Dear Sri Lanka,

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I know your leaders are not the biggest fan of me, but I exist and I’m here to stay. I am aware that behind closed doors, I am a mere joke of expression. To them, I am not to be taken seriously when not on stage, in front of cameras, mics and giving lengthy, written, edited and strategically polished speeches on podiums for the ears of the international community.

I have been dishonoured by people you have called leaders, time and time again and in their eyes, count for nothing less than political jargon until of course they need me to make them feel protected and safe, in which case I suddenly have all their respect and attention, like some incantation cast upon their land. I am well aware that on other days I am ignored, violated and downtrodden.

It is an understatement to say I am exhausted from seeing my defenders lose more than they win. I am troubled by so much happening around the world and disappointed in so many people who display a severe lack of basic humanity. I’m discouraged on most days when I witness evil trounce honesty and truth but I am still here, to fight for your dignity and moral equality. 

You especially have been on my radar. Your officials have elected and re-elected those who’ve committed punishable crimes – some of them have even served time until they were miraculously acquitted – to serve you. Others just get publicly berated for two seconds by the Head of State and are subsequently allowed to go through life as State representatives like they used to. This warped sense of justice I have observed in the relentless pattern of allowing politically connected human rights violators and convicted criminal offenders to be part of policy-making, is not only disrespectful to you and your Constitution, it is unmerited and has discredited your State on many occasions. But, it wouldn’t be wrong to say, if you don’t commit a crime, you dare not dream to advance your political career.

Over the years, I’ve seen many people tortured for not being their ‘kind’. Whomever those in power feel haven’t been ‘curated’ to please their egos, selfish agendas or challenge their nationalistic authoritarianism get the brunt of it, but they will blatantly say those subjected to such unspeakable horror or had their lives taken were the result of collateral damage. And some of the world will believe them eyes wide shut.

Worst of all is your Prevention of Terrorism Act that has afforded your authorities to mindlessly subject suspects to force and brutality as and when they please, for it is broadly and vaguely conferred in legal writing. To think that so many people who deserve to be behind bars, enjoy freedom due to powerful connections is devastatingly appalling. Given that so many others are imprisoned for far less and more often for merely being accused, in the presence of no substantial evidence, continue to languish in jail under the pretext of national security, despite the symptomatic subtext being very clear, tells me that discrimination runs in any and all veins to find a breeding ground for impunity where convenient.

It is a shame that your leaders have no regard for me when the whole reason I was introduced was so that I could ensure a life of dignity and equality to every individual, even to the cruellest of them. Even in the absence of civic rights, I would give you universal protection from, “Barbarous acts which outrage the conscience of mankind ”– I stand as the moral compass and the key to freedom and justice, yet you hesitate to embrace me.

I am your vehicle to reconciliation, peace and harmony – isn’t that what they talk so much about? Uniting all of you for a better today and tomorrow and all that jazz? Or is it also just right out of well-written speeches where there is plenty of talk but no walk?

Politics and agendas aside, you need me for progress as I am neatly woven into your socioeconomic fabric. If you try to take me out, you are bound to get tangled and strangled – best is, you make peace with me, and I for you.

Sincerely,
Human Rights

By Dilshani Palugaswewa