Karuna threats prevent Batticaloa MPs from visiting electorates

[TamilNet, Monday, 09 April 2007, 11:57 GMT]
"Due to death threats from Sri Lanka Army (SLA) backed Karuna group in Batticaloa district, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians representing constituencies in the district have not been able to go to their electorates for the last six months, affected parliamentarians said. Batticaloa MPs have been unable to even participate in high level planning meetings where the district's urgent needs are discussed and decisions taken,TNA parliamentarians told media Sunday.

"Therefore we have been forced to conduct the next Development and Integration meeting for Batticaloa district, which usually takes place in Batticaloa district Government Secretariat, in Colombo Parliamentary Complex on Wednesday,” MPs said.

"If the elected representatives are not in a position to go their constituencies it reveals the power Karuna paramilitary group wields due to State support it enjoys," T. Jeyanandamoorthy, one of the TNA parliamentarians for Batticaloa district said.

"Karuna paramilitary group, openly aided by the SLA in Batticaloa, are running many camps located almost next to SLA camps. Abductions, killings, robberies, intimidation and harassment by Karuna group are increasing at an alarming rate in Batticaloa and the victims of human right violations have been effectively prevented from meeting their Members of Parliament to express their complaints," he added.

"We are unable to learn first hand of the urgent needs of the thousands of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) lodged in interim refugee camps and take steps to provide even the basic facilities to them," he said.

Mavai Senathirajah, General Secretary, had sent letters to Disaster Management Minister Mahintha Samarasinghe and Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse requesting helicopter facility to visit the IDPs, 17 March.

The decisions taken on the future development plans and activities of the district are customarily made in Batticaloa Government Secretariat in meetings presided by Disaster and Relief Service Minister, M. S. S. Ameer Ali along with the district s' parliamentarians, Government Agent, Departmental heads and various Non-governmental organizations functioning in the district.

"The Batticaloa TNA parliamentarians also face obstruction in transferring funds received from expatriates to help the destitute people of Batticaloa district while private business people too are unable to function freely because of death threats, extortion and intimidation from Karuna group paramilitary personnel," the MP said.

Tamil dailies, Thinakural and Virakesari week-end edition, are not allowed to reach the people of Batticaloa due to restriction laid down by Karuna group in order to prevent the people from learning local and outside news, civil society members in Batticaloa said.


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