The Shoat Statements

Random musings by the multiple voices inside my head.

I was actually in two minds about writing this post because with all the fake 'news' items - Channel 4 video, Hikka topless pics et al - I wasn't sure that this was a real story. Only after both Daily Mirror and Asian Tribune confirmed it did I decide to post it.

I'm talking about the incident where a youth was forcibly drowned in Bambalapitya on the 29th of October. I thought the video was fake, or rather a hoax, or edited together. It didn't make much sense when I saw it first - why were men beating a guy, with poles no less, refusing to let him come ashore? Why was there no sound? Why were the 50 plus spectators doing nothing to save the guy? And why on earth was the cameraman filming this whole sordid story, without going to save the victim? Surely this video must be a fake.

Alas,  I was wrong. Apparently, the video was genuine, as was the incident because the ensuing outcry has resulted in the arrest of somebody, according to the Asian Tribune.

I'm not sure which facts of this story shocks me more - that at least a hundred people idly watched as a young man was forced to drown (couldn't at least one of them call for help, if not save the youth?), that a person was forced to drown because each time he tried to come ashore he was beaten with poles, that the people doing the beating were cops or that a reporter decided it was better to get a good story by filming the incident from his/her office instead of trying to save the victim.

And why pray tell, has only one person been arrested? I can see three people beating the hapless victim in the video. Is the Bambalapitya police so inefficient that they can identify and arrest only one person per day? How is the country supposed to have faith in the police, when on top of their regular vices, we see this video? Essentially, the cops beat a youth and left him to drown in the ocean because he threw stones at a passing trains. What a police.

(By the by, if you are robbed, raped assaulted or in some other type of danger, would you really want to step inside this police station?)

On to that macabre crowd. How do they sleep at night? Sri Lanka is inundated with mobile phones - could one of them not make a call for help? Out of the 50 plus people there, could one of them not intervene and help the victim? I'm prone to say the same thing about the cameraman: as good as it is to publicise these kind of atrocities, I think the better thing to have done was to go and try save the youth.

What is our society degenerating into, that we would stand by and watch a man being killed? At the drop of a hat, we have people to protest at embassies, protest against NGOs, protest against the war, protest against unemployment...the list is endless. Why is there no bigger outcry about an incident as ghastly as this?

Seriously - the guy threw stones at a train. Is that not enough indication that he was mentally unwell? Is this how we treat people who are mentally unwell - beat them up instead of getting them the help they need?

Had I been in Sri Lanka, I think I would have at least tried to organize all my friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances to stone the Bambalapitiya police station over the long weekend.

There is a Sinhalese word - thirissannu - which describes everyone caught on this video, better than any English word that I can think of.

The link to the Daily Mirror article: http://www.dailymirror.lk/DM_BLOG/Sections/frmNewsDetailView.aspx?ARTID=66260

The link to the Asian Tribune article: http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2009/10/31/youth’s-drowning-case-police-officer-surrendered

The video is given below (no blood, no gore but truly disturbing):

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Be true to your heart, and true to your conscience.

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