Army trying to relearn Weliweriya lesson in Wanathamulla: Ranil

Friday, 28 February 2014 00:50 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday hit out against the use of the military to force evictions in the Colombo Central and Colombo North areas, saying the armed forces had no role in what is the sole jurisdiction of the Urban Development Authority. Speaking to residents of Wanathamulla, Wickremesinghe said that the military had not learnt its lesson from the horrific incidents in Weliweriya during a water demonstration last year, where the killing of three unarmed protestors is now a matter before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The Opposition Leader ordered residents to notify him immediately in the event an army brigadier or any commanding officer arrives in legal tenements to attempt to forcibly evict residents. “They have no right to send the military in to residential areas. They have no business here. The only department in charge of such matters is the Urban Development Authority,” Wickremesinghe charged. He explained to the residents that the UNP MP Eran Wickremaratne had been in constant touch with residents and the Urban Development Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the ongoing evictions. “When a resident here was abducted by white van by the security forces, the UNP and the JVP MPs turned out here in their numbers to join your agitation for his release. The UNP has done everything it can legally and politically to protect the residents of Colombo most vulnerable to the Government’s forced eviction campaign,” the Opposition Leader said. Wickremesinghe said that the UNP had elicited pledges from the Government that the people of Colombo would only be moved out of their homes if adequate compensation was provided and they were granted equally satisfactory places to resettle. “All those promises from this government are in the Parliamentary hansard,” he explained. Wickremesinghe said governments had come and gone in Sri Lanka, but neither the UNP government nor the government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga had attempted to rid the city of its legal residents and had only attempted to uplift their living standards by forcing them to become rate payers and providing them with water, electricity and sometimes government flats.