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Environment in North is not Conducive to hold Free and Fair Provincial Council Elections-Karu Jayasuriya

(Brief Notes of the Media Conference held by Hon. Karu Jayasuriya MP UNP for Gampaha District, on 17th May 2013)

· Repressive Policy of the government is on the increase. It is impossible to express dissenting views against the government. The government behaves in a manner as if the people have given a mandate to them to stay in power forever.

· It has been scheduled to hold an election in September for the Northern Provincial Council. The Environment there is not conducive to hold free and fair elections.

· Severe repression is being carried out in the North. There is no room for recognized political parties to carry out their activities. It has been reported that on several occasions meetings had been disrupted.

· Disgraceful manner in which the Udayan Newspaper was attacked and the attempt to burn its office is not a secret. Wise people are aware who is behind this attack. A statement has been recorded by the police from the Editor of the Janarala newspaper regarding a news item which appeared in that paper. After the publication of the news the police had gone to the press on three occasions and questioned the owner of the press.

· These laws are applicable to the opposition only.

· These laws do not apply to certain programmes broadcast by government radio and ITN channel for character assassination of very low level and false accusations aimed at the politicians of the opposition.

· This repression is being carried out in the North and the South without any difference.

· We see another dangerous trend in the arrest of Mr. Asath Salley, former Deputy Mayor of Colombo.

· His arrest on a detention order under the cover of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, we see as a rehearsal in the manner in which the government intends to behave in future. When peace reigns in the country, with the end of terrorism, other than the repressive acts, we condemn the intimidation of the politicians who express views against the government. We do not approve of the application of the Prevention of Terrorism Act unnecessarily when provisions are available to act through the normal laws of the country. We see a trend that this act will be utilized to arrest persons who express views opposing the government.

· We should have the freedom to live freely in a country we call democratic. These repressive actions are being used not only to repress masses but to infringe the rights of the representatives of the people. When a team of representatives of the opposition toured the North, they were not allowed to travel freely. They were not permitted to visit some areas. Members of Parliament were not given the opportunity to visit Mr. Asath Salley when he was kept in the hospital. We witness systems found in Monarchies.

· Earlier it was decided to hold elections simultaneously in the North, Central and North Western Provinces. We saw reports that this decision has been changed. Now it has been decided to hold elections only in the North. People are intrigued about this change. What is the object? Is it to use full strength of the government or to hold elections by using thuggery?

· When the independence of the government machinery and the police is completely lost due to the unlimited powers obtained through the 18th amendment, Elections Commissioner’s instructions are violated, state media becomes the political trumpet, state resources are utilized for party politics, free and fair elections people expect becomes an illusion.

· Though we have trust in the elections commissioner, we doubt whether he would be able to act independently due to the 18th Amendment.

· As individuals who respect democracy we urge to conduct elections in a transparent manner. Elections should be conducted after establishing Elections Commission, Public Service Commission, Police Commission and Judicial Services Commission as provided in the 17th Amendment.

· Recommendations of the Elections Commissioner regarding state resources, state media should be implemented. Assistance should be obtained of the local and foreign monitors from the day of nominations. Elections conducted in any other manner will be similar to the elections held in Egypt of Mubarak, Libya of Gaddafi or North Korea of Kim Ul Sung.