Wimal lashes out at JVP over illegal detention claim


By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, yesterday accused the JVP of playing politics at the expense of Sri Lanka.

Former JVP heavyweight, Minister Housing Minister Weerawansa alleged that the bankrupt JVP leadership had thrown its weight behind an ongoing campaign spearheaded by self-exiled Sri Lankan Tamils to haul up Sri Lanka before an international war crimes tribunal.

The Colombo District MP was responding to allegations that thousands of Tamil political prisoners were being held illegally in spite of the conclusion of the war in May 2009.

MP Weerawansa said that the JVP was making an effort to depict ex-LTTE cadres undergoing rehabilitation as political prisoners.

Bandula Pushpakumara of the Socialist Youth Union Sri Lanka affiliated to the JVP yesterday told The Island that they were in the process of compiling a comprehensive report regarding the detainees. Pushpakumara alleged that the government should release all Tamil political prisoners without further delay or face the consequences.

The Socialist Youth Union last Thursday (July 28) launched a protest opposite the Fort Railway Station to pressure the government to release Tamil political prisoners. Defeated Kurunegala District JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake heads the union.

The JVP spearheads another group ‘We are Sri Lankans’ to attack the government over disappearances.

Asked whether they weren’t aware of the periodic release of LTTE detainees, Pushpakumara said that the government was yet to release those taken in to custody on the Vanni front and elsewhere.

MP Weerawansa said that the JVP was working overtime to discredit the government. Responding to a query, the NFF leader said that unlike many political parties and NGOs shedding crocodile tears for the LTTE, the JVP sought the credit for pushing President Mahinda Rajapaksa to take on the LTTE. The MP said that the JVP was now playing a different tune to appease those Colombo-based diplomats seeking to subvert the country citing unsubstantiated accountability issues in Sri Lanka.

MP Weerawansa said that the country could be proud of the post-war rehabilitation project carried out with the support of the international community. The former JVP politburo member likened the JVP’s present strategy to that of left parties during the second abortive insurgency launched in 1987. At that time, left parties fully cooperated with the UNP to annihilate the JVP, though they raised questions regarding the military operations later.

Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe told The Island that those undergoing rehabilitation had the opportunity to meet their families. The Maj. Gen said: "Of those held at the conclusion of the conflict, 7952 were released from rehabilitation facilities so far. There are only 2964 persons, including about 100 females at rehabilitation centers."

The military official said that at time of commencement of the rehabilitation project there were 24 centers. With the gradual release of ex-LTTE cadres, we are now left with only seven centers, four in Vavuniya, two in Batticaloa and one in Jaffna.

Police headquarters SP Prishatha Jayakody told The Island said the police had declared all those in their custody. In fact, families of suspects had access to them and there was absolutely no basis for allegations of secret detention.

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