In her article Live and let die? (March 10), Barkha Dutt confuses euthanasia and suicide. In fact, the two are radically different. Euthanasia, or ‘mercy killing’, is the result of a decision taken by someone other than the subject concerned, and is open to criminal misuse. Suicide, or the self-termination of life, is the outcome of a decision made by the individual concerned. In fact, in that it is the corollary to the right to life, the right to terminate one’s existence is a fundamental prerogative of the individual.
Jainism is one of the few major faiths that not only recognises but exalts this right. Most religions, including that secular creed that calls itself the State, proscribe both euthanasia and suicide and often conflate the two. The proscription on the self-termination of life is based on the unconscionable proposition that the individual ‘belongs’, body and soul, to an abstract entity known as a religion or a State. In truth, it is the other way round. We do not belong to our faiths or our socio-political systems; they belong to us and can be changed — or even terminally rejected — at will.
Checks and balances
With reference to Ahilan Kadirgamar’s article Island in crisis (March 9), it must be noted that Sri Lanka has had, for several years now, to face the terrorism of the LTTE. The government is determined to face the threat without any derogation from human rights norms. To give shape to this commitment, the government appointed a Commission of Inquiry.
All ethnic communities in Sri Lanka are represented on this commission, which has as its mandate the investigation of 15 alleged serious violations of human rights arising since August 2005.
The government also took the additional step of appointing an Independent International Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP) to ‘observe such investigations and inquiries.’
A Saj U Mendis
Counsellor for High Commissioner of Sri Lanka