The UNP’s first ever May Day rally to be held in Jaffna, aimed at forging ethnic unity in the post war era, was to urge the government to grant urgent relief to the working class, address the plight of internally displaced people and restore law and order throughout the country.
Assistant Leader of the UNP, Joseph Michael Perera, speaking by telephone to , from Jaffna said that today’s rally scheduled to commence at St. Roche Ground around 2,00 p.m. could be described as an historic attempt to forge ethnic harmony and peace, which was yet to dawn on the country, nearly three years after the LTTE was defeated.
“We will be passing several resolutions on behalf of the working class which was struggling to make ends meet,” he said adding that they would urge the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime to effect an immediate Rs.7,500 salary increase for public servants and also request the private sector to grant a similar pay hike.
Perera said that the President and his ministers were trumpeting that fishermen were now free to go out to sea, but frequent increases in the price of diesel meant that there has been no change in their economic condition.
Farmers also need urgent assistance, since they were unable to obtain a decent price for their produce. Henchmen of politicians who acted as middlemen were fleecing them of their profits, he noted.
“Internally displaced persons are said to have been resettled, but they complain of not being given their original lands,” he said while observing that until such time justice was done, the government’s assurances to the international community sounded very hollow.
Perera said that the scrapping of the 17th Amendment and with it the independent Police, Public, Elections, Judicial and Bribery and Corruption Commissions had resulted in there being no law and order, not only in the North and East but throughout the country.
The white van culture was still in existence and political activists and journalists were being abducted. The obvious culprits were certain extreme elements within the government, he alleged adding that they would be passing resolutions on all issues which impinge on the well being and safety of the citizen, regardless of which community they belonged to.
Asked about the war of words within the UNP, Perera said that there was no objection to Premadasa commemoration ceremonies being conducted in Colombo, but the UNP as a party would be holding only one May Day Rally.
By Zacki Jabbar