A Statement from the Sri Lanka Guardian forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission
Sri Lanka Human Rights Watch
No one who questions the validity of the charges was quoted in these interviews. Such interviews are broadcast during the primetime evening news and they are not news at all. In fact, news time has been manipulated for very direct political propaganda. The government media is abandoning any kind of professionalism in their broadcasts and directly engages in propaganda to prepare the background for repression by the government. The news has in fact turned out to be a well-staged series of political attacks against the opposition through use of state media. This clearly amounts to extreme abuse of state resources for party-political aims.
Joint opposition rejects election results as a computer fraud
Meanwhile, the joint opposition candidate has categorically stated that the election results have been manipulated and that he is the winner of the elections. He also stated that the story of the alleged plot by him and several of his security personnel has been created for the purpose of creating misimpressions and to take political revenge. He stated that several members of his security team, who are retired members of the military, have been arrested. He stated that all these are persons who have served the military with distinction.
He further stated that Brigadier Kapitivalana, who was part of his team, has been arrested and the government is trying to fabricate charges against him for the assassination of Lasantha Wickematunge. He stated that the government is trying to pin the assassination on others and that the actual assassins of Lasantha Wickrematunge will be revealed in due course.
The retired General further said that the government is trying to arrest and assassinate him because the government is aware of what he knows about the wrongdoings of the president and his brother. He said that he has already signed an affidavit in which all he knows on these matters have been recorded and that he has already submitted this in a sealed envelope to all those who need to receive such information. Obviously, the General has taken precautions that in the event of his assassination, the vital information that is known to him would not be lost.
The protest of a soldier’s father
Meanwhile, the father of one of the security officers, JAD Raveendra Arangalle, given by the government to the retired General, who has now been arrested, gave a press conference and stated that his son is being kept under detention on fabricated charges and pleaded for his immediate release. He stated that his son had loyally served the military at risk to his own life. His son was one of the soldiers who was in the security team of the general when an LTTE suicide bomber attacked him. On such missions, these soldiers have fought valiantly for the nation. Now they are detained on false and fabricated charges, purely for political purposes. The father said that he has himself voted for Mahinda Rajapakse in the elections and that he is shocked and saddened by the manner in which such political fabrications are being made. He called for the release of his son and others who are held on fabricated charges.
None of these matters are reported in the government television and radio broadcasts.
The government television and radio is carrying on a heavy personality cult around President Mahinda Rajapakse. Songs are sung constantly portraying him as the greatest son of the soil living in present times and comparing him to the heroes of the Sinhalese in the past. One song calling for a victory for him is sung with dancers and folk music constantly over the television. Many voice cuts from various persons are also produced constantly portraying him as the savior of the nation. In all this the opposition is portrayed as those who are treacherous to the nation.
Twelve top brass army officers asked to retire
The Daily Mirror reported today that 12 top brass army officers have been asked to retire with immediate effect allegedly over a ‘political conspiracy’. These include three Major Generals. The Daily Mirror quoting a high placed military official who said, “These officers have been asked to retire as their services are no longer required to the army.” According to this report this group also includes two Brigadiers and Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels and Captains. The report states that these officers were close to the former army commander, Sarath Fonseka. The Criminal Investigation Department, the CID has commenced inquiries into an alleged political conspiracy that is supposed to have taken place during last week’s presidential election. As stated above, the retired army general, Sarath Fonseka, has categorically denied any such conspiracy and has stated that this was an attempt to create persecution against him and others for their participation in opposing the government in the elections.
There are reports of large numbers of officers in the army being called to head quarters and told to go home as their services are not required. Under the Army Act, an officer cannot be sent home like that without a summary trial or court martial. This is seen as an attempt to eliminate those who have been loyal to the former commander of the army and to build direct loyalties to the Secretary of Defense Gotabaya Rajapakse, who is virtually running the military. The politicization of the armed forces on the basis of direct political loyalties would create in the armed forces the similar problems of inefficiency and corruption, as in other public services.
Suppression of the JVP and others
The premises of the Pradeeshiya Sabaha at Tissamaharama, which was governed by the JVP, has been sealed and the keys have been given to the police. This is part of a political attack on the JVP. The JVP newspaper has been closed down and the editor has been arrested. (See yesterday’s report for more details about the closure of the press and the arrest of the editor – http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2009statements/2393/ and Lanka Guardian at: http://www.srilankaguardian.org/) The attack directed towards the JVP is part of an attempt to suppress the opposition in the protest against the election results as well as the opposition participation for the forthcoming parliamentary elections which are due before April.
The legitimate security provided to Karu Jayasuriya, the deputy leader of the UNP has been removed. There is a move to cancel the same security for Rauf Hakeem, the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and also the removal of security to other opposition members of parliament either to force them to leave the country or to become vulnerable targets.
One of the staff members of the Rupavahini Production Team was summarily sacked and five others are under interdiction. The Rupavahini chairman has threatened several officers.
Evidence is pouring in on post election victimisation. Hundreds of opposition supporters are likely to be locked out today (Monday), which is virtually the first effective working day after the elections.
There is a common suggestion that the purpose of the suppression of the media is to ensure a 2/3rd victory for the government at the forthcoming parliamentary elections. There is a huge self censorship in both print and electronic private media and at least two major articles were dropped in popular private newspapers.
There are reports that a foreign IT company has been hired to monitor the Face Book and social networking sites. The experience of other countries which has used such technology shows that it has been used for monitoring social and human rights activists who convey messages to the human rights networks. Such technology can also be used to monitor Skype.
The overall impact of all these actions is that the people are stunned, said a well known civil society activists on the condition of anonymity. There is fear everywhere of possible attacks, arrests and other forms of persecution against all who have a dissenting voice either in the media or in political life.
An appeal to the UN
Many persons are appealing to the United Nations and the international community to take appropriate action before it is too late. The retired general, Sarath Fonseka said that several governments have already intervened to ask for protection but the government is ignoring these calls.