9 December, 2022

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The Unheard Cries Of The Many Hejaaz Hizbullahs

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

“Respect other people’s feelings. It might mean nothing to you, but it could mean everything to them.” – Roy T. Bennett

Today, it is extremely sad to see the basic and simple instinct of feeling in man has eroded making him numb and insensitive. This is the result of a continuing gradual social transformation catalysed by several factors. Social scientists would be better positioned to explain this phenomenon.

Feeling is an emotional state. It manifests anger, sadness, love, affection, happiness in a person. Many thoughtful expressions by various personalities describe feelings. It has been said, “when a person stops feeling he becomes a graveyard.” “Pain of hurt lasts a lifetime.” “Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.” Famously, Confucius said, “Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?”

Tearful Farewell

In relation to feelings, I put myself in the shoes of Hejaz whose woes are publicly known. I tried to draw a parallel to one of my own experiences of a different kind. Certainly, not even a close comparison to what he had to painfully endure. Yet, some remote semblance familiar to his feelings and the feelings of his wife and that of his parents.

I go back to several decades, when we, as newly married, lost our first baby two days after birth. Coincidentally, he died on my birthday. After couple of years, I was offered a foreign employment opportunity. At that time my wife was pregnant with the second baby. I was undecided about going abroad given the experience of our first baby son and the trauma my wife went through. Finally, at the airport I bid a tearful farewell to my parents and my wife. These tears had the mixed emotions of both joy and sadness. Joy that I was going to earn petro dollars – good for the family. Sadness, as I was going away from my loved ones. In this sadness were other feelings like fear, doubt and worry about the unknown, as I was travelling to a foreign land for the first time. By the way, the month was April.

The mixture of feelings for Hejaz of course, was totally different. It was everything excepting joy – fear, doubt, distress and worry.

Condescending And Deceptive

“Pain of hurt lasts a lifetime.” When you are a respected person in society and an acknowledged professional among the legal fraternity, you naturally carry an aura of personality within you. Anything that offends or undermines that distinction demoralizes the person.

On April 14, 2020 a few persons who had earlier deceptively called themselves as health officers on the phone, entered Hejaaz’s house saying they were CID officials. They handcuff him, then removes it. They question him, search his Chambers and tell him that he is under arrest. As a legal practitioner, it immediately challenges his reputation and a forceful invasion of his privacy. Is such conduct deliberate? To purposely demoralize a person psychologically. His wife who is a foreigner was pregnant with their first baby. One can imagine the agony, uncertainty, anxiety that would have overwhelmed Hejaz and his wife. How is such behavior characterized, as domineering, arrogance, high handedness or polite, humble or civil? “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: It is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.” (C.S. Lewis)

The Eventful Tweet

Time passed on agonizingly with fading hopes as each day dawns until 15 November 2020 when people read the following tweet from, Justice For Hejaaz@Justice4Hejaz – “Early this morning Hejaz’s wife gave birth to their first child. Hejaz still remains in detention without charge as he was for the past 7 months and missed the precious moment of welcoming his baby daughter into this world. How long do we have to wait for Justice?”

Illusive Justice

Missing someone and not being able to see (your own first baby) them is the worst feeling ever. The answer to the question raised in the tweet is of course difficult to answer given the uncertainty on several fronts. However, for the countless number of well-wishers seeking justice for Hejaz, there was a thin line of hope when the bail matter was taken up. “Romesh de Silva, President’s Counsel who appeared for Hizbullah, told the Court of Appeal that his client had been in remand for over two years without a reasonable allegation to go through such an ordeal. It was argued that he had been baselessly accused of holding Arabic Classes for children in Puttalam. He has also been falsely connected to the attempt to bomb the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo, in April 2019.” (Island, 03.02.2022).

A sigh of relief on 07 February 2022. Sri Lankan court granted bail for him. Yamini Mishra, South Asia Director of Amnesty International welcoming the development said: “Ever since he was arrested in April 2020, prosecutors have only brought baseless accusations against him. Hejaz is a respected lawyer and minority rights activist who should have never been detained in the first place.” An important observation she made was “hundreds of others remain in detention for charges related to ‘terrorism’ which the authorities have repeatedly used to target minority groups and state critics.”

For the wife and parents who were hither and thither between the synthesis of hope and despair the month of February 2022 brought some relief. Hejaaz was granted conditional bail after being incarcerated for more than two years.

My Return

I managed to press on with my foreign job for one year with great difficulty. During this period of physical separation, I began to value what we all generally take for granted – the true meaning of parents, siblings, wife and children. What is love, affection, warmth, care and attachment? In the meantime, my wife had delivered a baby girl and I was not close to her at that momentous event especially, after our earlier experience.

I resigned from my job after the completion of one year as I just could not continue being separated. My parents, wife and our little baby girl were at the airport to receive me. All were happy and did the traditional bear hugs BUT, my little daughter refused to come to me. She started to cry staring at me. I was a stranger to her. I felt very sad as she was partly the reason for my hurried return. It took some time for her to acknowledge my presence in the house and being close to her mother.

I was imagining if Hejaz, too, went through the same experience. This are human feelings which many people forget or callously ignore whenever they are in a state of power, position or domination. A person can be a President or a Prime Minister or from CID, TID or any place but that person cannot deny the universal truth that he or she is first a human being. Unfortunately, empathy which is a quality of good character is hardly seen in many people. Being sensitive to the feelings of other people is seen only in those who have had such an upbringing.

Do Justice To Detainees

Following the Easter Sunday attack and arrests, hundreds of Hejaazs are going through this agony and in a state of depression. Regrettably, not many to voice their concerns. Several parents waiting in anxiety as each day passes anticipating their sons’ freedom. So many wives and children longing to see their husbands and fathers back home.

To empathise is to say, “I have feelings too.” This plea is for the Investigators, the Attorney General and the other relevant authorities who wield power. Please empathize with those who have been detained for far too long. Let the rule of law apply to these persons.

“If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.” – Louis Brandeis.

*The writer can be reached via email: ctcolumn@yahoo.com

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Latest comments

  • 13
    13

    Mr.Usuf , I have no issue with all this fine sentiments.

    However, this world that God is said to have created is a lot more complex.

    When there are bombs, terrorist attacks we see a lot of death and destruction.

    Those who die in those attacks also have parents, children, brothers , sisters etc.

    All those prisoners and detainees in Saudi, Afghanistan, Guantanamo bay, China, Pakistan, India also have families.

    What do we do ?

    Who will decide whether a person is guilty or not ?

    Can a set of mullahs try the case against the Easter bombers ?

    You will say our system is bad. What do you recommend ?

    • 8
      6

      ds
      You have to go to Iran to find mullahs who try cases. Also, they do not bomb churches in Iran.
      “You will say our system is bad. What do you recommend ?”
      Couldn’t someone say “anything else’ in pl;ace of this?

    • 12
      5

      deepthi silva,
      Just go back to 1958, 1977 or1983 and think about those thugs and criminals dragging women, elderly from Colombo city and burning them in petrol in front of armed security forces which are enjoying the firework.

    • 7
      3

      Your Levity,
      Deepthi
      Is deplorable.

      • 2
        2

        There is rumour that Hejaz Hisbullah was taken into custody on the instigation of Suresh Sallay due to a private vendetta. Hejaz Hisbulla is a trustee of an organization which had funded the bombers, but no one says that he is directly involved in the atrocity. Therefore he is culpable not amounting to crime. He should not have been remanded, but questioned about the membership and activity of the organization, and if he had cooperated fully with investigators, produced in courts and discharged on suspended sentence. Several Tamils have been arrested, remanded for long period without being brought to court and sentenced to several years imprisonment for similar offence. Law should be equal to all and should not be respecter of persons position. Tamil members of TRO, doing charitable work to help Tamil orphans and destitute with LTTE funds, have been imprisoned and a few killed.

    • 1
      1

      dreaded deepthi silva

      “When there are bombs, terrorist attacks we see a lot of death and destruction.”

      Well even when there were no bombs, terrorist attacks, …… people still died in 1915, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1974, 1977, …. 1981, 1983, ……. Wwell who was responsible for all those death, destruction, ……?

      “Can a set of mullahs try the case against the Easter bombers ?”

      Can racist bigoted Sinhala/Buddhists crooks …………………… ?

  • 9
    0

    Greed for power and money overrides emotions and values. To retain the former, human beings are known to become vile and descend to lowest depths.
    Though greed shows up whenever something is not in abundance, and we become greedy for it, some like the R’s have enough money for generations and power enough after 20A. But they are insatiable.

  • 2
    0

    MyView an example of the R’s many crimes can be found here. Sinhalese or Tamil, Rajapaksa or Nadesan, UNP or SLPP, I wouldn’t trust any politician. https://www.icij.org/investigations/pandora-papers/sri-lanka-rajapaksa-family-offshore-wealth-power/

    • 1
      0

      Dear Paul,
      Niru-Nadesan looting is only a “pennies” matter considering the big game looting by Mahinda Namal Basil & Gota.
      Thanks to Ranil, all covered up.

  • 7
    0

    On going criticism regarding AGs department activities at present, better to mention Gehan Gunatilleke’s writings on Hijas Hisbulla

    https://www.ft.lk/Columnists/Hejaaz-A-lawyer-for-all-seasons/4-699988

    He was not just interested in winning an argument. I detected in him a deeper commitment to justice. He did not see himself merely as a representative of the State; he saw himself as an officer of justice. 
    Hejaaz was the lawyer who represented Election Commissioner Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole before the Supreme Court in the case concerning the unlawful dissolution of Parliament.

    It is unconscionable that an officer of the court is now being deprived of his basic right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. He is yet to be produced before a judge, and is yet to be given meaningful access to his lawyers

    Even before a judge has had the opportunity to examine Hejaaz (let alone make an order with regard to his case), he is being pronounced ‘guilty’ through a vicious and prejudicial media narrative against him. 

    • 0
      1

      Asgar,
      Good morning,
      So from what you say, perhaps the motive for PTA confinement of Hijas Hisbulla is deeper than ‘claimed’ involvement beyond Easter Sunday events!!
      Goes to the grudge of depriving the ill-gotten opportunity in 2018 with the connivance of “Maru Sira”111
      What a world? Sordid!!!
      The same scenario as pre 2015??
      the ‘GUY’ asks the public/voters, “why are they re-electing the same people over and over again, if they are dissatisfied?”
      True, these guys take the Sri Lankans as idiots and fools, fallingfor their gimmicks and stories. Kill any amount, collateral damage and come to power to rob!!!!

  • 8
    11

    Sisira, Levity ? When I compare these pseudonyms with their comments I cannot help it !

    These wogs have two obsessions , send their children to a Western country and talk holy.

    Their daily life only high lights ; lying, cheating , bribing , condemning and general immorality.

    What do you think of the lynching in Pakistan ?

    • 4
      2

      DS,
      You wouldn’t by any chance be related to A14455, would you? I believe your mask has slipped. Talk a bit more, so we can make sure.

  • 7
    4

    Deepthi
    Address the issue.
    If you need to quote examples, pick up enough from Sri Lanka.
    30 year war in North and east, is it what innacent Tamils asked. They saw day and night the bombs, crossfire,while you and I passed through an ‘isolated; (can count the number)and cry for ‘peace’.you won/got in 2009. What a missary the Tamils and to some extent Muslims in Sri Lanka, are subjected to up to now.
    You deserve a course like cultural revelutin in China.
    Yes you deserve, leaders like Gota, you belong to a sick nation, you are part of it.

  • 6
    6

    Sisira , I belong to a sick nation ? Not Sisira ! Great !

    Codger, Cant you rise above yourself? Now you want to investigate me-Please read the message , not attack the messenger.

    In Developed cultures, they don’t care who the writer is, who his father is, who his relatives are, what his religion is, what caste, where he studied- it is the message that matters.

    You have very personalized approach. A very Sri Lankan mind set.

    As for me, I will not spent one second trying to find out who you are. it is not worth my time or effort.

    • 6
      3

      D.S,
      “In Developed cultures, they don’t care who the writer is, who his father is,”
      Aren’t you the same guy who wrote:”These wogs have two obsessions , send their children to a Western country”. You talk of “developed cultures” but describe as “wogs” those who want to go there.
      At least be consistent. I couldn’t care less who you are, but you do have some of that other fake’s attitudes.

  • 3
    3

    ———————-Respect other people’s feelings—————-

    Here’s how it is done:

    Pick any Sunday Morning.
    Walk into a church, Buddhist temple or Hindu Kovil.
    Wear a Backpack and Kabooom.

    • 2
      4

      Reginald Shameless Pererass

      Brilliant
      Fresh idea.
      How about “final solution” for minorities?
      Once and for all you could solve the minority problem.

      Keep up your good work.

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