Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam has come under severe flak from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe over his failure to curb the Kuliyapitiya incident from getting out of hand and making a highly serophobic comment.
Kariyawasam, it is learnt had complained about MP Ranjan Ramanayake visiting Kuliyapitiya to meet the 6 year old child who was deprived from attending school as it was rumoured that he was HIV+.
The education minister had said that Ramanayake had messed things up by going to Kuliyapitiya. However instead of siding with Kariyawasam, Wickremesinghe had blamed him and his failure to sort things out before it got out of hand and also his anti-HIV comments, including his statement where he said that he will get a court order to separate the child from the mother.
Ramanayake is reported to have visited the boy and his mother on the instructions of President Maithripala Sirisena. It is also learnt that Wickremesinghe has called and thanked Ramanayake for visiting the child and his mother.
Meanwhile, issuing a statement on Sunday Kariyawasam said that the media had distorted his statement, and had once again tried to make a circus out of the situation.
“It is saddening to note that some have twisted my statement,” he said.
Kariyawasam also said that while the child should not be deprived of his mother’s love, but at least for a few days the child must be given over to probationary services, which will give confidence to everyone that the child is safe and not infected with HIV, which will allow authorities to find him a school.
“It is our duty to safeguard the child, specially amidst belief that the mother also is infected with HIV,” he said. However, it was Kariyawasam himself who claimed on Saturday that the mother was in fact HIV+.
Meanwhile, Kariyawasam has gone on record assuring that he will provide a school for the child. “I have already held discussions with a school in Colombo with this regard, and have also spoken to a private firm who is willing to bear all the expenses for the child until he completes his education, which will also include providing a house for him and his mother to live if they have to move,” today he told the BBC.
But on Saturday speaking to the media soon after visiting Malvathu Viharaya, Kariyawasam said that the Zonal Education Director has confirmed that the child’s father had died from HIV, and even the child’s mother is HIV+.
“This is a tropical country and there are ways the child can contract it as he sleeps next to his mother. So we have requested the mother to hand over the child to probationary services, but if she doesn’t then we will get a court order and take him away,” he said. He had also threatened to take a court order and separate the child from the mother, because as Sri Lanka is a tropical country and as the child sleeps next to the mother, he too can contract HIV.
Maithree Wickramasingha, wife of Premier Wickremesinghe, who is a Professor and specializes in gender and women’s studies has been a key speaker on HIV/AIDS and other gender sensitive issues.
The Colombo Telegraph wishes to keep on record that it at no point distorted the education minister’s statement, but also included the unedited audio of his statement which was carried along with the story titled ‘Audio: Education Minister Akila Viraj Suffering From HIV Phobia; Threatens To Separate Kuliyapitiya Mother From Child’ which was published on March 6.
We publish below Karayawasam’s earlier statement again: