The entire nation of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka grieves a threnody of a mournful bloody Easter Sunday dirge, when the merchants of death, yet again, on the 21st of April of 2019 sold their freakish and violent merchandise of extremism replete with violent carnage, tragic mayhem, total lawlessness and resultant bedlam, to those salivating in the decrepitude of religious thralldom, as the country erupted in a maelstrom of cataclysmic hate, leaving human casualties in the triple digit range (including law enforcement officers), a similar number injured, a substantial number apprehended, a blundering ‘blood on their hands and what is left of their conscience’ Executive and Government scampering hither and thither to cover their State of nudity, a largely missing in immediate action ‘too little, too late’ Executive President, the sound and fury of the braying Opposition, and the smithereens of a fragile economy (tourism and hospitality businesses) strewn amidst the wreckage of charred places of worship (churches), with the smouldering cinders of broken faith, in its wake.
Even though April, as American-British poet T.S. Eliot prophesied in The Waste Land is the ‘cruelest month’, the urgent and tireless efforts of the Archbishop of Colombo, together with the too numerous to mention by name doctors, nurses and staff of the medical health care hospital services, law enforcement personnel at the ground level, newly empowered through emergency regulations, and conscientious citizens, have ensured that a semblance of sanity has prevailed.
Heads may roll in the case of certain seat warmers in the defence establishment, intelligence community and security apparatus, and the emperor may get new clothes, yet complicity continues at the highest levels of power and governance including in the Executive, administrative and legislative branches, whose clannish and abominable ‘protect our hides and to hell with the people’ policy has not only cost innocent lives but also precipitated a public relations fiasco of international magnitude.
Thus, If justice is to prevail in Sri Lanka, the pith and substance of Sections 112, 199 and 289 of the Penal Code ought to be invoked against the Executive and the Government, namely The Mendacious Seven – the President and Minister in charge of the portfolios/subjects of Defence, and Law and Order, Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, former Defence Secretary, Hemasiri Fernando, State Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene, Ministers Mano Ganesan and Harin Fernando, and the Inspector General of Police, Pujith Jayasundara, and the perfidious ‘lying through the teeth’ Parliamentarians. That their acts, primarily of omission, of absconding on their duty of care and thereby endangering both lives and property, come well within the ambit of criminal negligence or gross negligence is an understatement, and belies the despicable nature of their culpability.
Section 112 concerns public servants who voluntarily or intentionally conceals or illegally omits to notify of any information on and knowledge of the existence of a design to commit an offence which they became privy to and is their duty to prevent if they know that it is likely that the commission of an offence will be facilitated by such (The illustration under this Section specifically mentions Police officers) while Section 199 deals with the intentional omission on their part to give information of an offence by a person (whoever, knowing or having reason to believe that an offence has been committed) legally duty bound to inform and notify of such and Section 289 is regarding the willful neglect or omission to perform a statutory duty.
What are the many lessons to be learned from this tragedy? There are parallels between the series of coordinated terror attacks which took place in France in November of 2015 and the situation facing our country at present times, to the Sri Lanka of today.
Consider then the following:
Paris, the city of love, where songs flutter, hope according to chanteuse Edith Piaf blossoms, and in whose autumn sway, tramps and beggars are lulled to sleep, lies bleeding. In a series of coordinated terrorist attacks which included mass shootings, suicide bombings and hostage taking, over 100 have been killed, over 300 have been injured, and about 100 critically so. This is the Paris of the catacombs and the danse macabre.
The French have responded by declaring a state of emergency and by shutting down all borders. Who brought this bloody Christmas cheer, or what French President Francois Hollande has rightfully called ‘an act of war’, earlier than planned? It is none other than the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)/the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Without getting into the semantics of what is wrong with Islam (and there is plenty wrong) – that do-not-do-it-yourself-lifestyle guide, and putting aside the fatuous fallacies and superstitious drivel that are put forward by the apologists of the Quran who state that verses are taken out of context, in order to alternately wash their hands off or to justify this utopian disorder, it is an evident fact that it is not the self or ego that has been surrendered before the conception of a monotheistic god but the very submission of reason, sense and logic.
These ignoramuses who export terror are at present floundering. Their celebrity is founded on the aesthetic of torture porn and the calligraphy of gory ultra-violence, of human rights abuses and violations in the form of beheadings, war crimes, ethnic cleansings and the wanton destruction of cultural edifices. The ISIL/ISIS is in their death throes. Progress in some of the post-9/11 wars waged against the jihadists, may seem slow albeit due to the complex relationships of nurture that the West and the oil rich Middle East have maintained with the nature of terror. Yet campaigns led separately by, for an example, the United States of America (USA) and Russia, are through military might working towards relegating these holier-than-thou terrorists to their delusions of moral higher-ground, to their promised lands of bestial vestiges.
This latest attack, for which they have gleefully claimed credit for, is a resort to the last refuge of the terrorist – the spreading of chaos. Why France, one may ask? Why not the USA or Russia? Is it the ban on the niqab, the recent train attack that was thwarted, or as the ISIL/ISIS has allegedly claimed the involvement of France in the ongoing Civil Wars in Syria and Iraq? Secular France’s history is one of liberalism as exemplified by the stance taken on the Charlie Hebdo shooting. One cannot ignore the fact that France, dating even back before the time of Montaigne, the Age of Reason, the Age of Enlightenment and through to the fin-de-siecle, has been a pillar of the Western civilization too. This is also the case with their policy towards the problem of unmitigated migration. It is this enlightened approach that these miscreants have blatantly abused. How does one deal with this global affliction? Reason? Certainly not.
This is extremity and such extremity can only be dealt with further extremity. “We will lead the fight, and we will be ruthless.” Hollande promises. It is high time that the United Nations woke up the Arab world including the Middle East about these predominantly Sunni Muslim adherents of the accursed Wahhabism, and elsewhere Salafism, admonishing them into waging war against this evil. The question of the migrants, whose suffering is poignantly played out in the media as a spectacle, remains. In an era, where the threat to national security is considered as one involving the individual versus the almighty State, expenditure for defence in terms of budgets have come under fire, including even in Sri Lanka. Although the fact that Britain and Sri Lanka are islands has insulated these nations from the problem of migration faced by Europe, this barrier will not in itself be sufficient. It is clear that policies and institutions to recognize the threat of the spread of extremism and fundamentalism, and radicalization, in their ideological and practical forms are a must.
Who is it that is asking to become a citizen of a sovereign? Why? How do we discern between those who migrate for work and studies or to flee persecution and those who are wannabe murderers in the name of the allegedly omnipresent one. What is the guarantee a State can give its citizenry or its body politic, that their neighbours will not be the harbingers of their doom? This is a battle against the basest of all affronts – the threat to liberty and for freedoms guaranteed by declarations, charters, bills and constitutions the world over. When liberty and religious tolerance is at stake, national security must prevail above all else because it is the very presence of national security that will ensure an environment conducive for the individual to articulate their existence. Some wars are just for reasons of the right to go to war and the maintenance of the right conduct in war. This is one such ‘pacifism be damned’ war. The civilized world should unite to fight it. It is a confession of transgression at the temple of liberty.