CBK hits back in reply to Amaratunga

President Chandrika Kumaratunga yesterday replied Interior Minister John Amaratunga in a hard hitting letter.

The full letter of the President is as follows:

I write in response to your letter dated 18.03.2002, which was received in my office at 12.00 noon on 19.03.2002.

I regret to note that the said letter contains many untruths and factually erroneous statements.

1. Reference your concern about the PA and my own lack of faith in the capability of the Police to maintain law and order and ensure free and fair elections during election time, I am truly surprised at your concern on this matter. Even little babes in arms who lived through the 17 year rule of State Terror of the UNP from 1977 — 1994, are aware of the manner in which the Police in this country were transformed from a respectable and efficient institution into a Force in which the large majority of the officials and personnel were compelled to become acolytes and "yes" men of the Government Minis-ters and MPs. In 1977, when the Police were handed over to the UNP Government by the late Hon. Sirimavo Bandaran-iake, the Police consisted of 10,000 men. By 1977, it had been increased to 55,000 of whom a fair number had been recruited without proper qualifications, only on political considerations. A large number of these policemen were made to murder, victimise and harass political opponents on instructions from UNP politicians, giving rise to the most horrendous era of human rights violations this country has known in its 2500-year history. Over 900 policemen have up to now been identified as being guilty of the murder of 32,000 youth during your past Government between 1987-1990. The Attorney General’s Department has taken action to bring indictments on more than half of these Police officers and personnel. Most of them are still in the Police Force, thanks to the political culture of democratic governance re-introduced by the PA Government in 1994 and the slowness of the judicial processes of this country. You, as Minister in charge of the Police, have brought back many of these people to important posts in the Police. I am told that the Government has given instructions to relevant authorities to halt all legal proceedings against these people. This is hardly surprising, when one considers the fact that the UNP has given nominations and brought to Parliament a Police officer who is alleged to have killed 40 people when he was a constable in the Galgamuwa Police Station, whilst indictment of six of these murders were already served on him.

As for your ability to lead the Police Force with impartiality, this is also now seriously in question. I state here only one of the many examples for my loss of confidence. I regret to state that you are alleged to have entered the Wattala Pradeshiya Sabha, had the duly elected Chairman of the Pradeshiya Sabha assaulted by thugs who accompanied you and chased the Chairman and Prade-shiya Sabha Members away, and sat in the chair of the Chairman and held an unlawful meeting of the Pradeshiya Sabha. The supporters who accompanied you have attempted to get the Pradeshiya Sabha officers to sign and issue cheques unlawfully to them. I believe this matter is presently the subject of a Fundamental Rights action before the Supreme Court.

II. The number you have stated regarding the number of incidents of election related violence is completely false. I suggest that you obtain the numbers properly. If you are in any way unable to do so, I could do this for you.

You seem to imply in para. 2 of your letter that the General Elections of 2001 had a high rate of violence against UNP supporters. This again is completely false. UNP supporters made numerous false entries in various Police Stations, with specific intent to have arrested SLFP Parlia-mentarians, Chief Organisers of electorates and over 200 members of Local Government Bodies and an equal number of would be contestants at the recently concluded Local Government Elect-ions. On the other hand. PA supporters were attacked by UNP supporters. While the Police actively supported or looked away during the 03 weeks prior to the election of 2001. By this time even Police were obviously aware that the Government was changing, and knowing the past record of the UNP Government for political victimization of hundreds and thousands of public servants, did not do their duty properly. Also, I am surprised that you appear to be unaware of the nearly thousand cases of murder, rape, arson and damage to property and person against PA supporters, a list of which was provided to you, to the Hon. Prime Minister and the Hon. Defence Minister by me. It is surprising, as Minister in charge of the Police that you are unaware of around 1500 persons from all over the country who were chased away from Police Stations when they went to make complaints of violence during and after the 2001 General Election by Police Officers or UNP thugs who had stationed themselves outside the Police Stations. This is the reason why a large number of incidents of election violence still remain unreported to the Police. More than over 2000 SLFP supporters had to hide in jungles and other places away from home, because the Police refused to take any action when they and their houses were attacked by UNP thugs and supporters, often led by UNP MPs.

III. As for the Elections Monitoring Mechanism. I am sorry to say it is a joke. When the Prime Minister spoke about an Election Monit-oring Committee, I believed that it would be like the one set up by me after the Wayamba Provincial Council election, when the UNP shouted themselves hoarse about the so-called election rigging. That Committee was chaired by me as the President and I invited the Leaders of all the contesting Political Parties. We had regular meetings, abut twice a week. The result was that the next 06 Provincial Council elections were managed by the PA Government without any unlawful incidents as testified by the leadership of the UNP. Your commission is chaired by a hapless Secretary who knows very little about politics and would not dare take any decision to harm UNP’s scheme to rig Local Government Election of 20th March. The PA representatives who are members of the Committee, have reported cases of violence, but nothing has been done about these. It is surprising that when cases of violence and intimidation were reported by me to IGP, Elections Comm-issioner, Hon. Prime Minister, Hon, Karu Jayasuriya and to you, absolutely nothing was done to stop this. Where then is your much vaunted "new political culture"?

IV. You are surprised as expressed in para. 3 of your letter that I should complain about Police inaction during the General Election of 2001, as I was the Minister in charge of the Police Depart-ment. I suppose, what I have stated above suffices to explain the Police inaction during the last 03 weeks before the election. May, I enlighten you, in case no one else has done so, so far, after the elections, that action against the perpetrators of violence has to be taken by you, since you happen to be the Minister of Interior.

V. Regarding your views as to the deployment of Armed Forces as stated inpara. 5 of your letter, the happenings on Local Government Election day on 20th March suffices to have justified all the fears expressed by the Opposition Parties and reiterated by me regarding the incapacity of the Minister to deploy the Police to ensure free and fair elections. I kept informing you, the IGP, Minister of Defence, Hon. Prime Minister through his Secretary, regarding this situation for weeks before the election. Insistant and continuous intimidation of Polling Agents of SLFP and PA was taking place. Their houses were visited, sometimes fired at and they were asked either not to come to the polling booth or remain silent while the UNP candidates and their supporters stuffed the boxes. Polling cards were forcibly taken from the voters during the last few days before the election and on election day itself. I myself, was witness to two such incidents at Attanagalla, whilst the Police stood by doing nothing. I was informed that Mr. Rajakaruna, the honourable UNP MP, had passed that way several times and organized the snatching of polling cards and stuffing of polling boxes and intimidated the Police into inaction. I had to instruct the Police to do their duty properly and prevent any one, whatever party they belong to, from doing anything unlawful. The officers of the riot squad did their duty properly for a while, when SSP Lucky Peiris had come to the spot and chased away the riot squad in order to permit the UNP supporters to continue to stuff the polling boxes.

VI. I am told that there is serious evidence that your supporters have stuffed boxes in your electorateaa in Wattala, whilst you were driving around with a large convoy of Policemen.

VII. You also "innocently" state that in any event, it should be the IGP who should request the deployment of Armed Forces to the Commissioner of Elections, if he felt the necessity for it. Did you not send for Senior DIG, Mr. Anandarajah, who is overlooking the work of the IGP to Pamunugama on Saturday 16th evening and instruct him not to write to the Elections Commis-sioner, when he was ready to do so?

VIII. The 17th Amendment to the Constitution empowers the IGP to request the Elections Commissioner for the deployment of the Armed Forces, who in turn should request the President to call out the Armed Forces.

I wrote to the Elections Commi-ssioner on several requests made to me by PA Leaders, informing me that the situation of election violence was mounting. The Elections Commissioner was in full agreement to request me to call out the Armed Forces, as he had done on previous occasions at the request of the UNP when it was in Opposition. Therea-fter, I wrote to Senior DIG, Mr. Ananda-rajah recommending that he requests the deployment of Armed Forces given the situation of violence. He agreed to do so, but was prevented by you in the manner I have stated above.

IX. Your final sentence, once again very "innocently", states that I could undoubtedly act in terms of the procedures set out in the 17th Amendment if I needed the Armed Forces to be brought out. How could this be done, when you have prevented the Senior DIG, Mr. Anandarajah from initiating the process as set out in the 17th Amendment?X. I am truly surprised that a lawyer and a senior politician like you should write a letter like this to the President. It is full of untruths, misrepresentation of facts, smacking of mala-fides. It is obviously designed only to fool the general public to whom you immediately issued your letter through the media.

XI. In any event your blocking of the legal process of calling out the Armed Forces to assist the Police in a situation where it was abundantly clear that the Police were not able or not willing to control election violence perpetrated by the UNP resulted in widespread rigging and/or some amount of election violence in every electorate of the country. It is regretful that you as Minister in charge of the Police has failed in your duties to prevent this situation, after you stated to me that you will give every cooperation and that "Police are perfectly capable of dealing with the situation". All this is an exact repetition of all the rigged elections held under the UNP Government during the infamous 17-year rule.

The same actions are being re-enacted over again. As Head of State, Government and Commander in Chief, I am deeply concerned at the actions perpetrated by the UNP Cabinet Ministers and your leaders and supporters in the Districts. It augurs very badly for the continuance of democratic governance in the country and the protection of rights of the individual, which the PA Government and I re-built at great cost to ourselves personally, and to our supporters.

XII. I earnestly request you, Hon. Minister, to even now attempt to learn and act according to the hallowed principles of democratic governance, which the vast majority of the people of this country expect from any Government.I shall be releasing this letter to the media together with my first letter to you, which I had the discretion not to release to the media until today, as you have deemed it fit to release your letter to me, to the media.