Dear Sri Lankans,
By Dilshani Palugaswewa
Have you heard the saying ‘actions are louder than words’? Guess who hasn’t? “Addressing the grave threats posed by climate change and the loss of biodiversity requires decisive and urgent multilateral action. As a climatevulnerable country, Sri Lanka is deeply aware of the dangers of climate change… We aim to increase forest cover significantly in the coming decades,” our Head of State noted as he addressed the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). As you may have seen, deforestation was and still is a running theme under his administration.
In fact, as he delivered before the UNGA, there were some footage of massive forest destruction in East doing rounds on social media. He further went on to note, “We are also working to clean and restore over 100 rivers countrywide, and to combat river and maritime pollution.” Reflecting these exact words earlier this year, we saw the greatest oil spill of a marine disaster in the history of the world take place, severely impacting not just marine life but also those whose livelihoods depend on fishing. The debris washed ashore may have been cleared and the plastic nurdles may have buried itself in the sand temporarily evading the watchful eyes, but the long-term damage the ecological disaster caused, is causing, and will continue to cause is too grave for any form of compensation to cover.
“Fostering greater accountability, restorative justice, and meaningful reconciliation through domestic institutions is essential to achieve lasting peace…It is my Government’s firm intention to build a prosperous, stable and secure future for all Sri Lankans, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or gender.” As he uttered those words, back home there was a politically-involved monk (one who claims to have helped bring the President to power) on national television outright spreading hate speech and there are no consequences – but god forbid a woman wears a shirt with something that event remotely resembles a dharmachakra on it; she is immediately shown the doors to the court.
Need another example? Does a drunken State Minister wreaking havoc in two prison complexes jog your memory? He barged in with friends and held two political prisoners at gun point and he still gets to hold onto one of his portfolios. He wasn’t arrested because apparently there needed to be an official complaint filed for his arrest. Fastforward a week later, law enforcement officers take no time to bodily arrest a Tamil MP for holding a remembrance event in Jaffna, allegedly violating quarantine regulations. I am pretty sure the first incident qualifies as way more violations than quarantine regulations and then some more, but of course, that did not even result in an arrest.
Are we even sure there is an inquiry? What is sure is that the turn of events give a whole new localised meaning to the saying involving the proverbial tree falling in the woods; if an MP wreaks havoc in a Government institution and there is no one to make a sound, will a court ever hear his case? After consciously creating such divisive environments rather than actively nurturing unity and reconciliation, which is quite literally the opposite of what the President is portraying our country state of affairs, it would be nice to see more real action been taken rather that reading empty words off a well-prepared script to paint a colourful picture to an international delegation.
Accountability? Restorative justice? These are nothing more than politically correct jargons when the true meanings of these words are repeatedly defied intentionally. All we have seen is denial and refusal to accept wrongdoings. All we have seen are perpetrators escaping any sort of consequence and justice when they are highly-connected, so don’t even get me started on one country, one law. The only person who has managed to truly save our face on the international stage in the recent times is Yohani with her latest single. And for that she needs a shout out! At least Yohani is making us proud.
Are his pants on fire?