Abhayabhumi

It’s an unusual cover story this June, even for LT. But we hope it will offer optimism and perspective at a time when so many feel disenfranchised by the systems in place to protect Sri Lanka. There are two topics we never cover at LT, and those are Politics and Religion. Yet we tread dangerously across both here, because we believe our readers and the general public deserve more.

We are fully aware that the reason LT can take the risks in journalism that we have of late (see April’s “No More Cages”, and know that no white van has come for us) is because this government does not sanction the persecution of journalists. That’s the only silver lining we seem to have in these bleak days where the hope of the people that propelled a new regime into power is now being eroded by complacency, inaction and sub-committee after sub-committee who fluff their feathers yet achieve nothing for the people. In Parliament, there is more discussion about MP’s rights than whether the rights of the people are being adequately served. And as time passes, it is those without a voice (and/or vote), the poor, the infirm and the animals, who continue to be denied their basic rights.

Sri Lankans are resilient, and hope is as always, just around the corner. For my team and I, who spent months undercover, filming at Dehiwala Zoo, the closed-door dismissal by the authorities of evidence that we can substantiate on animal abuse and trafficking has been demoralising to say the least. Fortuitous it is then, that around our corner came Abhayabhumi, and an opportunity to appreciate the true values of this country. From the 3rd Century BC, Sri Lanka made a decision to be a Land Without Fear and to afford equal rights and due respect to all sentient beings. Sri Lanka was once a great place, with strong moral foundations.

We may one day (soon) be a nation that reflects the mindfulness of the values on which this country was founded. We hope that our lawmakers and policy fiddlers will see that the legacy of colonisation is what holds us back, and keeps corruption thriving. We hope that someday, through a shift in social consciousness, we will all experience progress. We refuse to give up hope of a better Sri Lanka for our people, and our animals.

I sincerely thank Sarita Gunaratna Whitney for her interesting analysis of this country. Sarita’s contribution to this cover story includes giving LT the opportunity to work with her noble aunt, the Ven. Bhikkhuni Dr. W. Suvimalee. My thanks also to the dashing Aritha Wickramasinghe, for staying true to the cause and for joining LT to give this holistic, historical perspective to all that is great about Sri Lanka.

Abhayabhumi. Because we hope.