22 September, 2018

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For The Love Of Humanity

By Thisuri Wanniarachchi

Thisuri Wanniarachchi

Thisuri Wanniarachchi

The purpose of this article is not to lay out my political beliefs, to brag about my liberal values or to simply appear above the fray. In an age in which we constantly contradict our democratic beliefs and our personal sentiments, this was written purely for the love of humanity, which we sometimes disregard, in our search for justice.

Whenever a hate crime (murder, rape etc) that gets considerable media attention surfaces, it has been a trend in our society to lash out with demands to restore the death penalty. Although I have trouble understanding the logic in anyone who supports the death penalty, since it produces no positive outcome, I do understand the causes behind such an extreme demand. It is a demand heavily induced by anger; a justified anger. The anger, however is a temporary emotion. Similarly the death penalty, is a temporary solution to the larger problem that A Grade crimes represent. It is only impractical that we let our temporary emotions be reflected in the law of the state. Instead we must look for sustainable solutions to the causes of the crimes.

Law, to me, is a scale of liberty. Yes, punishment must match the crime, but the variables used to equalize the weights on both sides of the scale have to be variables that we can define. How can we define death if we have not yet experienced it ourselves? What gives us the liberty to assign a punishment of which the boundaries, or depth we cannot define?

Research shows that the death penalty is not a proven deterrent to future murders. In fact a recent research from Northeastern University, explains that that the death penalty has the opposite effect: that is, society is brutalized by the use of the death penalty, and this increases the likelihood of more murder. Take the United States, for instance, where different states have different penal codes. States in the United States that do not employ the death penalty generally have lower murder rates than states that do. Similarly when the U.S. is compared to similar countries, the U.S. with the death penalty has a higher murder rate than the countries of Europe or Canada, which do not use the death penalty at all.

In a just, rational society, unlawful conduct is preferably prevented before rather than punished after. That is what we must aspire to as a society, to prevent, than cure and to correct than punish. As evolved human beings in a civilized society it is time we leave behind antiquated laws such as the death penalty and replace concepts such a imprisonment with more sustainable humane solutions such as mental rehabilitation and correctional institutions.

We don’t have to kill people who kill people to teach people that killing people is wrong.

*Thisuri Wanniarachchi, 21, is the author of novels The Terrorist’s Daughter and Colombo Streets. She is Sri Lanka’s youngest State Literary Award winner and the world’s youngest national nominee to the prestigious Iowa International Writers’ Program. She is currently an undergraduate student and full scholar of Bennington College studying Political Economy and Education Reform.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    Actually this effort is good but the politicians who lead the people haven’t a clear vision but the reality is they never abolish this brutal system.These types of crimes cannot be stopped only punishing this system should be changed.

  • 14
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    Unfortunately authors like Thiruni and those who support her vision are living in a fairy land. Death Penalty was the main deterrent for violent crime which made the criminals think twice before committing a dastardly act. If you look at the history of our country you will find that we never were faced with such a high crime rate when death penalty was in force. The Western Christian world who preach that man cannot take away what god has created force us to do away with death penalty. Today the evil minded will not think twice before taking a life because they know they will not be punished for their crime. Thy will stay in prison and in time get out and walk free, thanks to those like Thiruni and her supporters preaching the dictums of the christian world. We are not talking of killing everybody who commit a crime. We should bring back the death penalty and deal with these anti social criminals who commit murder like raping and killing children to satisfy their carnal desires, killing families to acquire wealth, killing witnesses to silent prosecution and those who commit premeditated murder. This will put the fear in the minds of these criminals as they too are scared to die and want to live. Death Penalty is the only deterrent to prevent the wave of crime taking place today in this country. If you want to pacify these so called saints who do not want to fear of the hangman’s noose, carry out the death penalty with a lethal injection which is quick and merciful than what they did to their victims. The articles published by these authors are only music to these murderers.

    • 6
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      I think it is Bandula who is living in a fairy land. Under his logic, countries with death penalties should have lower rates of crime than countries that don’t. So how does he explain the US (with a murder rate of 4.7 per 100,000 citizens), Yemen (4.8) or Iran (3.9) who all have the death penalty vs. say Germany (0.8) or Japan (0.3) who don’t. I believe before calling to take someone’s life (even if he is a heinous criminal) one should have his facts straight and not take them out of one’s ass.

      Even if the death penalty works, one should be 110% sure only the guilty are executed. Because if 99 guilty criminals are executed and 1 innocent person is also executed, the whole death penalty is useless. Collateral damage you say? Just imagine if that 1 innocent person was your child, father or mother. Under Sri Lanka’s police and criminal justice system where the rich and the powerful typically get away from facing the full force of justice, ultimately the only people who will get executed will be a bunch of poor villagers…

  • 8
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    Hi Thisuri,

    Brilliant indeed.
    You have concluded it very beautifully with these words,

    “We don’t have to kill people who kill people to teach people that killing people is wrong.”

    • 1
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      Anton James:-
      Will the Death Penalty, ultimately prove to be a Deterrent?

      Who is going to Reap the Karma Vipaka of the Re-introduction of the Death Sentence?:-
      Is it the President,
      The Parliament,
      The Judge and Jury,
      or the Hangman?

      The Death Penalty, after all, is the Killing of One Living Being by Another, by Legal Means?

      “Panathipatha Veramani Sikhkha Padam Samadiyami” I undertake the Way of Training to refrain from Killing Living Beings.

      By Understanding the True Dhamma of the Buddha, People like Angulimala were Trained to Refrain from More Killing.

  • 2
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    ” We decreed that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.(Qur’an 5:32).

    Life is sacred, according to Islam and most other world faiths. But how can one hold life sacred, yet still support capital punishment? The Qur’an answers, “Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate [partnership] anything with Him, and to your parents, be kind and good to them, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We WILL provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. Thus has He instructed you that you may use reason.” (6:151).

    The key point is that one may take life only “by way of justice and law.” In Islam, therefore, the death penalty can be applied by a court as punishment for the most serious of crimes. Ultimately, one’s eternal punishment is in God’s hands, but there is a place for punishment in this life as well. The spirit of the Islamic penal code is to save lives, promote justice, and prevent corruption and tyranny.

    Islamic philosophy holds that a harsh punishment serves as a deterrent to serious crimes that harm individual victims, or threaten to destabilize the foundation of society. According to Islamic law (in the first verse quoted above), the following two crimes can be punishable by death:

    The Qur’an legislates the death penalty for murder, although forgiveness and compassion are strongly encouraged. The murder victim’s family is given a choice to either insist on the death penalty, or to pardon the perpetrator and accept a monetary compensation for their loss (2:178). Which, (my words) is usually a very high price he must pay (established by Court) as compensation to the victims family if they are willing and agree to accept it.

    Ghandi’s saying that “an eye for an eye makes the world go blind”. This is wrongly presumed on the basis that all people commit murder, whereas only a tiny proportion of people do. In his own country India, less than 0.4% of the population actually commit a homicide in any given year. Or conversely 99.6% of the people do not kill.

    • 2
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      Mr Marwan
      You have failed to mention Islamic justifications on death penalty for apostates. Could you enlighten us a bit.

      Soma

      • 3
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        somas kantha

        “You have failed to mention Islamic justifications on death penalty for apostates. Could you enlighten us a bit.”

        Why do you need justification for capital punishment if you are dead against it?

        Has Sellam convinced you the need to exercise capital punishment? Have you changed your mind from pro life to pro dead penalty?

        There is nothing to discuss about Death penalty or torture. Just ban both.

  • 1
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    Aston James ,

    I read a similar wisdom ( given below ) in my secondary school magazine well before JRJ issued a postal stamp with the words ” Dharmica Samajaya ” in 1977 six years before black July year.

    The wisdom was translated as ” The superiority and inferiority of a human is not by his birth but by his acts ” or something to that effect.

    In SriLanka the majority of the population claiming superiority by their birth is the reality in the past, present and the future.

  • 3
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    Let’s put it this way , If the murderer is your close family where would be your loyalty ? Would it be towards the murderer who’s your brother or so and so OR towards the brutally murdered family.

    We can analyse the mentality of all the commentators here who supports this heinous crime and those who are against it. In a country like Srilanka where bribery and corruption is so high the abolition of capital punishment will not be feasible , thus the results would be the murderer walking the streets freely and given licence to kill again.

  • 0
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    //society is brutalized by the use of the death penalty, and this increases the likelihood of more murder.// Do not understand the psychology behind this

  • 2
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    Murder and indirect murder are the same. If the country is serious about capital punishment how one wonders all these high ranking politicians and officials who have committed indirect murder which is ordering to murder or kill to ransome are walking freely in our land of sin free Buddha land.
    The corrupt judiciary is inefficient to deal with it.

    I can see here some support for this heinous act. There are multitude of citizens harbouring and supporting these dangerous murderers in our Buddhist state. Shame on us as citizens while some of these murderers licking their lips and rubbing their hands in anticipation that they have a chance to escape from capital punishment with the support of these so called doogood nincompoops.

  • 0
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    Your write up is definitely worth a read..but why is it that most people comment while just standing as a third party, an onlooker to murder,rape etc. Why doesn’t anyone put themselves in the shoes of the victim or of the victims closest loved ones and then consider the best way of dealing with the crime. If your mother,father,sister or brother were to be murdered or raped, how would do u feel?? Do you honestly feel that a lengthy trial and at the end of it maybe this person will get life imprisonment and that will serve as justice to you??

  • 1
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    Bandula,

    We respect your view. But the problem is that you state what you believe. Can you back it up with examples of societies (countries) that have adopted the death penalty and sovled the crime rate? Can you please refer us to any reliable study done anywhere which backs your assertion.

    We have no right to take a human’s life also because our (all human) judicial systems can be manipulated.

    So please think about it.

  • 1
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    The core of the problem is lack of understanding of judicial system and not having confidence of the same. I must say though that if public wants death penalty let it be. Before that we have to think how we guarantee that the right person is convicted when we have a police that is so inept. Remember even the US courts have got it wrong many times and have sent the wrong person to gallows.

  • 1
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    A very good treatise.Bensen

  • 0
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    The writer’s article based on some research findings cannot be accepted. If society wants to clean up and reduce crimes, I mean major crimes like rape and murder deterrent punishment is very important. It does not mean that we exercise this punishment arbitrarily. It has to go through rigorous legal procedure. The ONLY way to reduce crime in the country is to impose death penalty. Research must be carried out in countries where the crime rates are very low. Interview the parents of children who have been raped and murdered and others who have lost their dear and near ones then you will write a different story. One has to undergo pain to understand and feel the pain of others.

  • 0
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    To be lenient with those people who kill people, could only send the wrong signal that killing people is only as bad as cheating people. This is serious stuff, which can never be explained away through poetic justice.

    Why are the jails in our country so full today? Why is incidence of crime on the rise and getting more horrendous over time? Can we truly see the deteriorating factor affecting all of our lives and societies, and is there a solution in sight? The alcohol consumption and drug addiction are at a chronic phase and are the main contributors behind the committing of many of these violent crimes. But is society prepared to accept this reason as reality? Male children, mostly thru peer pressure, get introduced to these destructive tendencies at very tender age and cannot shake it off as they get older and wiser.

    Another factor is that a lot of families in this country lead segregated lives where one of the main householders, either husband, wife or even sometimes both, work in some foreign land, leaving behind their children under custody of a close relative, who has no time to spare on the supervision and control of ‘others’ children let alone their own, in terms of supervision of their school attendance, performance in attaining school grades, involvement in sports activities, who they are hanging out with, etc., etc. Buddhism as a religion does not help much as it does not have the enforcing authority to make you wanna do it, or else face the consequences type of discipline. Thus we see the general breakdown and decay in the moral fabric of society leading to the commitment of such appalling and heinous crimes right in our midst and in our generation gap.

    Of course this crime of rape and strangulation of a 5 year old girl ranks high in its order of most brutal and wicked killings, but we have also been witness to many other equally horrifying killings of young children and women in recent times. With the slow pace of justice there is no effective deterrent to stop the slide, and we can only expect the situation to get worse, until the ‘noose’ is re-introduced. Without an effective deterrent, things will only get worse, not any better.

  • 0
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    It’s not just rape, it’s pedophelia and rape, universities can claim a lot, universities also claimed that “Pedophelia” is a normal urge in males (http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/18368/). News flash, America has a higher population density, and something called a Cartel system that relays between Mexico and close to 40 states (which is where most of this murder happens, proof: http://elitedaily.com/news/world/mexican-drug-war-kills-more-americans-than-isis-and-ebola/806049/), It takes a sick individual to rape, but it takes a sick fuck to rape a child;. I look at her arguments and all I see is non ending bias.
    This country with no death penalty is not producing any positive outcomes either, what the world has forgotten is justice, blindfolded (sees no bias and has no favor), merciless )Bares the sword that makes the final strike) and baring final judgment. This world has left it’s values with the coming of this “modern rationality” and “political correctness”.
    Proof that universities claim utter cow shit sometimes:
    http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/18368/

  • 1
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    No one is born a murderer/ rapist; certain incidents and consequences make a man commit these deadly sins. And once he finds that this is easy he goes on exercising it to be a pro. He also preaches his philosophy and just about murder and rape. Now a group is there who defends murder/ rape. Will this be the scenario if murder/ rape is not punished with death penalty?? It is a question for you to think…

    We should decide which should we be more concerned about: a civilized person or a civilized society. Of course the society is more important to me and I agree that every household, school and village should work in building morals of the society. But nothing rules a society like “FEAR” does. Thus, implementing death penalty, in a legal system, where the common society is allowed to witness the state punishment of death penalty, would definitely benefit the society, our motherland, the land of pearls, our sri lanka – by infixing a fear of deadly sins!!! And even if anyone is given the perfect opportunity to commit a murder/ rape, he would think twice/ thrice as there are no second chances.

  • 1
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    I have to commend thisuri on bringing up this debate, she makes an Interesting argument here about the death penalty that is argued on the basis of morality. However when considering the alternative to the death penalty i.e life sentencing, there is the issue of convicts having to be imprisoned and possibly rehabilitated. Which means the imprisonment of these convicts has to covered through tax payer money. So then the moral question becomes should we as ordinary law abiding citizens pay to house and feed convicted rapists and murders?

    • 0
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      Well said easter bunny. Totally agree with your point. People supporting the death penalty are not all fueled by anger and emotion there is some logic behind it.

  • 0
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    Kasuri, I must admit that your way of thinking is a very positive and is very helpful to grow the mindset that Sri Lanka should have on it’s way to a spritually nourished nation.

    Having said that , I would ask you to try to look closely at the unfortunate condition that this country is heading into ! There is a wave of grave crimes that we could see from recent months. The most shocking part of this is to see how they regularly target the most vulnerable part of a society the children and women. One thing is clear, there’s a trend that can be seen in these crimes that the offendors do not seem like they are reluctant to carry out these types of crimes as they know that the law enforcement is not strong enough to prevent a person from doing the same crime again and again.

    I think this is the most suitable time to exercise a tough punishment scheme ( be it death penalty or sentence for life in prison), as a temporal measure. It’s true that not all the crimes can be stopped by this way, but atleast the most horrifying crimes like gang rapes, planned murders and serious child abuses can be minimised due to the fear of being caught and punished, I would say.

    If you get this in the correct way, the death sentence must only be excercised in cases where the offenders are clearly identified and charged and the level of crime is very serious that if not punished could inspire another mentally sick person to carry out a similar or even serious crime due to the lack of fear to a common law.

    I’m also a believer that a person who murders someone due to sudden anger must be given a second chance in life to remorse and get into his conciousness. But it’s not very hard to differentiate a offence like that from a grave offence where an few years old innocent child is targeted at.

    At the same time we should be looking into inducing the importance of protecting another ones life within our nation. This is where you can play a major role in this healing process by planting your way of thinking and leading people into a self deciplined society rather than just acting afraid of the law and punishments.

    Unfortunately, the current situation should be rectified as soon as possible, by implementing tough laws as a temporal measure, so that the society won’t go beyond the point of no return where it will be too late to be saved.

    again, respect your way of thinking. Just thought to talk about the unseen side of it. Keep on writing , help heal the nation !!!

  • 0
    1

    interesting article, but it reveals a more interesting question to consider… if as I’m says, the death penalty is unjust and immoral,then the solution becomes life sentencing. But life sentencing means ordinary law abiding citizens will have to pay to cover the expenses for maintaining living conditions for convicted rapists and murders. Food for thought ?

  • 0
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    I don’t understand why the death penalty is seen as a deterrent. The death penalty in my eyes is not a deterrent it is a way of eradicating individuals who have been deemed as a social nuisance, individuals who have chosen a path from which there is no return or rehabilitation.

    Individuals who can be classified as having gone down a path with no return will only be a burden to tax payers (law abiding citizens who help society progress). It seems unfair that people who make a certain decision have to be cared for by people who live within the bounds of the law.

    Personally i have not made up my mind on where I stand in this matter, but i refuse to believe that people who are for the death penalty are basing their decision on emotion and outrage. There is some logic behind supporting it.

  • 1
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    Hello Thisuri,

    I am sharing a lot of thoughts with you and the ‘public domain’ as I believe they all are inter-related.

    I agree with you and it is also one of my campaigns. I am totally against Capital Punishment in all forms. Sri Lankans (the world?) have forgotten humanity and good/God caused by the post-war euphoria (our ‘leaders’ who wanted to go to the Moon did not help the cause). Another thing many Sri Lankans have forgotten is that we had a bloody War since 1983 and that has taken a toll on Sri Lankans – businesses and mental health, so when the War ended all Sri Lankans should have been encouraged to undergo ‘counselling’, and debts, etc. should have been forgiven/helped, but instead, we, the majority, got a ‘superiority complex’ and those in ‘power’ became more greedy. Since the war ended I have seen many News items where people were mutilated over land-deals, cash deals, etc. I received an email where a man was murdered because he ‘trespassed’ (lets also not forget the Late Mr. Lasantha Wickramatunga, whom I knew personally, and other journalists who pay the ‘ultimate price’ in search of truth) (but child molestation has me questioning my stance – sadly – especially when just two days ago a 2 year old, in the country I live in now, underwent the same plight – it is also believed to be a money thing).
    When the War ended the country saved over US$ 50Million per month plus other costs and a whole region opened up for business… what we could have done for Sri Lankans (all kinds) with that kind of money and opportunity, and what we failed to do, baffles me!. I must add, I never condoned the sharing of the pictures of the LTTE terrorist leader’s mutilated body. All these cause us to lose respect for our fellow human beings. Like you say, lets teach our people to be more humane and religious and not be just money/wealth conscious.
    I have not been to Sri Lanka since 2008, but I still do have family, friends and business associates there, and my friends who visit SL from Europe/North America/Asia. The common rhetoric is ‘Sri Lanka is nice and clean but the people are money crazy and everything is expensive’. Having said that, the previous regime had faults but also did some good… I trust the new regime will continue the good (of the previous regime), not harp on the bad, and do better (I still have faith in Hon. RW – if anybody can do it he can – Hon. MS seems to be a great leader/person too – although I have not had the pleasure of meeting/dealing with him)! Sri Lanka had many opportunities: 1948, 1977, 2009 and now 2015. We seem to ‘miss the bus’ every time!

    One more point (I believe firmly), you have seen the world, you too may believe that the world has enough resources for at least another 21Billion people… so the ‘shortage’ is created by ‘the greedy/economists’ and the average citizen should be made to realize it… this, I believe, is the core of all ‘evil’. Buddhism preaches moderation, Christianity is against hoarding and says THE LOVE OF MONEY is the ROOT of all evil, and Islam preaches reasonable profit; we should all keep this in mind…

    Keep up the good work!

  • 1
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    You write beautifully Thisuri Wanniarachchi, but I have a question, would you be this compassionate if it happened to someone (God forbid) near and dear to you?

  • 1
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    Even though writer’s goal is for a positive cause, her means and logic seem to be questionable.

    1) Despite her claim, DP is not even a temporary solution. It is a false balance mechanism to justify the conscience of society. One can proceed back to normality knowing that crime is seemingly justified with maximum possible penalty. No one benefit from this but the system.

    2) The argument about the morality of punishment is poetic, but that is the end of it. Scaled punishment is irrational for any crime in the same sense. How to measure the scale of any crime and prescribe the dose of punishment accordingly? It is not unjust only when it comes to DP. Lack of experientially is not the measurement. Do law makers experience the levels when they legislate? Animals and humans kill for protection, for food and for competition without caring for experientially and only justified by the end result.

    3) If the data show otherwise, do you justify the DP, disregarding above two points? If not disregard data. Research concerning social matters are simply politically influenced, purposeful and deceptive or not adequate.

    However, not only the DP but the entire judicial system is fundamentally unjust.

    1) Crimes gets dramatised due to inequality of resources, but inequality is justified without any morality.
    2) In any country, law is for the service of privileged and to protect the status quo that is inequality (i.e. criminals who enjoy money and influence get served by the system, lawyers etc. but unprivileged ones become justified victims)
    3) —-
    4) —-

    However, please PROTEST against any crime, rape, murder, DP, inequality etc. and that will push us towards reforms and revolutions! Today, we are not simply who we were yesterday!

    Thanks for inspiration!

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