You may have heard the story of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year old student who was arrested after bringing a home-made clock to school. While we were distracted by Ahmed and the Bomb, we missed the story of four guys from Green Cabin suspected of raping an autistic 23-year old. Let’s leave the US to its Islamophobia for a moment and look at something closer to home.
This, I’m told, is Kesara Kahandaliyanage, standing there in the white shirt. Kesara is the 23-year old we’re talking about. Everything I’ve seen, heard and read about Kesara shows him to be exceptional. It’s very rare for autistic individuals in Sri Lanka to integrate into society, let alone hold jobs, and Kesara seems to have managed a certain level of both.
This is where things go downhill. In the words of his sister, who took to Facebook to raise awareness on the issue,
“He had been working at Green Cabin for three years when on June 12th 2015 he finally broke his silence and told us about how he had been repeatedly raped and abused by 4 fellow employees while at work.
Kesara doesn’t understand the concept of time and when asked for how long it had been happening all he said was ‘for a long time’. He was clear about the fact that it happened on Saturdays and he gave us very detailed descriptions of what they had done to him.
In an interview with Daily Mirror, more details were unearthed: Kesara had two friends – Kelum and Nilantha. Whatever was done to him was done when these two weren’t around. The GMO reportedly confirmed the sexual abuse.
“These four men were arrested and produced at the Gangodawila Magistrates court and after 3 weeks they were all given bail. They are now walking our streets free, they are living their lives while Kesara is trying very hard to gather together the shambles of his life and is finding it impossible to do so.
He, the victim, is continuing to be victimized as these monsters are roaming about and he is unable to even travel by himself out of fear. Travelling alone was something he took a lot of pride in as developing that level of independence in a child with special needs was no easy task.
He is now without a job and unable to understand why it was his life that changed and his life that has been compromised after having gone through so much while the people who did it to him are relatively unaffected.
He doesn’t understand why he, who did nothing wrong is not being helped by the system and society he worked so hard to fit into.
Becoming a productive, independent citizen while having special needs is not something many can boast about but Kesara did it. And this is what happened to him.”
TL;DR: they abused him. And then they walked. This happened in June.
The first hearing was held at the Gangodawila Magistrate’s Court today. I’m told it was to be postponed to 8th October.
There are times when the Internet genuinely surprises you, and this was one of them. Kesara’s sisters’ outpouring brought a veritable army of Facebook supporters and people blasting Green Cabin. It even summoned people willing to stand outside and support Kesara.
But what of Green Cabin?
Not a peep in public. I’ve searched, but I cannot seem to find a single statement made by Green Cabin on the matter. In private, they’ve sent Kesara a letter pointing out that he hasn’t reported for work and might lose his job. The whole issue regarding this was met with flat denial.
This, not to put too fine a word on it, sucks. Autism brings with it incredible difficulties, and it’s sickening to see someone like this put down by something like this. In the words of the late Terry Pratchett, there is no justice – there is just us.
There’s a lot of buzz as to what should be done to Green Cabin. To be fair to them, they may not have been aware of what was going on – but one would expect them to have the decency, or at least a smidgeon of marketing tact, and put out something in public.
Personally, I’d like to see all of these buggers castrated if found guilty. Unfortunately, Sri Lankan law has thus far been notoriously lenient on rapists. Rape is a heinous crime, regardless of whether it’s a man or woman on the receiving end. It should be treated as such. Suspects should not be out and about cooking your meals and swapping stories and possibly eyeing the next kid in line.
Let’s rewind. There’s no great moral here, except for the fact that the Green Cabin, Colombo 03’s favourite lunchtime haunt, has something very sickening going on inside it. Just be careful next time you order your favouritelamprais from Green Cabin – who knows, they might have buggered the chicken, too. Remember that this is not the first time Green Cabin’s come under firethis year – they recently served someone a cockroach.
If you’ve got the time, the next hearing is on the 8th October at 9 am. Chanaka Rodrigo is the Managing Director of Green Cabin. If you can get ahold of him, ask him what’s going on under his roof.