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Sri Lanka has locked up this Muslim lawyer without charge for nearly five months

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The prominent Sri Lankan Muslim lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah, is being described by human rights groups as the latest victim of Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act.

On April 14, Hizbullah, 40, got a call from the Ministry of Health saying they were worried he may have contracted COVID-19 and advised him to remain at home.

A day earlier he and others had written to the Sri Lankan president about his government’s decision to ban Muslims from burying their dead, forcing them to cremate their remains instead – a violation of their right to freedom of religion, as protected by Sri Lanka’s constitution and its international obligations.

Hejaaz Hizbullah was a lawyer at the Supreme Court and worked as a state counsel for the Attorney General’s department. Beyond his legal work, he was involved in interfaith and reconciliation work, tackling the rising tide of Islamophobia that is now a key concern for human rights groups when it comes to Sri Lanka.

The health officials never visited him after the call, but he did get a knock on the door from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the police. They handcuffed him and placed him under arrest without explaining why. When Hizbullah’s relatives asked if the police had an arrest warrant, they were warned not to ask any questions.

Hejaaz Hizbullah is currently serving a detention order under the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), where any “suspect” can be placed in detention without charge and without being produced before a judge. The detention order can continue to be renewed for up to 18 months.

The PTA has long been criticised as an abusive law that has been used to crush dissent and forcibly disappear people, along with other violations. The Sri Lankan authorities have even acknowledged the inherently abusive character of the PTA but have failed to repeal it as promised.

Amnesty International says the authorities have plunged Hizbullah in this predicament on the basis of nothing more than his legitimate associations with Mohamed Ibrahim, the father of the bombers who perpetrated attacks on churches in Sri Lanka over Easter 2019.

The authorities have publicly stated that the reason for his arrest were his interactions with the bombers and their family. Mohamed Ibrahim’s sons, Inshaf and Ilham, were two of the seven bombers who set off six explosions across Sri Lanka on 21 April 2019, striking three churches and three five-star hotels on Easter Sunday and killing more than 250 people.

The detention order says that Hejaaz Hizbullah is being investigated for allegedly “aiding and abetting” the Easter Sunday bombers and for engaging in activities deemed “detrimental to the religious harmony among communities.”

Amnesty says Hizbullah was connected to Mohamed Ibrahim in two ways. For the past five years, he had served as his lawyer, handling legal cases related to his business. He and Mohamed Ibrahim were also part of the “Save the Pearls” organisation, a charity that supports the education of underprivileged children, hoping to lure them away from criminal activities and drug abuse.

Amnesty International says it is extremely concerned that the case and evidence against Hejaaz Hizbullah may now be subject to fabrication.

“A new allegation has emerged that a school supported by the Save the Pearls charity was responsible for preaching extremism’ and even providing the children weapons training,’ Amnesty said. “These charges lack credibility because nearly three months since his arbitrary arrest, authorities have so far been unable to substantiate their claims with evidence…

“Hejaaz has been subject to an unfair character assassination in local media by the authorities in an environment where anti-Muslim sentiment is rife, and prominent Muslim professionals have been unfairly targeted in the recent past.

“The Sri Lankan government must immediately restore Hejaaz’s due process rights, including producing him before a judge, allowing him to challenge the grounds of his detention, ensuring that he has unfettered access to his family and lawyers, and, in the absence of any charges of credible evidence of a crime being committed, release him.”

Hizbullah’s brother, Hefraz, added: “Having been to a Christian school with a multicultural environment, he integrated well with people from all faiths, with no leanings towards extremism whatsoever. Hejaaz is someone with a spotless track record. He worked hard and excelled at what he did.

“Knowing how he was arrested and how he’s being portrayed as an extremist connected to the terror attacks under the allegation of apparently aiding one of the perpetrators and worse is an absolute shock… Hejaaz had a lot of plans for his family’s future together but right now all that is up in the air. Everyone is just praying and hoping for the best. And it pains me that we can’t do more than just proclaim his innocence and hope that justice, eventually, is served.”

https://5pillarsuk.com/2020/09/08/sri-lanka-has-locked-up-this-muslim-lawyer-without-charge-for-nearly-five-months/?fbclid=IwAR3rWoZmjoBtEhc6xK8xhRucAZYApbSzaHDG32M6YbVpUeQUEdMsqe5WL3s

 

“කවදා හෝ යුක්තිය ඉටුවේයැ’යි බලාපොරොත්තු සහගතව ජීවිතය ගෙවනවා විනා වෙන කිසිවක් කළ නොහැකි වීම ගැන මට ඇත්තේ නොදැරිය හැකි වේදනාවකි”: මගේ මල්ලි හිජාස්

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හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මගේ බාල සොහොයුරා ය. අගෝස්තු 25 වැනි දිනට එළඹුණු ඔහුගේ 40 වැනි උපන්දිනය ඔහුට ගත කිරීමට සිදු වුයේ පාස්කු ඉරිදා ත්‍රස්තවාදී ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ බවට අභූත චෝදනා එල්ල කරමින් අයුතු ලෙස අත්තඩංගුවට පත්ව අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ රැඳවුම් භාරයේදී ය.

හිජාස් පිළිබඳව මට ඇති පැරණිතම මතකයන් අතර බොහොමයක් කළුබෝවිල සිට වාසස්ථානය මාරු කර පැමිණීමෙන් පසු අපි පදිංචිව සිටි ගල්කිස්සේ පිහිටි නිවස හා බැඳී ඇත. හිජාස් දරුවන් තිදෙනෙකුගෙන් යුත් අපේ පවුලේ බඩපිස්සා විය. අපි තිදෙනා අතර වයස් පරතරය ඉතා අවම වූ බැවින්, අපි අපේ ගෙඋයනේ පැයගණන් සෙල්ලම් කරමින් කල්ගත කළෙමු. අපේ වැඩිමල් සොයුරිය ආදර්ශයට ගෙන කටයුතු කළ ඔහු, ඇය සඳහා කළ එක් උපන්දින සුබපැතුමක දී ඇයව නිහඬ වීරවරියක් ලෙස නම්කර තිබූ බැව් මට මතක ය. කොල්ලන් වූ නිසාවෙන්ම, හිජාස් සහ මම එකිනෙකා හා සහයෝගයෙන් හවුලේ කටයුතු කළෙමු.

අපේ සෙල්ලම් බොහෝවිට රොබින් හුඩ් පිළිබඳ කථාන්තර ආභාෂයට ගත් අතර, ගෙඋයන පුරා දිවයමින්, දුනු-ඊතල විදිමින්, සෙල්ලම් කළෙමු. මා සමඟ බොහෝ අවස්ථාවල දී කරට කර සිටිය නොහැකි වුවත්, නිතර තාප්ප උඩට නගිමින්, එහාමෙහා පනිමින් සිටි මගේ හවුල්කාරයා සහ අත්උදව්කාරයා වූයේ හිජාස් ය. නමුත් තවදුරටත් සිය උත්සාහය ඊට යොදවනවා විනා, ඒ කිසිවක් නිසා ඔහු සැලුනේ නැත, එම ගුණාංගය ඔහු තුළ තවත් වසර ගණනාවක් පුරාවට අඛණ්ඩව පැවතුණි. හිජාස්ට සිය අරමුණු ඉටුකරගැනීම සඳහා වේදිකාවක් වූයේ රොබින් හුඩ් හරහා ඔහු ලබාගත් ඒ ආභාෂයයි. ඔහු හැදුනේ – වැඩුණේ ඔහු වටා සිටි මිනිසුන්ට උදව්-උපකාර කළ යුතු බවට දැඩි චේතනාවක් සිතෙහි දරමිනි (එපමණක් නොව, සතුන්ටත් ඔහුගේ උදව් ලැබුණි – මෑතකදී ඔහු අනතුරට පත්ව සිටි බළලෙකුව බේරාගත් අතර, ඉන් ඔහුගේ බළල්-ලෝලිත්වය ද තහවුරු විය). අපේ පාසල් කාලයේ එක්තරා අවදියක දී අපි දෙදෙනාම පරිසරය සංරක්ෂණය කිරීම ගැන උනන්දුවෙන් ඒ සඳහා දායකත්වය දැක්වීමට පටන් ගත්තෙමු. කොස්ගොඩ මුහුදු තීරයෙන් කැස්බෑ බිත්තර සොයාගන්නා අපි, ඒවා ආරක්ෂිතව ශා. තෝමස් විද්‍යාලයේ බිජු සුරැකුම් මධ්‍යස්ථානයට රැගෙන ආවෙමු. ඒ වන විට හිජාස්ගේ වයස වැඩිම වුවහොත්, දහයක් හෝ එකොළහක් වන්නට ඇත. ඒ කුඩා වයසේ දී ම ඔහු ඔහුගේ වගකීම් පිළිබඳව බරපතල ලෙස සැලකූවේය. සති අන්තයේ දී කැස්බෑ පැටවුන්ට ආහාර ලෙස නැවුම් මාළු ද රැගෙන ඔහුගේ පාපැදියෙන්ම පාසල වෙත ගමන් කිරීම සහ පසේ තෙතමනය හොඳින් රැඳී ඇති බව ද, ජලයේ ලවණතාව නියමිත ප්‍රමාණයට ඇති බව ද තහවුරු කරගැනීම ආදිය ගැන ඔහු අතිශයින්ම සැලකිලිමත් විය.

පරිසරයට, ඔහුගේ පාසලට සහ සමස්තයක් ලෙස ජීවිතයට ඔහු දැක්වූ ආදරය ක්‍රමක්‍රමයෙන් වැඩුණේය. පාසල් දිවියේ දී ම තමා අනාගතයේ දී කවරෙකු විය යුතුදැ’යි ඔහු අවබෝධ කොටගෙන තිබුණි. සාමාන්‍ය පෙළ විභාගය උසස් ලෙස සමත් වූ ඔහුට ඉතාම පහසුවෙන් ජීව විද්‍යා හෝ ගණිත විෂය ධාරාව තෝරාගත හැකිව තිබුණද, ඔහු කලා විෂය ධාරාව තෝරාගත්තේය. අපේ මුල්ගුරුතුමා අපගේ නිවසටම පැමිණ ඒ තීරණය ගැන ඔහුට බැණවැදුණු අතර, වෙනත් විෂය ධාරාවක් තෝරාගැනීමට පෙළඹවූවත්, ඉන් වෙනස් වූයේ හිජාස්ගේ තීරණය නොවේ. ඒ, තමන් නීතිඥයෙකු විය යුතු බව ඔහුගේ සිතට තදින්ම කාවැදී තිබුණු නිසා ය. අපේ පවුලේ කිසිවෙකුත් ඔහුව අධෛර්යමත් නොකළේ ඔහු සිය තීරණයට පදනම් වූ පසුබිම් අධ්‍යයනය නිවැරදිව සිදු කර ඇති බවට අප සතු වූ විශ්වාසය නිසාය. ඔහු සැමවිටම තීරණ ගත්‍තේ හොඳින් සිතාමතා, දැඩි අධ්‍යයනයක් කළ පසු ය. විවාද සහ කථන තරග සඳහා දැඩි ඇල්මක් දැක්වූ හිජාස්, තමන් සතු සහජ ප්‍රබල හැකියාවන් ඒවා බව හඳුනාගෙන සිටියේය; එම හැකියාවන් නීතිඥයෙකුව තවත් මුවහත් කරගතහොත් මිනිස් ජීවිතවලට දැඩි බලපෑමක් කළ හැකි අයෙකු ලෙස තමන්ට මං විවර වන බව ඔහු දැනසිටියේය. බාලදක්ෂයෙකු, ඉන්ටරැක්ට් සමාජයේ ක්‍රියාකාරී සාමාජිකයෙකු (එහි සභාපති ලෙස 1997 දී පත්විය) සහ ශිෂ්‍ය නායකයෙකු ලෙස හැකි සෑම අවස්ථාවකදී ම කෙනෙකුට උදව් කිරීමට හිජාස් දෙවරක් සිතුවේ නැත. සමාජීය ක්‍රියාකාරකම් සහ ක්‍රීඩාවලට ද සිය නොමසුරු දායකත්වය සැපයූ ඔහු, වෝටර්පෝලෝ ක්‍රීඩාවේ ශූරයෙකු විය. මා මෙන්ම ඔහු ද ප්‍රාථමික පාසල් අවදියේ සිටම පාසල නියෝජනය කරමින් පිහිනුම් කණ්ඩායමේ සාමාජිකත්වය දැරීය. 1994 වසරේ දී වයස අවුරුදු 14ක්ව සිටි හිජාස් පාසලේ වෝටර්පෝලෝ කණ්ඩායමට එක් වූ අතර, 2000 වසරේ හොංකොංහි පැවැත්වුණු තුන්වැනි ආසියා පැසිෆික් වෝටර්පෝලෝ ශූරතා තරඟාවලියට ශ්‍රී ලංකාව නියෝජනය කරමින් සහභාගී වීමට ඔහුට හැකියාව ලැබුණි. එම වසරේදීම වෝටර්පෝලෝ ක්‍රීඩාව සඳහා ශ්‍රී ලංකා වර්ණ දිනාගැනීමට හිජාස් සමත් වීම අප සියල්ලන්ටම මහත් ආඩම්බරයක් ගෙනදුන් බව මගේ මතකයේ ඇත.

හිජාස් යනු ඔහුගේ වැඩකටයුතු සහ ඔහුගේ අරමුණු පිළිබඳව පමණක් අවධානය යොමු කළ අයෙකු නොවේ. ඔහු විනෝදකාමී, තමන් කැමති දේවල් කරන්නට උත්සුක වන පුද්ගලයෙකි, එමෙන්ම ළමා කාලයේ දී මෙන්ම තමන් කරන-කියන දෑට අවධානය ලබාගැනීමට කැමති අයෙකි. පාසල් කාලයේදී ඔහු අසංග වැලිකල (වර්තමානයේ ආචාර්ය) වැනි සිසුන් ආදර්ශයක් ලෙස ගෙන කටයුතු කළේය. නමුත් ඔහුටම කියා වෙන් වූ තත්ත්වයක්, සම්මතයන් පවත්වාගෙන යාමට ඔහුට හැකිවිය. ඔහු සතු වූ එවැනි ඉහළ සම්මතයන්, සදාචාරයන් සහ සිතිවිලි නිසාම පවුල තුළ ඔහුට “අංකල් ජෝජ්” ලෙස නමක් ද පටබැඳුණු අතර, ඒ නම කියැවෙන වාරයක් පාසා ඔහු කේන්ති ගත්තේය. එලෙස අධි සම්මතයන් සහිත වීම නිසා අපි ඔහුව විහිළුවට ලක්කළද, බිම් මට්ටමේ මිනිසුන් සඳහා විය යුතු දේ නොපමාව, හැකි උපරිමයෙන් ඉටුකිරීමට ඔහු නොපැකිලි හා නොපසුබට විය. නීතිපති දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ අනුරාධපුර රජයේ නීතිඥ ධුරය භාරගත් වහාම, වසර ගණනක් තිස්සේ ඇදි-ඇදී තිබුණු අව-වරප්‍රසාදිත ගොවියන්ගේ නඩුකටයුතු වේගවත් කිරීමේ සිට, අපවත් වී වදාළ පූජ්‍ය මාදුළුවාවේ සෝභිත හිමිගේ ආදාහන පූජෝත්සවය සඳහා පැමිණ සිටියවුන්ට වතුර බෙදා දීම දක්වා, තමන්ට යමක් කළ හැකි සෑම අවස්ථාවක දී ම ඒ සඳහා ඉදිරිපත් වීමට ඔහු පැකිලුනේ නැත. අපේ මිතුරන් සමඟ සෑම නව වසර උදාවන සැන්දෑවකම විශේෂ දිව්‍ය පූජාවක් විහාරමහාදේවි උද්‍යානයේ පැවැත්වූ අයුරු මගේ මතකයට එයි. එහි විශේෂත්වය නම් උදෑසන අපට පිරිනැමෙන අතිශයින්ම රසවත් ආහාරවේල යි. 2019 සිදු වූ කුරිරු ත්‍රස්ත ප්‍රහාර මාලාවෙන් පසු උදා වූ මැයි මාසයේ දී සහෝදරත්වය පිළිබඳ පණිවිඩය බෙදාහැරීමේ වුවමනාවෙන් සිව් ආගම් නියෝජනය වන ලෙස ආගමික නායකයන් ද ගෙන්වා, රාමදාන් මාසයේ විශේෂ ඉෆ්තාර් සංග්‍රහයක් සිය පන්ති සගයන් සඳහා පැවැත්වීමට හිජාස් තීරණය කළේ ද ඒ ආභාෂයෙන් වන්නට ඇත. හිජාස් යනු එවැනි පුද්ගලයෙකි. බහු-සංස්කෘතික වටපිටාවක් සහිත වූ ක්‍රිස්තියානි පාසලක අධ්‍යාපනය ලද හිජාස්, සියලුම ආගම් නියෝජනය කළ පුද්ගලයන් හා සම්බන්ධතා පවත්වාගෙන ගිය අතර, ඒ කිසිවිටෙක ඔහු අන්තවාදී මතවාද නොදැරූ බව සහතිකය.

හිජාස් යනු නිකැලැල් වාර්තාවක් ඇත්තෙකි. ඔහු ස්වෝත්සාහී, එමෙන්ම තමන් කළ දේ නිවැරදිව සහ උපරිමයෙන් කළ කෙනෙකි. සිය මිතුරන් ද සමඟ නීති විද්‍යාලය නියෝජනය කරමින් නවසීලන්තයේ, ඇමරිකා එක්සත් ජනපදයේ සහ ඉන්දියාවේ පැවති මූට් උසාවි තරග සහ සේවාදායකයන් සඳහා උපදේශනය සැපයීම සම්බන්ධ තරගවලට සහභාගී වී, නොයෙක් සම්මානවලින් පිදුම් ලැබ, රටේ නම දිදුලවන්නට ඔහුට හැකියාව ලැබුණි. එමෙන්ම, නීති විද්‍යාලයේ දී හොඳම දක්ෂතා සඳහා වූ වෝල්ටර් ලද්දුවහෙට්ටි රන් පදක්කම මෙන්ම ජූරිය ඇමතීම සඳහා වූ හෙක්ටර් ජයවර්ධන අනුස්මරණ රන් පදක්කම ද දිනාගැනීමට ඔහු සමත් විය. නීතිඥයෙකු ලෙස දිවුරුම් දුන් පසු ඔහු නීතිපති දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ සේවයට බැඳුණේය. ඔහු චිවනිං ශිෂ්‍යත්වලාභියෙකු ද වූ අතර, නීතිය පිළිබඳ ශාස්ත්‍රපති උපාධිය ලන්ඩන් යුනිවර්සිටි කොලීජියෙන් හැදෑරුවේය. පුණ්‍ය ආයතන වෙනුවෙන් අරමුදල් රැස්කිරීම සඳහා සිය කථන හැකියාව පාවිච්චියට ගත් ඔහු, අව-වරප්‍රසාදිත ජනයා වෙනුවෙන් සිය හඬ අවදි කිරීමට ද එම හැකියාව යොදාගත්තේය. සිය නිජබිම වෙනුවෙන් ඔහුට ඇත්තේ අප්‍රමාණ ආදරයක් සහ ගෞරවයකි, එමෙන්ම රටේ ප්‍රතිසන්ධාන වැඩකටයුතු සඳහා ද ඔහු සිය දායකත්වය නොමසුරුව සැපයුවේය.

නිරන්තරයෙන්ම උද්‍යෝගීමත් චරිතයක් වූ හිජාස්, සැමවිටම පාහේ ‍යම් දෙයක් ගැන සැලසුම් කරමින් සිටි අයෙකි. සුළු නමුත් සිත ආනන්දයෙන් පුරවන උදාහරණයක් ලෙස පෙන්වාදිය හැක්කේ, නිවසේ ඊද් සැමරුම් සිදුකරන ආකාරය ඔහු විසින් සැලසුම් කරන ආකාරයත්, එය සියල්ලන්ටම විනෝද විය හැකි, සතුටුදායක දිනයක් බවට තහවුරු කිරීම සඳහා ඔහු දරන උත්සාහයත් ය. ඔහු සහ ඔහුගේ බිරිඳ එක්ව, මගේ වයස අවුරුදු 1 1/2ක් වූ බාලම දරුවාගේ සිට අපේ වයස අවුරුදු 19ක් වූ ඥාති දියණිය දක්වා වූ පවුලේ සියලුම දරුවන් වෙනුවෙන් විශේෂ තෑගි මිලට ගෙන කදිමට අසුරා තිළිණ කරති. ඒවා තෑගි දෙන විට ඔහු කදිමට හැඳපැළඳගෙන, නටමින් ගයමින් සියල්ලන් සතුටු කරයි. මෙවැනි සුළු දේවල් නිසාය අපි ඔහුගේ වියෝවෙන් තවමත් තැවෙන්නේ – විශේෂයෙන්ම මේ ඔහුගේ ජීවිතයේ සන්ධිස්ථානාත්මක උපන්දිනයක් වීම නිසා ය. මේ දිනය සතුට සහ විනෝදය පිරුණු දිනයක් විය යුතු වුවත්, දැන් අපේ පවුල නිරන්තරයෙන් දුකෙන් තැවෙන්නන් වී හමාරය. වයෝවෘද්ධ අපේ දෙමාපියන් දුක නිසාම අසනීපයට පත්ව ඇති අතර, මේ ගත වූ කාලය තුළ අදහාගත නොහැකි තරම් වයසට ගොස් ඇති බවක් පෙනේ.

මගේ නෑනා තව සති කිහිපයකින් සිය දරු ප්‍රසූතිය සඳහා මුහුණදීමට සූදානම් වන අතර, ඔහු අත්තඩංගුවට පත් වූ ආකාරයත්, සිදු වූ ත්‍රස්ත ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ බවට හා එහි එක් මහමොළකරුවෙකුට උදව්-උපකාර කිරීම සම්බන්ධයෙන් චෝදනා ලබා, අන්තවාදියෙකු ලෙස හංවඩු ගසනු දකින්නට ලැබීමත් නිසා ඈට ද ඒ සම්බන්ධයෙන් සෘණාත්මක බලපෑමක් ඇතිව තිබේ. සිය පවුලේ අනාගතය වෙනුවෙන් හිජාස් සතු වූ සැලසුම් අපමණකි, නමුත් ඒ සියල්ලම දැන් කාල නියමයක් නොමැතිව ඇණහිට තිබේ. සියල්ලන්ම දැන් දෙවියන්ට යාඥා කරමින්, සියල්ල හොඳින් සිදුවිය යුතුයැ’යි අපේක්ෂා සහගතව සිටිති. ඔහුගේ අහිංසක බව ගැන කියාපෑමත්, කවදා හෝ යුක්තිය ඉටුවේයැ’යි බලාපොරොත්තු සහගතව ජීවිතය ගෙවනවා විනා වෙන කිසිවක් කළ නොහැකි වීම ගැන මට ඇත්තේ නොදැරිය හැකි වේදනාවකි.

හිෆ්‍රාස් හිස්බුල්ලා | HEFRAZ HIZBULLAH

සංස්කාරක සටහන : මෙහි මුල් ලිපිය හිෆ්‍රාස් හිස්බුල්ලා විසින් “My Brother Hejaaz” මැයෙන් ඉංග්‍රීසි බසින් රචිත අතර, 2020 අගෝස්තු 27 වැනි දින ග්‍රවුන්ඩ්වීව්ස් වෙබ් අඩවියේ පළ කෙරුණි.

https://www.vikalpa.org/?p=38446&fbclid=IwAR1I1xxb12co2-uRvvNF0JckbN_ktepBpzrGiX6ClwSh-r8OrEei6ZnFtiA

 

My Brother Hejaaz

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My Brother Hejaaz


 

 

Hejaaz Hizbullah is my younger brother, and this week, on August 25, he spent his 40th birthday in detention at the Criminal Investigation Department, having been wrongfully arrested and portrayed as being connected to the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

My earliest memories of Hejaaz are from our home in Mt. Lavinia, where we had moved to from Kalubowila. Hejaaz was the youngest of three siblings. The three of us, being very close in age, would spend many hours playing together in our garden that surrounded the house. Hejaaz looked up to our elder sister, referring to her as an unsung hero in a birthday wish. Hejaaz and I, being two boys, were often in cahoots.

Our play times were inspired by Robin Hood, where we would take our bows and arrows and run around the garden. I would climb walls and jump around and Hejaaz would follow me around being my partner and sidekick, even though most of the time, he couldn’t keep up. But that never stopped him from trying, for many years to come. Robin Hood set the stage for Hejaaz’s aspirations and he grew up with a keen interest to help people (and animals – he recently rescued a cat and is now a confirmed cat person) around him. There was a period when we were in school where we were both involved in environment conservation.  We would pick up turtle eggs from Kosgoda and bring them safely to our hatchery at St. Thomas’. Hejaaz was just ten or 11 then and he took his responsibilities very seriously from making sure that the soil was well watered, to cycling to school over the weekend to feed the turtle hatchlings with fresh fish and ensuring that the water had the correct level of salinity.

His love for the environment, his school and life in general continued to shine through. He knew what he wanted to be very early in his school career. Despite passing his O’Levels with flying colours and being able to get into the Science or Math streams, he opted to join the Arts stream. Our headmaster came home to scold him and tried to convince him to join one of the other streams. Hejaaz just stuck by his decision because he knew he wanted to become a lawyer, and that’s what he was going to do. No one in our family tried to discourage him as we all knew that he would have done his background research. He would always make informed decisions. Hejaaz had a knack for debating and public speaking and he knew that those were his strong points; he  knew he would be able to make more of an impact in helping people by honing those skills as a lawyer. Being a Scout, an active member of the Interact Club (taking over as President in 1997) and a prefect, Hejaaz never turned down an opportunity to help anyone. He was involved in a number of social activities and sports, excelling in water polo. He, like myself, had been representing the school in swimming since primary school. In 1994, at the age of 14, he joined the school water polo team and eventually represented Sri Lanka at the Third Asia Pacific Water Polo Championships in Hong Kong in 2000. Hejaaz being awarded Sri Lanka Water Polo Colours the same year was a proud moment for us.

All this meant he barely spent time at home. I remember how he would get a hundred calls every evening when he used to be at Law College – quite a lot of them from girls. He was very popular with the ladies and everyone at home got tired of answering the landline because we just knew it was for him and would let the phone ring itself out.

However, Hejaaz wasn’t someone who focused only on his causes and his work. He’s a fun loving, spontaneous man and still loves attention as much as he did when he was a child. He looked up to people like Dr. Asanga Welikala back in school. He was in a league of his own. The family used to tease him about his high ideals, nicknaming him Uncle George – something that annoyed him no end. Despite being teased by us for being too posh, he never backed down when it came to getting work done on the grassroots – from speeding up court cases for the underprivileged farmers in Anuradhapura that had been dragging on for years when he first started practicing as a State Attorney to distributing water for mourners at Ven. Sobitha Thera’s funeral, he involved himself in everything. I recall how we used to participate in a special New Year’s Eve mass held at Vihara Mahadevi Park with our friends, the highlight of the occasion for us being the delicious breakfast that was served on in the  morning. This was probably what gave Hejaaz the idea to convey a message of solidarity by organising a special Ramadan Ifthar for his classmates, along with the attendance of clergy from all four faiths, in May 2019, a few weeks after the Easter Attacks. This is the kind of person that Hejaaz is. Having been to a Christian school with a multicultural environment, he integrated well with people from all faiths, with no leanings towards extremism whatsoever.

Hejaaz is someone with a spotless track record. He worked hard and excelled at what he did. Along with his peers, he represented his law college across the world in New Zealand, the United States and India in Moot Court and Client Counselling competitions, winning several awards for his country. At Law College, Hejaaz won the Walter Laduwahetty Gold Medal for Excellence for the best performance, as well as the Hector Jayawardene Memorial Gold Medal for the Address to the Jury Contest. Upon graduating he joined the Attorney General’s Department. He was also a Chevening Scholar and pursued his Master’s in Law at University College London. He used his skills as an orator to canvass for charities and speaking on behalf of the less fortunate. His love for his country is immeasurable and he also played a part in contributing towards reconciliation efforts.

Forever brimming with enthusiasm, Hejaaz was always making plans for one thing or the other. A small but heart-touching example is how he would plan out Eid celebrations at home, and make sure it was a fun-filled, joyous event for everyone. He and his wife would buy and beautifully pack presents for each child in the family from my one-and-a-half-year-old to our 19-year-old niece. Then he would dress up and jig around when handing them out. It’s little things like that which make us miss him most – especially on his birthday. It’s a day for joy and happiness but right now our family is shattered. Our elderly parents are sick with worry and have aged incredibly during this period.

Knowing how he was arrested and how he’s being portrayed as an extremist connected to the terror attacks under the allegation of apparently aiding one of the perpetrators and worse is an absolute shock. My sister-in-law is due to give birth in a few weeks and this is taking its toll on her as well. Hejaaz had a lot of plans for his family’s future together but right now all that is up in the air. Everyone is just praying and hoping for the best. And it pains me that we can’t do more than just proclaim his innocence and hope that justice, eventually, is served.

https://groundviews.org/2020/08/27/my-brother-hejaaz/

   

Hejaaz Detention: Fort Magistrate Orders CID To Submit All Statements Obtained In Investigations



Following submissions by Defence Counsel that the Criminal Investigations Department is selectively reporting facts to the Magistrate in order to malign Hejaaz Hizbullah, Fort Magistrate today ordered the Criminal Investigations Department to submit a report of all statements obtained by them from persons relating to the investigations of Hizbullah.
When the case was taken up today. Counsel for the Defence informed Court that the Criminal Investigations Department had obtained statements from all persons of the Save the Pearls Charity and the Teachers and Board of Management of the Al-Zuhriya Madarasa.

However, none of those statements had been produced to date.
They said that the statements would reveal that all the allegations made by the CID are a fabrication and were made in order to malign Hizbullah and that the suppression of those statements is because it would vindicate Hizbullah of the charges against him.

Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake ordered to submit a comprehensive report containing all statements made by persons in the investigations related to Hizbullah.

Earlier the Magistrate also ordered the CID to submit a report on the investigations into how confidential statements were leaked to the media. Two confidential statements made by children had been leaked to the media and the Magistrate ordered an investigations as to how these statements were leaked when they were made only to him.
The Western Province DIG failed to submit any report on the investigations today after which the Magistrate made order to submit the report.

Hejaaz Hizbullah a prominent Lawyer was arrest on the 14th of April 2020, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The Criminal Investigations Department filed reports stating that children of the Al-Zuhriya Madrasa to whom Save the Pearls – a charity in which Hizbullah was the President – had said that they were given weapons training.

The Children with their parents filed Complaints to the Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court alleging that they were coerced into giving statements after being taken alone without their parents throughout a period of 3 days, from dawn to dusk.

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/hejaaz-detention-fort-magistrate-orders-cid-to-submit-all-statements-obtained-in-investigations/

 

Hejaaz Hizbullah: Symptom and symbol

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  • What made him more enigmatic was that unlike most others in his profession who shield their lives beneath a calm facade, he taught exceptionally well
  • Apparently he called the Easter attackers “fools who died as fools.” I can picture Hejaaz saying that

 

There’s an image of Hejaaz Hizbullah I return to over and over again. It’s an image of him holding a placard at a protest in 2018. The placard reads, “Asilachaara parliamenthuwak wenuwata seelachara parliamenthuwak” (“A cultured parliament in place of an uncultured parliament”). The reason why it resonates with me is that, even in the ecstatic way he holds it, he is quite unlike the Hejaaz Hizbullah I once knew. But then I realise that the Hejaaz I once knew couldn’t have been the real guy. 
I first encountered the man in 2013 at my law school. He didn’t lecture us until two years later, in our third year. It would be quite unbecoming of me to say he exuded a critical, even dispassionate, distance between himself and his students. But say it I will. Hejaaz never seemed to get emotionally involved with what he taught. He came, he lectured, he made sure we understood what he said, and he left. I never saw him thereafter, not even at the many functions and events organised by my law school. At first, and for years afterwards, I assumed he was too busy with his practice to think of life outside lecture halls and chambers and courts. I couldn’t have been more wrong about a person.  


Hejaaz was the most enigmatic lecturer I ever came across. What made him more enigmatic was that unlike most others in his profession who shield their lives beneath a calm facade, he taught exceptionally well. Lecturers resort to secrecy because they know they’re not good enough, and know that their students know. Not this lecturer. That could mean only one thing. He was so deeply committed to his other lives that he couldn’t let those other lives interfere with this one. Underneath that dispassionate smile and frown, then, there was another man. A good man.  
I gradually realised that in addition to his practice and his activism, he was also a writer. At the time I was sitting for my A Levels in 2011, he wrote a particularly well thought out piece on the issue of the burka ban in France. Bizarrely enough, his stance on the problem – back when burkas and the identity of Muslim women and men were spreading like wildfire throughout Europe – coincided with the views of the very same Sinhala Buddhist nationalist crowd that demonises him as a terrorist sympathiser today. No less an articulator of this ideology than Professor Nalin de Silva said that the burka ban made clear the identity crisis in Western civilisation: in its quest to balance the demands of a White Christian majority and the reality of multiculturalism, Europe was imposing restrictions on displays of Muslim identity under the convenient excuse of “emancipating” Muslim women
When burkas and the identity of Muslim women and men were spreading like wildfire throughout Europe – coincided with the views of the very same Sinhala Buddhist nationalist crowd that demonises him as a terrorist sympathiser today


Hejaaz underscored this point a year later in a piece on the controversial anti-Islamic short documentary, Innocence of Muslims: “Even in the way the West defines free speech, it is not an unfettered, untrammelled absolute right. It is pegged in and restricted. Under the standard narrative, in deciding whether to decree something as free speech or not, there is a need to balance competing considerations but when it comes to Muslims, what we see is not a balance but really a bias. There are examples a plenty.” Now this is just about the same point Nalin de Silva and the Jathika Chintanaya have been making in column after column. It is a point I agree with and it couldn’t be any more correct.  
All that, however, is peripheral to my main point. More than Hejaaz’s arrest, which raises concerns that I, as a mere law student, am neither qualified nor able to address or assess, what distresses me is that infamous “court of public opinion” which automatically deems him a terrorist supporter and financier. When did “innocent until proven guilty” jump out of the window, reduced to an empty, meaningless phrase?  


I would dare to call Hejaaz a reminder of a generation of educated, progressive Sri Lankan Muslims, whose stand on communalism of all forms attracts ire from extremists and praise from moderates. Apparently he called the Easter attackers “fools who died as fools.” I can picture Hejaaz saying that. It was in him. It couldn’t have been anyone else. Certainly not any of the mainstream Muslim MPs we have today.  


I have seen the moderate Muslim, and I know in retrospect that he or she is a more complex human being than what either side of the divide prefers to see. The moderate Muslim is not necessarily opposed to burkas, but neither is he or she with those who wish to radicalize the Muslim population in the country by emphasising on Muslim-ness as opposed to Sri Lankan-ness. The moderate Muslim is opposed to the little Arabias that sprang up in the East of this country, under the watch NOT of a minority party but of a UPFA Muslim MP, but he or she is just as fervently opposed to those who try to make it out that this, somehow, represents the entirety of the Muslim race in the country. The moderate Muslim is seen as fitting a specific stereotype: he or she is invariably English educated, middle class, fluent in Sinhala and not just in Tamil, and outspoken against Islamisation. In many cases, this is true. Certainly, it is true of the St.Thomas’ educated, bilingual, and outspoken Hejaaz Hizbullah. But even then, they are not willing to concede to their own stereotype.  
Indeed, you’d be surprised to know that the same man demonised as a terrorist today wrote the following at the height of the halal (non-)issue in 2013:  


‘Who needs ‘halaal’ certification? It’s certainly not the Muslim consumer, but the businesses that crave for halaal recognition. I say this because there was a time before [the] halaal certification. Even then there were brands that had established consumer goodwill and trust to the effect that their products were ‘halaal’... To those thinking only in religious terms, ‘new’ translates often to ‘non-Muslim’ as Muslim businesses find it easier to establish consumer goodwill even without [the] certification.So as a Muslim consumer, the future of halaal certification does not trouble me.”


Extremist? Jihadist? Al-Qaeda supporter? Hardly.  


I think Hejaaz’s arrest is a symptom and symbol, of a great many among us who are ready to throw stones, swords, knives, and daggers at anyone suspected of something, anything. But even a cursory examination of the man’s record should, as it will, confirm that the values he has purported to stand for are at odds with their image of him.  



I think Hejaaz’s arrest is a symptom and symbol, of a great many among us who are ready to throw stones, swords, knives, and daggers at anyone suspected of something, anything


It is pointless, as certain commentators tend to do, to throw stones at and cast aspersions on this administration. Hejaaz Hizbullah’s arrest was made under the present regime a year after Dr Shafi’s arrest under a regime led by the now Opposition. Who’s kidding who here, if all we do is trace the contours of racism to a particular government without realising, and of course conceding, that this is an institutional (and institutionalised) problem? These arrests have already been validated, by a crowd only too eager to portray even the most moderate of moderates as villains of the piece. It’s all scripted. The players need only take their places. Hejaaz certainly has. And so have many of us.  


It didn’t have to be this way.


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http://www.dailymirror.lk/news-features/Hejaaz-Hizbullah-Symptom-and-symbol/131-194468

   

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