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THE AFTERMATH OF SOMA HAMUDURUWO’S DEATH

Shyamon Jayasinghe

The furore created in the aftermath of Revd Soma’s demise appears to have fizzled out. One observed how numerous activists in Colombo demanded an immediate inquiry into the death of this priest even in the face of the mounting evidence that the death had no sinister conspiracy. Many overseas ‘patriots’ echoed the emotions of these activists with little regard to the incompatible evidence that kept coming in. Now, all is over and even the JHU and UNFPA that promised to hold an inquiry have apparently forgotten about it. I don’t know whether this would ever be a lesson to gullible persons that one has to exercise one’s critical faculties in assessing claims or charges. The JHU rode to parliament on the wave of the Soma Hamuduruwo emotion and the UNF, reciprocally, suffered at the hustings.

The only issue left to be dealt with is the question of conversions – a subject on which Revd Soma had been very vocal and, once again, echoed by ‘patriots’ abroad. Now the JHU has presented a Private Members Bill which has run into serious legal challenge. Nowhere in the world has legislation of this kind been successful. The reason is simple: the practical application of such a law without subverting Human Rights issues. Conversions between religions have been taking place all over since the dawn of history and all faiths have been affected. The current conversions in Lanka have adversely affected the Catholic Church itself.

Revd Athureliya Rathana points out that the JHU Bill is not against voluntary conversions. The Bill is expected to counter ‘bribed conversions’. In practical situations how on earth could the distinction be made ? Typical conversions are not merely based on pecuniary gain. There is a strong cognitive element of conscious acceptance in such an exchange.. Furthermore, would any convert ever admit to having accepted money?

The only result of this whole episode is to disrupt the unity of Sinhalese people who belong to different religions. Why cannot people think of the consequences of their actions before launching into them?


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