COLOMBO: 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 saying on TV that former President Chandrika Kumaratunga should “be put down on the ground, trampled and stripped naked, and made to run along the streets.”
Dissanayake had made this remark in a programme on the private TV channel Sirasa on December 12.
The Friday Forum, which is headed by former 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 like Daily News, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, and the Independent TV Network, 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.