Featured image courtesy Al Jazeera

The Citizens Demand the Right to know

As citizens of Sri Lanka we know only two facts about the Nameless Dying Woman in Saudi Arabia. One, that she is a Sri Lankan. Two, that in a few days she will die a horrific, gruesome death as stones are hurled at her head (the informal news going around is that the execution is to take place on the 4th of December). All the rest that we have been told by the media and spokespersons from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of Sri Lanka are mere crumbs of information that we are supposed to uncritically accept as the real story.

We have been told that the woman refuses to be identified as she does not want to cause distress to her family in Sri Lanka. We are supposed to believe this.

We have been told that the MEA has hired lawyers and is in the process of conducting a legal appeal and that diplomatic discussions are going on. We are supposed to believe that this is the best solution and the only option. Yet as the Don Manu column of the Sunday Times of Sri Lanka pointed out last week, a legal appeal will never save this woman’s life.

Therefore there is a third fact that the leadership of this Sri Lankan State and its representatives are well aware of. The Nameless Dying Woman, for all matters and purposes, is already dead. She is a Nameless Dead Woman.

As a citizen of Sri Lanka, I and numerous others (and possibly the conveniently silenced-anonymous family of the Nameless Dead Woman), demand the right to know the following from the leaders of the Sri Lankan State:

  1. We would like to see documentary proof of your diplomatic demarches to the Saudi Arabian Government. We want to see whether the highest level of diplomatic negotiations have taken place over this case (legal appeals will be useless in this case).
  1. We would like to know if you tapped your friends in high places. The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights, Tom Malinowski, are all, after all, close supporters of our Government, and we all know that the only hope that this woman has lies in a negotiation that takes place, if done with finesse and strategy, initiated at the highest levels.

We would like to see what diplomatic strategies you have used, since we now have the advantage of being aligned with the leader of the liberal global order. As the leaders of this Sri Lankan State, have you turned to them when a woman who is part of the source of Sri Lanka’s largest foreign exchange earnings is about to be executed?

Or would you rather not deal with the unpleasant and inconvenient issue of a Nameless Dead Woman, when there are bigger issues at stake?

  1. Finally, will you phase out Sri Lankan women from travelling to Saudi Arabia as blue collar workers (some countries such as Indonesia that also depend on the remittances of unskilled workers have had the integrity and self-respect to do that on behalf of their disadvantaged citizens)? Will you do the same without giving us meaningless bureaucratic spiels on how you plan to further educate these women and train them?

Most importantly, will you be the first government in Sri Lanka to have a clear framework to safeguard and protect rights of the gullible victims, the unskilled workers from Sri Lanka; the men and women who pay with their lives to keep this country afloat?

As for the Nameless Dead Woman, my only hope is that if the leadership of this country is not willing to pull out all stops to save her life, that when the time comes, on the 4th of December, for her brain to be beaten to pulp with rocks, that she would have lost her mind before that.