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Executions of innocent
Sri Lankans in Saudi Arabia
The chapter on the execution of four Sri Lankan migrant workers in
Saudi Arabia is not closed. From time to time the press focuses the
miscarriage of justice and the apathy of our government to seek justice,
or for that matter compensation, for the families of those who were
executed. The Sri Lankan government, dependent on Saudi Arabia for
employment opportunities, is too weak to demand anything from the
authorities in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile Saudi Arabia is covering itself with the Shariah (Islamic Law)
to justify the executions. This is subterfuge. There was no murder of
anyone to justify execution. Further the public display of the dead
bodies of the victims who were innocent was, to say the least, sadistic.
In this case, the four Sri Lankans were executed for mere theft, whereas
earlier two British nurses convicted of murder were released from jail
and sent home! The Saudis who claim that they are the guardians of the
two principal mosques in Mecca and Medina have a bizarre sense of
justice which has nothing to do with the Divine Shariah.
Amnesty International pointed out “…court proceedings fall far short of
international standards for fair trial and take place behind closed
doors. Defendants do not have the right to formal representation by a
lawyer and in many cases are not informed of the progress of legal
proceedings against them. They may be convicted solely on the basis of
confessions obtained under duress, torture of deception.”
The system in Saudi Arabia, which is being flaunted as the Shariah, is
in fact a tribal and traditional system drawing its legitimacy from the
pre-¬Islamic Jahili system of tribal and clannish rule.
As there is clear evidence that there has been a cruel miscarriage of
justice where the four migrant workers have been murdered, it is the
bounden duty and responsibility of the Rajapaksa government to pursue
the matter with the authorities in Saudi Arabia to at least obtain
compensation for the families of the victims.
The Rajapaksa government’s silence on this crucial matter amounts to
selling its soul so that employment of housemaids and other labour will
continue. Apparently our government is not concerned about its own
people, but only of remittances from Saudi Arabia.
If the government in Britain negotiated with the Saudis and obtained
freedom for two British nurses convicted of murder, why can’t the
Rajapaksa government at least appeal for compensation for the families
of the unfortunate migrants who were illegally executed?
Although the media has not highlighted the fall-out from these
executions, it is no secret that communal feelings among the Sinhalese
against Muslims over this incident have occurred and hatred for Muslims
too has risen. If some compensation is granted, the negative and bad
feelings towards Muslims in the island will be forgotten, promoting
communal harmony in our strife torn island.
Time is precious – Justice Marsoof
Excerpts from an address delivered by Judge of the Supreme Court,
Justice Saleem Marsoof at the Islamic Day held at Zahira College:
In Sura Al Asr, Allah swears by the token of time, which is so precious
that it is a crime to waste it. Every day, nay every minute, of our
school life is precious, and unless we add value to it by maximising its
use we will be at a loss.
Ibnu Sina, one of the most learned men the Islamic world has ever
produced, was an illustrious practitioner of time management. By the age
of 10, Ibnu Sina memorised the Holy Qur’an and went on to study
medicine. By the age of 16, he had mastered the study of medicine, but
he had simultaneously studied philosophy, and by the age of 21, Ibnu
Sina had become accomplished in all branches of formal learning, and
started to serve as a jurist, physician, doctor and administrator.
Coming back to Sura Al Asr, where Allah swears by the token of time, to
say that: Innal Insana Lafi khusr “Verily, man is in loss”, Illallazina
amanu wa amilussalihathi wathawasaw bilhakki wathawasaw bissabr, “Except
such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and join together in mutual
teaching of truth, and of patience and consistency.” So, if we do not
have strong iman, if we do not perform salah on time, if we do not fast
during the month of Ramadhan, if we do not give zakath, if those of us
who are able do not perform hadj, and generally if we do not practice
thakwa or piety, we are definitely at a loss, and we will regret in our
later life and hereafter.
Our Holy Prophet, practiced time management so effectively that while he
was busy leading his ummah from the front, so to speak, from a
suppressed minority in Mecca to a powerful nation, he had time not only
to perform the 17 compulsory rakaths per day, but he actually performed
about 60 rakaths per day. As you know, salah helps us to keep our body
fit and the mind clean, teaches us punctuality, puts into practice
notions of equality and brotherhood, makes us remember our creator five
times a day, and keeps us away from all sin and helps us to meditate and
gain peace of mind, so necessary to keep us in the straight path.
Indeed, it was the need to preserve the Islamic way of life and maintain
Islamic values, which brought Zahira College into existence more than a
century ago. Zahira really blossomed during what has been described as
its ‘golden era’ under Marhoom Dr. T.B. Jayah, Marhoom Senator A.M.A.
Azeez, and Marhoom Shafie Marikar. Not only did Zahira become the
premier educational institution of the Muslims of Sri Lanka but it was
one of the best schools in Sri Lanka.Inspired by this success Zahira
Colleges were established in not only Gampola, Aluthgama, Slave Island
and Matale but practically in every nook and corner of Sri Lanka.
It is unfortunate that after this golden era, Zahira had a long period
of turmoil, but we are now in the wake of a great reawakening, what the
present Chairman of the Board of Governors, Al Haj Fouzul Hameed calls
the “Renaissance of Zahira.” The Group of 60 is in the process of
procuring a vehicle for our teams to travel for their matches.
Apart from the properties in Maradana itself, there are two other
properties, one in Maharagama and the other in Sagara Road,
Bambalapitiya which could be developed as branch schools or as source of
income for the college, which unless we do something now may be taken
over by squatters or unscrupulous persons and will be lost to Zahira
So, there is a great deal more that can be done, not only by the Board
of Governors and the constituent bodies such as the Trustees of the
Maradana Mosque, the Welfare Association, the Parent Teachers
Association and the Old Boys Association and various groups such as the
Group of 60 and the Group of 80 but by every one of you present here
today whether as a teacher, a parent, or a student. We can rally around
the college successfully only if we act in unison and not in
confrontation, and if all concerned follow Islamic values and practice
thakwa and fear Allah the Almighty.
Islam places a great deal of emphasis on education. Nurtured in the
Islamic spirit, every one of us too should be willing to face any
challenge to develop Zahira to be the best school of all.
Stop being cruel to animals
The puppies in these pictures were taken from us on June 16, 2007 by
someone living in Biyagama. They were in
excellent condition. The man who took the puppies had 15 dogs. We
suspected something was going on
because he lived in a lonely house adjoining a tourist hotel. What we
discovered was worse than what we suspected!
We were told that this man worked in Colombo. Each day he gives the dogs
a meal of rice but no water to quench their thirst. He would return late
at night without any food for the animals. The dogs were starving. Since
this was unbelievable we cooked up a story and got one puppy back. When
handing it over to me in a box he muttered something about it not being
sick. He said the dog just needed worm treatment. So saying, he beat a
hasty retreat leaving me to face the horror inside the box.
It was literally a bag of bones as the pictures show. We then requested
him to bring the others he had taken from us forthwith, which he did.
They too were equally starved and skinny, hardly able to stand, leave
alone walk, unaided; their eyes were popping out of their thin little
skulls. Their every breath accentuated the ribs and their legs were very
thin and long. They didn’t look anything like they did 40 days before.
When offered food, they gobbled it like they’d never seen food in all
their lives; but didn’t touch the water offered to them. Instead when
one of them was passing urine the others would wait patiently, watching
intently and waiting for him to finish and then fight each other to
drink it. The water
they passed was thick and orange, more like Linseed oil.
We went to Biyagama and waited outside his house in the dark like
detectives, and when he finally arrived at about 11 pm we demanded that
we be given the other dogs. He was taken off guard so he gave us 3 more
dogs. We now had 6 of them back and all of them had a severe obnoxious
smelly diarrhea and had to be given a drip and antibiotic injections.
They suffered with skin rashes as a result of being malnourished.
Since this man went to India the following day we had to suspend the
rescue operations but were told that there were 3 more starving in a
cage in his rear compound. Eventually when he returned after 10 days
they were missing. Either they had died or been disposed of in some
In Sri Lanka, being a predominantly Buddhist country, these kinds of
cruel incidents should be unheard of. Yet we hear about them almost on a
daily basis. We hear of dogs being operated on for experiments; being
sold to foreign nationals as food; being beaten and ill-treated.
As a nation where the majority practices a religion which advocates
kindness and compassion to fellow creatures, we have to ask ourselves
why we allow such things to go on, and often turn a blind eye on them
and keep mum about such incidents?
6B3 Capitol Residencies
5 Galpotha Road
Statement on the proposed National Media Policy
We, the undersigned organisations, welcome the government’s recently
announced initiative to establish the enabling structures and a culture
for media freedom and social responsibility.
It is our collective opinion that the responsibility of the state is to
ensure an environment where the freedom of expression is guaranteed. In
order to achieve this we feel it is the duty of the state to create the
proper legal framework that guarantees these rights and also safeguards
the people’s right to information.
For its part, the media should be bound by Codes of Practice which will
ensure ethical and professional conduct of all media practitioners.
These codes are best formulated and agreed upon by media practitioners
themselves. Regional and International experience has taught us that
these codes are best practiced when they are self-regulated.
Attempts by governments to impose ethical guidelines on the media in a
democratic state go against international practice and the very spirit
of the freedom of expression. We, the undersigned will strongly oppose
such attempts to bring in guidelines which are backed by punitive laws,
under any pretext.
This is also the time to reiterate that we oppose the imposition of
strictures on the media through the Regulation Emergency (Prevention and
Prohibition of Terrorism and specified Terrorist Activities) Regulations
No. 07 issued on December 6, 2006.
We propose to the government that it should immediately implement the
following to create the proper environment so that a free, responsible
and vibrant media will serve the people will flourish in Sri Lanka:
1. Enact the proposed Right to Information Bill which has been approved
by cabinet and drafted in consultation with the media.
2. Amend the existing laws to transform the state owned electronic
media: Rupavahini, SLBC, ITN and Lakhanda into genuinely independent
public service broadcasters
3. Broadbase the ownership of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.,
in accordance with the spirit with which it was vested in the state and
ensures its editorial independence.
4. Revive the All Party Lakshman Kadirgamar Parliamentary Select
Committee with a view to bringing in a Contempt of Court Act on the
lines of a similar Law in the UK and India.
5. Amend the Parliamentary (Powers and Privileges) Act as asked for in
the Colombo Declaration.
Free Media Movement, The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, The Newspaper
Society of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, Sri
Lanka Muslim Media Forum, Federation of Media Employees Trade Union,
Tamil Media Alliance, SAFMA Sri Lanka Chapter, Sri Lanka Press Institute
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