Gross human rights violations in Sri Lanka during anti-terror drive

Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe

Gross human rights violations and an apparent anti-Muslim state terror seem to prevail in Sri Lanka in relation to a number of investigations.

None of these investigations are complete yet. However, with past bad records of police investigations, specially due to bad records of manipulating the contexts by officials for personal revenge and messing with racism, we are compelled to be suspicious.

The investigation on a Muslim medical doctor in Kurunegala in the Northwestern Province on charges of sterilizing Sinhala women during caesarian section had raised many eyebrows. The doctor was accused of having links with National Thawheed Jamaath, the terror outfit that launched the Easter Sunday series of attacks taking more than 250 lives.

The investigation was initiated after a racist report on a Sinhala nationalist daily. Initially police headquarters rejected information on such investigation but a day later a doctor was arrested over a charge related to earning assets illegally.

The doctor is a candidate of the 2015 general election and his party was All Ceylon Muslim Congress led by Minister Rishad Badiudeen, a politician who is under scathing attack of the Sinhala nationalist elements after the Easter Sunday attacks. However, apparently, no substantial concrete evidence has still been provided to arrest the politician other than his allies being in connivance with the bombers. Such complicity was even with many other politicians and the father of two suicide cadres was even a national list candidate of the People’s Liberation Front (JVP). Sinhala nationalist JVP is not blamed equally like Rishad’s party.

The arrest was made under the orders of the Deputy Inspector General of the area whose wife is also a colleague doctor in the same hospital the arrested doctor worked. The powers of the DIG to make such arrest on possession of so-called suspiciously earned assets is questionable.

The Director of the hospital came forward after the arrest and said that the doctor had told him in a said investigation that he had conducted several thousand caesarians. The director apparently meant to attribute to the allegations against the doctor over sterilization. This senior public official is blatantly violating the Establishment Code that governs the behaviour of the public employees. According to the Establishment Code, he can neither speak to media nor reveal the evidence submitted in an internal investigation or a disciplinary query.

Interestingly, the hospital director invited public to lodge complaints against the doctor who was arrested over other charges and now the people seem to be lodging some baseless allegations as complaints. The complainants must have even to undergo risky surgical tests to verify their claims. The way this investigation carried out is extremely erroneous even though the doctor is wrong.

Still, the media and a professor of government-owned Rajarata University are trying hard to penalize the arrested doctor. He might have engaged in many unscrupulous businesses as we think. It is quite normal among some of the doctors in Sri Lanka engaging in crazy kind of day and night private practice and many other businesses.

A similar error is being committed in terms of the arrest of the parliamentary employee who was even live telecast under arrest in a highly unethical manner. The parliament employee is apparently not connected to the National Thawheed Jamaath and he had been connected to a charity which conducted training such as leadership training for students.

The videos and photos of the arrested suspects are shown in media alluding them the members of the National Thawheed Jamaath risking their lives.

Muslims are arrested even for minor matters as well. 47-year-old M.R. Masahima, a resident of Hasalaka, unemployed wife of a casual construction worker, is in remand for weeks now for wearing a frock with an image of a steering wheel of a ship which police, some people of the area and the judge had claimed to be the Dharma Chakra, a Buddhist symbol.

Another Muslim man was arrested under suspicion recently at the airport because he had been reading the Quran during his flight.

Clear discrimination was displayed when a Sinhala terrorist was arrested over a charge of setting bombs in a school in Baduraliya in Western Province. The arrest or the follow-up was not covered by any media likewise they covered the arresting of Muslims.

Muslims were attacked on May 13 at Minuwangoda town in Gampaha district and other areas but the law enforcement against the culprits is lethargic. Deputy leader of Sinhala Nationalist Pivithuru Hela Urumaya party Madhumadhawa Aravinda who was seen in Minuwangoda town after the violence is wanted by police but he is absconding.

Gross human rights violations are taking place in Sri Lanka in terms of certain searches and investigations carried out by less professional bodies. However, police must be commended for the professionalism they displayed in terms of conducting the investigation on Easter Sunday terrorist attacks. Almost all the prime suspects are now under arrest and the terror outfit has been almost annihilated.