28 March, 2020

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Vulnerable Guests: A Reflection On Social Hospitality

By Bishop Duleep de Chickera

Bishop Duleep de Chickera

Bishop Duleep de Chickera

The Government’s decision to arbitrarily deport Pakistani refugee-asylum seekers is unacceptable and wrong.

Local stress

Asylum seekers usually leave their home countries due to fear or deprivation, or both. The Pakistanis on our soil are mostly from religious minorities (Christians and Islamic sects) who face immense hardship and discrimination under the harsh “Blasphemy Law”; questioned by a cross section of reasonable Pakistanis.

Global care

There is a standard procedure for dealing with refugee-asylum seekers. After their stories are processed by the UNHCR they are either sent to a third country or returned home. In some instances some are absorbed into the receiving country. Till these decisions are taken the role of the receiving country is to provide these vulnerable visitors with refuge.

Hina Milwood, 28, a Pakistani Christian refugee in Sri Lanka attends Mass with other refugees in Negombo town in January. (Photo courtesy: Jimmy Domingo | ucanews.com )

Hina Milwood, 28, a Pakistani Christian refugee in Sri Lanka attends Mass with other refugees in Negombo town in January. (Photo courtesy: Jimmy Domingo | ucanews.com )

If during this interim period any of them flout the law of the receiving country or the terms of interim refuge, these persons only, are to be dealt with in consultation with the UNHCR and in accordance with the law.  A breach of the law, while applications are being processed should however not be a reason for deportation.

Inclusive compassion 

This procedure does not ask too much of us. We are a paradoxical people who in-spite of the violence and hardship of decades have not lost our traditional sense of hospitality. This is largely because of the influence of Gautama Buddha, “The Compassionate One,” whose teaching on loving-kindness (metta) embraces all life including the stranger. It is not by accident that we refer to the stranger (amuththa) in our midst, as guest (amuththa) also. She is to be received with loving-kindness.

This call to inclusive compassion is echoed by Jesus, “The Man for others” who advocated for dignity for those the Bible calls the “helpless and harassed” (S. Matt. 9.36). In doing so Jesus endorsed a central Biblical theme which repeatedly stresses our obligation to provide protection and dignity for widows, orphans and strangers in our midst.

Test of civilisation

These three human categories remain the continuing vulnerable in any society. Their safety and dignity depends on the compassionate collective conscience of a nation. The extent to which this happens reflects the civilisation of a people. Correspondingly, a government which arbitrarily punishes vulnerable stranger-guests at our doorstep, (regardless of not being signatories to the Refugee Convention) has lost its soul.

Selective advocacy

But it is not the government alone that is accountable. Other political and religious voices, that remain silent in this instance, are also accountable. Selective advocacy, that bypasses the cries of vulnerable others simply because they are not our own, amounts to expedient advocacy.  It exposes a lack of consistency and undermines our credibility when we raise issues that affect our own well-being.

Courage to change

While a more lasting solution clearly lies in the review and repeal of the Blasphemy law in Pakistan, we can still make an interim   difference by going the first mile. This would require that the deportation be stopped and the fifteen hundred plus insecure Pakistani strangers-guests at our doorstep be given refuge under customary international law flavoured with Sri Lankan hospitality till their cases are processed and decisions made.

Sanity to protect

Inclusive compassion is not a one way street. It teaches us new lessons on human kindness and makes us a more integrated people. Above all, it helps us retain our sanity to protect one another regardless of who we are, and where we come from.

With Peace and Blessings to all

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Latest comments

  • 1
    4

    This Bishop Duleep de Chickera is a shill of the Mara regime:

    He has uttered lies to Hillery Clinton and others about the war crimes committed by Sri Lanka.

    Now he has facilitated the meeting of the genocidaire Mahinda and his entourage with the pope.

    If he is talking for the refugees asking for asylum in Sri Lanka now, he is a racist hypocrite pretending to be a good man.

    Mara regime has made stooges out of the supreme court judges, elections commissioner, and the Sinhalese Catholic hierarchy is not spared either.

    • 3
      2

      Thiru,

      What can I say? Being a hopeless Tamil racist is bad enough. What is worse is being totally stupid. And you are both. A stupid Tamil racist.

      Bishop Duleep de Chickera is known for raising his voice against injustice.

      I don’t think Chickera has anything to do with Pope’s visit either. He is an Anglican Bishop. Not Catholic.

      The way Sri Lanka is handling persecuted Pakistani refugees is awful. Bishop Chickera is absolutely right.

      Cheers!

      • 0
        5

        Ben Hurling,

        Don’t brand others when they come out with a view: It shows your intolerant attitude, be humble mate.

        I know more about Chickera than you do: Obviuoslty you are not in touch with recent independent news.

        Don’t behave like a Sinhala racist, which you are!

        • 1
          2

          Bishop Duleep de Chickera,

          I apologize it is not Chickera I am referring to but Malcom Ranjith.

          Thiru

          • 5
            0

            Thiru,

            OK then. I withdraw “totally stupid” comment.

            While you are at it, you might want to double check your “Tamil Genocide” facts as well. I believe they are just as flawed. Intentionally flawed to benefit from it.

            Cheers!

            • 1
              2

              Ben Hurling

              “While you are at it, you might want to double check your “Tamil Genocide” facts as well.”

              If it was not genocide what do you call what had happened in Vanni from January to May 2009 or before and after?

              I am only curious.

              • 2
                0

                Native,

                Unspeakable beastiality took place in Vanni Theatre, during final stages of the Ealam War IV. Takes two to Tango.

                It may sound terrible, but to have a Genocide you need to have thousand times more bestiality. Has to be pre-meditated and meticulously implemented to wipe out a whole people.

                what had happened in Vanni from January to May 2009 fell far short.

                Therefore much to the utter disappointment of Ealamistas in London, NY, Geneva & Paris, who were eagerly hoping for a old school style Genocide did not take place.

                Therefore the Ealam Die-ass-pora’s propaganda coup was flushed down the tiolet by higher powers.

                Cheers!

  • 4
    1

    Now he has facilitated the meeting of the genocidaire Mahinda and his entourage with the pope.

    The Bishop is an Anglican. The Pope on the other hand is a Puritan. I don’t think two factions co-operate at the level you imagine. Its been that way since King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his 5th wife.

  • 0
    5

    It doesn’t matter if he is an Anglican or puritan, but he is a shill of the despicable Mara junta.

    • 2
      0

      Before being an Anglican he is first and foremost a compassionate human being. On the other hand you, Thiru are a Tamil racist first and barely human second. Anybody who disagrees with Eelam is a target for you. Anybody who disagrees with the government is a target for them. Same thing.

  • 1
    1

    I cannot understand Bishop Chickera’s logic.

    On the one hand he helps Neo-cons, their NGOs and evangelists and etc to accuse Sri Lanka government for war crimes at UNHCR saying it also violates human rights of Christians and Muslims in the country. On the other hand he expect that very same government to let Christian and Muslim refuges stay put in Sri Lanka and/or use it as a transit point.

    Now don’t get me wrong, We Sinhala Buddhists sympathize and help persecuted people regardless their race or religion.

    Correct me if I am wrong Bishop, whether he is called Yahweh or Allah, both Christians and Muslims are followers of ‘One God’. When one party insist it is the will of the ‘One God’ for them to correct (persecute) the other and/or its own sects we Sinhala Buddhists like to keep out of that ‘One God’ initiated fight. Let ‘One God’ decide which of his word is correct.

    • 4
      1

      mechanic

      “Now don’t get me wrong, We Sinhala Buddhists sympathize and help persecuted people regardless their race or religion.”

      I am lost for words, very touching.

      If Sinhala/Buddhists stop organising periodical pogroms they need not to sympathise and help the persecuted people. You are the persecutor.

      For a start stop spewing hatred against yourself. Stand before a mirror and repeat “I am learning to love myself”. This simple exercise three times a day would help you cure imbalances in your brain.

      • 1
        1

        I cannot help for kallathoni vedda chose to live in a cocoon.

      • 0
        0

        Dear Native,

        Mechanic is spot on.

        My elders tell me we accepted over One Million Boat people from your ancestors’ Turf, although Ms Jayalalitha has forgotten.

        That was long before the LTTE got special Visas from the West .

        Ms Jayalalitha is a Brahamin . I hear …

        Even your Vellala CM’s lot didn’t want to have anything to do with them.

        And poor Mano Ganeshan is still trying.

        I asked my elders , whether those people were Hindus and the answer was yes.

        Sinhala Budhists in the South didn’t lay even the index finger on anyone, despite Mr Prabakaran was running Tuition classes 24/7 to train his followers how to hate and kill Sinhalese ,for well over three decades.

        And your Vellala mates in the TNA who took over from Prabakran, even called our Sinhala Buddhists Grease Yakkos who come to rape their lovely women.

        Still our Sinhala Buddhists didn’t lose their cool, until Norwegians gave scholarships to BBS boss and his deciples.

        Even then they were soon brought in to line soon, because the great majority of the Sinhala Buddhist inhabitants do not , I emphasizes.do not condone hurting their fellow inhabitants.

        On the other hand aren’t your new Vellala Buddies in the TNA ( or are they old buddies) totally embedded with the Elites and the Party of the Intelligentsia who are responsible for both pogroms?.

  • 1
    0

    I wonder: if the refugees from Pakistan had been Buddhhist, would the reaction have been quite different? Is it that religious affilication counts more than our common, shared, humanity?

    C. S.

    • 2
      1

      Charles Sarvan

      “our common, shared, humanity”

      When did we have anything common, except pain, suffering and war crimes?

      Humanity, what is that?

      The things that you find most common among Sinhala and Tamil speaking people are

      their stupid gene and their tendency to self destruct.

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 1
    0

    A mass protest was held opposite Bishop`s House in Jaffna yesterday, by those mourning the death of a young woman, who committed suicide by jumping into a well at Gurunagar, Jaffna on Monday, 14 April. The crowd, mourning the death of 22-year-old, Jerome Consolita, shouted slogans seeking justice from the Catholic Bishop of Jaffna, Rt. Rev. Thomas Savuntharanayagam, claiming the girl had committed suicide due to depression after she had been sexually abused by a Catholic priest.

    The Bishop told the Jaffna crowd, it was not the Military but it was one of them who enabled her to visit all Martyrs created by Emmanuel & the LTTE.

    The crowd dispersed happily thereafter.

  • 1
    0

    Over to K A Sumanaya for his comic comments now!

  • 0
    0

    Yesterday a Christian couple, laborers aged 25 and 22 were burned alive parents to three children and the woman a pregnant mother. Because it is alleged they have insulted that Arabic book called koran which some of here (ex fazl muhammed) called to incorporate into SL law. After reading the news I am more than convinced we should toil hard to stop the deportation of these destitute people to that shariyah land. Is there any process or movement we can join? A church in SL engaged in these things?

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