SRI LANKA: Asian Tribune joins the smear campaign against the victim of negligent amputation and the Asian Human Rights Commission

Asian Tribune joins the smear campaign against the victim of negligent amputation and

In a article, purportedly written by Sunil C. Perera, to the Asian Tribune the author attacks the story of Sitthi Naseera, the woman whose leg was amputated allegedly due to the negligence of doctors at Negombo hospital  Prior to the publication of this report, H.L.D. Mahindapala, a close associate of the Asian Tribune, blamed in two emails written to the executive director, Basil Fernando, criticizing the commission for taking up this case, since it was an accident.  The AHRC clarified the matter stating that the issue of their concern was that this was a case of medical negligence and that it required investigation by the Sri Lanka authorities.  While the Asian Tribune falsely accuses the AHRC of basing its report on newspaper articles, in fact, as stated in AHRC statements, the basis of the information it used was an affidavit signed by the victim, Sitthi Naseera.  The AHRC published the full text of the affidavit.  Further, the initial report in this case was published by the AHRC, which was picked up the following day by the Daily Mirror.

The Asian Tribune refers to a Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) statement but, in fact, the GMOA has not interviewed the amputee at any time.  The GMOA report, similar to that of the Asian Tribune, was published in the Island, a local newspaper in Sri Lanka on Saturday.  In a letter to the editor the AHRC refuted the GMOA position.  Further, writing to the GMOA on May 17, the AHRC posed the following questions:

1. Did you or a representative of your association interview the victim/complainant before you issued a public statement regarding the alleged negligent amputation of her leg by some doctors at Negombo?

2. Did you read the newspaper reports about this incident and were you not aware from such reports that the victim complainant has submitted an affidavit about the incident stating all the circumstances and confirming that her leg was amputated in place of another by negligence of the doctors?

3. If you read this affidavit and subsequently made the statement why did you state in your statement that the victim’s family was agreeable to the amputation?

4. By stating that the amputation was necessary due to a protruding bone did you not mislead the public that what was amputated was the healthy leg of the victim complainant? And further that the protruding bone was a result of a badly done first operation, which was done on the mistaken identity of the victim.

5. Did you make this statement about the protruding bone on the basis of false reports submitted by the Negombo hospital authorities or did you make up the story yourself?

6. Do you consider part of your duty as an association to cover up the negligence of any members of your association?  Is it not the duty of a responsible association to insist that its members act responsibly and safeguard the interest of their clients?

7. In your statement you blame NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations). Is your association not an NGO?

8. You blame NGOs for helping the poor. In a country where the largest section of society is poor, does not your association consider that you have an obligation to defend the poor? And further when other associations bring to your notice an alleged gross negligence on the part of some members of your association, is it not your responsibility to have a thorough investigation?

9. In your statement you asked for a medical tribunal, implying investigations by legal authorities into the conduct of doctors should be stopped. Do you claim that your members are not Sri Lankan citizens, subject to its laws and its courts? Do you want Sri Lanka to be an exception when everywhere in the world medical negligence comes within the criminal law and the civil law litigation? Do you imply that doctors are of a higher rank or status and that the patients are mere objects and not human beings?”

The report mentions that the NGO in Sri Lanka, which assisted the amputee, was motivated by religious considerations. The victim amputee is a Muslim and the Right to Life organisation consists of members from many religions and the leader is Jayanthi Dandeniya, a Buddhist who has been leading the campaign against disappeared persons. The disappeared persons in Sri Lanka were mostly Buddhists. The Right to Life organisation played a key role in making a monument for the disappeared persons at Seeduwa, which is now very famous. Most of these disappearances happened during the regime of President Premadasa.

The AHRC expects further smear campaigns of the commission by the Asia Tribune.  The author of such writings will be H.L.D. Mahindapala, an Observer editor at the time of the bloody regime of President Premadasa.  The amputation is just a pretext and the wish to carry on a smear campaign against the AHRC, the avowed objective of this gentleman who now lives in Australia.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-53-2005
Countries : Sri Lanka,