23 April, 2024


Impunity: A Cat Closing Its Eyes Drinking Milk

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

The title from my school days refers to a cat thinking that when it sees no one, it is safe. Likewise our rulers seem to think that blocking out Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. ensures that no one can see us or our friends bashing our Muslim brethren and enjoy that barbarian moment as we act out our Mleccha (barbarian) instincts. With firm action, the riots should have been stopped on day 1. Instead, social media showed the police, the STF no less, laughing at one of the victims.

It is argued that the blackout is really to prevent rogues spreading hate speech. Wrong! When hate speech is engaged in, we can track down the rogues and bring down the law on them. In contrast, with a blackout, would we have seen the STF laughing at a Muslim victim, a high ranking naval official bashing up a reporter, and all the other viral videos that exposed the lawlessness of our law enforcement personnel?

A blackout ensures that both, attacks on the innocent and hate speech by the violent, are not seen. Hiding the attack helps the rogues get away. In contrast, hate speech on record ensures that those putting out hate speech can be tracked, identified and prosecuted; whereas suppressing hate speech ensures that hate-mongers spread their hate by other means and still cause the same havoc.

Be mindful also that we now live in a society with free information. To suppress any information is to go back on the principles behind RTI.

On the other hand, our government historically never prosecutes anyone unless really cornered. In the Bindunuwewa Massacre that included a 12 year old LTTE suspect being murdered, a Trial-at-Bar convicted the killers, and after everyone was happy that the killers had been punished, the Supreme Court freed them while attacking the 12 year old conscript as a terrorist in the judgement.

Racism flows from Lanka’s top. The President and Prime Minister are on record calling the killers of Mullivaikal heroes and promising that they would not be tried in international courts as they had promised in Geneva. The President is enjoying in Japan the company of BBS monk Gnanasara giving respectability to the man making Muslims feel insecure here.

During the recent elections, one evening I received a complaint of a UNP election meeting at a temple in Jaffna. I went there, took photos and filed the complaint with the Complaints Unit of the Commission. Last I heard, it had been lost track of.

The Prime Minister on 5 Dec. 2017 bowed low before monks and under the National Sasundoya Program promised to build 1000 Temples using state funds.

As the elections drew near, the TNA’s Mr. M.K. Sivajilingam produced an election complaint with the UNP Manifesto specially redesigned for the North. Now 1000 Buddhist temples would be built for the North and East alone, and it was claimed that a special allocation of Rs. 500 million had already been made. Whoever designed the manifesto should have known that in the North and most of the East it would have been proof of colonization by the state leading to loss of votes. So it was a case of jingoist hate speech by the UNP to rile Tamils and Muslims anxiously looking for safety in their homelands through devolution, and not real election material.

A State Minister Violating Election Laws by holding an Election Meeting at a Hindu Temple in Jaffna as photographed by me

That aside, we now have a credible complaint. I asked the Complaints Unit of the Election Commission what plans there are to prosecute the persecutors who issued such a manifesto designed to make minorities fearful. I was told that we never rush to prosecution, and in the first instance issue a warning to make the accused aware of the law. I asked whether there is any need to educate a national party that violated the very law it was partly instrumental in passing? Alas, alas!

Our laws seemingly are propaganda to show we are a civilized people when we really are barbarians. Several Muslim clerics are on record making hate speech against women. Instead of jailing the clerics, the Commission sent Muslim messengers saying there is one man on the Commission who will push for prosecution when human rights are violated and another, a PC, who insists on the rule of law. The Commission was told not to worry because the cleric will no longer dare to repeat his threat. I think he has been encouraged by the implied impunity. I fear now that it will be done again, perhaps through other clerics who will know that they too will be entitled to warnings.

Dr. Deepika Udagama, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission spoke at the National Symposium on the Role of Independent Commissions on 17 March 2018. She noted that HRC  decisions are often ignored. So too, she said, even orders by our courts such as to the police to investigate something. In contrast she emphasized, in India HRC orders are forcefully implemented because civil society is always alert and exerts pressure when  orders are ignored. She concluded that when there is impunity, and violations of the law go unpunished, we have a very bad situation.

We actually have a ghastly situation. Bond and other bribery prosecutions, the Office of Missing persons, prosecution of the murder of five boys in Trincomalee 11 years ago by state forces, etc. are suddenly moving after the new government went to sleep in 2015 upon winning the elections to return us to the rule of law. That movement is because our friends in the West and India who care for a righteous Sri Lanka are watching and pushing. I hope that once the UNHRC Sessions are over we will not return to our usual slumber and offer impunity to all our friends.

Even the offer of special deals to our accused criminals – I wonder, whether they are communally biased. Arjuna Mahendran has an Interpol red notice out. Arjun Aloysius is jailed and had great difficulties in getting pampered treatment at the prison hospital. They both probably deserved this. But consider – how many others not turning up in court got open arrest warrants issued or how many sent to jail were refused the comforts of prison hospital? How many accused murderers in the army are offered the protection that comes with diplomatic assignments? I suddenly feel sorry for Mahendran and Aloysius.

We live in a racist society ruled by many racists in government. Have you noticed the many signs on the roads with children telling us things like “father do not speed,” “father buckle up,” etc? Perhaps mothers do not drive in Sri Lanka. However, what takes the cake is the sign on Galle Road at Ramakrishna Road in Wellawatte. A Muslim boy is shown pleading with his father to give him also a helmet.  I found it deeply offensive, playing on the caricature that Muslims are not law abiding – especially at a time when Muslims are attacked. One Muslim academic I showed it to asked me to go public. A senior Muslim SLAS officer excused it saying “Oh that is because Muslims do not wear a helmet close to their homes.”

The latter, I think, may be properly described by the late Prof. Karthigesu Sivathamby’s words about Christians in Jaffna in one of his last works. He says “The Christians in Jaffna live ghettoized and oppressed” (odungiyum odukkapattavarhalaahavum). My SLAS friend surely is in this category to excuse this ethnic caricature by government.

Indeed, so many high ups from the Ministry of Transport and the RDA must see it every day. But they seem to see and yet not see because their conscience is dulled. That is common among racists who think they are good people.

When I say we are a racist society, I mean all of us. As the anti-Muslim riots raged, two of my Tamil friends asked me separately, “Do you trust the Muslims?” My reply to both was “If you were a Muslim, would you trust the Tamils after Ponnambalam Ramanathan called them the offspring of low caste Tamil women,  after we ejected them from Jaffna and robbed them of their possessions, after we shot them dead in mosques as they prayed, and after we dashed on walls the heads of their babies in border villages as reported by the psychiatrist who treated the armed boys that committed that infanticide on the orders of their high command and were driven mad by their troubled conscience?

M.A. Sumanthiran, ITAK MP, correctly apologized publicly for what we Tamils did to Muslims. I assess that he lost a lot of support among Tamils for doing this. Retorted a TNA leader, “why should he apologize when no Muslim leader has ever apologized for the killings they carried out?”

The madness has to stop somewhere. The responsibility is the government’s as our elected leaders. Keep the promises of 2015. Return the country to the rule of law. Prosecute the “national heroes,” the bond scammers, the hate speech mongering Mullahs, and election law violators. And, yes, please stop trading on hate and religious triumphalism to win elections.

Closing our eyes like a cat by shutting down social media does not stop the hatemongers. We lose the means to identify them while they will trade in their evil messages by other means.

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Latest comments

  • 10

    I agree with you most of the things you have written including uncivilised barbaric act in the recent past. I have noticed one thing you have missed which is one of the main cause of all these mayhem.
    It was started by Mahinda Rajapakse and co during his rule. SRILANKA won’t be a paradise until you eliminate the perpetrators of racial violence. Big brother Mara ,Gota , Gandasara , Champika Ranawaka should be wiped off . The only capable dude in town at the moment is Die hard Sarath Fonseka .

    • 17


      You are absolutely on the dot in pinpointing that the worst of barbaric racism was elevated sharply with the Rajapakse regime. That obviously is not news to Ratnajeevan, but he would rather side-step that only because of his own collusion with the regime, in his aspiration for a high office within that regime. Alas, that was not to be, but Jeevan continues to feel constrained to hold MR regime responsible for the atrocities.

      That aside, I am relieved that Jeevan finally saw the light and has written about an issue of common community issue, painfully avoiding his usual self-absorbed crap.

      However, one phrase in particular amused me. He starts off with ” I found it deeply offensive, ” in suggesting that there was racial intent in the Muslim boy’s picture. I don’t necessarily disagree. However, it is unmitigated bigotry coming from Jeevan who felt it proper to write that “the poor, illiterate women (not just girls but even married women, as Jeevan would insist on the specifics!) would expose themselves to the brilliant cultured Tamil boys from the North and as a consequence, the innocent Tamil boys ended up having to marry the Sinhala village girls whom they had impregnated.” Jeevan not merely felt his characterization was proper, but when the offensive nature of his view was brought to his attention, his reaction was to further castigate and degrade those women.

      I would not be bringing it up again and again if not for the fact that I feel Jeevan is more than adequately learned, even if not cultured enough, to see how vilely racist as well as chauvinistic such views are. Or is it the case of narcissism that shies from owning up and having to express regrets? Donald Trump, anyone?!

  • 7

    All around us, our communities are entrenched by the extremists within. Our biggest curse is the yoke placed on our peoples by the enshrinement of Buddhist as the ‘foremost’ religion and hence deserving of being protected by mere mortals. This is the large stick that every Sinhalese politician carries. To be seen as not ‘protecting’ Buddhism is political suicide. Even a rampant trouble maker in saffron is untouchable and beyond the law. Sadly this condition has also infected the ‘minority’ religions whose politicians too feel the needed to ‘protect’ their own flocks. If this goes on, much blood will flow in this land; once again!

    Until we free our politics of this curse, we are all doomed.

  • 3

    Thank you for not mincing words. You are very
    correct. I also believe the who promote racism Is President and Primeminster, either intentionally or inadvertently. JRJ was the strength of LTTE. Likewise. ISIS strength will be President and PM, if ISIS gets a stronghold in Sri Lanka

  • 1

    If bhikku Ghanasara weote this article will be HATE SPEECH.If CHAMPIKA RANAWAKA write it will be hate speech. Mahinda Rajapakse should have written to see how many tamils and muslims rip Mahinda rajapakse. TNA or wigneswaran does, what a way to go.

    • 5

      1500 statues in Tamil areas will be followed by a one and a half lack of monks to man them and then little shops and markets mushrooming fast around the viharas to feed them and houses for police and army and settlers, all on tax payers money including Tamils and Muslims employees. Further the statues are placed forcibly near the precious water resources including on top of the few water tables in the dry North and East. So many acres of dowry land and paddy fields would be taken over forcibly fast.
      This happened in Tricomalee, Gal Oya (Kallaru) Weli oya (manal aru) etc..right before our eyes.

      The monks are a so cunning when it comes to Tamil people’ ancestral cultivated lands. So much blood and sweat fertlized these lands. Some of these people still speak Sangam Tamil in the North and East, and have Pre Buddhist, Pandya or Chola customs.

      This planting of Buddhas is intentionally done to finish off the Tamils. No Sinhalese man or woman opposes. Even the Christians among them like Bishop Duleep Chickera who mans the peace desk will speak out. Our Sinhalese brethren, except Uvindu, must be deceptive people to pretend to be friends and smile but go with this travesty. Bishop Canagasabey keeps quiet too.

      High Religion and Peace desks are not being silent and calling their silence racial harmony or aiding and abetting the Buddhist monks who are being treacherous in their advice and acceptance. When wickedness cannot be discerned by a priest for what it is or knowingly done to any being by them, the religion of the perpetrators is called Satanism..

      Ranil should drop Wickremasinghe from his name for that name belongs to our Bishop, his uncle, who was a shepherd to all.

      He now qualifies to calll himself Ranil Jam-head Softy.

      • 2

        I live far away from the area that you are talking about, Vishali, so what I say is NOT anything that you should really adduce as proof.

        After the War finished in May 2009, many of us from the South began visiting the North. With what motives? A mix.

        For many it was triumphalism, but that was not the case with all.

        I’ve never been a rich man who was able to travel a lot. I knew that there was a group of retired teachers of an Uva Maha Vidyalaya, having only Sinhalese Medium classes, who had formed an Association. It was on my hearing that they planned a visit to Jaffna that I JOINED the said Association.

        The Jaffna trip (mid-2016, I think) was followed by a trip to Tincomalee at the end of October 2016, and to Mannar in July 2017.

        My observations confirmed what you are saying, Vishali. Chapters of a book by Dr RAJAN Hoole, the elder brother, were being serialised at the time, and I made comments on those articles at that time. If I can find the time I will provide links.

        You’ve said many things about various Anglican Bishops: spot on!

  • 2

    A wonderful article by Prof. Hoole. I read it yesterday, but I’m responding only today.

    What has been written here is objective, insightful and unbiased. Hoole is a Tamil, so he has a Tamil perspective, but he has done his best to see all this from a universal stand point. Every word in this account is relevant and valid.

    Thank you, Prof. Hoole.

    Justice can be done only if those who have bits of knowledge place them before the World.

    Prof. Hoole has referred to the Bindunuwewa massacre. I live within four miles of the place, on the other side of the Bandarawela town. I knew nothing of the massacre, but I would like to say (give me time please, not to check on facts, but just do the lengthy writing required) about one of those whom the courts (High Court of Badulla?) sentenced to death. I think his name was Karunasena, an Inspector of Police. I met him years later.

    Prof. Hoole has written this very carefully and honestly; what I have to say will NOT in any way contradict what he has written here, but it will reveal something of the Inspector which suggested to me that he was a good man.

  • 0

    Remember the 147 praying muslims slaughtered by Tamils ? Every tamil supported it or kept silent. Dashing babies heads? chopping up sinhala and muslim women in villages? We all remember.

  • 2

    Ratnajeevan is going on his wanton attacks on anywhere or on anybody, aimlessly and without any policy.
    “on 17 March 2018. She noted that HRC decisions are often ignored. So too, she said, even orders by our courts such as to the police to investigate something.
    Ratnajeevan did not write that Deepika may return to her normalcy when the 37th sitting is over because he did not read the essay Deepika has written in CT justifying Yahapalanaya. But he wants only others not to return to pre-submit starting position.
    I hope that once the UNHRC Sessions are over we will not return to our usual slumber and offer impunity to all our friends.

    LTTE evacuated Muslim from North. It was an excess, even at their view, eventually. They described it as military situation and apologized for it. Muslims were allowed resettle, though they did not come because of their new situation. Hakeem met Pirapaharan and it was resolved. There is nothing wrong Sumanthiran apologizing for that. But when Sumanthiran apologized, he was not an elected representative. If he was a true Tamils’ representative, because it was LTTE military action, there was no need for people’s representative apologizes for that. Further that time Sumanthiran position was LTTE was not Tamils sole presentative. So LTTE’s mistake cannot be Tamils’ Mistake. Yet after LTTE had concluded that matter, a non-people representative, who refused to accept LTTE, apologizing on the people name, is only about taking it again for name seeking. If Sumanthiran had apologized on general good will, then why didn’t he do that for Kandy riots yet? Muslims estimate on that, the property damage alone was Rs 9000 million. LTTE did not damage any Muslim property on Northern vacation. Further as Sumanthiran is a good friend of Ranil, unlike his view on LTTE, so it is appropriate he apologize for that too. Ratnajeevan is just babbling because he didn’t have points to talk.

  • 1

    It is known only lower caste, poor people mainly lent to be changed to Christianity in the North in earlier times. If he bring in Sivathmaby’s writing that Lower caste Christian were not respected, when it was well known that there is caste problem exist within Tamil society, that doesn’t clean Ratnajeevan’s degraded writing about Hindu women. Irrelevant of any justification, Ratnajeevan’s degraded writing of Hindu women is always seen as his biased nature. But it’s not about Hindus, but in all societies, well settled family women do not marry foreigners. So it has been historically said that the migrated few Arabian Merchants married Tamil women who did not have proper family unification at home.
    Ramanathan using his power to have the Sinhala leaders released from jail is repeatedly used by some people as an opportunity to wedge between Tamils and Muslims but they never used it to patch the now strained Sinhala-Tamil relationship. They are blind to see British Parliament had agreed with Ramanathan and recalled the Governor General. Now Ratnajeevan, unrelatedly, is trying to create dent on Ramanathan behavior and trying to use it as a wedge between Muslims and Tamils, at Kandy riots instant. Yes Ramanathan was a caste concise person, but was a recognized statesman, too. He might have lost politeness in words but did not twist the history. All LTTE’s attack on Muslims area was retaliation. So Ratnajeevan’s insisting of because LTTE had retaliated to Muslims rowdies in the past so these two societies should never in future get along is completely unethical, name seeking activism. Neither Ramanathan nor LTTE is related to counting in what happened to Muslims in Kandy. Some Muslim writers and ministers oppose Tamils talking for Muslims’ human right like Ashar and others did for Mano Ganesan. They don’t represent Muslims, but the Muslim-Sinhala Governments’’ perks. Let Ratnajeevan be clean and unequivocally oppose the government to support and watch what happened to Muslims.

  • 3

    I often wonder what the author’s sources are at times. I am aware that Ramanathan rejected outright the claim of Arab ancestry of Muslims and arguing that they were South Indian settlers. The reference to ‘low caste’ maternity is frequent on these pages and goes on despite criticism.
    I would like to know when Ramanathan expressed the view attributed to him by the author.
    The author has for sometime been citing Sivathamby as an authority on various subjects to prop up his arguments.
    I wonder why it escapes the author’s attention that Sivathamby is reputed for his inconsistency and opportunism, most notably in warming up to Tamil nationalism in the 1980s and moving close to the LTTE in the 1990s.

    • 3

      Just like Sivasegaram/SJ to attack a man who cannot defend himself!

      Sivathamby died a few years ago.

      Whether Sivaegaram likes it or not, Sivathamby was a well-recognized scholar. He was also recognized at Kamban Kalaham in Colombo.I do not think Sivasegaram ever was.

      Would Sivasegaram be so much against Sivathamby if he belonged to the same caste as himself.

      Or is it that Sivasegaram does not like anyone who is his better?

    • 1

      Like Sivasegaram supporting the LTTE once, even as he worked with Sinhalese communalists at Peradeniya to get his Senior Professorship.

  • 0

    You seem to be obsessed with cats. Try giving your cat a sleeping pill. In your book ITAK is good as Viggy apologised to the Muslims, and TNA are no good. Do we smell some power play within the Tamil leadership here?Who are we trying to fool?

  • 3

    Kumar R’s hate chorus again.If Prof. Hoole would suck up to anyone he would be somebody in the government by now. The fact that he is in an independent Commission, nominated by us academics, and is not siding with the Government or politicians in all his articles proves your lie Kumar R.

    Prof. Ratnajjevan Hoole has isight and a vast working knowledge of Human Rights is qualified to be whatever he wants to be, in the Government or academe.

    Ettaap palam pulikkum. (The bunch of grapes the cunning fox cannot reach, it calls Chee Chee it is sour.). Proof is immaterial for the foxes.

    Why don’t you also write a good article Kumar R. instead of griping about Prof’s well deserved academic titles, positions and articles?

    • 8

      ET L,

      Many manifestations before you have tried to make your nonsensical defense of Jeevan, lacking any objective way to address issues.

      Let me ask you just one question – are you in agreement with Jeevan’s explicit observations about the Katubedda women, observations that still haunt his memory after decades and decades. Or about his long-held personal opinion as to what Hindu women fantasize while at temple dances.

      What bigotry that he would then choose to pontificate about “deeply offensive” statements! That was my point. Let me leave you with just that one thought so as not to confuse you beyond capacity.

      I will grant – I am perfectly O.K. with Jeevan sucking up to you or vice versa – that is absolutely fine with me – you guys do not have to change on that count.

      My only concern is that it is immoral to pontificate on issues counter to views that you have clearly owned up to loudly and clearly in the past! Comprehende?

      • 3

        Dear Kumar R,

        ET Lecturer is quite right. If you were to write your own article you would almost certainly have to reveal your own identity.

        That is what I have been requesting you to do, since your comments are indeed “ad hominem”. When you can’t find fault with the current article, you go back to something that Hoole wrote long ago – under his own name.

        What he saw at Katubedda seems to have made a strong impression on his young mind. I think that it was ill-advised for him to have included that in his article. The problem with him is extreme bluntness – which harms only him. It is a virtue. Incidentally, I don’t agree with the way he presents his views on some subjects. He ought to write on a narrower range of subjects – but that again is his business.

        To me, you come through as a highly educated but calculating person consumed by hatred of Hoole. Well you can hate him; that is something absolutely subjective. I’m only telling you that I don’t share your views on Prof. Hoole.

    • 9

      ET L

      Hmm –“If Prof. Hoole would suck up to anyone he would be somebody in the government by now.” I wonder what it was all about when Jeevan rushed to Jaffna early in 2010 I believe, declaring to us all that he has absolute confidence in MR that MR was a man of his words, only back track from Jaffna even faster to quickly abandon the country. Wasn’t there any sucking up to be a “somebody?” Just asking, since you brought it up.

      On a side note, your verbose “The bunch of grapes the cunning fox cannot reach, it calls Chee Chee it is sour.” has a very succinct and commonly understood alternative “sour grapes!” Thought I’d let you know just in case it would be helpful in the future.

      An ET Lecturer, ha?!

      • 6

        I am an admiring reader of any and everything Prof. Hoole writes.

        I am sure he did not write anything as you suggest — declaring to us all that he has absolute confidence in MR that MR was a man of his words.

        It is not like Prof. Hoole.

        That is the problem here. You guys cook up things he allegedly said or at best your negative interpretations. Most of us do not remember. We only suspect you are cooking. As people without personal venom against Prof. Hoole, we do not store his articles.

        Please produce what he wrote. Your word is not good enough for me because you are full of hate.

        • 5

          Well Chelvam and Sinhala Man,

          Why don’t you ask Jeevan himself in these columns whether or not it is true.\

          Whether or not Jeevan met with MR who promised the VC position, and that Jeevan in these columns asserted that that MR had promised him that appointment, and that Jeevan was confident that MR was a man of his words. Did he not rush to Jaffna, and then quickly retreat as MR did not stand by his words.

          Not a difficult task, I assume – I would love to see Jeevan clarify this for you. That way, if Jeevan ignores or side steps answering your question, you would then know the answer by implication.


          • 1

            Kumar R

            My question was where did Prof. Hoole declare to us all that he has absolute confidence in MR that MR was a man of his words.

            You have not answered it. You are not truthful. I have no more time for you.

            • 3


              Why don’t you ask Jeevan if he declared that or not?

              “I have no more time for you” – Is it a coincidence that this was the same excuse that Jeevan used when he got tongue tied unable to answer questions about Katubedda?

              More to come – if you guys only want to dig even deeper, I certainly will oblige.

  • 1

    Dear Kumar R,

    You now know my name, and much else about my identity.

    With SJ, I no longer have huge problems, since I know that it is Prof. Sivasegaram. But who are you?

    As Chelvam says, we cannot trust you. In my case, I don’t admire EVERYTHING Jeevan writes; most things, yes.
    Your credibility is low because you don’t take responsibility for what you say.

  • 6

    Sinhala Man

    Seeking so hard to know Kumar R’s identity,

    Look at the comments SJ made on Katubedde and What Kumar R. is now making. Obviously it is the same person or one of them is schizophrenic and may benefit from intervention.

  • 4

    Sinhala Man

    Better you pursue your lenten meditations on the words than read Kumar R. Life s too short for reading such comments.

    Some Tamil LTTE fanatics who were virulently competing with certain individuals and who could write English were in the pay of LTTE to destroy the image of those individuals by fabricating wicked lies. It was then understood that a death sentence was going to be soon pronounced on that individual for non compliance. These individuals are the so called patriots and they have acquired so much blood money and are stinking rich with various businesses now. Their professional and personal jealousy is appeased, Kumar could be one such because he is persistent in his lie about “Jeevan” and infuses it everywhere fearing the good image of the man.

    LTTE is dead but this terror of image destroying is still continuing. Issue of not wanting people to discover the lie in these pretend patriots’.constructs so dear to their personal identity and survival. NY Tamil Sangam and the like cannot function without these bloody yarns, No party wthout them.

  • 1

    Thanks, “Katubedde kellek” and ” Chundikuli girl”.
    Let us hope that Kumar R will indeed be less hostile towards the rest of us.

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