2 March, 2024

Blog

Money In Weakening Our Rights: Government Competing With Evangelicals 

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

This article began with my thinking deeply of what hate speech is and has ended up in this. My connexion to hate speech, which I define as untrue negative stereotypes of a community, often a minority community, that result in the affected minorities feeling fearful, insulted and even hating being who they are. 

I have seen children of my friends in the US hating being “Brown” and denying they are “Black.” Black and White are general conceptual descriptions whereas there is really no one who is milk-white nor shoe-black. Thus, when Indians (again a generic description) deny they are Black and insist they are Brown, they buy into the stereotypes of Whites. Indeed, anyone who is not White including Chinese, is Back. Many of us brown Blacks feel we are superior to Afro-Americans when we are called Browns rather than Blacks. This brings out the role of hate speech in the renunciation of identity.

Here in Sri Lanka many Tamils stopped wearing the Tali in public after the pogrom of July 1983, renouncing our identity which made us targets of Sinhalese criminals filled with hate for us. The highest leadership of the Sinhalese, that is members of parliament including pretending socialists like Colvin R. de Silva who framed our constitution making Buddhism the foremost religion deserving the patronage of state. This clothed the Sinhalese with racist pride as if their religion is superior to all other religions. That constitutional position is a living hate crime that puts down Sri Lankan non-Buddhists and makes them feel inferior and convert to Buddhism. We minorities do not object in fear while some of us shamelessly stooge saying they have no problems with it.

Among Tamils there is a joke/riddle asking who the missionaries of Buddhism are. The answer is crows: they eat the fruit of the bodhi tree (aka bo tree, peepal tree). They then go elsewhere and excrete the seed. A bo tree grows. Buddhists come and claim that land as holy, take it over, and build a temple. It is not funny because when a bo tree grew on my land in Colombo, on the advice of Tamil neighbours I put petrol and when that did not work, I chopped it down at night. That practice of claiming any land with a bo tree as Buddhist land has all the ingredients of a hate crime, particularly in instilling fear.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a respected international law. As with such UN Covenants, a country that ratifies it is to make it part of domestic law. The Centre for Policy Alternatives under Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu puts the flaw this way: “The ICCPR Act’s [that is our domestic version’s] provisions are formulated in terms substantially and significantly different from the corresponding provisions of the ICCPR. This has kept the Act open to be used very differently [from] its apparent purpose.” Amnesty International says that the Act “has been used time and time again to restrict freedom of expression.”

To me the irony is that the ICCPR is to protect many of our civil and political rights, but as implemented in Sri Lanka, it violates two key ICCPR Rights: 1) Article 18(1) the freedom either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching. The word teaching involves preaching. And 2) article 19, the freedom of speech.

The President as a lawyer should understand that his family exercised this freedom of religion twice – when they became Anglicans and then again when they became Buddhists. I do not begrudge them that right. They too must not deny to others the rights they enjoyed.

As explained by Arjun Sengupta in The Indian Express (8 June 2023), Section 3 of the ICCPR which is based on the important Section 20 of ICCPR, is the problematic part because in prohibiting the propagation of war or advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence, these offences under this section are cognizable as well as nonbailable.

By this law, our President’s Uncle JR Jayewardene’s “If you want war I will give you war” aimed at terrorizing the Tamil people should have made him locked up without bail. That is the problem. These horrid laws are meant only to incarcerate minorities.

Sepal Amarasinghe, and Nathasha Edirisooriya were arrested, and Jerome Fernando promised arrest  on his return from abroad by our police for hate crimes – mainly religious jokes and preaching religion. Arrests for alleged offences under Section 3 may be made without warrant and are nonbailable. That is the problem. When an untruthful or frivolous complaint is made – it is usually by a Sinhalese against a minority member – you can be locked up.

As Sengupta explains, Article 20 was conceptualised in the aftermath of the Holocaust, which showed policy-makers the grave dangers associated with hate speech and propaganda targeting a particular community. The ICCPR Act does not differentiate and grade different types of “incitement”, unlike the UN covenant. This means, an offensive joke and a direct incitement to violence are equivalent crimes – dealt with similarly according to our Act. Second, the section allows arrests to be made without warrant as well as without provision for bail. So the joke on crows can also be used to arrest a person.

People who do not understand our judicial system may nonchalantly say, “That is ok. If there is no offence, the judge will release them.” However, the fact is that once a complaint is made, the accused has to be locked up. Most of us do not know what that really means. I have close friends, besides family members, who were locked up under the PTA and had their sarongs stolen and were homosexually raped in prison. A professor was on a crowded prison floor and the person next to him kept kissing him on the mouth. That is what prison is. My dear sister, a university lecturer, was beaten with a pole by her guard. 

As a lawyer explained to me, once a charge is made, a judge has to inquire. First, it takes time. Then there are judges who think they are saving the Sinhalese race by locking up accused minorities – for longer times than their maximum sentence as has happened many times. Second, going to court is expensive business that few can afford but many lawyers will welcome. Long delays are common to the detriment of justice and our wallets, and indeed to minorities. 

For example, 5 young Tamil men of promise were brutally murdered in Tincomalee on 2 Jan. 2006.  Dr. Manoharan was the father of Rajihar, one of the victims of our glorious saviours who saved the Sinhalese race by murdering Tamils. Our armed forces and likely even ministers are responsible. Dr. Manoharan almost single-handedly has kept the matter alive. His need to testify resulted in witness protection, and new rights that were only half-heartedly agreed to. 

Dr. Manoharan’s life is in danger because the government, like Hitler, has the “Master Race” to look after by delaying justice. Therefore, Dr. Manohar lives in London for safety. Unfortunately, after 17 years of delayed justice, Dr. Manohar has developed kidney problems and is on dialysis. It looks like our murdering saviours of the Master Race will get away. Thanks to our government which like President Wickremesinghe’s uncle, does “not care for the lives of the Tamil people”. This is why we say justice delayed is justice denied. The government and its murdering rag tag effectively mercenary forces know how to use our legal system well to their advantage.

While some take the position that all religions are rubbish, those who have faith in a religion arrive at that faith through comparative religious analysis. The newspapers in the nineteenth century as newspapers were established, were full of comparative religion. As I taught professional ethics to engineers in the US, we searched for a basis and did comparative religion to see if religion can be a basis for ethics. Answering no, we arrived at commonly agreed human rights as a basis for all peoples. There is always such a subject as comparative religion in a religious studies department going through all the arguments for and against a religion. That is no hate crime. When we practice a religion, we all conclude holding up what we believe and practice, rubbishing what we reject without insulting anyone. The government is making that a crime. 

In fact as I broached male attitudes to women in my professional ethics course for engineers and showed the BBC’s “India’s Daughter” on the rape of a young doctor, Indian engineers in class were embarrassed and argued that I should not show the documentary because it was banned in India (out of shame, really). The lesson is that oppressors will use the law and rights-based arguments in a devious manner to advance their oppression.

Jaffna Central College’s Brand-new Unused Dirty Swimming Pool – What happens to Forced Gifts

I see our problem of weakening religious, speech and fundamental rights getting worse. After the collapse of the rupee, foreigners have had their hand strengthened. Money is being thrown at us. All these years Buddhists had a monopoly in buying converts using state money and the percentage Buddhists rose dramatically in Sri Lanka. Now those who gave generously in dollars have money that goes twice as far in Sri Lanka and donations are far less valued. So, Jaffna Central College has been foisted with a swimming pool that remains dirty and unused. At St. James’ Church Nallur, souvenir shirts gifted by donors lie on the ground with white ants feasting. Awash with money, donations were accounted separately and gifts that no one wanted were bought. My wife and I were given towels that we did not want and were left on a settee after we declined the gift.

In Paalaiyootru Trincomalee, Canadian evangelical Churches such as Door of Hope Ministries under one John Bala are expanding. They recently hosted a youth camp illegally paying Rs. 450,000  to two Pentecostal Pastors (Tharmalingam Rames and Reginold Thileepan) to rent them premises but the rent was not given to the organization owning the Premises. Money corrupts.

One pastor Steve is complaining on websites that a Pastor Paulraj of the famous Ambrose family is stealing his sheep by building a church two doors away and blaring prayers to disturb his services and gives Rs. 50,000 to a family from Steve’s parish when a person dies. A family so rewarded thereafter goes to Pastor Paulraj’s church. Steve adds that Paulraj has some 16 churches in the Kinniya area, making one wonder how he delivers 16 sermons on a Sunday morning.

The Government of Sri Lanka with its monopoly until now in buying sheep, but only the weakening rupee for funding, might not be able to compete with dollar funding. That is perhaps why Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government is getting more repressive.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 2
    2

    He asserted that he was bringing forth relevant proposals for the betterment of the country, as he alone couldn’t achieve it with his single vote.

    Ranil accepts with his single vote could achieve what he has advanced notice the talks will not conclude dragged this seems to be an election vote attraction and images are given first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. that it is possible Ranil

  • 5
    5

    “Thanks to our government which like President Wickremesinghe’s uncle, does “not care for the lives of the Tamil people”. This is why we say justice delayed is justice denied.”
    This is similar to that delaying justice to the Tamils problem which RW still talks about implementing 13th amendment after 40 years from it is included in the Constitution by the Government of his Uncle for a problem that was started at the beginning of independence followed by B-C Pact, Dudley-Chelva pact, JRJ District Councils, Dimpu talks, Indo-Lanka accord, Chandirika’s Union Prop, Ranils Oslo-accord, Mahinda’s 13 +, RW’s recent Akiya Rajia, and now again 13- talks just to bring more dollars but the focus of Buddhist Fundamentalism is very clear. That is Buddhist only Land for Sinhala Buddhist only. But we hear that China is ready to establish their Camp in Hambantota and India is ready to establish its camp in Trincomalee. What will happen to Buddhism? Some say that Sinhalese sold Buddhism to China and India.

    • 4
      3

      Ajith, How did sinhalese sell buddhism to China and India specially the latter where Siddhartha Gauthama was born. China too already had buddhism well established. At least if they turn to Jesus, there is a promised good eternal future without karma, even for Hambanthota.

      • 3
        0

        dtg
        China and the rest of the Orient are skilled in absorbing what they find are beneficial to their system of beliefs.
        The wisdom of Confucius and other philosophers has interwoven with Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity as well as Islam in varying proportions the create new schools of thought which can also coexist.
        We seem lacking in that. Bitter rivalry has been the driving force of religions in the rest of Asia and Europe.

    • 3
      1

      What else has Mr A heard about what China and India are up to?
      Why cannot we base analysis on factual information than hearsay?

      • 1
        2

        I am sure SJ would have involved in the deal between China and Sri Lanka. He pretend that he is not aware of these factual information.

        China’s Top Option for Next Naval Base Is Sri Lanka, Report Says
        China’s commited more than $2 billion to Hambantota Port
        African nations also seen as potential destinations for bases

        According to the US-based AidData research project, the port is the most likely spot for a base given the US$2.19 billion Beijing has already invested there.

        “We have decided to fast track the work of connecting the electricity grids of both countries,” announced PM Modi. He announced feasibility studies for building a “land bridge” as well as for a petroleum pipeline.
        the two sides exchanged documents on cooperation in the field of animal husbandry, renewable energy, development projects in Trincomalee district in eastern Sri Lanka,

        • 1
          1

          “I am sure SJ would have involved in the deal between China and Sri Lanka.”
          I really relish this.
          This goes to show how sure you are about your frequent senseless utterances like “But we hear that China is ready to establish their Camp in Hambantota and India is ready to establish its camp in Trincomalee. “
          That is serious business and what evidence has the source from the US offered? B*******l.
          Reluctance to learn is hard to cure.

  • 4
    4

    Dear Jeevan,
    .
    “Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government is getting more repressive.” says you.
    .
    Here’s something that happened yesterday: 82 seconds only; narration in English:
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKmaGIwsaGs

    • 4
      4

      Here’s an update with welcome news:
      .
      https://www.newswire.lk/2023/07/29/journalist-tharindu-uduwaragedara-granted-bail/
      .
      The magistrate has granted bail this evening.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe

    • 4
      4

      Please understand the sort of journalist that Tharindu Uduwaragedara is.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgXh40HYU6g&t=9s
      .
      Twenty minutes in Sinhala there; eight months ago. I suggest that you sample it for the style. Serious, rational, and quiet.
      .
      What has been said by AKD, in Rambukkana today?
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlJEE1E_Viw
      .
      I don’t know; haven’t listened yet. 68 minutes.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC 483111444V)

      • 3
        1

        SM
        “What has been said by AKD, in Rambukkana today?
        .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlJEE1E_Viw
        .I don’t know; haven’t listened yet. 68 minutes.”
        Do you have a shrine to AKD at home? With candles?

        • 1
          0

          OC,
          .
          SM won’t dare to answer my long questions which I repeated, but he comes with links of AKD rallies.
          How stupid can this man be? He branded me as despicable, but how despecable this man should be.

          If these people have any knowledge, will they continue to do so? Don’t they feel that CT must not be their diary? How can our millennials dream of a better future knowing their grandparents are so stupid?

          When I look at SM, how intelligent the kind of former professionals of this nature. ?
          .
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVyNAYhiqrs

        • 2
          0

          old codger
          July 30, 2023
          Parameters To Be Adopted By Tamil Politicians In Negotiations

          Elsewhere under the above article you said:
          “The part about Sri Lanka is fairly accurate. I read somewhere that the land connection across the Palk strait was washed away in a cyclone as late as the 14th century.”

          I agree with your comment although 14th century is a suspect.
          My response was for SJ’s stupid typing ““Can GS cite the source of geological evidence?” as if there was no land connection at all between South India and Sri Lanka.

          Excerpt:

          “After the last Ice Age the level of the Indian Ocean, like the rest of the oceans, fell. Sri Lanka was connected to the Indian peninsula by a landmass, which now lies under the Gulf of Mannar. In the following 8,000 years, global warming continued and large masses of ice and glaciers melted, raising sea levels in stages and inundating low-lying lands. The portion of the continental shelf of the south Indian peninsula and the land that connected it to Sri Lanka also went under water as the sea level rose.”

          https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/the-lemuria-myth/article30175192.ece
          The Lemuria myth
          How it permeated the Tamil tradition through folklore and writings as the lost continent of Kumari.
          Apr 22, 2011

          I suspect SJ is looking for evidence in the Red Book and found nothing relevant is available, hence dismissing available evidence in his own silly ways.

          • 1
            0

            Native
            People have their sacred myths. The Sinhalese have Ravana and his Dandumonara. The Tamils have Kumarikandam.

      • 2
        0

        SM
        “Please understand the sort of journalist that Tharindu Uduwaragedara is.”
        You mean he’s good at seeing conspiracies where there aren’t any? I saw Nandalal W saying this several months ago, at the peak of the economic crisis. NOTHING of this idiot’s prognostications came true. Doesn’t that tell you something about his “seriousness”? Now that the economy has stabilised, it’s no longer relevant. It is better not to comment on things you admit to knowing nothing about, like economics.

    • 1
      0

      By July 9, 2022, RW’s government is not his government, but an interim government, as the Medamulana dogs were driven out by the Aragalalites and created anarchy.

      If we are not reborn, neither the JVP leader nor any of the other big men in SM’s dream had the balls to take the risk. They are just eternal crying babies.

      And above all, Let’s not forget that the former Election Commission and its three members must be held accountable for nominating an ex-petrol shed worker (with a dual citizenship with srilanka) to be the leader of the nation by November 2019. If they had done their duty properly, things would not have happened this way. For a nation that suffered 30 years of brutal civil war, the island nation today faces a self-inflicted misery.

      The current French President, Macron, who made a short visit to Sri Lanka last night, has been caught up in the growing debates in Indian circles. French presidents have not visited the island for such a long time.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYJQzy17_YQ

      • 1
        0

        cont.
        There are different opinions about the French President’s visit to the small island. Some in India believe that the French are supporting China, India’s number one enemy, in injecting Chinese investment into the region. So they believe that his arrival in the region will give a hint to the Indians.

        However, who helped Sri Lanka last year if not neighboring India? Mahinda Rajapakse pursued the criminal politics of the nation and destroyed everything that had been maintained and found so far, and it was no one else who did foreign politics.

        There are different views on the French President’s visit to the small island nation. Some in India believe that the French are supporting China, India’s number one enemy, in injecting Chinese investment into the region. So they believe his visit to the region is giving indians a hint.

        However, who helped Sri Lanka last year if not neighboring India? None other than the Rajapaksas, following the criminal Mahinda Rajapaksa politics of the nation, did foreign politics by destroying everything that was maintained and found until now.

  • 4
    5

    Hoing the way of Singapore in Lee’s early years

  • 3
    0

    “Among Tamils there is a joke/riddle asking who the missionaries of Buddhism are. The answer is crows.”
    Haha, that is a good and telling joke! I hope the learned professor will not be arrested and charged for causing incitement to hatred or violence for cracking a joke about Sri Lankan Buddhism.

  • 3
    1

    Not too long ago we had “Koreayawaas”, a reference to slum areas in the Sinhala language. The word was pronounced with derision and scorn and was a reference to the then supposedly backward Korea. I will not say more on that subject for I believe informed people read this section. I wonder also who still remembers the sniggering references to “Kabari” and “Chinu”. We were frogs in a well then and still many of us are frogs in the well. Many of the truly educated and informed among us have decided that living in SL is intellectually stifling and limiting. They have migrated. To everyone I say travel a bit, through books, film or the internet. It will tell you how small and limited you are. The world is a large and marvellous place.

    • 1
      1

      Sarath
      That is colonial education. Our forefathers were its victims, and many of are still not cured of its effects.
      Africa, since this century began, is far more alert to the reality of imperialism than we are and is most defiant as seen in their refusal to take orders from the West on who can be their friends.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.