Saturday 18 September 2021


Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

18 September   2021

Covid Related Human Rights

This year’s session has been themed “Building resilience through hope – to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainability, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalise the United Nations.” – Adaderana

As per the above report – ‘This is President Rajapaksa’s first address to the UN General Assembly and also the first foreign conference he is attending outside of the country.

The President is expected to hold bilateral discussions with several Heads of State on a number of areas including economic, education and agriculture during the visit.’

There are no indicators as to what the Sri Lankan President’s contribution to protect the following Constitutional rights , even after the Ratwatte incident. The constitutional provisions in relation to prisoners include the following:

13. (1) No person shall be arrested except according to procedure established by law. Any person arrested shall be informed of the reason for his arrest.

(2) Every person held in custody, detained or otherwise deprived of personal liberty shall be brought before the judge of the nearest competent court according to procedure established by law and shall not be further held in custody, detained or deprived of personal liberty except upon and in terms of the order of such judge made in accordance with procedure established by law.

(3) Any person charged with an offence shall be entitled to be heard, in person or by an attorney-at-law, at a fair trial by a competent court.

As per latest news:

[Due to the heated controversy generated over the incidents, Ratwatte subsequently resigned from his State Ministry portfolio and a few prisoner protection groups lodged a complaint with the CID demanding Ratwatte’s arrest over his drunken antics at the Anuradhapura Prison. ] Ceylon today

The Sri Lankan war lasted 30 years. Covid suffering is for two years.  In appendix  is an excerpt from my account of my experience during war-time published at

Relative to the wartime experience – the Covid anxiety seems far less. To my mind, Human Rights are exponential powers and when they are denied or breached the negative effects are exponential.

Economic woes are relative when our sovereignty is strong. The Ratwatte issue is war related and one questions whether it is appropriate for the Sri Lankan President to participate in a forum where Human Rights issues are a huge part of the agenda. To contribute positively, the person needs to believe in the sanctity of  Human Rights and confirm it through every opportunity available. At UN level – this requires demonstrated commitment to measures used by the UN and not the local measures.

Everyone who believes contributes exponentially – and they do not need to leave home . When the nation is under lockdown, and President travels overseas for alleged policy reasons – it confirms how little the President believes in the necessity for lockdown. That cannot be belief.



After seeking Mother Kali’s Blessings, I felt more in balance. Praying helps me use the Truth within above the rights and wrong by others. I caught the bus to Pettah – from where most of the outstation buses commenced their journey. At the last minute I decided to ask about the buses from ‘Technical College’ – reputed to be used popularly by Muslims traveling to Kathankudi in Batticaloa district. People just pointed in the general direction and I kept walking. After about 10 minutes I decided to ask one of the uniformed security officers. He not only did not know, but decided to question me about my whereabouts. I later thought it might have been due to the suicide bombing of Mr. Janaka Perera (former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia) and his wife, in the historic city of Anuradhapura. Back then ofcourse, I did not know about the bombing and felt a bit irritated with the armed officer who sought to question the person who approached him for help. I often wondered about the effectiveness of these searches and checks. It’s a bit difficult to ‘judge’ because I certainly am not in the group directly targeted by the authorities. It’s a bit like the Australian mothers being cautioned against harming their babies when the babies are sick. (Some mothers were reported to have shaken the babies too strongly - thereby causing damage). When I protested, I was informed that it did not apply to mothers like myself. Likewise these ‘security’ searches and inquiries. I do appreciate the psychological effect of such actions. Our psyche is something we carry with ourselves. That is the real protection we have at the mind level. Hence I usually show respect for the officers who do their duty – irrespective of which side they seem to be from. To my mind, one who has seriously invested in safety / security would intuitively pick up when s/he is focused on that issue. May be that is a reason why I have not been seriously hurt by these checks. Finally an ordinary Sinhalese bus conductor who observed me asking others directed me from his moving bus !!!! He sure is my sahotharaiya. I was informed that the private bus would leave only at 7 p.m. to arrive at Batticaloa in the morning. I walked back to Pettah to catch the CTB (Ceylon Transport Board) bus and after the searches at the entrance of the bus stand, I went looking for the Batticaloa bus stand. Some pointed in the wrong direction and some others said there were no busses to Batticaloa from that area. One ill tempered Sinhalese officer of the Transport Board directed me to the right place. He was not a sahotharaiya but a duty conscious officer. While waiting for the bus to arrive at the stand, I was singled out (probably because I was foreign looking Tamil) by army officers. They could not find anything to find fault with me. The bus arrived at the stand around 10 a.m. I got into the bus and raced to get a window seat . I was pleased with myself until a man who did not feel very nice (seemed Tamil) sat next to me. He had a pink copy of what looked like a booking ticket. I did NOT want to do the trip sitting next to him. I looked quickly to the other side and found the isle seat next to an old Sinhalese lady. The old lady and I were comfortable with each other and the lady even called me her ‘Dhuva’ (daughter). We left Colombo around 10.30. I asked the conductor as to what the scheduled time of arrival in Batticaloa was and he said 8, 8.30 p.m. I was getting a bit concerned after that information because there were no buses or other public transport into Maankerni after 6 o’clock. I had not informed Sivathondan Nilayam at Chenkaladdi about my arrival and hence they would not have expected me and it would not be appropriate for me to arrive unannounced after dark. I had not stayed overnight at Yoga Swami Girls Home at Chiththandi and hence did not think of staying there. Staying at a hotel in Batticaloa town was the last resort. After realizing that we would be passing Sivathondan Nilayam. I decided that Sivathondan Nilayam was the safest for me to stay that night before proceeding to Maankerni the following morning. Passing Pollanurwa, as we approached Batticaloa, the checks increased and their strength intensified. Later I connected it to the bombing of Mr. Janaka Perera. Some did not get off the bus for checks – saying they were sick, old etc. I did. Before the final check point – the old lady got off and a young man sat next to me. He got talking to me and I informed him quite naturally that I was from Australia etc. He asked me a few questions about my husband and family. When it was time to get off the bus for the search – and I got up, he asked me to sit down – saying there was no need to get off the bus. When the armed officers came into the bus and asked for the identity documents – they did not ask this person and when they asked me he signaled that it was ok. I later asked him ‘how come?’. He said he was an army officer returning after his leave. He did casually ask me as to why I would not stay at ‘Kiraan’ (on the way) and I said because I did not know anyone there. Later I felt that he was testing me in a nice way. He got off at Oddumaavaddi – and I said to the conductor to stop at Sivathondan Nilayam Chiththandi. I do not know why I said Chiththandi instead of Chenkaladdi. I said it many times to the conductor as well as the passenger next to me. The bus stopped and the conductor said ‘there you go sister’. I got off the bus and could see no one. A road light was flickering and gradually I saw a young man resting on a bicycle – as if he was waiting for someone. I asked him – pointing to the gate behind the flickering light – whether that was Sivathondan Nilayam and he promptly said ‘Sivathondan Nilayam is at Chekaladdi and this is Chiththandi’. I got upset a little but did not want to show him that. I crossed the road towards the gates of that building which I realized was Yoga Swami Girls Home. Even as I crossed, the flickering light went off and I was in pitch darkness. I put my hands out and tried to find the gates. I encountered the wall and gradually moved like the blind towards the gate. I knocked hard on the gate which was locked from the inside. The girls came out, recognized me and opened their doors to me. That night I learnt that they needed a printer and when I asked them how much that would cost – they said Rs.6,000. I then knew that I was meant to go there and hence Arunthathi gave me 6,000 instead of 5,000 I had asked for. I promptly gave the Rs.6,000. That was out of the funds collected from the photographs on page one – of the painting by Pradeepkumar Paramasivam for Sunthu who is a quiet Yoga Swami devotee. Sunthu photographed the painting and Sydney devotees contributed $210 – out of which came the Rs.6,000. That night when I slept with the kids on the floor – I felt that I was in Mother’s lap. It felt so peaceful. Yes, Swami mothered me and I needed it badly]

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