Pottu Test

Mar 01, 2008 (LBO) – A Sri Lankan Supreme Court judge said society discriminates against its members despite pledging allegiance to a human rights charter, and called for equal treatment for marginalized sections. “If you take a simple issue of race, it is the duty of the majority of the Sinhalese to reach out to the minority,” Justice Shirani Thilakawardene told the members of the Sri Lanka Cancer Society of which she is a vice-president on Friday.

“Because the minorities are marginalized, and they perceive – maybe rightly, maybe wrongly – discrimination.

“It is for us to empower them to feel equal and have dignity.”

She said people were divided along four broad groups; race, sex, age and disability. Cancer patients tended to be discriminated on grounds of disability.

“Somebody once told me ‘Don’t talk nonsense. There is no discrimination against Tamils’,” she recalled.

“You want to bet? Give your wife a nice big pottu, give her an ID which says she’s from Jaffna, put her in a car and ask her to drive around Colombo. You’ll learn what discrimination is.”

Thilakawardene was referring to the manner in which Tamils are subject to identity checks in the government’s eff