The Sunday Leader

The Tip Of The Iceberg JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake

By Camelia Nathaniel

While the government claims to be taking measures to curb the menace of drugs in the country, drug smuggling has taken a new turn with even the country’s Prime Minister allegedly linked to these incidents. In an interview with The Sunday Leader, JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake expressed his sentiments regarding the recent developments. Dissanayake claimed that the government aims to fool the people by making empty promises, while allowing certain groups to carry weapons and conduct acts of violence.

Q. The killing of the Delft Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman has raised concerns that there are still groups in the possession of arms. Some believe that EPDP members are still carrying weapons. What is your take on the situation?
A. It is our view that all armed groups should be disarmed, irrespective of who they are. Especially during the period of the war, the government itself had given arms to various sideline groups. Therefore, now that the war has ended, the government should recover all those weapons. If the government is to restore democracy in the North, then they must disarm these groups. Otherwise, they will never be able to restore democracy. If these groups are not disarmed, it will be impossible to prevent such incidents taking place in the future.

Q. While the government claims that all these groups have been disarmed, these incidents are to the contrary. Do you accept this claim?
A. The government has allowed the groups that are in tow with them to retain these weapons, and that is why these incidents take place. It is with the Government’s approval that these groups that were already in possession of arms still have these weapons. Although the government claims to the public that they are in the process of disarming these armed groups, this is just to fool the people. In reality, the government has permitted them to carry weapons, and it is these groups that are engaged in all these violent incidents.

Q. Is the JVP satisfied with the explanations given on the issue of the involvement of politicians in anti social activities such as drug smuggling, especially the recent incident where the Prime Minister’s letterhead had been used?
A. Certainly not! We have repeatedly stated that we, as the JVP, are most certainly not convinced or impressed with the response regarding this incident. This was the largest haul of drugs found so far in the Asian region – 261 kg of drugs. There have been container loads of Ethanol that have been smuggled into the country, and there were instances that politicians were behind this racket too. Even prior to that, a stash of drugs was discovered concealed in potatoes. These are just the tip of the iceberg, and it is my belief that, on numerous occasions, similar consignments may have escaped the customs surveillance. However, the fact remains that these drugs are not imported by the village johnnys. When these drug rackets have been exposed, the newspapers carry the bust in their headlines, but, at the end of the day, the perpetrators escape unpunished due to their powerful connections. This is a clear indication that the government’s most powerful hands are either involved or provide protection to these drug smugglers.
Moreover we don’t believe that any investigation being conducted would be impartial and independent.

Q. With regard to the numerous independent groups that have taken the law into their own hands on various occasions, and the silence of the police and the authorities, what is your view on the rule of law in the country?
A. Basically there is no law and order in the country, except for the small people. Those who are influential are above the law in this country and can get away with anything. Those in power are the ones who decide who should be jailed and who should be released. For example the incident where Asath Salley was arrested, I feel that the manner in which he was arrested was wrong and the manner in which he was released was also wrong.

Q. How does the JVP propose to arrest this situation of lawlessness as you claim?
A. We believe that first and foremost the police and judiciary should be independent. Basically even all media institutions that used to be independent, have been taken over by the government in some manner, so it is evident that the basic rights of the people as well as the country’s democracy is at stake. Hence in order to protect the country’s democracy and the human rights of the people, it is important to organise a broad coalition. There can be varying opinions between the different political parties, but there cannot be a difference of opinion between these parties when it comes to human rights issues. Therefore the JVP is currently conducting themselves with the notion that in order to protect the country’s democracy a broad coalition should be formed.

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