By Tamara Wickremabahu –
None of the Heads of the Countries of the Commonwealth I believe would endorse the forced entry of the “Bodu Bala Sena” (BBS) into the Human Rights Festival yesterday. Also, the delegates would see this incident as a scandal. This unruly act has to be condemned by all who respect the values of the commonwealth.
The organizers had a particular purpose in holding this exhibition. It was to inform the local and the international community the type of undemocratic governance that is prevailing in the country. There was an open agenda for the festival and had nothing to hide about it.
Instances of violations of human rights are reported not only from the North but also from the South and that after the end of the war. In the recent times, a worker was killed by the Police while the workers were protesting against the pension scheme proposed by the government. At another time a fisherman in Chilaw was shot by the army while the whole fisher community was engaged in a protest against the hike of fuel prices. It was this year that people at Rathupaswela who lost their sources of drinking water due to pollution caused by the effluents of a glove factory. During the protest at Weliveriya against pollution, three youth were killed due to gun shots fired by the army. At another instance dozens of prisoners were killed inside the Welikada prison.
Only those who have become blind as a result of their greed for power and wealth cannot recognize these incidents as violations of human rights. Instead they brand the activists as traitors and supporters of the channel 4 and Tamil Diaspora. Obviously those critics who cannot understand these as violations of human rights are serving the political agenda of perpetrators of violence.
If any wrong was done by the organizers of human rights festival, the BBS ought to know what law permits them. To do anything beyond the law of the land would mean taking the law into their own hands. It should be noted that this is not the first time that BBS has behaved in this unruly manner.
But on no occasion have the authorities taken them to task for the illegal behavior by the members of the BBS. Does it mean that the authorities are affirming and encouraging the unruly behavior of the BBS for a political purpose? Also are the authorities manipulating them to undermine democracy to their advantage?
There have been occasions when the authorities deploy the army or the police undemocratically to control people’s democratic actions but using religious groups to curtail people’s freedom is a recent phenomenon.
The event shows to the whole world what is happening in Sri Lanka as regards democratic governance.