By Jayantha Dhanapala –
The Friday Forum is gravely concerned about the security and well being of persons who have taken positions regarding the impeachment contrary to that of the government, and continue to do so. These comprise judges and other state officials, lawyers, various civil society groups and individuals.
The right to hold and to peaceably express different opinions, and to act lawfully in furtherance of them, is basic to a free society and must be respected not only by all organs of state but also by every member of the community. The fear now is not merely of possible public vilification, discrimination and victimisation but also of danger to personal security. Several lawyers, including those who appeared for the Chief Justice in the Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry, and two of our members, having received death threats have notified the law-enforcement authorities.
Last but not least Friday Forum also expresses its deep concern about the safety of the 43rd Chief Justice of Sri Lanka Dr Shirani Bandaranayake, regarding whom the Parliamentary Select Committee’s proceedings have been held a nullity by the Supreme Court, and who is regarded by many, including distinguished lawyers, as continuing to be the Chief Justice.
Whatever different opinion others may hold on Dr Shirani Bandaranayake’s present status, it is vital that adequate security be ensured for her and her family. In this context we view with shock and abhorrence the campaign carried on against her by the state-controlled media while she was indisputably the Chief Justice and facing the inquiry by the Parliamentary Select Committee. We likewise view with shock and abhorrence the facilities enjoyed by crowds to demonstrate against her outside Parliament and elsewhere, the contrasting interference with the right of persons critical of the impeachment to peacefully demonstrate in expression of their views, and the disgraceful spectacle of lighting crackers and the cooking and eating of ceremonial kiri buth (milk rice) on the public road outside her official residence, with Ministers of the Government reportedly participating, and the failure to ensure her a dignified and peaceful exit from her residence the following day.
The impunity and indeed official sanction with which all this was permitted to take place raises in us serious apprehension as to the future safety of this family. The responsibility of ensuring its security, as also that of the legal professionals, activists and others we have referred to earlier, falls fairly and squarely on those wielding political and governmental power. The Friday Forum urges all concerned, including the law officers of the state, to act with responsibility and impartiality at this important moment of our country’s history.
On behalf of Friday Forum, the Group of Concerned Citizens
Jayantha Dhanapala, Rt. Rev. Duleep de Chickera, Shanthi Dias, Dr. Upatissa. Pethiyagoda, Anne Abeysekara, Faiz-ur Rahman, Dhamaris Wickramasekera, Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran, Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, Tissa Jayatilaka, Javid Yusuf, Manouri Muttetuwegama, Dr. Deepika Udagama, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Dr. A. C. Visvalingam, Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, Suriya Wickremasinghe, Lanka Nesiah, Ahilan Kadirgamar, J.C. Weliamuna, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, Sithie Tiruchelvam, D. Wijayanandana, Ranjit Fernando, Danesh Casie Chetty, Chandra Jayaratne,