctrine of deterrence then? Azath Salley’s rhetorical flourish, in which he was never abusive towards the Sinhalese or Sinhala Buddhists as a community, if at all he indulged in it, came after, not before.

Must the Sri Lankan citizenry accept or acquiesce in the sacrifice, even in peacetime, of due process and civil liberties at the altar of an absolutist model of security?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    DBSJ’s Tamil Week says that his ‘sin’ was referring to the wife of the president as a Beauty Queen.
    This had been carried to the president by some persons with embellishments.

  • 0
    0

    CT I do agree there should be freedom of speech, but this guy is a waste of space. I am sure you have better articles to post.
    You will be doing a lot of people a favour: drop this loser.

    • 0
      0

      Who is waste? Morons like you are complete for the entire universe.

  • 0
    0

    Mrs B was well respected and accepted as a stateswoman around the world. All the goodwill that was built over the years is now being dissipated by this crooked regime.

    The problem with the PTA is it is in the hands of a dangerous physochopath who operates with absolute impunity. Even the President does not seem to have any control over him. Otherwise most politicians will not agree to the unjust treatment meted out to Azad Sally.

    This is just one instance whereas there are many, the disappearance of Lalith and Kugan, the attacks on the Uthayan, Jaffna University incident etc. BBS, Grease Devils? The entire system is being used to attack innocent people. The issue of security is just an excuse to attack opponents.

  • 0
    0

    Good article. GOSL IS RUN BY THE RAJAPAKSE SAMAGAMA WHO DO WHAT THEY DO BECAUSE THEY LIVE IN FEAR . THEY FEAR TAMIL NADU. THEY FEAR KERALA, THEY FEAR THE TAMILS IN THE NORTH , THEY FEAR THE MUSLIMS , THEY NOW FEAR THE INTERNATIONAL MUSLIM COUNTRIES , THEY FEAR THE USA AND CANADA ETC; THEREFORE, THE GOSL WILL RULE WITH THE MILITARY AND THE POLICE AS LONG AS THEY CAN . Only the people of SL can bring about the changes needed for a tolerant democratic government .

  • 0
    0

    THEY ALSO FEAR THE BBS .

  • 0
    0

    one of the rare articles where the pronoun ‘I’ is not used by Dayan in the usual sense that he does! maybe he will sell his book in one of the comments? :P

  • 0
    0

    Bravo DJ!!!

    Can you now get off your academic high horse and lead a street protest?

    Or are you afraid that you will suffer AS’s fate, and in your case will they lock you up for 900 not 90 days?!!

    • 0
      0

      Why me ? :))

      • 0
        0

        Why not you?

        For once we would love to see you outside the comfort zone of your literary missives and take your stand in the streets.

        That would take real cojons.

        Otherwise we too care a rodents rear end about what you write, as many other commentators are also saying the same thing, but more intelligibly!

        • 0
          0

          typo: the word is cojones!!

  • 0
    0

    Dr, Dayan,

    A translation of Azad Saaly’s interview in Junior Viketan has been published yesterday in CT. It appears the question of Muslims possibly having to take up arms is of lesser significance compared to the charges against the Rajapakse family.

    What is your take?

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 0
      0

      Dr. R.N

      I too agree with you. He has spoken about some people who pumped petrol in a gas station in US are now Ministers.

  • 0
    0

    @Love Kota, can you write your opinion instead of posting web links – CT

  • 0
    0

    HOW COULD YOU SPEAK TRUTH THESE DAYS DR. DAYAN? ANY SPECIAL REASON? BTW WHY DON’T TO FOLLOW PROF RAJIVA W WAY, I MEAN WRITING WITHOUT HURTING GOTA OR MR, BEAWARE OF WHITE VAN!!!!!

    • 0
      0

      I always stand for and speak out for what I genuinely PERCEIVE as the truth. For instance, I still don’t buy that story about genocide; 40,000 civilian casualties; intentional shelling of civilian targets etc. I certainly don’t buy the call for an international investigation. Never did. I don’t see it as the truth now either. I still defend the war and the armed forces, though I urge investigations into specific criminal acts. In short I take the same position as the LLRC. It must be noted however that while I served as Ambassador in Geneva I wrote a signed article in the Island , denouncing the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunga. I never defended or even excused by ‘ contextualising’ the Trinco 5 and ACF 17 murders. When Dr Manohar, the father of the murdered student Raghidar, spoke at the event arranged by Amnesty International in Geneva on the sidelines of the UN HRC, I was present as Ambassador and was expected to contradict or criticize him in defense of the authorities efforts at ‘investigation’, instead of which I walked up in full public view, shook his hand, and commiserated and wished him all the best in the search for justice for his son.

      • 0
        0

        Time will make you to buy the truth.

      • 0
        0

        Dr. Jayatilake, in the circumstances he got himself into, cannot do anything else in the matter of the many charges of extreme HR and War Crimes during the 5/2009. He is there in record having defended the untenable position of the regime. Forgive the metaphor – but he was a willing tool of events he knew were wrong.
        While he managed to convince himself he was a hero in Geneva and so forth now the truth is tricking out. And he, and his intellectual twin, are now told their services are no longer needed. No less a person than Sarath Fonseka, in many other words, have confirmed much that much of the allegations were true – while carefully distancing him from culpability. While being polite to Dr Manoharan is decent, better still would have been an open admission in the UNHRC his son and friends were brutally executed.

        The truth will come out sooner or later – and that must include the War Crimes of the LTTE in killing their own people too. It is India that is shielding the Rajapakses surreptitiously – for reasons of realpolitik. But India is a far freer and much larger society than ours and one cannot shut the mouths of everyone there either by coercion, threat or otherwise. The media will somehow unearth the real truth.

        Senguttuvan

      • 0
        0

        I look you as a Sinhala Nationalist rather than a honest human being. Condemning the murder of Lasantha or attending Dr. Manoharan’s sons’ speech will not give you a free credit as a genuine person or you are telling the truth. The suffering of the Tamils in the hands of Sinhala rulers and military is proven without any doubt. Are you categorically denying that none of civilians were targeted by Sinhala forces? Don’t fool us by saying that Sinhala military did not intentionally targeting Tamil civilians. If you are gentleman go and speak to those Tamils who were really affected by Sinhala forces. You or not only defending the war but also defending the lies because you are a Sinhala Nationalist. You defend the government because it is a Sinhala Government?
        Dear Dr.DJ I am not blaming you because it is well deposited in your brain that Sri Lanka belongs to only Sinhalese. This is what your historians taught you and your politicians fed you. Every Sinhala irrespective of their education, wealth, religion believes it is a Sinhala nation. You are not different. You are not prepared to accept Tamils also belongs to this island and they have the equal rights as Sinhala. That is the fundamental problem that lead to the genocide of Tamils, human right violations, and failure of all institutions including law and order and justice system.

        Why it is a genocide?

        Go back to 1958 riots against Tamils. The killing of innocent Tamils in the street of Colombo were done in front of Sri Lankan forces and they allowed that to happen and no one was brought under the justice system because the victims are Tamils and law enforcing and security forces are Sinhala only).
        Since then in every occasion (1977 riots, 1981 riots including burning of Jaffna Library, 1983 riots), the law enforcing body knows well and in most cases they are part of it.

        In other words, Tamils as a group attacked or murdered or their properties were destroyed because they are Tamils and the Sinhala as a group (Government, military, justice system) behind this and responsible for this. how do you call this. other than a genocide?

        • 0
          0

          Ajith U spot on man. Do you think Muppet dayan going to answer you. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

          • 0
            0

            J.Muthu

            You have been boringly repeating the same old mantra for years.

            Please let us now discuss genocide of my people at least for the past 2,500 years.

            “In other words, Tamils as a group attacked or murdered or their properties were destroyed because they are Tamils”

            My people have been attacked, murdered or our habitat were destroyed because we are Veddahs by both Tamils and Sinhalese in the name of development or driven by sheer greed.

            When are you going stop this genocide?

            • 0
              0

              Dear Native Vedda,

              We are not talking about 2500 years history. It is not the same old Mantra. We are talking about what happened in this nation in front our eyes. Are you going to say that it only happened four years ago and we forget about past. We ourselves called as educated, civilized and cultured people. We love Lord Buddha, but not his preachings; we love Jesus but not his sacrifices; we love Allah but not his divine and truth; we love Lord Siva but not his principle of equality. Are we not ashamed of what is going on in this lovely country behaving like animals and to defend the animal ism. The reality is we don’t want to accept the truth because we are afraid of animals, not people. We assume our people are animals. We don’t trust our people!

            • 0
              0

              Native Vedda,

              Your question should have been to Ajith, not J.Muthu :P Did your clan protest or express their disagreement to the destruction of your habitat? All videos on youtube i find show your eldest with a happy and content face?

      • 0
        0

        Dayan,

        Didn’t you just two days ago raise the question ““If this is the treatment meted out in peacetime to an unarmed electoral politician …… what must have happened in wartime to countless others?” Now you say “I still don’t buy that story about genocide; 40,000 civilian casualties; intentional shelling of civilian targets etc.”

        How do you reconcile between your two positions – “I believe no war crimes were committed” and your new-found curiosity “what must have happened in wartime to countless others?” that you want us to contemplate about?

      • 0
        0

        Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka says:

        “I still don’t buy that story about genocide; 40,000 civilian casualties; intentional shelling of civilian targets etc. I certainly don’t buy the call for an international investigation. Never did. I don’t see it as the truth now either. I still defend the war and the armed forces, though I urge investigations into specific criminal acts. In short I take the same position as the LLRC.”

        Further, he advises the govt on how to handle the behind-the-barbed-wires nobody’s people! reference: his interviews to groundviews in english and derena in sinhala. one in 2009 and the other in 2013. one thing about Dayan: he maintains consistancy!

        Let us say Genocide is too far-fetched, the rest is evidential. But for Dayan there were only petty crimes that a few foot soldiers would have been guilty of! Was Fonseka a big time liar? and still is?

        Now Dayan, being a moderate, still finds it hard to say ‘my clan committed a historical sin, big time’, unlike Mr. Sumanthiran does. This is teh position of most of the diplomat and political scientists clan. MR and Co. were again and again elected by the majority of the majority – majoritarian supremacism and racism contributed, as once VP said: let the majority choose what they want, war or peace. i got the least of the respect for VP though. Malinda and co are working day and night on their ‘project undercover racism’. MR adn Co. are simply destroying a nation and its economy for the amusement of their family. BBS, RB, JHU and Co. are already in the process of taking over the Buddhist church and busy with their ‘project Buddhism Redefined’. The reminder of the majority is a very little numerical minority that would host little meetings and write on CT and other websites and prepare videos by using monks that respect priesthood and do or defend candle light vigils and volunteer at daham pasals, which are soon going to be hijacked by BBS and co, and walk on anti-hate ralleys and seek enlightenment in this very birth, because the next stop in the birth cycle is not guaranteed to be in teh same promissed land or could even be in a BBS target society in the promissed land, which is a more logical karmic balance for a BBS thug! Although this very last minority within the majority is the best of the minds, there are basically powerless and are numerically less even compared to one of the ethnic minorities taken separately! They look like a large number on teh internet because they happened to be mostly educated.

        Having said all this, and considering the possibility often alluded to by Dayan, of Ms. Sri-skanda-raja and Co. getting their kosovo in the pacifist route, is it time that the minorities give up on all hopes on a united motherland of everybody and consider negotiating rights, constitutional status and property transfer deals with Usha in exchange for votes in a referendum? Because, in the post Usha-success era, if that’s the future, it looks like gnanasara and gotabhaya are always going to have more control over the course of history than the diplomats+political scientists clan do and therefore the remaining yugoslavia is going to be an even difficult place for the minorities that choose to/ have to remain there. i guess the candle guys will understand and will find no fault – after all one cannot gamble with lives and dignity of the generations to come.

        but is usha-sri-skanda-raja and co. too will follow the trails of VP and Co.? because they do not seem to condemn anything from the past, like Mr. Sumanthiran does without reservation. VP had his golden era and a kingdom over land and sea and he demonstrated what his cause later turned into: branding dissent as treachery and executing (case Rajini Diranagama et al.) and evacuating a whole ethnicity on short notice after robbing their wealth with the least effort (auditing assets in mobility) because they were suspects of giving birth to potential spies. one wonders why doesn’t it occur to those still-LTTE-backers that douglas and co were also spying on them so why not evacuate all the non-fighting tamils too? :D oh, taking human shields away exposes the militants!

        how wonderful life is! wish it was all a long dream and the real reality is a meaningful and harmless one.

        Hope Dayan tells us his opinion on the above in his next post. This has become like the dialogues of greak philosophers’ time :D

  • 0
    0

    What is amazingly despicable is the archaic rhetoric this person resorts to in order to concoct a cock and bull story echoed by his forefathers and the institutions they represented, contributing to intensify discord amongst the people. Get a life man! Let the due process prevail.

    • 0
      0

      We are all waiting for due process to commence in this case…before it prevails. See the CRM statement.

      • 0
        0

        Dayan:
        The fact that you wait for “due process” from this regime says it all!
        I know it isn’t Christmas yet, but I can’t resist simply saying, “Bah, humbug.”

  • 0
    0

    You are right Dayan Jayatilleka but this government will refuse to understand what is common sense to most people because the power it wields with impunity makes it react to every sign of dissent with anger and violence. Anger naturally clouds it’s judgement. Reflecting on consequences and strategy prior to making a decision appears to be absent, a clear instance of a single individual making a decision.

    In response to this piece by you there will be a host of government sponsored invective and name calling by commentators merely with the objective of conveying insult.

    What is the result of this type of behaviour? The government’s actions in the past 6 months, have lost for it most of the liberal Sinhala votes, but more importantly, lost nearly all of the Tamil and Muslim votes as well. I wonder who is determining strategy for the Rajapaksas? It is getting so bad that I foresee the next knee jerk reaction which is to postpone all elections including the next Presidential and General elections indefinitely on some pretext or another.

    This is the obvious consequence of overbearing centralization of power. When dissent is not tolerated no one speaks up, all become yes men, they hear the order and obey. This is why dictatorships do not produce leaders. Nor do they generate creativity in any sphere of activity. Corporates know it but governments do not.

  • 0
    0

    My apologies to Dr. Jayatilleka. The post above was directed at Lakshman K on the other article.

  • 0
    0

    It is pretty clear the regime is hell bent on implementing a doctrine/ or Visions for SL devised by them. The soul purpose of this this doctrine is survival of regime. In order to archive their objectives they are prepared to take whatever actions they deem necessary.

    The consequences of these actions be it negative to SL or to the regime it self is not of much of a concerns to them. The regime knows very well what their long term plans are and they are prepared to live with certain negativity as the personal gains far outwits everything else.

    I do not think the SLG is smart enough to envisage whats written on this article by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka. On the other hand one could argue they just don’t give a shit about the consequences of their actions.

  • 0
    0

    Im afraid that when i look at the history, the Bhuto family, the Phillipines, Bandaranaike family all were in politics and bearing highest offices. Now its the Rajapakse turn. Will this power go for the next generation?
    Is that why these countries are not developing?

    I think Iran is better in that case.

    Are we going on the same cycle. So called Arab spring wiped out the family politics.

    I am a very young person compared to the people voiced their comments above.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan,

    Azath Salley has a big mouth uttering what is inappropriate. His statement in Tamil Nadu about taking up arms can give ideas to the opportunistic politicians Tamil Nadu to once again train both militant Tamils and Muslims to take up arms in the fragile North & East of Sri Lanka.

    The statement about the first lady added fuel to the fire. Perhaps this is a lesson to other firebrands to guard their mouths. I hope he will be released soon, a wiser man.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan, excellent article.Its time that people like you, unlike Rajiva Wijesinghe who is a traitor to the Liberal party ideals, write articles which brings the true situation of the occurrences to the public. You are a brave person and I salute you for it. I do not know why the Liberal party members do not bring a no-confidence motion against Rajiva and kick him out of the party.

  • 0
    0

    Two memorable statements made over time “Breathes there a man who never to himself has said,this is my Land My Own native Land?” and “Every man has a right to decide his own destiny and in his judgement there shall be no partiality. Brother you’re right…” personufy from two perspectives Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke’s mindset on this issue.
    Sadly the bias in the eyes of some prevent their perception of this brave and proud son of Lanka who speaks his mind openly and honestly while standing up for the freedoms and democracies inculcated into our constitution and also provides advice on preventive measures the Government needs towards fortifying itself against all the barrages of its many adversaries.
    The Salley issue definitely needs to be berated for its bold albeit ignorant rhetoric which Dr. Jayatilleke should have dissected in proper perspective and perhaps a faux pas on his part but to allude to being an Eelamist and warn of White Vans etc. are totally unnecessary as Sri Lankans who oppse him must take the greater good of the man into consideration as one who has done so much to assert Sri Lanka’s credibilities on more than one occassion.
    “The ‘evil’ that men do lives after them but the good is oft interred with their bones!”
    Dr.D.J is a greater asset to the Nation as opposed to being a hazard that needs to be stepped on and the big wigs in the hierarchy must surely be aware of this

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.