A friend's silence more hurtful than an enemy's sword

23 May 2014 04:26 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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For centuries Sri Lanka has bloomed with the hallowed culture of Buddhism, but in recent years we have been seeing a dangerous trend towards a culture of impunity. Ruling alliance politicians, especially their stooges and supporters including killers in underground crime syndicates seem to believe they could do whatever they want – from killings to corruption -- and get away through political influence, party politics in the police, political interference in the judicial process and related vices.

This may be one of the reasons for the growing number of brutal murders and robberies, rampant corruption where politicians, top officials and supporters are known to be plundering the resources of the country and the people through a multitude of means including kick-backs and commissions from unsolicited multi-million-dollar tenders for huge projects.



The latest case of partiality or duplicity of the Police was seen in how fast they acted or reacted to the recent killing of a constable



The latest case of partiality or duplicity of the Police was seen in how fast they acted or reacted to the recent killing of a constable. On Sunday the Police claimed they had tracked down a suspect at Ududumbara and claimed he was killed when he allegedly tried to attack the Police. In complete contrast, as we pointed out in a recent Daily Mirror Editorial, 34 journalists have been killed during the past nine years and not a single killer is in prison, though the Police say several special Police teams are investigating. Apparently they seem to be going round and round and ending up in the middle of nowhere for reasons which don’t need much investigation.

In a strong response to the latest killing of a suspect without trial or conviction, Human Rights Commissioner, Prathibha Mahanamahewa said Police should use more brain than brawn, be more creative and innovate new methods of apprehending suspects in this era of so many marvels in modern technology.

The HRC chairman said the recent trend and culture of killing suspects who were wanted for killing policemen was against the law. Various explanations might be given by the Police regarding these incidents. Killing a policeman is also wrong, but once a suspect is arrested his human rights must be respected and any punishment must be given by a court of law, Mahanamahewa said.

The HRC chairman said though the right to life was not guaranteed in our Constitution, it was guaranteed by the Supreme Court in a judgment given in 2003. Sri Lanka had also ratified the Convention on Civil and Political Rights in 1980 and according to this, the rights of every individual, including suspects, must be protected. In case of any problems the suspects should be taken before a court of law. Killing them could not be condoned in Sri Lanka or in any other part of the world.

The degeneration of the Police Department is part of the overall breakdown in the rule of law, with accountability, transparency and related virtues having gone with the wind. Though ruling party and other politicians are largely responsible for this crisis of civilisation, we all have been part of the problem and now we need to creatively work out a means of becoming part of the solution to save our country from becoming one of jungle law while the real jungles are being robbed with widespread deforestation by corrupt politicians and officials.

Many independent analysts believe there is little time left. The opposition parties need to put aside their petty differences over posts or powers and come together to find a credible candidate for the presidential election likely to be held next year. As seen in the past centuries, there is a lot of creative leadership talent in our country, and the old doors need to be opened for the emergence of leaders such as India’s new Prime Minister, the charismatic Narendra Modi, who is the son of a low caste tea seller.

He emerged despite opposition from veteran Bharathiya Janatha Party (BJP) leaders like L.K. Advani largely because Narendra Modi turned his home state of Gujarat into an economic power house of India. Mr. Modi is now set to 'Modify' India and part of the process may be the elimination of dynastic or inheritance politics.

As far as the people are concerned they need to realise that silence is no longer golden but is more like the garbage of cowardice. Remaining in our comfort zones may be like the replay of the philosopher who wrote about the German who remained silent when the Nazi Gestapo came to his town, then to his village and his street. When the deadly midnight knock was heard on his door, there was no one left. Mother Liberty must be saying to us she can face the sword of the enemy but what hurts more is the silence of the friend.

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