The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 11

11
Sunday, March 8, 2015
issues
Peter Casie Chetty in England
The British and European authori-
ties are faced with a dilemma: How
to curb the flow of youth to the con-
flicts in Iraq and Syria.
Drasticmeasures are planned now
to scrutinise every travel document
at exit points: Harbors and airports
after three teenage schoolgirls took
advantage of the school mid-erm to
sneak off to the Turkish Border and
then to Syria to be ‘Jihadi Wives’.
To date, over 3,000 young Euro-
peans and British citizens, accord-
ing to intelligence reports, are in the
belligerents camps for one reason or
another.
Shamina Begum, Ameena Abbas
and Khadisha Sultan were all from
the Bethnal Green Bangladeshi en-
clave in East London. They were
aged between 15 and 16, and would
have had their GCE O level exams
in May.
But arguably the scoop was the
identity of ‘be- header’ nick named
Jihadi John as a computer graduate;
affluent twenty-six-year-old Moham-
med Emzazi, a Kuwaiti-born Briton.
Videos of Emzazi issuing threats
with a distinct North London accent
before the beheadings of American,
Japanese and British journalists
were described with horror, and PM
Cameron vowed to capture him.
A school master from Bolton Lan-
cashire was sentenced to six years
imprisonment by a Manchester
Court on Thursday. His crime was
denounced to the authorities by his
parents. This shows a gaping chasm
between generations in Middle East
conflicts.
Britain and Europe
Extreme measures
to stop youth joining ISIL
An arrangment of British daily
newspapersphotographed inLondon
onFebruary 27, 2015 shows the front-
page headlines and stories regarding
the identification of the masked
Islamic State group militant dubbed
"Jihadi John". Picture-AFP
Daneil and Sellaiah are two friends
who took part in the Feast this year.
While Daniel was revealing to us
the difficulties which they underwent
during the holy tour, Sellaiah was
ready to show us his ‘special pass’
to attend the feast. It has been is-
sued by the Government Agent of
Rameshwaram. It has clearly men-
tioned the times which they should
leave and enter back the country
border.
Northern Naval Area Commander
Rear Admiral Sarath Dissanayake is
the person who in charge of the se-
curity of the island. Drawing on his
experience of organizing, super-
vising and overseeing the festival
in the past years, he told
The Na-
tion
“The event is becoming more
popular. Last year, 5350 devotees
from both the countries participat-
ed and this year we saw the num-
ber as 7,600 devotees.”
He also showed the breakdown
of the devotees as 3900 from India
and 3,700 devotees from all four
corners of Sri Lanka. He also said
that while the Navy provides all the
facilities necessary for the devotees,
Indian government is also making
a contribution for the meals of the
devotees.
Fr. Churchill said that among
4,300 from India included around
100 Catholic priests. “We arrived
here in 110 boats. We are going to
propose the Indian Government to
facilitate the feast with safe trans-
port for the devotees from next year
onwards. He also thanked the Sri
Lanka Navy for facilitating the event
in many ways as the shrine was in
a jungle area. According to him, the
annual feast forges a strong bond
between Sri Lankan Tamils and In-
dian Tamils.
He also spoke about the fishing
issue between the two countries. He
suggested to have a good under-
standing over the issue and added
that authorities should handle fish-
ermen’s and smugglers’ issues sep-
arately. He also said that fishermen
from both countries fished together
in the past, but due to several rea-
sons, the situation has completely
changed. At the same time, he also
lamented that Sri Lanka is not re-
leasing the boats which they arrest-
ed while trespassing the borders.
“If they were arrested for using the
banned nets or equipment, keeping
those is right. But they are fisher-
men no longer without their boats,
it affects their livelihood.” He added.
However, when he was questioned
about the way Indian authorities be-
have in similar situations, he said
that his proposal is valid for both the
countries.
Why you may ask? Merely to en-
sure that the, be honest and call it a
business, can ensure a 100% A-C
grade pass rate and can use that as
a marketing strategy to lure in future
parents / clients. You may think that
as these institutes are registered un-
der the Business Act, why should we
expect any more from them? Well, we
should because of their fraudulent ad-
vertising. They claim to be a school,
they claim to care about the children
with educational disadvantages and
provide them with special facilities,
they claim to educate ‘Mind, Body
and Soul’ but yet have no compunc-
tions about casting children out in the
eleventh hour, a week before the ex-
amination entry deadline to fend for
themselves.
At no point of this educational pro-
cess is it mentioned that if a child fails
to get the required grade at their mock
examination they will be forced to
enter for their examinations privately
and not through the school. On entry
to the school, if parents and children
were told about this, it might give them
time to prepare, but I suspect that the
school does not do this precisely be-
cause it is deemed to be an unethi-
cal practice. The manner in which this
is carried out is similarly inhumane.
Imagine your child has attended a
school their entire life, has perhaps
contributed to the school’s sports
teams, has woken up at the crack of
dawn to go and decorate their house
tent for the swimming meet and has
spent a lifetime developing a sense of
belonging and loyalty to their school
only to be told a week before their
examination entries go in that they
are not worthy of entering under the
school name. Their contribution to the
school, to say nothing of the school
fees, has been accepted willingly but
when push comes to shove these
children are discarded with a phone
call from the school’s examinations
officer.
Are they called in to school for a
meeting? Does the Principal sit them
down in his plush office adorned with
photographs of his own family and
explain to these families why this is
happening? Are they given enough
time to adjust to this? Are these
young vulnerable teenagers given
some sort of counselling or help
through what must be a difficult time
for them, with all the attendant feel-
ings of rejection? The answer to all
of these questions is a resounding:
no. Again, this coming from a school
that claims to educate ‘Mind, Body
and Soul’. These students engage in
the sporting activities of the school,
they attend lessons in this school
everyday, they live their lives in this
school, thus engaging their ‘Body’.
But it seems that, despite offering
SEN support their minds are la-
belled as inadequate for the school
and as a consequence their souls
are crushed.
The alternative for many of these
students with special educational
needs is to enter for their examina-
tions as private candidates through
‘The British Council’. A process
which is time consuming and more
expensive. At this point the teenager
must be going through a range of
emotions which I feel that the school
does not address. They feel reject-
ed by the school they have grown
to love, they feel guilty for having
let their parents down (even though
their educational disadvantage is not
their fault), they feel embarrassed
as they are distinguished from their
peers further and they feel stressed
about having to go through a new
application process. This, on top of
all the stress and fear associated
with having to sit for a public exami-
nation for the first time and study for
it. I do feel sorry for these children
and it would break my heart if this
were my child.
You may want to lump me, at this
point, with the rest of the meddling
parents with nothing better to do. It’s
just that I find it very difficult to stand
by and watch when I feel that an in-
justice is being perpetrated. There is
a reason that we have so many laws
governing and protecting the rights of
a child, they are the most vulnerable
and precious sector of our society, if
we do not protect them and instill the
right values in them, we are looking at
a future generation that believes that it
is alright to discard under- performing
human beings, that compassion and
humanity have no place in a dog eat
dog world. That is not a place I would
like my child to grow up in. I was
heartened to see that one of the new
President’s goals was to ensure regu-
lation of international schools. Should
we not expose the inherent hypocrisy
of these schools / businesses? Is this
not the time to do this?
Yours sincerely,
Concerned British School Parent
British School in Colombo...
By Kshama Ranawana
Twenty five years ago this month
we fled Sri Lanka. We have since
returned intermittently, to live and
work there, and on vacation.
We fled days after the bullet-
riddled body of our good friend
and colleague, Richard de Zoysa
was found.Richard worked for
the Interpress Service (IPS) at the
time, and was due to take up a po-
sition abroad for the Agency. That
was not to be. Members of a goon
squad directly connected to the po-
lice of the Ranasinghe Premadasa
government snuffed out his illus-
trious life; a month short of his
32nd birthday.
The 1980s were days of dark-
ness and despair in Sri Lanka.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna
and its off-shoot, the Deshapremi
Janatha Viyaparaya were holding
the South to ransom. In the North
and East the LTTE were fighting
government troops. Death squads
were everywhere. Richard was
taken away from his home in the
wee hours. There has never been
any clear evidence for the reason
for his abduction and killing.. The
fear psychosis that was applied
was good enough in our case; we
sought refuge outside the country
to protect our three little children.
Richard was amongst the last to
be killed in that era and his death
brought some sort of end to the
threats against journalists. One of
the first to die was Wimal S Suren-
dra. There were many other media
practitioners who were murdered
during that period. They included
stellar names such as Thevis Gu-
ruge, Premakeerthi de Alwis and
Kulasiri Amarasekara
Media professionals in Sri Lan-
ka have been targeted by many
governments that have been in
power since the independence,
who sought various means of cen-
sure. There was a time during the
JR Jayewardene era when news
stories and opinion columns had
to be rushed to the government
censor who would comb through
the articles before permitting pub-
lication
The Mahinda Rajapaksa era saw
the return of the worst forms of ha-
rassment of media professionals.
Journalists both in the South and
the North carried out their work
under a great deal of pressure.
Using patriotism as a tool – sure-
ly the refuge of the scoundrel - the
government had its own “journal-
ist” lackeys to label any critics and
those whose reports they disliked
as traitors. Editors and News Direc-
tors were threatened by members
of the military. Journalists who fell
foul of the government were named
and shamed on government media
outlets, and some were even hauled
up before the Defence Secretary
and warned of dire repercussions
if they did not toe the line. State
media labelled them – among whom
was Lasantha Wickrematunga and
Poddala Jayantha – as traitors and
supporters of the LTTE clearly
putting them and their families at
risk. Only the government’s brand
of nationalism and patriotism was
allowed. Journalists were assault-
ed and abducted in full view of the
public.
Richard’s killing, like Lasantha’s
shook the nation to the core simply
because they were well-known me-
dia men who hailed from the upper
echelons of society. Yet scores of
lesser knows media men and wom-
en have paid heavily for having the
courage to carry out their work in
a professional manner. Prageeth
Ekneligoda’s family still awaits; he
was abducted in January 2010 and
has not been heard of since.
The largest number of journal-
ists has fled the country during the
last five years.
The newly-elected government
of Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil
Wickramasinghe campaigned on a
platform of reform, including the
media. The Right to Information
Act is due to be introduced shortly.
One of the recommendations
of the short- term proposal sub-
mitted to the new government by
the Free Media Movement is to
“Restore state-controlled media
as Public service media insti-
tutes and establish an indepen-
dent media commission that is
accountable to the Parliament to
carry out appointments and oth-
er relevant matters. Ensure the
independence of the state media
from political interest and make
its code of ethics known to the
public.”
Richard, Lasantha, and many
other journalists paid with their
lives to uphold democracy. Pra-
geeth’s fate is unknown.
The media reforms that the gov-
ernment has promised bodes well
for the preservation of democra-
cy, but only time will tell whether
the new regime would stick to its
promises.
And newmedia reforms
On Sri Lanka journalism...
Richard de Zoysa
Continued from page 2
A saint and an island...
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