Mobs opposite prisons
Daily News Editorial
The public have been treated to the most bizarre scenes since NFF leader Joint Opposition firebrand Wimal Weerawansa commenced his hunger strike last week. While supporters of the MP were demonstrating outside the Welikada Prison, urging the authorities to release the MP, a group of Buddhist monks were shown chanting seth pirith on a makeshift stage to invoke blessings on the remanded politician. The MP is on a hunger strike protesting against what he calls government interference in his case. This amounts to a direct accusation against the court, the implication being the courts are taking direct instructions from government politicians. How the court will view the MP’s claim will be eagerly watched in legal circles. Has the MP let himself in for a contempt charge?
Be that as it may, Weerawansa who prides himself as a true socialist should not hesitate to take the rough, not losing sight of the fact that he is not alone in his predicament and that there are countless fellow inmates who are made to suffer for their follies. By staging hunger strikes the MP has exposed himself badly and has shown himself to be a person who cannot stomach the discomfiture of a remand cell. Perhaps, the luxury living Weerawansa is said to have indulged in when he was a powerful Minister under Rajapaksa, has made him soft.
Cartoon googled and added – Translation: Fast unto death -TW
The MP should submit himself to the law instead of trying to wriggle himself out of his present situation by staging hunger strikes and getting crowds to protest on his behalf. The MP was placed in remand custody following a court order for alleged misappropriation of state property that caused a Rs 90 million loss to the government. This was after a due process of investigation by the law enforcement, as in the case of any other investigation, following a complaint. Weerawansa cannot claim that he was being subject to a witch-hunt because he was put through the due process of law. His plea to the court to consider his daughter’s mental anguish as special circumstances too is untenable given that a majority of our prisoners too have left behind their loved ones who in all probability would be going through the same trauma. The MP had the opportunity to defend himself through his lawyers and in fact even made a dock statement in court where he accused the government of politically victimising him.
Hence, the Buddhist monks, now chanting seth pirith opposite the Welikada jail, cannot complain that the MP was denied an opportunity to present his version of the events, unlike in the case of war winning former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka who was subjected to a Kangaroo court trial. Neither was there any seth pirith chanting, then, by any of the Buddhist monks now active to secure the release of a politician who was afforded every opportunity to defend himself but refused bail after the court found the evidence sufficiently serious.
The monks may have only been invoking blessings to ensure no harm may visit the fasting man. But it also amounts to an attempt to secure his release. The chanting crowds and the slogans they shouted were indicative of this. If that is indeed the case, the action of the monks in trying to secure the release of an individual who has been subjected to the laws of land, through *divine intervention cannot be accepted. It certainly is going to send the wrong message to would be felons that crime pays and that the gods will be at hand to secure their release. Today, some of Buddhist monks are seeing chanting seth pirith for the wrong reasons and at the wrong places. It would not be surprising if another group of monks repeat the Welikada prison act, to also secure the release of Duminda Silva, now on death row, or some other criminal who have fallen foul of the law and serving time behind bars. All religions enjoin that one has to suffer the consequences of once actions. Besides, no god would condone theft or felonies and by seeking the intervention of religion to attempt to set wrong doers, who have been duly punished under the law, free, those involved in the whole exercise would only be causing disrespect and dishonour to that religion and its founders.
It is time that the government takes firm action against those trying to challenge the due process of the law being implemented. If crowds are allowed to converge opposite prisons, accompanied by members of the clergy, to create scenes, demanding the release of convicts, there will no knowing where it will all end up. The day will not be far when unruly mobs will be seen going berserk in front of the country’s prisons to secure the release of inmates. The public, was not so long ago, witness to similar scenes near our court houses. Now the scene apparently has shifted to our prison houses.
*Do Buddhists believe in divine intervention? -TW