“The reality in this country is that the criminal himself is the judge. This practice has almost become the rule of law. There is no democratic rule. The independency of the justice system is compromised. The judiciary is under the control of the Sri Lankan government. At this junction, what can we do? We can only explain [to the world] that the families of missing persons cannot expect any justice from the culprits themselves,” said Mannaar Bishop Rt Rev Rayappu Jospeh. The Bishop was responding to a question on the attitude displayed by the SL government, which has been citing the police as the protecting agency, especially in the wake of a request by the foreign missions to ensure the safety of the relatives of the missing persons, who attended a meeting, which was disrupted by a mob led by extremist Buddhist monks at a church in Maradana in Colombo on 04 August.
“Delivering justice is now the duty of those [outside the system], who should be taking care of it,” Mannaar Bishop said adding: “We can only expose the reality that the human rights will not be protected by those who violate them.”
“Do you think that the police would have blocked the mob, had there been a police protection obtained in advance by the organisers,” Mannaar Bishop asked.
“The police would have simply been standing and watching the episode to unfold. That kind of protection has lost its meaning,” the Bishop said.
“I do not know whether there was any direct involvement of the government or any minister behind the disruptive mob in the particular incident. But, Buddhist monks were behind It,” he said adding that the SL government was however party to the crime as it was not acting against the extremist monks who were disrupting the event.
“The Buddhist monk thinks that he stands above the police and was giving instructions to the police,” Bishop Rayappu Bishop said questioning whether Colombo government was in a position to take action against the Buddhist monk involved in the incident. “Will the government be prepared to arrest the Buddhist monk, put him behind the bar and question him,” he asked.
The US Deputy Head of Mission, Michael Honigstein, diplomats from the European Union (Britain, France) and Switzerland were present at the meeting when the incident took place.
Following the episode, the US Embassy in Colombo issued a statement noting that “the initial reaction of the local police to this disruption appeared to be in support of the mob’s efforts to shut down the meeting,” The statement urged the Colombo government “to take all possible steps to ensure the safety of families who had travelled from the North to attend this meeting, both in Colombo and upon their return home.”