By Upul Jayasuriya –
Let me briefly explain this situation before I advert your attention to issues that are more important to the BASL and the society at large.
Upon my complaining to the Police about the incidents that have caused concerns to my security commencing from the 15th of July, the Executive Committee of the BASL moved court seeking Police protection for me. The circumstances that prompted the EXCO of the BASL to move court was that there have been large number of instances where in private citizens too have been granted such security as provided for under section 22 of the Police Ordinance including an instance wherein a brother of a victim from Wanathamulla has been granted such security with six guards upon an undertaking given by a DIG in the Magistrates court.
The Authorities denied similar security that was sought by the head of the UN-official Bar that leads the legal fraternity with a membership of over 15,000.
What have we done in the past? Have we acted in keeping with the objectives of the BASL constitution?
I would like to bring to your attention some of the objectives of the BASL that is encompassed in its constitution.
- the extension of co-operation and support towards the maintenance of the honour and independence of the Judiciary of Sri Lanka;
- the consideration of matters of national importance relating to the Rule of Law and Administration of Justice and if need be, making of representatives thereon to the Government and/or any other relevant authority and taking any further steps in respect thereof including filing of actions or intervening in actions in Courts of Justice;
- the promotion, observance and the protection of Human rights and liberties including the protection of the right of access to the Courts and of legal representation before Courts, Tribunals and other persons or bodies, judicial, administrative and investigating authorities
We have fought when the independence of the Judiciary was challenged.
We have fought for the Rule of Law.
We have fought for the rightful appointments to the Apex Court.
We have not hesitated to take up matters that are of concern to the members of the civil society when their rights have been violated by those who are entrusted to safeguard their rights by statute. We have considered all people equally irrespective of their cast, creed or community.
We have not only looked to the welfare of the legal fraternity with regard to their wellbeing and facilities but also other issues such as when they were suppressed or had cause to complain.
Under the present leadership of the BASL we have been successful in holding the largest number of continuing legal education seminars and residential seminars.
We have contributed to the development of the Colombo Law Library and other infrastructure facilities of the BASL.
Moreover we have intervened and taken up the cause of the victims when innocent lives were lost in Ratupaswala.
We have intervened and taken up the cause in the matter of residents in Wanathamulla.
We have intervened and taken up the cause of those victims in minuwangoda, Nittambuwa, Badulla etc.
We have intervened and taken up the issue of the mass grave in Matale.
We have also intervened and taken up the issues when Civilian life was hampered in Beruwala, Aluthgama and Dharga Town,
We have taken up the issues of those in the North, whose ancestral houses along with lands in excess of 10000 acres were grabbed by the authorities in violation of the statutory provisions.
We have voiced for the voiceless!
We have been the power for the powerless!
We have been the strength for the week!
Mahatma Gandhi said, that ” he understood Democracy that gives the weak the same chance as the strong.” This is the rule of equality That is enshrined in our Constitution. Lord Buddha preached this 2600 years ago. If we are to work for this goal…. If we are to continue to work for this goal it would be inevitable that not only me, you or every one of us would be called upon to pay a price. We do not know whether it is just a price or the supreme sacrifice!
“Do we not have the right and duty to weep for the collapse of national institutions that we value.
Where is the Independent Public Service Commission?
Where is the Independent Civil Administration?
Where is the Independent Education service?
Where is the Independent Foreign service?
Where is the Independent Police Service?
Where is the Independent Judicial Service?
We are told that it is only traitors who criticize the quality of governance in our institutions. Yet I cry for my beloved country. I can only cling to the hope that some day, some time we will recreate the institutions we have collectively destroyed by our apathy and indifference and we realize the promise of peace and freedom”
Let’s be ready without having to regret as the German anti Nazi theologian, Martin Niemoller who waited until the Nazis knocked on his door!
Let me say this. They can kill me! But not my voice!
They can kill the messenger but not the message, for I shall not kneel down and plead for mercy from those who should be pleading for mercy from the Nation!
Nelson Mandela the great Lawyer turned politician told Court at the commencement of the Rivonia Trial in 1964, after which he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
“During my lifetime I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.
It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.
But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Quoting the great poet, Rabindranath Tagore
Let me not pray to be sheltered from danger,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield,
but to my own strength.
Give me strength never to disown the cause of justice or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA / August 17, 2014
They can kill ALL OF US !,They Can White van US!
But not Our Heroic voices for the democratic and free society,
In which all communities live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. !
Kakka / August 17, 2014
Gota has never heard of a white Van. ,
Aththa Kiyanna / August 18, 2014
The saying reminds of Lasantha Wickramatunga’s famous last words written by someone else – Next they will come for me!
Another wannabe hero among us?
Ansar / August 17, 2014
Hats off to you for the bold and courageous step you have taken for the sake of a Nation, which has been snatched by a MURDEROUS REGIME for the perpetuation of their power.
We need more men of your calibre and boldness to come out openly and resist this murderous regime, but where can we find. I regret to say that even most of us including me write under synonymous names just to protect our ourselves from this marauding murderers who pounce like wolves to eliminate any dissent. In that sense you are a real man and I salute you for that. May the creator of this Universe protect you from these murderers. That is the only thing we can look for when the Police, who is supposed to protect the citizens of our country had pledged their allegiance to the murderous family and their cronies.
We can only look above for our protection.May the blessings of the Triple Gem be bestowed on you and protect you from the fates that had befallen many a heroes of your calibre, like LASANTHA WICKRAMATUNGE, PRAGEETH EKNEHALIYAGODA and the likes.
My prayers will always be there for you.
Ram / August 17, 2014
” head of the UN-official Bar “
Sorry, is this a UN approved entity or is it the unofficial bar ?
Native Vedda / August 17, 2014
“is this a UN approved entity or is it the unofficial bar ?”
It is unapproved by clan and Urgently Needs a backbone Operation,
Amarasiri / August 17, 2014
Upul Jayasuriya –
RE: They Can Kill Me! But Not My Voice!
Remember, Offense is the Best defense.
1. Have your own protection force.
2. Put on notice, that if you were killed, make the List of 50 suspects will be eliminated.
3. Publish the List of suspects, who will be eliminated.
4. Let then know that those who commit the crimes and those who are behind it will be hunted down and eliminated.
justice / August 17, 2014
A citizen’s need for legal protection and advice is most when he is arrested by the police or army (who have ‘police powers’),without any reason for the arrest being given to him or his family members.
But, not a single lawyer wishes/dares to advise the citizen in police stations or other venues, soon after arrest,be present during his interrogation, safeguard his rights, prevent abuse,object to unlawful methods of extracting “confessions”, and be present to accompany him to any other venues where he may be taken for location of ‘weapons’ and/or any other material evidence against him.
All these functions are carried out by lawyers in most other countries, which uphold the Rule of Law.
Unless and until our lawyers come forward to do this, the average citizen will have no regard whatsoever for the legal fraternity.
Backlash / August 17, 2014
How can the Rajapakses continue to fool the country and the world everything is normal under their militarised rule when the head of the
Bar Association pleads his life is in danger – for trying to
protect the rule of the law for all of us. The man is trailed in an intimidatory fashion. And, the Police virtually refuse to prevent this. In fairness to the Police I might add the Police are threatened not to do their lawful duty. One might argue how can they because the Army – thatin any decent society should be in barracks – is now far more powerful and uiquitous than any other force in the country. The army is habitually used to harassing, threatening and even killing innocent civilians. Let not the Rajapakses fool themselves the world is not taking note of their cunning or their evil ways.
Once again we are reminded when this fate befell the Tamils in the NEP years ago we dared not raise a finger. Why should we? They are after all dispensable Tamils. Now the evil is with us and visits many of us daily – in all parts of the country.
Jim softy / August 18, 2014
If he stops his voice he loses his foreign income.
govt should start taxing foreign incomes of these people too.
ela kolla / August 18, 2014
has this guy applied for visa in a western country?
Wickramasiri / August 18, 2014
I commend Upul Jayasuriya and the Bar Association for standing up to this corrupt and lawless government of Mahinda Rajapaksa. On being interviewed after his first election as President of Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa declared quote ” What is the point in being President if I cannot even appoint the OIC of Tangalla Police”unquote. For him every thing was firstly about himself. The people of the country came far down the line, long after family, party, and friends. The members of the BASL must stand together to resist the deterioration of law and order and the rule of law and not permit sabotage by government sycophants.
Saman Wijesiri / August 18, 2014
Thank God! Mr. Upul Jayasuriya you are not a meek mouse like your immediate predecessor!
Of course, I don’t mean to run down your your predecessor. He is a good man, but lacks guts, the important leadership quality.
Mohamed / August 18, 2014
I respect you sir, if only we had another handful more of your type in influential positions, our country will be a true wonder of Asia.
K.A Sumanasekera / August 18, 2014
Very impressive list of ” Taken Up Issues” by SASL Boss.
I thought he would have taken up at least a few cases pertaining to the Sinhala Buddhists, specially the poor village folk in Aranthalawa,Anuradapura and Somawathiya , and even next door to Hultsdorf and try to get some compensation for the poor dependants and survivors.who don’t have the moolay to go to court.
Plus some Prob Bono work for the poor Sinhala Buddhists villagers who don’t have the dough to pay these caring Lawyers when little legal stoushes occur among them.
BTW, is there a clause in the BASL constitution , seeking Regime change as well?..
Sharm / August 19, 2014
Happy that you are the head of the BASL and what you have started as the President needs to be praised. You are in a position and well placed to take up these matters of national concern and be heard at the national and international level.
You hold a position that MUST BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.
Make use of it for the sake of those are not in the position you are in.
You have set an example for elected leaders of all professional associations and chambers of commerce and industry. Hope your actions will open the eyes of leaders of professional associations and chambers of commerce and industry to note that they stand naked.
you have set the standard for others to join your efforts.
Keep up the good work.