Myth – making on Rule of Law and Human Rights as having European Origins
Posted on February 16th, 2014

Senaka Weeraratna

Much propaganda was made by the British and Christian Church in respect to the killing of Ehalapola’s family by the King of the Kandyan Kingdom, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe.

This crime pales into insignificance when reads how the Tavora family was executed under the orders of the King of Portugal, Joseph I, in 1759 – 1760.

Portugal was not alone in Europe at that time in meting out brutal punishments including burning people at the stake. It was a widespread practice against those who committed ‘heresy’ or had different views to that of the ruling orthodoxy. There was no question of religious tolerance.

Compare the Edicts of Asoka and the practice under Buddhist kings in the pre-colonial period of Sri Lanka.

The Christian Inquisition lasted from the 12th to the 20th Century in Europe and Goa, and other parts of the Portuguese Empire of Asia.

The people in non – European countries i.e. Asia, Africa, South America and the like are constantly bombarded with propaganda of the practice of Rule of Law, upholding of Human Rights, Freedom of Worship of other religions etc. as European values and  Christendom’s legacy to the World.

Can this propaganda and myth making by Europe be sustained in the light of centuries of persecution of innocent people under the Christian Inquisition (Roman, Spanish and Portuguese), launching of Crusades, Western Colonialism that spread to all parts of the world robbing the wealth of the indigenous people together with enslavement, brutal forms of punishment including burning at the stake, extermination of native peoples e.g. Australian Aborgines, Red Indians, Black Africans, and lately the Jews under the Holocaust, and destruction of places of religious worship belonging to the Buddhists and Hindus and building churches on top of these destroyed sites or adjacent to them.

There is overwhelming evidence to establish these facts. Yet lecturing to the victims and their descendants by the very nations that committed these atrocities and their local fellow travelers on good governance and human rights never stops.

These crimes were committed by people who make the loudest boast of their high ethical value system and force feed others with their versions of ‘Human Rights’ and ‘Rule of Law’ without ever submitting themselves to any form of accountability or justice for unparalleled crimes committed over a period of 500 years.

It must be said without any reservation that the most fundamental norm of the rule of law ideal in any credible legal system is the uniform application of the law, without which the universality of norms, their rationality, indeed their substantive content, would  mean nothing.  People and Society will not reflect or value the benefits of the rule of law if the rules are not enforced evenhandedly. .

The double standards we see in international institutions like the United Nations and its various agencies like the UNHRC, and diabolical conduct of the more powerful Western nations in these fora in evading liability and accountability for their crimes against humanity, have made a mockery of the pretense of rule of law and validity of public international law.

…………………………

  Execution of the Tavora Family in Portugal in 1759 – 1760

 T¡vora affair

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The T¡vora affair was a political scandal of the 18th century Portuguese court. The events triggered by the attempted murder of King Joseph I of Portugal in 1758 ended with the public execution of the entire T¡vora family and its closest relatives in 1759.

Executions of the Tavora Family

http://www.grosvenorprints.com/stock_detail.php?ref=28561

1759: The Tavora family

http://www.executedtoday.com/2009/01/13/1759-pombal-aveiro-tavora-affair/

Two and a half centuries ago today, Portugal’s noble Tavora family was extirpated in Belem.

[A] scaffold eighteen feet in height was erected in the market-place of Lisbon, during the night of the 13th, round which was drawn up a cordon of military. Precisely at 7 o’clock in the morning, the old Marchioness of Tavora, as the most guilty, was brought upon the scene, her hands bound, and a rope round her neck. She was placed on a chair, and her eyes being bound, the executioner struck her head off without the previous utterance by her of any complaint. After her came the twenty-one-year-old son, Joseph Maria de Tavora. They bound him on a cross raised aloft, broke his arms and legs with iron clubs, and then strangled him with a rope. The same fate befell [Tavora son-in-law] Jeronimo de Ataide, Count of Atouguia, the young Marquis Luiz Bernard de Tavora, colonel of cavalry, his servant Blasius Joseph Romeiro, Corporal Emanuel Alvarez Fereira, valet of the Duke of Aveira, and the body-page, John Michael. Their corpses were all flattened upon wheels, which were placed on poles, and this proceeding took up so much time that fully half an hour elapsed before another execution could be proceeded with. After the page Miguel or Michael, the executioner took the old Francis d’Assis de Tavora, bound him on a St. Andrew’s cross, gave him three blows on the chest with an iron rod that resounded to a distance, shattered his arms and legs, and then gave him his coup de grace through the heart. The executioner’s men then, amidst wild shrieks, shattered the arms, legs, and thighs of the ninth victim, the old Duke of Aveiro, while still alive, then killed him by a blow on the chest, and threw him into the blazing fire. Finally, the tenth delinquent, the valet Anton Alvarez Fereira, brother of the above-mentioned Emanuel, was conducted before the corpses of the nine who had been previously executed, each one being shown to him; he was then bound to a stake, round which was placed a heap of wood, and this being set fire to, was raked together until he was completely consumed* … When the execution was over, the scaffold, together with all the dead bodies, was set on fire and burnt to ashes, which were thrown into the Tagus.


Other outstandingly gory images of this day’s business are here.

Oh, and one last thing:

[T]he palaces of the high nobility who had been executed were pulled to pieces and levelled to the ground, and salt strewed on the places where they had stood, as a sign that they should never be built up again.

Yikes.


This stone marker was placed on the site of the razed palace of Jose Mascarenhas, the Duke of Aveiro. “On this infamous land,” it announces, “nothing may be built for all time.” Copyrighted image courtesy of Ludgero Paninho.

Seems someone got the idea that the Tavoras tried to kill (and more problematically, failed to kill) Portuguese king Joseph I.

Circumstantial, torture-adduced evidence put the scheming Marchioness Eleonora de Tavora and clan behind an apparent assassination attempt, wherein a couple of assailants had shot at the king’s unmarked carriage as it returned on a little-used road from a rendezvous with his mistress. (One of the circumstances was that the mistress was a Tavora, which put the accused in a position to know the king’s secret travel plans. Others argue the gunmen might have just been common highwaymen who had no idea they were setting upon the royal person.)

Whatever the facts of the matter, obscure behind a quarter-millennium, its attribution to the Tavoras and the spectacular revenge thereupon visited was effected by the king’s competent and ruthless minister, Sebasti£o Jos© de Carvalho e Melo, the future Marquis de Pombal.


A monumental plinth surmounted by Pombal dominates the present-day Lisbon plaza named for him.

His able handling of the recent Lisbon earthquake had cemented his position as the throne’s right-hand man in a trend of centralizing absolutism not much appreciated by the old aristocracy (nor by the hidebound clerical orders, which explains why the aforesaid gory account of the execution ground comes from a German anti-Jesuit polemic).

And he would not miss the opportunity an attack on the king’s person gave him to sweep away his opponents.

The peers of the realm were summoned to witness their fellow blue-bloods so nauseatingly dispatched, and the Jesuits ”” “reported to have inflamed the Tavora family to their [the Jesuits’] desired pitch … in revenge for what had justly been done to them in South America”** ”” were forthwith suppressed.

(Functionally a progressive secular dictator ”” or an enlightened despot, to use a more 18th-century description ”” Pombal would eventually push political conflict with Rome so near the brink of outright schism that the Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on Melo characterizes it as “a sort of disguised Anglicanism,” adding that “many of the evils from which the Church now suffers are a legacy from him.” His ascendancy is the “Pombaline Terror” in Catholic annals.)

Melo/Pombal exercised the power of the state for the rest of Joseph’s life, but the king’s daughter and successor Maria I dismissed him ”” though she did not take punitive action against Pombal for his persecutions, as his enemies demanded.

* Also doomed to burning alive was one Joseph Policarpo, who was able to escape the mass arrest a few weeks before and fled the kingdom. He was executed by effigy.

** This comment is from the letters of Christopher Hervey, an Englishman abroad in Portugal at the time of the execution whose 100+ pages’ worth of correspondence include live-at-the-scene reporting and English translations of the public pronouncements against the supposed culprits. As to the South American roots of Pombal’s conflict with the Jesuits, the order had resisted Pombal’s early schemes to reorganize and rationalize Portugal’s New World holdings in order to make the country a more competitive colonial power. Jesuit resistance to giving up the order’s control of education, and its humanitarian efforts to protect Indians, had been seen as contributing to an Indian rebellion that broke out in Jesuit-controlled territory ”” even to the point that Jesuits themselves were suspected of arming Indians in an effort to carve out church-controlled states. Hervey’s version has the Jesuits behind the plot in order to eliminate Pombal’s threat to their power. Others share this opinion … and Pombal, obviously, was keen to have his rivals inculpated for lese majeste in the public mind.

3 Responses to “Myth – making on Rule of Law and Human Rights as having European Origins”

  1. sena Says:

    History is replete with cruelty associate with power struggles and colonialism. Considering the present, the corruption and power abuse is a cancer within, aiding the schemes of diaspora and their friends. Those who are in the West can especially appreciate the importance of good governance where independence of the institutions are utmost for keeping law and order and making a atmosphere conducive for the capable and honest entrepreneurs to conduct business and develop the economy. A corrupt and dishonest leadership will always kneel in front of the external pressure to save their selfish interests

  2. AnuD Says:

    Catholic Church burned women alive even in England, I think, at the time when Anglican Christianity was rising saying they were Witches.

    Read this, unrelated.

    http:///2014/02/14/can-the-catholic-church-be-salvaged/

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    “Can this propaganda and myth making by Europe be sustained in the light of centuries of persecution of innocent people under the Christian Inquisition (Roman, Spanish and Portuguese), launching of Crusades, Western Colonialism that spread to all parts of the world robbing the wealth of the indigenous people together with enslavement, brutal forms of punishment including burning at the stake, extermination of native peoples e.g. Australian Aborigines, Red Indians, Black Africans, and lately the Jews under the Holocaust, and destruction of places of religious worship belonging to the Buddhists and Hindus and building churches on top of these destroyed sites or adjacent to them.”

    I am glad this issue is being addressed. very few things remain unchanged. The pyramids and the Ziggurats have stood the test of time. What has been done by the Western powers can be undone. Case example is the temple to the Sun God Surya in Gujarat. The Somnath temple has been destroyed seven times and rebuilt as many times by the Hindus. The current Hindu avatar stands proudly. This can be applied to the Viharas, Dagobas, and monasteries destroyed by the European powers.

    Change can also take place regarding Christian based laws still on the books. they should be replaced by Buddhist based laws. Finally if Buddhism were ever to become a state faith innumerable issues can be dwelt with including banning conversions to other faiths, adherence to Buddhist traditions by foreigners. Banning the practice of animal slaughter and the caste system embedded in the Sri Lankan Hindu Tamil culture. I would add one suggestion and that is to take a page from Buddhism in Thailand where all Buddhist men serve a brief period of time in the Sanga

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