I returned from my Jaffna and Vanni campaign tour this morning and am obliged to convey the general sentiments of the Tamil people in those districts. In fact the same sentiments were expressed by those in the East a week ago, when I was in the East where I had a nasty experience of facing a goon attack by regime thugs.
Tamil society will go to polls this time unlike in 2005 November and they need a free and peaceful environment to engage in politics to participate in elections. Yet the feeling of insecurity and possible intimidations prevail very strongly in the Northern Tamil psyche with armed security and para military groups moving freely in those areas. Their past traumatic and frightening experiences with the military occupying North and East do not allow them to feel secure and safe.
It is known and was discussed openly how the Rajapaksa regime used both the security forces and para military groups to intimidate, threaten and stop people voting during the Northern PC elections. Northern Province Governor, an ex army officer escorted by armed security, openly identified himself with the Rajapaksa campaign. Even candidates like Ananthi Sasitharan was attacked during that election campaign and she told media she fears death.
This 2015 January presidential election is without a main opposition candidate to directly represent the Tamil people. Common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena is also on a Sinhala Buddhist platform, promising to stand by “war heroes”. Therefore the possibility of the Rajapaksa regime using armed security forces in election related work during the last few days before polls on January 08, is heavily suspected with their enormous and conspicuous presence in North and East. That possibility cannot be ruled out too, with the electoral decline President Rajapaksa as a candidate is facing in all other districts.
In addition to the near impossible task that the election commission is conducting, I urge the Election Commissioner (EC) to immediately intervene immediately to prevent any such high handed threatening intervention by the military and their covert support for para military groups, used by the Rajapaksa campaign.
EC will therefore have to make certain very soon that the military remains in the barracks, at least from midnight 05 January till the election is over. Three days in barracks, this country will not have any national security issue though Secretary Ministry of Defense (MoD), Gotabhaya Rajapaksa could be expected to say the LTTE is still a threat. He in fact may not be the Secretary MoD by the time election results are announced and therefore need not bother himself of national security issues thereafter. That will be the responsibility of the new government. What is most important right now is to allow the Tamil people to go to polls with confidence and use their sovereign right to vote as they wish. That demands the military to be kept in barracks.
I as a Candidate in the Elections to the Post of the President therefore, demand the EC to immediately arrange for the army to be removed to barracks from midnight 05 January and detail the police to enforce rule of law in both North and East.
Media brief on North-East
Siritunga Jayasuriya 29/12/2014. Colombo
USP Presidential Candidate