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PCoI recommendations will marginalise, ostracise radicalise and counter-radicalise communities – Muslim civil society

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Several of the measures recommended in the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday attack will put the majority community on a confrontational course with ethno-religious minorities, specially the Muslims, a group of Muslim civil society activists alleged yesterday (10). 

Instead of winning over the Muslim community and establishing unity and peaceful co-existence with all others, most of the recommendations will marginalize, ostracise, radicalise and counter-radicalise communities. Implementation of some of the recommendations will create an unacceptable situation worse than the presently reversed enforced cremation policy implemented for nearly one year, the group alleged. The following is the text of statement issued by M.M. Zuhair, PC former MP, Latheef Farook, Journalist and Author, Mass L Usuf, Attorney-at- Law and Advocacy Columnist and Mansoor Dahlan, Theology Scholar: “The problem is primarily because the report is inspired by unsubstantiated and unproven speculative narratives, which the right wing extremists in the West, at war with Islam, had been marketing since 1992 and not based on critically evaluated evidence led before the Commission taking the Sri Lankan situation into consideration. Sri Lanka will become trapped further in communal confrontations that will be to the detriment of the economic advancement of the country. Of course the Commission has also made some positive recommendations. We will refer to some of them in another discourse.

“But it will not be acceptable to punish the Muslim community, or Islam, or its time-tested institutions, for the crimes committed by NTJ’s deviant terrorists. Such extended assault on the community will be similar to the US government penalizing Sri Lanka’s Army Commander’s family for the Commander’s alleged wrongs or US indiscriminately bombing Afghanistan for the 9/11 attacks committed allegedly by the Saudis.

“We need to draw attention to some instances amongst several in the report. The report recommends “preventive detention” (page 454) of persons alleged to be “religious extremists”. The country’s criminal law provides for the preventive detention of Island Reconvicted Criminals (IRCs) at times of visits of foreign dignitaries and serious emergencies. Can we treat religious dignitaries or intensely religious persons on par with IRCs possibly on someone’s allegation that some amongst them are extremists? Unlike violent extremism, it is not an offence to have extreme views because that is a universally recognized limb of the freedom of expression! In a country which gives ‘foremost place’ to Buddhism, sadly liquor bars, night clubs, gambling dens proliferate without any objection while those engaged in religious activities and invite people to desist from wrong doings are recommended to be possibly detained like IRCs! This may lead to open conflicts and must be avoided.

“The report wrongfully attempts to blame Islam (at page 18- “threat posed by Islam”) for the Easter Sunday attacks. It is a shocking accusation that will inevitably be firmly resisted. There is no credible evidence before the Commission to make such a serious, unacceptable and flawed insinuation on Islam with a 1,500 year history. Such recommendations will only lead to conflicts and not solve even existing problems! It will be used as cannon fodder in international fora. The Archbishop of Colombo in a globally quoted speech on 21/07/2019 at Katuwapitiya said that the Easter Sunday attacks were an international conspiracy and not merely the work of Islamic extremists. He said Islamic ideology was being used to create mayhem all over the globe.

“Blaming Islam is undoubtedly a travesty of justice. Was the Commission regrettably misled by years of malicious propaganda against Islam by the world’s notorious war mongers and its agents supported by sections of the international media?

“The Commission has also referred to “exclusivism” as the first step to terrorism (page 11). Questions will naturally arise whether priesthood, monkhood, abandoning worldly life, celebacy or even meditation are also evidence of the bizarre theory of ‘exclusivism’? Of course there is no priesthood in Islam. These new dimensions laid through agents of the Western arms industry are in conflict with Asian historical norms. They are aimed at conflict creation.

It has also referred to ‘Sufism’ and its ‘meditation centre’ at Kattankudy being attacked (page13) quoting journalists. Sufism is a well- recognized facet of Islam as much as ‘monotheism’ or ‘thowheed’ or ‘oneness’ of Allah as distinguished from the Christian concept of ‘Trinity’. Any attack on Sufism or Thowheed is an attack on Islam. The attempt to lump the Muslims with terrorists while seeking to divide the Muslims as Sufis, Thowheeds, Thablighs and Jamaaths or more importantly from the other communities in Sri Lanka will be seen only as an extension of the West’s war on Islam. It will end as a costly exercise that can destructively contribute to the dismemberment of Sri Lanka on ethno-religious lines that might soon be exploited by the West. Sri Lankans should read in this regard the many great works and speeches of Sri Lanka’s eminent jurist Dr C.G. Weeramantry of International Court of Justice (ICJ) fame or John Perkins (US) “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”.



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Facilities for infected pregnant women inadequate – SLCOG

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The distribution and availability of high-flow oxygen machines to treat Covid-19 infected pregnant women were not adequate, President of the Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (SLCOG,) Dr. Pradeep de Silva said yesterday.

Dr. de Silva said that while they had not yet faced any lack of oxygen in treating Covid-19 infected pregnant mothers, things could change rapidly given the limited availability of equipment. “Having an adequate supply of oxygen alone is not enough. You need high flow oxygen machines, and 50 litres of oxygen per minute is needed to operate a high flow oxygen machine. I do not know how many machines we have in this country but where I work, Castle Street Maternity Hospital has about four. We need to estimate the number of these machines we require and how much oxygen we want. From my understanding, the distribution and availability of high flow oxygen machines to treat Covid-19 infected pregnant mothers is not adequate.”

Dr de Silva said that Sri Lanka needed about 50–200 high-dependency unit (HDU) beds per district, based on the population, 10–50 high flow oxygen machines per district, four for ten ICU beds and two dedicated Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machines.

“If we get this, we will be able to deal with pregnant women who develop complications from COVID-19 for the next four to five years,” he said.

Dr de Silva said that currently one pregnant woman who has been infected with COVID-19 is receiving ECMO treatment. There is also a shortage of beds at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, which has the largest ward dedicated to COVID-19 infected pregnant women. On Thursday, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Dr Mayuramana Dewolage, who heads the ward that treats COVID-19 infected pregnant women at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, said that they only had 37 beds were dedicated to pregnant women with COVID-19. They didn’t have any HDU or ICU beds dedicated for their use, he said.

“We share HDU and ICU beds with other patients at Mulleriyawa Base Hospital,” Dr Dewolage said.

The President of the SLCOG also urged all hospitals to find a separate space for pregnant women who were receiving treatment at their institutions. When COVID-19 pandemic started, the Health Ministry instructed all hospitals to do so but it was now obvious that those instructions had not been followed, he said.

“When the second wave started people got ready but later, they just stopped getting ready and now we are unprepared to meet the challenges of the third wave. We need to find a way to manage this. If the Ministry of Health has not prepared a plan, we are ready to help formulate one,” the President of the SLCOG said.

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Those who had AstraZeneca first jab, should take Sputnik V with adenovirus 26 – Specialist

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

If those who have taken the first dose of AstraZeneca are to receive a second jab of Sputnik V, they should take the first Sputnik V vaccine with adenovirus 26 (Ad26), Consultant Immunologist and head of the department of Immunology-MRI, Dr Nihan Rajiva de Silva says.

Dr. de Silva said that the first dose of Sputnik had Ad 26 and the second had adenovirus-5. “Adenovirus-5 is common. We may have been exposed to that and we may have developed antibodies. Adenovirus-26 is rarer and we will better respond to that. That is why the vaccine-maker has used adenovirus-26 in the first vaccine. So, if you had a first jab of AstraZeneca and you are to get the second dose from Sputnik-V remember to get the first jab,” Dr. de Silva said.

He added that any vaccine has the chance of reducing the severity of the virus and that the general public should get vaccinated when the opportunity is available.

Dr. de Silva said that there was a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccines because the Serum Institute of India could not deliver shipments as promised.

“However, we are now getting Sputnik V vaccines and we are looking at mixing them. There is a study in Russia about the efficiency of mixing Sputnik V with AstraZeneca and the results should be out soon. I can say that theoretically mixing the two vaccines should work,” he said.

Dr. de Silva added that the AstraZeneca vaccine should work against the new variant spreading in the country.

Consultant Cardiologist at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Dr. Gotabaya Ranasinghe said that those with heart issues, non-communicable diseases and were obese must get vaccinated to minimise the complications of Covid-19.

Dr. Ranasinghe said that those in the above-mentioned categories were at risk of contracting, getting complications and dying of COVID-19 and research had proven that vaccination would reduce the chance of such eventualities.

“If you worry about getting vaccinated, talk to your doctor. Don’t seek advice from friends and family,” he said.

Dr. Ranasinghe added that they had limited the number of heart surgeries they do due to COVID-19. ICU beds used for heart patients too were being now allocated for COVID-19 patients. “We only do the most pressing cases. But this means that the waiting list keeps on growing. Now, the waiting list is over eight months. If we limit the surgeries more and keep taking away ICU beds available for those who have had heart surgeries, the waiting list will grow further,” he said.

The Consultant Cardiologist also advised the public to eat healthy food and engage in moderate exercises, at least five days a week. This will reduce the mental stress as well as boost the immune system. ‘We recommend moderate exercises like jogging and brisk walking, for 30 minutes, five days a week. Being healthy is as important as wearing masks or adhering to physical distancing,” he said.

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STF raids narcotics distribution centre close to Bloemendhal police station

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Acting on information received from the Organised Crime Fighting Unit of the elite Special Task Force (STF), police commandos, on Thursday (6), arrested a person running a narcotic distributing network, 1.5 km away from the Bloemendhal police station.

The STF identified the suspect as Thawasidevan Pradeep Kumar, 21, a key associate of one Suresh with links to a criminal outfit run by Kimbulaele Guna, now absconding in India.

DIG (Legal) Ajith Rohana said that the raiding party had recovered 2 kg, 22 g and 88mg of ‘ICE,’ with a street value of Rs 25 mn in addition to 4kg, 2 g and 527 mg of substance known as ‘hash,’ as well as Rs 400,000 in cash and a mobile phone.

Kimbulaele Guna is believed to have sought refuge following an LTTE attempt to assassinate President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga at the final PA presidential election rally at the Town Hall in December 1999.

DIG Rohana said that Guna’s brother Suresh was a major heroin distributor in Colombo. The STF later handed over the suspect, along with contraband and locally made ‘hash,’ and his phone to the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB). The raid on the heroin distribution centre situated in Aluth Mawatha, Colombo 15, followed specific information received as regards the ‘operation’ conducted with impunity (SF)

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