Police Atrocities: Public Betrayed By Opposition ?
By Camelia Nathaniel and Ashanthi Warunasuriya
When Mahinda Rajapaksa regime was defeated last year, the people expected them to come back as a formidable opposition that will keep the new Maithripala-Ranil government under check. However, a year later the opposition has been weakened to such a level that it seems that the government is controlling the entire opposition.
Many of the opposition MPs are in disarray. No one wants to stand up against the new government fearing that they will be hauled up in front of the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit and questioned on corruption. Some are of the view that the government is attempting to silence the opposition members in parliament through intimidation.
In the recent incident in Embilitpitiya, the police had allegedly assaulted a young man since he had allegedly refused to give them two bottles of liquor. It is said when the police raided a private party, a brawl had ensued between the police officers and the participants in the party. Then the young man who was allegedly assaulted by the police was thrown down from a building and killed. The police maintain that they had gone there to control a violent situation, but the residents of the area say otherwise.
Just prior to that incident, a man was abducted in broad daylight in a defender belonging to MP Hirunika Premachandra and allegedly the MP herself had threatened him. In this instance also, the police, instead of protecting the vulnerable, chose to side with the powerful.
The irony, however, is that in the face of such blatant undemocratic and unacceptable acts, the opposition has remained rather subdued. Apart from just making a comment, they have chosen to maintain silence. The Sunday Leader asked several politicians about this new development in the country where the opposition has been subdued to a point that they too seem to have become obedient servants of the government.
According to Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa of the JVP, the political parties are forced to face many social issues. They are unable to raise their voices in every incident. However over the past year, he said, the JVP focused mainly on re-establishing democracy in the country after defeating the previous regime. He claims that his party had not lost its strength. He added that mainly it is JVP that raise a substantial voice in parliament against the government.
“The politicians still do not respect the rule of law in the country. One example is the abduction case where Hirnuika is reportedly has some links. The political change that was brought about last year via a great struggle is in vain because the present government do the same atrocities. They are even harbouring some of the crooks of the previous regime thereby paving the way for corruptions and frauds to continue. It has been easier for the government to protect the perpetrators of the previous regime, who are supporting them, rather than establishing a corruption free political culture in this country,” he added.
Commenting on the police actions Jayatissa said the JVP certainly do not condone arrogant actions of the police, and added that these atrocities may increase in the future if the current regime continues to turn a blind eye to such atrocities and protect these offenders. The leader of the JVP raised serious questions in parliament earlier regarding these incidents. At that time, the minister in charge of the police matters brought a document issued by the police and produced it in parliament. The government is clearly trying to hoodwink the people and wash their hands of the incidents, he said.
This government that condemned the previous regime for its mismanagement, corruptions, and frauds, has done nothing different from what they had done and it continues in the same way, he pointed out.
Mohammed Muzammil of the National Freedom Front commenting on the silence of the opposition said the current government exaggerated many incidents about the previous regime and succeeded in convincing the people that the previous regime was corrupt.
“The new government has already forgotten the promises that they made to the people. The underworld has once again raised its head and the number of murders has increased. During the previous regime we saw characters such as Mervyn Silva; but now we have others like Hirunika, and meanwhile, the government is simply engaged in a drama in order to deceive the people. While there was ample evidence against her, all mechanisms were designed to make sure she is not punished for her actions,” he added.
UPFA MP Prasanna Ranatunga said he does not agree that the opposition is silent. He said that apart from the joint opposition, the rest have been silenced by giving them little perks in order to keep them under the control of the government.
“When Rathupaswala, Katunayake, and Chilaw incidents took place, they always blamed the Rajapaksa regime, but now when a youth is killed in Embilipitiya and when a university student was beaten, then they put the blame on the police and wash their hands of the incidents. This cannot be accepted. The country is slowly but surely becoming a police State.”
He also said that today the country has an opposition leader who supports the government and the JVP is criticising the government only to protect their vote base.
“If one were to take the Hansard and see, that person can realize that even now the JVP is only interested in blaming the Rajapaksas.”
Frontline Socialist Party’s Propaganda Secretary Pubudu Jayagoda told The Sunday Leader that according to this government, democracy means setting up of various commissions.
“At that time, we were of the view that the government needed to establish true democracy for the people and not just economic democracy. The democracy that this government came up with was mainly tailored for the benefit of the affluent. The ordinary people were ignored and they had to endure the wrath of the police and politicians as there was no one to stand up for them or protect their rights. Even last February when the farmers were protesting in Dambulla, they were arrested in the same manner that the Rajapaksa regime did to oppress the people. They are no different to the previous regime.”
Matale District JVP organiser said it is clear that both Maithripala and Ranil have left aside the promises made to the people and are now focused on other matters. When looking at the recent incidents and the police reaction against them, it is very clear, he said.
During the Rathupaswala incident, the UNP who was in the opposition at the time, made a big hue and cry condemning the manner the police and the army acted in that instance. However when the power is in their hands, they allow the police to carry out brutal assaults on citizens demonstrating that they are not impartial , he pointed out.