Ramya Chamalie Jirasinghe
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 and two that in a few days she will be stoned to death. (The informal news was that the execution is to take place on Dec 4).
The rest, as we have been told by the media and the spokes personnel of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of Sri Lanka are mere crumbs of information that we are supposed to be 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. And we are supposed to believe this.
We have been told that the MEA has hired lawyers and are in the process of conducting a legal appeal and that diplomatic discussions are also going on. We are supposed to believe that this is the best solution and also 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. There is a third fact the leadership of this country and its representatives are well aware of. The ‘Nameless Dying Woman’, for all matters and purposes, is already dead. As a citizen of Sri Lanka, many others including myself and possibly the conveniently silenced and anonymized family of the ‘Nameless Dead Woman’, demand the right to know the following from the the Sri Lankan authorities.
1. We would like to see documentary proof of your diplomatic dispatches to the Saudi Arabian Government. We want to see whether the highest level of diplomatic negotiations have taken place in this case. (Legal appeals would be useless).
2.We would like to know whether the govt. tapped 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 after all, close supporters of our government. We know that the only hope that this woman has lies in a negotiation if done with finesse and strategy, initiated at the highest levels. We would like to see what diplomatic strategies govt. have used, since we now have the advantage of being aligned with the leader of the liberal global order. Has the leadership of Sri Lanka turned these people when a Lankan woman was about to be executed? Or would you rather not deal with an unpleasant and inconvenient issue of the Nameless Dead Woman, when there are bigger issues at stake?
3. Finally, would 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 sense and self-respect to do that on behalf of their disadvantaged citizens) 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, when the time comes, on the 4th of December, she would have lost her mind before that,