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Tuesday April 16th, 2024

Exclusive: Sri Lanka doctor falsely accused of forced sterilisation to donate his compensation

ECONOMYNEXT – A Sri Lankan Muslim doctor sent on compulsory leave after being falsely accused of performing sterilisation operations on Sinhalese women in the wake of the 2019 Easter bombings is planning to use his salary arrears to purchase and donate lifesaving drugs as the country’s economic crisis threatens to leave patients untreated.

Dr Shafi Sihabdeen told EconomyNext on Monday (13) that he was in discussion with various companies to obtain a list of essential drugs named by the Ministry of Health, and hoped to finalise the donation by next week.

“I want to give a good message, that we will never ever go forward with racism. I don’t have any personal agenda. This is a genuine gesture on my part, and a blow to racism,” he said.

Sihabdeen received his salary arrears on Friday (10) as compensation for his 36 months of compulsory leave from his post at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital. He has not yet been reinstated to his position.

“I still have to be reinstated. We will see in the future how to give my service to society.”

Sihabdeen is one of the better known cases of racial injustice in the wave of anti-Muslim violence that engulfed Sri Lanka in 2019, following the Easter attacks. A well regarded doctor, Sihabdeen was accused of trying to curb the majority Sinhala Buddhist population.

He was vilified by Sri Lankan politicians and media, and the angered Sinhala Buddhist majority were sent on the warpath against him and his family with no evidence to his supposed crimes or connection to terror organisations.

Various misinformation regarding Sihabdeen’s family background, qualifications, even his son’s school admission spread through the country, and he and his family had to relocate from their home in Kurunegala due to the very real danger of being murdered by angry mobs.

“Soon after the incident, people were looking to kill my family. They were searching for my children. They were searching for my wife,” said Sihabdeen.

“My wife had to face so many problems. She needed money for lawyers; the media was hounding her; and she needed to continue working. My kids had no education. They couldn’t get admission to schools.

“My wife faced more troubles than I did.”

Sihabdeen told EconomyNext that after all the trauma he, his wife and three children had to suffer, they are now doing “very well.” His wife is working at the Kandy Hospital, and his three children are studying in Kandy schools.

The fact remains that Sihabdeen who was once “worshipped even by the Sinhalese patients” and “loved even by the majority” was used as a scapegoat and turned public enemy almost overnight, thanks in large put to a damaging and unsubstantiated story that appeared in a Sinhalese daily newspaper. During that time there was a mass boycotting of Muslim-owned businesses by the majority Sinhalese population, and a spike in incidents of casual racism against Muslims.

Till late, the government had conducted forced cremations on Muslim patients who had died from COVID-19. Cremation goes against several Abrahamic religions and depriving the followers of those religions the right to choose their final passage sends a particularly strong message about the treatment of certain groups in the country, civil rights activists have said.

In this climate, Dr Sihabdeen hopes that his contribution helps people to realise the importance of banding together.

“My message to society is that we have to say no to this racism. We need to come together as Sri Lankans.” (Colombo/Jun13/2022)

Comments (3)

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  1. Lal. Fernando. says:

    Dear Doctor as a Singhalese catholic, I ask your forgiveness, for what you and your family had to go through. Those individuals who pointed a finger at you for political, religious and ethnic reasons will suffer in front of your eyes.
    I sincerely wish you and your family all the best and a very happy future. As a catholic Singhalese, I ask your forgiveness.

  2. Dr. M.Khalid says:

    It was Devine Justice on a Racist Policy of the those who are now kicked out from Power. “Anugta Kelade,Thamungte Pelaede”

  3. Nev ando says:

    Well done, doctor…our wishes for better future…God bless your family..
    Go against racism…

View all comments (3)

Comments (3)

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Lal. Fernando. says:

    Dear Doctor as a Singhalese catholic, I ask your forgiveness, for what you and your family had to go through. Those individuals who pointed a finger at you for political, religious and ethnic reasons will suffer in front of your eyes.
    I sincerely wish you and your family all the best and a very happy future. As a catholic Singhalese, I ask your forgiveness.

  2. Dr. M.Khalid says:

    It was Devine Justice on a Racist Policy of the those who are now kicked out from Power. “Anugta Kelade,Thamungte Pelaede”

  3. Nev ando says:

    Well done, doctor…our wishes for better future…God bless your family..
    Go against racism…

IMF urged Sri Lanka to preserve “hard earned gains” after economic crisis: State FinMin

ECONOMYNEXT – The International Monetary Fund has urged Sri Lanka to preserve the hard earned gains after an unprecedented economic crisis under the global lender’s programme, State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe said.

The Sri Lankan delegation led by Shehan Semasinghe met Kenji Okamura, the Deputy Managjng Director of the IMF on the first day of the IMF and  World Bank Spring meeting.

“Mr. Okamura commended the Sri Lankan authorities on strong programme implementation and excellent reform progress. He emphasised the need to preserve the hard earned gains Sri Lanka has experienced since the beginning of the IMF programme and continue strong ownership,” the State Minister said in his X (Twitter) platform.

He said the Sri Lankan delegation including Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe and Secretary to the Treasury Mahinda Siriwardana explained the recent socio-economic developments to Okamura.

He also affirmed the IMF top official on the authorities’ commitment to ensuring continuity and consistency of macroeconomic policies and reforms undertaken under the programme. (Colombo/April 16/2024)

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Sri Lanka State FinMin meets BCIU in US; discusses post-crisis investment prospects 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe met Business Council for International Understanding( BCIU) in Washington on the sideline of the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings late on Monday and discussed investment prospects in the island nation which is gradually recovering from an unprecedented economic crisis.
“Our discussion centered on the potential that Sri Lanka offers for international investors. Explored various sectors, including education, tourism, renewable energy, agriculture and technology, where strategic investments can drive sustainable economic growth and development,” Semasinghe said in his X (Twitter) platform. 
“We reviewed the current macro-economic landscape of Sri Lanka, including recent reforms that have transformed to results. Glad to concluded the forum by marking constructive dialogue and a shared commitment to support the economic development of Sri Lanka.” 
“We thank participants, stakeholders holders and global partners for the significant interest shown in unlocking the full potential of the Sri Lankan economy and fostering greater international understanding and cooperation.” (Colombo/April 16/2024) 
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India allows Sri Lanka to import 10,000MT of onions

ECONOMYNEXT – India has relaxed an export ban allowing 10,000 metric tonnes of onions to be shipped to Sri Lanka, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

“The exemption for Sri Lanka reiterated India’s Neighbourhood First policy, adding to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year festivities here,” the statement said.

Onion prices went up in Sri Lanka after India and Pakistan banned exports.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade has issued a notice allowing National Co-operative Exports Limited to ship 10,000 MT of onions.

The UAE has also been allowed to import 10,000MT of onions on top of 24,400MT already permitted.

A large Indian and South Asian expat community lives in the UAE. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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