Myanmar sentences lawmaker from Suu Kyi’s party to death

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - COLOMBO: The wife of a Sri Lankan national who was lynched by a mob in Pakistan has pleaded for justice from the Pakistani prime minister during a memorial event at Islamabad’s mission in Colombo.

Kumara, 48, a general manager at a sports apparel factory in the eastern city of Sialkot, was attacked by a mob of hundreds of people, dragged into the street and set ablaze in the eastern city of Sialkot on Dec. 3. Police said workers at the factory accused him of desecrating religious posters.

Dozens of people have been arrested in connection with the violence, and Prime Minister Imran Khan has promised severe punishment for those found guilty.

High-ranking Sri Lankan officials, including the speaker of parliament, ministers, lawmakers, and Buddhist and Muslim religious figures attended the memorial event organized by Pakistan’s high commissioner designate, Umar Farooq Burki, on Thursday evening.

Kumara’s widow, Nilushi Dissanayaka, arrived with their two sons.

“I request Imran Khan to bring justice to my husband and punish the culprits as soon as possible. This is not to take revenge. But this should not happen to anyone in future,” she said.

“I thank all the Pakistanis who supported me in this difficult situation and all staff of the high commission for arranging this event. Also, I would like to thank the Sri Lankan president, prime minister, other ministers and media institutions for supporting me.”

Dissanayaka told Arab News her goal in life was now to educate her children, Gavith and Lithula, to become professionals and useful members of society.

The business community in Sialkot has raised $100,000 for Kumara’s family. Rajco Industries, where Kumara worked, has pledged to take care of their financial needs by sending a monthly salary of $2,000 for the next 10 years. The Pakistani high commissioner said the funds were transferred to the widow earlier this week.

He said that around $54,000 has also been collected for the family by Pakistani expatriates in the US and Canada.

“Each and every person in Pakistan from the Prime Minister Imran Khan to a common man on the street was aggrieved and strongly condemned this inhumane act,” Burki said.

Pakistani authorities last month announced that suspects in the case will be presented before an anti-terrorism court in jail. “On strict directions of the prime minister of Pakistan, the trial of the murderers and abettors is continuing,” Burki said. “The prime minister is directly supervising the proceedings of this trial.”

Blasphemy is considered a deeply sensitive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan and carries the death penalty. Mere allegations of blasphemy can trigger mob violence.

International and domestic rights groups say accusations of blasphemy have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores.

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