May 04, Colombo: Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) has in a letter to Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma asked him to act on erosion of democracy and fundamental freedoms in Sri Lanka.
UNP Communications Division Head, MP Mangala Samaraweera has in the letter to Sharma today stated that under President Mahinda Rajapaksa's stewardship, Sri Lanka's democracy hangs by the barest of threads.
"It is both tragic and farcical that these events unfold while the country holds the Chair of your esteemed organization. Will he manage in this two year tenure to do to the Commonwealth what he has done to Sri Lanka's proud democratic traditions?" Samaraweera asked.
Referring to the funding cut by Canada, Samaraweera said already Sri Lanka's leadership is costing the Commonwealth dearly in monetary terms.
"But our fear, Your Excellency, is that at the conclusion of Sri Lanka's term in 2015, the Commonwealth would have lost much more in terms of credibility, relevance and moral authority because of the Sri Lankan Government's actions," the letter said.
"Not only as a member of the Sri Lanka's main opposition but also as a former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, I implore you to act. This erosion of democracy and fundamental freedoms is no longer only Sri Lanka's crisis. The fate and future credibility of the Commonwealth is inextricably bound to the actions of its Chair in office and his commitment to protect and uphold the Commonwealth Charter during his tenure. It is your crisis too," Samaraweera noted.
He wrote that it is as a matter of great urgency that the UNP is compelled to bring to Sharma's attention the continuous violation of Commonwealth values by the current Chairman of the Commonwealth and the failure of the Commonwealth to take meaningful steps to rectify this dire situation.
"The most recent incident of State-orchestrated violence occurred in the home district of the Commonwealth's present Chairman in office Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, when five parliamentarians of the main opposition, United National Party (UNP) were brutally assaulted by goons affiliated with the regime," Samaraweera said.
He noted that these elected representatives were on a "fact finding visit to the controversial Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) and the Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port, both pet projects of the ruling regime, both costing at least US $ 1.5 billion, both shrouded in allegations of corruption and wastage and by all indications sprawling white elephants that have gobbled colossal sums of Sri Lankan tax payer money."
The MP accused that the Police personnel watched while the opposition legislators were being attacked and did not take any action.
"Complaints have been lodged with the police officially, yet the opposition does not dare hope for justice from a judiciary that has been beaten into submission after the Government illegally sacked the country's most senior judge and appointed an administration puppet in her place," Samaraweera wrote.