Tuesday, 6 August 2013 00:00
UNP MP demands Govt. reveal who ordered army to shoot civilians
Says Govt. is attempting to politicise the issue to cover up killings
Live ammunition cannot be used against peaceful demonstrators in a democracy, says Karu
Claims people demand for clean water grossly mismanaged
By Dharisha Bastians
Keeping the pressure up on the alleged military attack on a civilian demonstration in Weliweriya, the main Opposition United National Party yesterday demanded that the Government reveal who ordered soldiers to fire into the crowd and pledge that such atrocities would never be permitted under its watch again.
The United National Party’s Gampaha District Member of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya charged that the Government had attempted to politicise the issue in order to mask the killing of three civilians in the small town where residents were protesting for clean drinking water.
He said that while on several occasions, protesting villagers had asked Opposition politicians to stand beside them at the demonstrations, the request had been turned down because the Government would then view the issue from a political lens.
“Today, the SLFP is attempting to cover up the attack on civilians by claiming the demonstration was motivated by political interests,” the former UNP Deputy Leader said. “Action should be taken to identify and punish those who gave orders to shoot people when they asked for water. These people did not carry guns or bombs. In countries where they respect democracy, they use water, tear gas, baton charges or rubber bullets for crowd control. In Weliweriya, people were shot in the chest with live bullets,” Jayasuriya told a news conference yesterday.
Comparing the tactics to Syria’s Bashar Al Assad’s regime brutal efforts to suppress pro-democracy supporters, Jayasuriya charged that what happened in Weliweriya last Thursday was unacceptable in a democratic society. “Shooting people with live bullets is an act of aggression,” he charged.
According to Jayasuriya, the Government had mismanaged the entire issue by refusing to deal with it quickly enough. “The people are claiming the ground water has been polluted. On the other hand, the factory has provided jobs for hundreds of workers from the area. So the Government had to consult all stakeholders and address the issue before it got out of hand,” he said.
“It is a blight on the reputation of our war heroes and the new commander, who assumed office the same day this terrible incident happened, that the country’s soldiers are allowed to behave this way,” Jayasuriya said, adding that the new Army Chief was an honourable officer.
Condemning the brutal and senseless murders of three young men, one of whom was to sit his first Advanced Level exam yesterday, Jayasuriya called on the Government to ensure that such atrocities never happened under its watch again.