by Channa Wickramasekera
(Renowned Sri Lankan Film Maker Dharmasena Pathiraja passed away n January 28th 2018 exactly two months before his Birthday which falls on March 28th. If Pathi were alive today he would have celebrated his milestone 75th birthday)
Dharmasena Pathiraja (Pathi) is best known in Sri Lanka for his movies. In Melbourne where he studied for his PhD. he is also known for his courageous activism. I came to know Pathi in 1997. I had known his movies long before that and had greatly admired them. But I never had privilege of meeting their director. And when I finally met him it was in a way that had a lasting impact on my life.
I came to Australia in 1990, to study. Most of my undergraduate years at uni were spent in struggling to survive financially and complete my academic work. There was no time for socialization. I knew only a few people, all Sri Lankans including some friends from school in Sri Lanka.
Then, when I started my postgraduate studies my horizons broadened, suddenly. This was not because my financial constraints were eased by a scholarship. I still remained focused on my studies, spending my time between the library, lecture theatres and home. Life was monotonous, boring and plain.
But then I met Pathi.
It was the mid-nineties and we were at a postgraduate seminar on South Asian studies. Pathi was one of many South Asian post graduate students who attended the seminar. He simply introduced himself as Dharmasena Pathiraja and the name itself meant little to me at the time without the association of his movies. It was left to someone to explain that he was actually Dharmasena Pathiraja the director of Ahas Gawwa and Bambaru Ewith. Needless to say I was thrilled to have met, in the most unexpected way, one of my idols. I told him so too and Pathi seemed mildly amused!
Response of Muslim politicians, religious organizations and even civil society to the failure of the government to prevent violence against Muslims in the central hills early this month is deeply disturbing.
The senseless destruction of Muslim owned property and their commercial establishments, striking at their very survival, is enough for any Muslim politician with an iota of self-respect to leave the government as a mark of protest against its failure.
However, it is wishful thinking. Muslim parliamentarians prefer positions and perks to the security of the community. The Sinhala leadership was aware that Muslim parliamentarians would cling on to the government, whatever the harm, and however much insult they cause to the community.
True to this image, some Muslim parliamentarian accompanied President Sirisena in his visit to Pakistan this week, helping to cover up the crime against Muslims in the central hills and hoodwink the world. They included S. M. Marikkar, Hisbullah, Ishak Rahim, Mastan Cader and Ali Zahir Moulana.
They are so shameless and willing tools serving the government that Minister Faiszer Mustapha gladly went to Geneva this week to defend Sri Lanka at the 37th UNHRC session. As a Muslim, did he speak a word about the misery caused to the Muslims in Sri Lanka?