Ilankai Tamil Sangam
Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA
Score One Again for Karma
by Sachi Sri Kantha
It is considered somewhat a bad etiquette to speak ill or criticise a deceased individual. This is especially so if that individual suffered a violent death. That the criticised individual cannot defend his or her past deeds seems to be the main reason behind this prevailing etiquette. Should this etiquette rule apply to all? It need not be so. Those individuals who have opted to dance on the public stage forfeit their right to exemption from scrutiny.
For more than two years I refrained from commenting on the 200 year jail sentence delivered by the recently assassinated High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya on Pirapaharan. Now that the Grim Reaper has tackled the grand-standing judge with his straight arm, and also the judge’s wife has begun to ‘talk’ to the press about that debatable and controversial verdict delivered by her husband, it’s my turn to deliver my thoughts.
Mrs.Vajira Ambepitiya on her husband
First, this is what Mrs.Vajira Ambepitiya has to say on her husband’s controversial verdict on Pirabhakaran delivered on October 31, 2002. To quote,
She states that the Judge had received several calls internationally as well as locally congratulating him on his judgment sentencing the LTTE Leader to 200 years in prison for the crimes he had committed. ‘Soon after Pirapaharan's judgment, there were many people who came to our residence to congratulate him, but my husband stopped all of them, stating that he had only performed his duties and had awarded a judgment that Pirapaharan deserved. He also claimed that, in front of the law, the LTTE Leader was like any normal citizen of this country,’ she said.
However, she claims that she had been frightened about her husband's safety soon after the judgment was handed two years ago and claims that security was provided for the Judge only after he started receiving the threatening calls which followed after the judgment. ‘My husband received many threatening calls soon after Pirapaharan's judgment. However, all these calls were received in his chambers and not at the residence,’ she said. [source: Sunday Leader, Colombo, November 28, 2004]
So, in the words of his wife, Vajira, the late Judge Ambepitiya thought that Pirabhakaran "was like any other normal man who had to be punished." In my view, the Judge Ambepitiya was also a normal man, but like many Sri Lankan politicians, had got wires mangled a bit in his white matter. That’s why, rather than gaining prestige by his own labor and sweat, he wanted to piggy-back on the reputation of the LTTE leader, for name and fame. Until October 31, 2002, the Ambepitiya name was an obscure one, even among Sri Lankans, beyond legal circles. There are not any ranking Sinhalese politicians with that name for many to remember. When the Judge delivered his verdict of "200 years rigorous imprisonment" for Pirabhakaran, Judge Ambepitiya became a celebrity, as told by his wife.
In my opinion, though he convinced himself that he had done his "duty" [a duty of course, to the Sinhalese chauvinists and Indian hacks], Judge Ambepitiya could not distinguish a regular crime from a battlefield strategy in a civil war between two armies. What was committed on January 31, 1996 by the LTTE was, to use Nelson Mandela’s classic phrase, "properly controlled violence." [vide, Mandela’s historic statement ‘I am Prepared to Die’, delivered from the dock at the opening of the defence case in the Rivonia Trial, Pretoria Supreme Court, April 20, 1964]. Mandela was legally educated and practised as an attorney before his conviction in 1964.
The original story
For those who have missed the original story, of how this Judge Ambepitiya gained instant fame in Sri Lanka and among the Sinhalese, here is a news report entitled, "Prabha sentenced to 200 years RI".
Egg on the face of LTTE bashers
From November 19th until November 27th this year, as one would expect from the parochial news media in Colombo and the pesky websites [such as www.sinhala.net; www.lankatruth.com; www.lankaweb.com] servicing "the Sinhala Nation", the accusation of the judge's assassination was targeted at the LTTE without any convincing evidence. The www.lankaweb.com site provided a perverted editorial, even before Mr. Ambepitiya’s cadaver loosened itself from rigor mortis. Excerpts:
Phew! That’s 148 words without a period! A week later, the Inspector General of Police, Chandra Fernando announced that "All the evidence so far does not point to involvement by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)".
On October 31, 2002, this Judge Ambepitiya had wanted "to remove" a few Tamil individuals, among whom Pirabhakaran was one, from society. Now see, who has been removed by a straight throw of Karma? On November 19, 2004, the verdict was delivered which confirmed the worth of the Tamil proverb, Arasan anru aruppaan – Theivam ninru arukkum [translation: The king delivers instantly – God delivers eventually.]. I’m not rejoicing at the assassination of a Judge in Sri Lanka, but I do rejoice in the mysterious way Karma delivers its verdicts.
Posted November 30, 2004