The government, unable to bear a certain defeat at the Uva PC election, is deploying thugs to create panic in Monaragala District. As it has no certainty regarding winning Badulla District it is attempting to plunder votes in Monaragala to gain seats to form the PC states the General Secretary of the JVP Tilvin Silva adding that Mr. Shasheendra Rajapaksa is at the forefront of the campaign to violate election laws.
Speaking at a media briefing held at the head office of the JVP at Pelawatta today (26th) Mr. Tilvin Silva said, “The government, from the beginning of the election campaign is carrying out an illegal programme of violating election laws and using state power. The government has also used public transport buses for its election campaign by forcefully pasting stickers in all of them. The government that violated all laws has now gone a step forward by attacking members of opposition parties, setting fire to election offices, destroying stages put up for legal meetings and using firearms to shoot at their opponents.
This situation has severely escalated in Monaragala District. Armed gangs of thugs, taking power into their hands, travel in defender vehicles to sow terror in Monaragala. On the 24th night these terror gangs set fire to a large number of election offices. Among them were 14 JVP election offices. The most serious incidents of these terror campaign occurred on 25th (yesterday) night. A public meeting to be participated by the Leader of our party Comrade Anura Dissanayaka was to be held at Badalkumbura today. It’s a legal meeting for which permission had been obtained. A gang of UPFA thugs assaulted and shot at our comrades who were putting up the stage and decorating the scene and set fire to the stage. The public address system and motorcycles that were there were attacked. Certain loudspeakers were taken away. Without stopping at that the thugs roamed in the area and created panic. Our comrades were not allowed to make a complaint to the police or go to the hospital for treatment.
The police was not able to control these gangs. They carried out their terror acts after chasing away the police. On the same night three of our legal election offices at Monaragala were shot at and destroyed. Empty cartridges have been found at these places. Despite a complaint E.I.B./201/54 has been made, no one has been arrested yet. Gangs of thugs who had come to our candidate Comrade Wijesiri’s residence have shot at walls, remained there for more than 45 minutes terrorizing the residents and destroying property. The police personnel that have come there have been chased away. Comrade M.K. Somaratna’s residence too has been attacked in the same manner.
In such an environment, parties of the opposition are unable to carry out an election campaign. Armed government thugs, travelling in Defender vehicles, used by security forces, have created panic among the people and carry out a planned programme to obstruct smooth functioning of the election campaign. They are thugs who have been brought to Monaragala from other places. The thugs, armed to the teeth, using vehicles used by VIP security sections ignore election laws. They have created an environment where police officers and election officials are unable to maintain law and order.
The government has violated laws throughout the election campaign in both districts. On the 6th, the day nominations were handed over, demonstrations were held without heeding orders from the Commissioner of Elections and the IGP. Anura Vidnagamage, a candidate of the UPFA, threatened police personnel with death. The situation is serious at Monaragala. The main reason for this is that the chief ministerial candidate of the government party is in Monaragala. He is President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s elder brother’s son. He is using president’s and government’s powers.
There are many illegal election offices of the ruling party in Monaragala District. Illegal offices have been put up at Kiriibbanara and Thanamalwila areas. Stickers are displayed illegally on public transport buses. According to election law a candidae could use only one vehicle. However, candidates of the ruling party use many vehicles. The chief ministerial candidate and several candidates of the ruling party who have power carry out their campaigns violating laws.
The government party is also deploying state employees and resources in its election campaign. All graduates recruited recently by the Ministry of Economic Development have been called to Uva Province on the 3rd and 4th of next month. Despite stating they are called for an economic census, the real purpose of calling them is to use them in the election campaign of the UPFA. In addition, Samurdhi Development Officers, 50 from each Divisional Secretariat area, have been called to Uva on 7th, 8th and 9th. The government deployed state employees and resources in the same manner in previous elections too violating election laws.
At the moment state employees using vehicles of state institutions are engaged in election campaign of the ruling UPFA throughout the Uva province. We have seen a group of employees from Ceylon Petroleum Corporation wearing t-shirts of the Corporation engaged in the UPFA campaign in CPC vehicles.
Uva PC election is very disadvantageous for the government. The government did not enter the Uva PC election with a winning mentality. At the last election the government lost 250,000 votes and 17 seats. This is why the government isolated Uva PC election thinking it could get a big victory. The government is planning to go for an early presidential election. As such, Uva PC election is important for the government. This is why election laws are violated and a terror situation has been created.
The government first changed the composition of the number of seats in districts. Three seats were taken from Badulla District to Monaragala District as the government is not confident in winning Badulla District. The government has a scheme of increasing its number of seats through plunder of votes to form the PC. Shasheendra Rajapaksa is the person who is in the forefront of violating election laws by distributing goods and creating terror.
We are complaining to the IGP in writing. We would complain to the Commissioner of Elections as well. Our party would take maximum actions that could be taken legally. Also, we would attempt to carry out our election campaign according to election law despite the terror situation created by the government. Police officers should give us protection for this. The police should take measures to disarm gangs of thugs. It is the responsibility of the police to create a situation so that every political party could have a fair opportunity. How could an election be free and fair if supporters of the opposition parties are assaulted, their houses are shot at and they are intimidated? We would emphasize one thing to the people of this country. We ask them not to vote for the government that violates country’s election laws and uses its power to create panic. It is the government in power that should give an example of protecting laws of the country. People need not vote for a government that is unable to do so. We also ask the people not to endorse violence created by the government. If the police cannot protect the law of the country and the Commissioner of Elections cannot protect the election law the people should use their power to give a message to the government that sustains gangs of thugs. Don’t vote for candidates who engage in violence and violate laws. The journalists in this country too have an exclusive responsibility. You have a responsibility to report speedily incidents that happen in Uva, which is far away from Colombo. Police stations in those areas do not function properly. The police are controlled by gangs of thugs in the areas.
We ask the media to expose this situation. We are confident that people will give a good answer to the government that engages in violence.
Responding to questions raised by journalists Mr. Tilvin Silva said, “We don’t know on what basis the Commissioner of elections said that all three main political parties are violating laws. The Commissioner of Elections has made a special written thanks to the JVP regarding protecting election laws. We have never violated any election laws. We do not have any illegal election office. We do not display any illegal cutouts. We do not use public transport buses for our campaigns. We do not deploy a large number of vehicles for election propaganda. We do not distribute4 goods or deploy state employees. We only put up posters. I could be against election law. However, it is carried out by all parties. We launched our poster campaign even before the election law became effective. Hence, it is not a very serious violation. We have held legal meetings to make people aware. The Commissioner of Elections by comparing putting up posters with mass scale violations by the government is creating a situation advantageous to the government.
The gangs of thugs cannot be identified even by candidates of the area. For, they have been brought from outside, with power and protection from the government, use Defender vehicles used by security forces and illegal weapons. Only Sasheendra Rajapaksa has the ability to deploy such gangs. Deploying of such gangs of thugs has become a menace for other candidates of the UPFA too. It is definite that the government is behind these gangs of thugs. As such, the IGP should deploy special protection to Monaragala.
What is being implemented is a law that has been made of two laws that were used for two elections. There is a difficulty in using the law that was used for the plurality system and proportional system for the system of election that is used now. As such, what should be done is not to violate laws but to change the law so that it could be practically used. There have been instances where such changes have been made. However, what happens now is that parties of the opposition that have no power have to contest with the government party that has state power. It is like an unarmed slave is made to fight with a fully armed Roman gladiator. The result is clear to all. This government goes beyond its limits. Our offices are destroyed, they are set on fire and our members are shot at. When we complain to the police they say we have to decide whether we are to hold meetings in such environments. What would happen if we are not able to hold meeting for which we have obtained permission? The responsibility of the police is to overpower thugs.