Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
I hope you are rather settled in your prime ministerial seat now, and your president and Foreign Minister have handled the Geneva quite well, it seems. So, now you have some respite to read this letter. I have chosen to send this letter this way because I am sure, like all politicians, you have appointed a bunch of supporting staff to make sure that only the letters by powerful lobbies get delivered to your desk and priority lists. I have also chosen write this letter to you because I know that our president is busy introducing his son to some powerful men and women in the world.
Let me cut to the chase. Speaking of ‘chase’, you must have heard that Sri Lankan police stationed at Kotadeniyawa chased down the murderer of Seya Sandamini – that child of five – three years younger than my own daughter. I will refrain from further sensationalizing that murder story. Sinhala press – including the papers belong to your own family – interestingly enough there are only a few papers that are not somehow connected with your family – has sensationalized the story so much that people’s anger at that murder is far greater than their understanding of social conditions that create such tragedies. That anger was primarily directed at the suspects. Media reporting, ideally, should lead to understanding not to anger. As a son of a journalist you know that already. Anger is understandable; but it needs to be followed by the calming effects of an understanding. That understanding must not of a religious kind that teaches us the nature of life or karma but rather it needs to be of a social kind that teaches us of the nature of our society which is primarily under your prime ministerial care.
Seya Sandamini’s death is sad, wrong, tragic and it must not have happened. For that death, however, the entire socio-cultural situation is responsible. That includes even our thoughts and customs of bringing up children. Our thoughts of parenting need to be rethought. Mr. PM, perhaps you know already that Lanka is not very child friendly. Our country is ‘politician friendly.’ It is as simple as that. Your responsibility is to make that country safe again for people, especially children. You must have heard of some rating systems where some cities, townships, neighborhoods are rated as “most child-friendly” and so on. I myself have raised a son in a city that was named several times as “the most child-friendly city” of that country. If you are interested I can tell you more on that.
For Seya’s death we all are responsible. But for what happened to the second child the responsibility lies with the department of Police, and I am writing this letter to hold you responsible as well.
The second child is the one arrested by the Kotadeniyawa Branch of Sri Lanka police. Not only that your police men, Mr. Prime Minister, arrested the boy but also they released the information about his arrest to the media. Our media being our media did not cross-check anything but carried the story in full. But that was not the real story. It was the police story.
Mr. PM, your police has done it again. They have tortured the boy. And they of course destroyed the boy’s good name during those weeks of his custody. They said, the boy’s computer had asabya photos. The adjective asabya can mean many things. At the literal level it could mean ‘uncultured or obscene.’ Often those who have power, any form of political, cultural and on, can name anything they like ‘asabya.’ If it refers some nude photos that are supposed to have been found in the boy’s computer, those photos were in his personal computer, and he did not display them in public. Furthermore, the police has power to interpret anything as asabya and threaten the boy confess to Seya’s killing. That is exactly what they have done.
Now the boy has been released, and, quite bravely, he has spoken up. He has already told the press(on 02nd of October) that he has been beaten badly. While all as a society is responsible for Seya’s death and the lack of security for children, for the arrest and torture of this 17 year-old school boy Sri Lankan state and its arm called “police” are entirely responsible. Pretty much same time as the presidential son was having a great time in New York, Sri Lankan police has had a great time beating this son.
Mr. Prime minister, I have chosen write you this letter so that I can easily share it with the world. I you will be able to take an action that can be shared with world without any shame.
No need to reply, Mr. PM, but you need to act!