Social activists flays Prez, PM for suppressing political freedom of rivals


Both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have failed to honour their promise of ensuring democratic rights of the public by depriving Kumar Gunaratnam of his, say political parties, trade unionists, artistes and civil society activists.

"Depriving Gunaratnam of his rights to engage in political activities is not an isolated issue; it points to the suppresion of freedom in this country," political party leaders, trade unionists, artistes and civil society activists have said in letters sent to the President and and the Prime Minister.

The letters seeking an appointment to discuss ways and means of securing the release of Gunaratnam say the requests made by the Frontline Socialist Party for the restoration of citizenship of Gunaratnam has not received any favourable response from the government. Gunaratnam has been languishing behind bars for one year on the charges of violating immigration regulations. Gunaratnam had to flee the country using another name to save his life under those circumstances that had prevailed then. Not only Gunaratnam but also many other Sri Lankans had to leave the country to save their lives in the late 1980s. Those who could not leave the country became victims of summary executions by government sponsored killer groups.

The letter says: "The incumbent government and the President came to power, promising to ensure the democratic and political rights of all Sri Lankans. Soon after coming to power they extended an open invitation to all Sri Lankans who had fled the country for their safety to return home. They were promised their political rights and freedom. It is doubtful as to how and why the government called upon those expatriate Lankans to come back while harassing and incarcerating those who returned home.

"Therefore, we seek an appointment with the President and the Prime Minister to discuss the government’s position on the political rights of the Sri Lankans who fled the country because of suppression including comrade Gunaratnam."

The letter has been signed by Mahinda Devage (Socialist Party), Sirithunga Jayasuriya (United Socialist Party), Widarshana Kannangara( Praxis Collective), MGK Athula (Joint Federation of Trade Unions), PD Saranapala (State United Management Services Union), Dhammika Munsinghe (Combined Association of Unemployed Graduates), Sarath Kahagalla (Ceylon Independent Teachers’ Union), JB Gurusinghe (Information and Telecommunications Workers Union), Sylvester Jayakody (Ceylon Mercantile Industrial and General Workers Union -CMU), Susantha Thillekaratne (Printing Technicians’ Union), Mayura Senanayake (Lanka Pragathi Teachers’ Union), Sarath Preethilal (Sri Lanka Janaraja Health Services Union), Gayan Ganakadhara (Musician), Lal Hegoda (Artist), Indrachapa Liyanage (Musician) Kaushalya Kurukulasuriya (Writer), Kingsley Lose (Actor), Charith Lorensuhewa (Musician), Madhawa Sudantha (Musician), Dharmasena Pathiraja (Film Director), Prasanna Withanage (Film Director), Priya Ranasinghe (Actress) Asela Rangadeva (Lecturer), Samanali Fonseka (Actress), Saumya Liyanage ( Actor), Shakya Weerasinghe (Musician) and Wiraj Liyanarachchi (Firm Director).

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