25th January 1998


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Monitoring body reports incidents of violence

At least 25 incidents of election related violence have been reported from the northern province, an election monitoring group has said.

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) said in a statement that of these incidents, 19 had been reported to Police, two to the Army while it received four complaints.

Seven of the incidents took place in the Jaffna Police Division, 11 in Kayts, three in Chunnakam, two in Kopai North, and one each in Chavakachcheri and Nelliady, the CMEV said.

Seven complaints have been made by the EPDP, five by the EPRLF, four by the PLOTE (DPLF), and two each by the Independent I and the Independent 2 groups. Some were made by concerned citizens, the CMV statement said.

According to the CMEV statistics, the EPDP is alleged to have committed nine of the incidents, the EPRLF three incidents while the PLOTE and the LTTE two each.

There have been three attempted murders one each in Chavakachcheri, Chunnakam and Jaffna by unknown perpetrators, three assaults, one robbery, one allegation of carrying weapons, and 13 cases of threat and intimidation.

There are reports referring to the alleged bribing of postal workers, and the most serious incident, though not directly related to the election, involves the alleged LTTE attack on the EPDP camp at Punguduthivu on Friday, the CMEV statement said.

According to EPDP sources, the attack on the Punguduthivu camp took place between 1.00 and 2 a.m. on Friday, killing seven cadres and injuring three.

Of the EPDP reinforcements, one died and another two were injured in the attack in which two LTTE attackers were also killed. The CMEV says it believes that this incident will certainly cast a shadow on the polls since it is the first major move against the parties contesting by the LTTE whose priority seems to be the disruption of the local government elections.

In another serious incident, on January 16, the PLOTE organiser for Chavakachcheri, Nagarathnam Vijaykumar, was talking to voters in the area when an unknown person threw a hand grenade at the crowd.

Two people including a nine year old child were injured in the incident, the CMEV added.

The allegations against the EPDP are mainly of threat and intimidation in the islands off the cost of the Jaffna peninsula, it said.

The EPRLF is being accused of the theft of 10 army-issued ID cards from civilians in Chunnakam, as well as incidents of threat and intimidation, according to the CMEV.

On Wednesday four suspected LTTE cadres armed with pistols and grenades nabbed four EPRLF members in Kopai North and warned them against campaigning.

In another incident in Kokuvil on January 4, five EPRLF members were putting up posters when two suspected LTTE cadres approached them. One of them, armed with a rifle walked up to the group while the other, armed with a grenade, stayed a few yards away.

One of the EPRLF members grabbed the man and removed the magazine from the gun.

In the struggle, two shots were fired into the air. and the alleged LTTE assailant shouted to his colleague to throw the grenade.

No one was on the scene when the grenade exploded .

There are three unconfirmed reports of a political party bribing post office workers and collecting undelivered polling cards in Jaffna, Kopai and Nelliady, the CMEV said.

Fresh probe on monk’s death

The body of a student monk will be exhumed tomorrow on the directive of Matugama Magistrate following a complaint made by his parents that they would not accept the coroner’s verdict of suicide.

The body of the 13-year-old student monk Meegahathenne Dhammananda was found hanging from a beam few days after he was ordained.

The Samanera’s mother, Gunawathi Senanayaka, 40, told The Sunday Times her son had no reason to commit suicide and the verdict of the coroner could not be accepted.

“He had no reason to commit suicide. He had written a letter to me saying he was happy and his health conditions are alright’, the mother said.

The Samanera’s father said he suspected that his son died of ragging at the Horawala Privena. He was admitted to the Pirivena on January 5.

Vasu group plans ‘second struggle’ on jubilee day

PA parliamentarian Vasudeva Nanayakkara has called on the masses to unite for what he described as “the second freedom struggle against imperialism” on Independence day.

Mr. Nanayakkara along with Sunil Wijesiriwardene and Jagath Siriwardene as convenors of a group that claims to be fighting against imperialists and their local henchmen for freedom, has noted that colonialism, begun by Vasco da Gama 500 years ago, was still in operation in the form of globalisation and neo-colonialism.

“This struggle can be won only if we too are preparing ourselves for an awareness campaign internally against our regressive, handicapped and slavish mentality. It has to be firmly borne in mind that all grievances and oppression that come in the way of the masses stem from globalisation and neo-colonialism,” the group said.

A public meeting will be held in this connection at ‘Kamkaru Sevana’ in Ratmalana on the independence day from 9.30 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. An exhibition of paintings and posters depicting ‘the struggle for life’ of peasants, estate workers and other oppressed people during the past 50 years will be one of the items lined up for the event.

The convenors have pointed out that this would also be held as a mark of protest against the government’s boast of ‘50 years of Independence.’

Fishy deals to be probed

Minister appoints committee

Fisheries Minister Mahinda Rajapakse has appointed a committee to investigate dealings of the Ministry during the latter part of the UNP regime.

It is also learnt that the committee will particularly probe dealings of the legal division.

The committee headed by Attorney Denzil Guneratne comprises former Chairman of Fishery Harbours Corporation Suranjith Hewamanna and former director of Fisheries Tilak Chandrasena.

Mr. Rajapakse had earlier consented to appoint separate committees in respect of each institution under the Ministry but he has now decided to appoint a single committee as he felt that the malpractices had spread over the entire fisheries field.

It is alleged that the Ceynor Foundation losses alone had amounted to more than Rs. 100 million.

Housing: Cooray queries govt.

By M. Ismeth

With the 50th Independence Day celebrations just around the corner what achievement has the government got to show the people and the world as far as housing was concerned, asked former UNP General Secretary and Housing Minister Sirisena Cooray.

He said whatever achievement the country had made in the field was largely due to the sound policies on housing pursued by the UNP regime..

Mr. Cooray said even at the World Habitat conference in Istanbul in 1996, the then Housing Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva had mentioned the successful housing programme initiated by the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa in 1978 and then later continued by him when he was the housing minister.

What was most surprising was that whilst the Minister was giving statistics of the houses built from 1978 to 1994 at the Habitat conference he had failed to mention under which government these had been built, Mr. Cooray said.

He said the UNP government with Mr. Premadasa as Housing Minister in 1978-83 initiated several housing programmes such as the one million houses project and went ahead to achieve 90 percent of the target.

“There is no need for any one to doubt the housing programme of the UNP government for it is there for all to see throughout the country. The families occupying those houses would be the best judges. Today one could hear how difficult it is to get a house or a flat, on a monthly rental basis,” he said.

“Even those flats which had been completed at Soysapura were plans laid out when I was the Minister and what we would have given on rent are now being sold outright,” he said.

Mercy mission by surgeons

By Roshan Peiris

Free plastic surgery benefits are now available to the poor of Sri Lanka through the efforts of the German Help Foundation. Malcolm A. Pereira a retired banker of Sri Lanka and Dr. U. Huehne are co-ordinating the programme.

Plastic surgery is costly and the poor can seldom benefit from it. But now Interplast Germany, founded by professional German plastic surgeons is offering its surgical skills free to the poor in this country.

Teams of German surgeons have been working on and off in Sri Lanka since 1994 and are happy about the co-ordination and work assistance from local doctors.

The surgeons feel they must work among the poorest of the poor and so they will come every month to work here. The team of about eight pay for their own air tickets and also other expenses including hi-tech equipment.

The patients include those born with cleft palates and lips, and other facial deformities, or those who need skin surgery because of burns or other accidents. Currently a team is working in Nuwara Eliya. Next they will work in Trincomalee, a neglected area, Ampara, Ratnapura, Matara, Hambantota and Kahawatte, Mr. Pereira said.

They will also provide Kurunegala Hospital with 200 beds and medical equipment such as a special burns unit to the value of 14 million DM. This is with the approval of the Ministry of Health.

Continue to the News/Comment page 2 * It was only a hoax ! * UNP puts on its own show * More mass graves to be dug up * FBO says ‘no way’ to police * Fast threat over visitor restriction

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