NPC condemns election violence and expulsion of people in Batticaloa
[TamilNet, Thursday, 01 April 2004, 15:03 GMT]
In a press release Thursday, the National Peace Council has condemned the election-related violence, intimidations and assassinations in the North-East, and the “effort to expel people of Jaffna-origin living in Batticaloa,” saying that “factional rivalries should not be solved at the expense of the people.”
The NPC said that it sought to have people in the LTTE-controlled areas provided with the right to vote. “This reflects our belief that the people must not be disenfranchised or discriminated against by the state for any reason. However, we also note that creating an atmosphere of intimidation and fear, and denying pluralism is also disenfranchising.”
The following is the full text of the NPC press release:
“The recent assassination of yet another candidate for the general election in Batticaloa is reprehensible, and together with the attempted assassination of the Government Agent for Batticaloa, who was performing his duties as the chief returning officer for the district at the General Elections, are a flagrant attempt to deny the people of their basic democratic right to a free and fair election. The National Peace Council notes with concern that these latest shootings follow three political assassinations earlier this month in the eastern part of the country involving Tamil politicians which were also reprehensible. The attempted assassination of another Tamil politician in Colombo last week appears to fall into a pattern in which the targets are Tamils from the north east who are contesting the general elections.
“These killings need to be viewed in the context of the LTTE's request to Tamil politicians of the north east that they should contest for elections under the Tamil National Alliance alone and that those who do not will be considered as traitors. In addition, the split in the LTTE due to the breakaway of its eastern leadership has added to the tensions. While the most recent victim was a candidate of the TNA, he had openly declared his allegiance for the LTTE's breakaway Karuna faction. We also note the interest of other political parties and groups to prevent people in the LTTE-controlled areas from voting, as in the east at the last General Election.
“The present election is a period of transformation in the north east, in which the different groups and parties are trying to maximise their representation in Parliament. The pattern of violence, and the information gathered, indicates that it is aimed at obtaining political advantage, taking revenge and intimidating the people. The National Peace Council unreservedly condemns all these acts of violence and intimidation, and especially the assassinations. We call on all parties involved in the elections to recognise that the plural ethnic and political composition of the north east requires a democratic election, and not an attempt to impose a particular party or view by violence. The conduct of general elections, and the pursuance of voting rights for the people, should not be seen as providing a facade of legitimacy for undemocratic rule.
“During the course of this election campaign, we have sought to have people in the LTTE-controlled areas provided with the right to vote. This reflects our belief that the people must not be disenfranchised or discriminated against by the state for any reason. However, we also note that creating an atmosphere of intimidation and fear, and denying pluralism is also disenfranchising. We are gravely concerned about the development of a new conflict based on Jaffna-Batticaloa regional identities that is being provoked by the actions of the contending factions of the LTTE, and we condemn the effort to expel people of Jaffna-origin living in Batticaloa. Factional rivalries should not be solved at the expense of the people. The National Peace Council appeals to all parties to resolve their disputes through the sole means of negotiations, in the spirit of the peace process and principles of peaceful resolution of conflicts.”