South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in The Ada Derana on Dec. 21 ::

The Friday Forum, a grouping of Sri Lankan intelligentsia, has asked for the immediate resignation of the Minister of Higher Education, S.B. Dissanayake, for the controversial remarks made by him against former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.  

Opposition politicians as well as women’s rights group have been up in arms over the minister’s recent statement that Chandrika should “be put down on the ground, trampled and stripped naked, and made to run along the streets.”

The Friday Forum, which is headed by former Sri Lankan Ambassador and UN Under Secretary General, Jayantha Dhanapala, urged the Attorney General to consider legal action against the Minister.

The Forum said in a statement that it was “appalling” that such a “terrible” remark should come from the Minister of High Education who ought to be a model for the youth for the country.

It pointed out that advocating forced nudity is an international war crime in situations of conflict.

“In many other countries the Minister concerned would have been forced to resign or have been dismissed the very next day. At the very least, he would have been asked to apologize. None of this was forthcoming, pointing to the culture of violence and hate speech having been so normalized in Sri Lanka that both government and public seem to tolerate it with little or no dissent,” the statement said.

Pointing an accusing finger at the State media institutions, the Forum said that in these media, “horrendous things are written and said about individuals.”

The Forum further said that to a great extent, the government has succeeded in “chilling” (frightening) opponents and critics into silence by liberally using viciousness and vitriol.