Sri Lanka: United Socialist Party candidate and campaigners remanded on trumped up charges

Appeal for protests as pro-government thugs are used yet again to silence opposition

The leading United Socialist Party candidate for the Provincial Council Elections on 14th February, Murugesh Chandiran, and two other members of the USP campaign have been remanded in custody until 16th February by the Nuwara Eliya Magistrate on trumped up charges.

Ruling party members belonging to the Ceylon Workers’ Congress threatened and verbally abused Chandiron after he held a successful public meeting presided over and addressed by Com. Siritunga Jayasuriya, General Secretary of the USP. A verbal argument ensued between the two groups and following this one of the CWC members admitted himself to the Nuwara Eliya Hospital, alleging that he had been assaulted by comrade Chandiran and others.

The police initially arrested the three people mentioned above and two CWC members but released the latter two after recording their statements. Chandiran and the two others were produced before the Magistrate on Monday 2nd February and remanded until 16th.

This is a clear case of victimisation of socialist campaigners and of bias on the part of the police towards the CWC which is a constituent partner of the ruling alliance. The CWC has been utterly discredited among the Tamil plantation workers in the central hills as its leaders are unashamedly supporting the murderous war perpetrated by the government of president Rajapakse in the North of the country.

This is another blatant attempt to silence critics of the government and deny them the democratic right to contest the ruling parties’ policies. We demand the immediate release of Murugesh Chandiran, Selliah Thevendran and Murugesh Selvendran to allow them to carry on their campaigning work for the election.

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February 2009