Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On Police brutality

This post is not about the Trincomalee incident. Details of that are still hazy and we will have to wait to find out what really happened. The editor of the Divaina yesterday had a hard hitting editorial in which he said something along the lines of "While man came out of the jungle years ago and attempted to shed his animalistic instincts to become a more civilized creature, the police is on a course which has taken them back to the jungle clad in grass skirts, and they have proceeded to remove those skirts and live in the nude" - Ouch! He went on to warn that "...If police brutality continues to grow onto a point that the general public cannot take it silently anymore, we will see the public taking up arms to protect itself, and therein lies a great danger". He also paints a picture of a dark future where law and order have broken down and armed gangs (with public support) and police will be engaged in a civil war. A bit over the top, but based on what we see today, it is entirely possible that something of this nature could happen.

The Tibetan-Sri Lankan monk and poet S. Mahinda thero was a freedom fighter involved in Sri Lanka's struggle to gain independence from British rule. His poetry aimed to awaken our sleeping nation and create a virtuous and just society. To quote one of his poems:
උස් තැන් දැක හැකිලෙන්නෙ
මිටි තැන් දැක පුප්පන්නෙ
නිවටුන් බව සිතමින්නෙ
මගෙ පුතා නැලවෙන්නෙ
...which roughly translates to "My son thinks that those who become meek before the powerful, and those who become aggressive before the powerless, are indeed cowards". Isn't the Sri Lankan police force a good example of that? Do they not attack the weakest segments of our society in the most unjust ways? School kids, mental patients and the disabled and elderly have all been victims of police brutality. And is the police force helpless when it comes to fighting the real criminals, who also happen to be powerful? Don't they become meek when they see the drug lords, thugs, Mafia bosses and Politicians and their families?

If the Police force isn't reformed, and the public's faith in the criminal justice system is restored, the bleak days predicted in the Divaina editorial might not be far off...