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Human rights violated by terrorism

11 December 2021 02:16 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Catholic Bishops conference of Sri Lanka, the Catholic people, the Bishops of the Church of Ceylon better known as the Anglican Church and the Church community have told the Government that two-and-a-half years after the Easter Sunday massacre, there seems to be more focus on harassing those calling for truth and justice on behalf of those who lost their lives, rather than ascertaining and revealing the masterminds behind the biggest civilian massacre of the post-civil war era. 


It is known that the suicide bomb attacks on three churches, three five-star hotels and a lodge at Dehiwala were carried out by ISIS terrorists but Christian leaders and human rights groups are raising questions as to who paid them possibly hundreds of millions of dollars to undermine the Yahapalanaya Government which was then in office and spark off riots between Catholics and Muslims. But the Archbishop of Colombo, His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and other Bishops urged the Catholics to act according to the Gospel principles which call on them to “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate them and bless those who curse and pray for those who mistreat them”. (St. Luke 6:27-28)


This massacre of the innocents and the top-level politician or politicians behind it was highlighted again as the United Nations yesterday marked Human Rights Day. It is widely reported that Indian intelligence agencies and others had alerted the Government about the possible suicide bomb attacks by ISIS terrorists. Reports say then Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, the CID and others received intelligence information and they would have informed the then President Maithripala Sirisena. The then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says the National Security Council meetings were not held as he and the then President were not on talking terms after Maithripala Sirisena staged an abortive “constitutional coup” on October 26, 2018 by calling on the then Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa to form a government.  The Rajapaksa administration lost a vote of confidence in Parliament and in December the Supreme Court ruled that President Sirisena’s had acted illegally. Some analysts believe it was during this period that the deadly suicide bomb attacks were organized. 


Sri Lanka also faces other major human rights issues. For thousands of years agriculture has been part of our culture but now paddy farmers say they are in a mud hole and face starvation due to the sudden decision to switch from chemical fertilizer, weedicides and pesticides to organic fertilizer. Farmers and agriculture experts say it is a good move but it should have been done gradually. School teachers and principals are also staging protests over the Government’s failure to meet their long-standing demands. Not only their human rights but even hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren, who have lost their human rights to a proper education. Other government trade unions are staging token strikes and demonstrations to demand their rights including a pay of increase of Rs.10,000 a month. 


The COVID-19 pandemic erupted here in March last year and questions are being raised on the manner in which the Government is handling this calamity. With the emergence of the fourth wave Omicron, medical personnel say they are under unbearable pressure. Public Service nurses and other health sector unions are also staging protests seeking better facilities including personal protective equipment.  


Besides these and other crises, the biggest catastrophe is corruption at the highest level. On Thursday December 9, the UN marked the Anti-corruption Day. In a statement the UN says our right and our role is to say no to corruption. This notorious vice that manifests its monstrous head mainly in the political and business fields, affects all areas of society. On Saturday December 4, the Daily Mirror published an editorial reminding leading politicians that when they indulge in large-scale corruption they are robbing from the 
poor people. 


In a statement to mark Human Rights Day, the UN quotes former United States President Franklin De Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor Roosevelt as saying, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world”. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being -- regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Available in more than 500 languages it is the most translated document in the world.


As Pope Francis has said, “Human rights have caused unfair economic structures and huge inequalities; they have also been violated by terrorism, repression or assassination”.


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