Every human, when he/she was born, came with a strong, firm and unerasable message: That is death. One day or the other; death is most certain to embrace all of us. Some die peacefully, some cruelly, some untimely and others, more agonizingly, determined by the long arm of the law for drawing a red line by none other else, but by themselves.
The two cases mentioned below have two different faces where the sentenced had been made to wait in rather excruciating mental agony. One faces the heaps of stones to be hurled at, the other two or more are clueless whether to face the gallows or spend the rest of their lives in the dreaded and horrendous cells.
It was hot news that a housemaid was in a Saudi jail waiting to be stoned to death. What does Azmi Thassim, our ambassador in Saudi Arabia, have to say? He has reportedly said that if people didn’t like the laws of the kingdom, they should not go there.
People go there to work at low paid jobs such as drivers, construction workers or domestic aides because they are poor. To tell desperate people not to go there to earn a pittance, if they don’t like the laws prevail there, is appallingly inhuman.
Any other time, this could be dismissed as a callous typical remark of our bureaucrats and politicians. But this concerns a woman who awaits a horrible death. I have no idea if the ambassador’s origins are humble. Even if that’s the case, it’s highly unlikely that any of his female kith and kin are engaged in slave labour in the Middle East. People go there to work at low paid jobs such as drivers, construction workers or domestic aides because they are poor. To tell desperate people not to go there to earn a pittance, if they don’t like the laws prevail there, is appallingly inhuman.
Our ambassador presumably didn’t have any objections when he was appointed by the government to this important post. There are two aspects: one is through implication and the other is he likes the laws prevalent in the kingdom. But it’s beyond my understanding that how a citizen of a democratic country which seeks the public opinion over the death penalty, where he would be tried under secular laws if (heaven forbid) he should ever stray from the righteous path could accept without criticism a judicial system which allows beheading as the standard method of execution and people who are lashed or have their limbs chopped off for criminal activities; under secular laws one should solicit not more than a fine and/or relatively a short jail term.
This is not an attempt to defend our democracy and judicial systems are laudable. But, until beheading for murder or stoning to death for adultery are standard practices here. We shall mourn the fate of a poor woman who has received -- not even a word of sympathy -- from the most powerfully placed Sri Lankan citizen currently in Saudi Arabia. In my view, the most wonderful reward possible for anyone who approves of such draconian laws is to be born into that system and be accused of even a minor misdeed. That should be fun.
The death sentence passed on former DIG Vaas Gunawardene and his son Ravindu wasn’t unexpected. I don’t want to see anyone being hanged, as I am against the death penalty. After a few weeks of hell inside that overcrowded cell, which shelters death row inmates, both father and son might actually wish for the noose. But their mindset should interest both psychoanalysts and experts of criminal pathology.
This is not an attempt to defend our democracy and judicial systems are laudable. But, until beheading for murder or stoning to death for adultery are standard practices here.
However, this duo -- especially the father -- cannot be dismissed as an aberration in our socio-political culture. The father is a rogue cop and the son, a computer graduate, psychologically assumes his father’s powers and rogue status. A parallel can be drawn with our politicians and their errant sons. Vaas Gunawardhane is a product of the system. He isn’t a lone aberration in our Police Force. There are many cops -- senior or junior -- who use their powers to intimidate, extort and even commit murder. Successive governments have found such people eminently useful. Most of them manage to retire with honours (though recent political winds have forced a few of them overseas temporarily. Vass Gunawardane’s mistake was to believe himself to be immune. That too, is a leaf out of our political mindset. Until that undergoes extensive rehabilitation, we can expect to see another of his kind in the making before long.
However, after all is said and done, the man is a father. You wonder how he feels every moment he sees his son, a young man in the prime of his life, living in misery inside that sweltering and dreaded cell for the rest of his life.