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Agitation for right to bury

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So much has been said and continues to be vociferously propounded about the virtues of democracy, and the word “democracy” is being used and mis-used at will. It is also conveniently used as a cover when there is a lack of an impressive or convincing argument to defend a particular position or cause.

One of the basic tenets of democracy is that it stands for the “greater good of the greater, majority”. It works on the tripod of consultation, compromise and consensus; this principle was eloquently propounded by the late President Premadasa himself. The aforesaid attributes of democracy do not appear to have been imbibed by his son Sajith, as would be observed from his virulent campaign against the decision to cremate Covid victims. The decision to cremate was taken purely on scientific grounds and was not partisan. Prevention is surely better than cure! Nothing is certain and what is pronounced today can be wrong years ahead, while the damage done in the meantime cannot possibly be undone. Those responsible will be no more. We have the problem of kidney patients as a result of polluted/contaminated water.

Perhaps, Sajith P has taken a leaf from Shakespeare’s epic “Julius Caesar”, where Mark Antony took the stage to delve into the passions of the mob with insidious lingo. The government on its part, like Brutus, strains every sinew and nerve to try and convince in vain the Muslim community of its sole intention, to wit – not that it loves them less but that it loves the living and generations to come more! Not that they don’t understand, but the politically-backed agenda is different!

That the whole issue has been politicised is quite plain to see, and Human Rights groups whose silence was deafening when Gaddafi was killed, kept for five days refrigerated and dumped into the sea secretly, is now up to their usual game in Sri Lanka, as they did in Geneva over the LTTE episode! The ‘modus operandi’ could be the same as in the Easter Sunday failed attempt – this time with the active open support of bankrupt opposition groups which has to be defeated at all costs. Democracy needs to be saved from hysterics and blood-thirsty, power-hungry elements masquerading as democrats!

The Catholic/Christian Stance

There appears to be a sinister attempt to project the view that the Roman Catholic and recognised Protestant Churches are also irked by the decision. This is far from the truth. They are by no means fundamentalists. If the RC Church had held some antiquated ideas or stipulations, Vatican II had made it more progressive. The order of prayer accommodates burial or cremation (“ashes to ashes, dust to dust …”). We are yet to see any objections raised by these relevant authorities. They should not be made to appear as having boarded the band-wagon of hatred.

I.P.C. MENDIS



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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