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Sri Lanka opposition MP rejects PM’s insinuations; says he does not condone violence

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ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam on Monday (13) rejected insinuations by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that the Batticaloa district MP had condoned the retaliatory violence on parliamentarians on May 09.

In a letter addressed to the prime minister, Rasamanickam said that he has never encouraged any violence and that a speech he gave on May 20 had been either misunderstood or misconstrued.

Speaking during a vote of condolence on a murdered government MP last Friday (10), Wickremesinghe asked the speaker to investigate a speech made previously by Rasamanickam on May 20.

Wickremesinghe said it was regrettable that one MP had remained silent during the customary round of speeches commemorating the life of MP Amarakeerthi Atukorale.

Atukorale was murdered by a violent mob on May 09 on his way home from Colombo after an unprovoked attack on peaceful protestors by government supporters triggered a wave of retaliatory violence islandwide. The offices and private residences of a number of MPs, predominantly government, were torched my mobs around the country.

Referring to the parliament’s Hansard record for May 20, Wickremesinghe said MP Rasamanickam had said the houses were burnt down for voting for bills harmful to the country such as the 20th amendment to the constitution and the 2021 budgets.

“This means that the houses were burnt because of an opposing view,” said Wickremesinghe.

Related:

Sri Lanka PM wants TNA MP’s speech probed; ‘aragalaya’ has blood on its hands, says ex-PM

MP Rasamanickam was vociferous in his denial of Wickremesinghe’s claims.

“In my recent speech in parliament, with regard to the May 09 public rage, the inference I made was, that the people reacted in a violent manner, because they felt that their elected representatives failed to bring about their grievances, needs and aspirations in the law makers assembly.

“They perhaps felt, that their elected representatives failed in their mandatory obligation in securing the interest of the people who voted them in. This statement of mine has either been misunderstood or misconstrued, to appear as though I have been supportive of the arson and the related incidents,” the MP said in his letter.

In his condolence speech on Friday, Wickremesinghe took issue with the tone of Rasamanickam’s May 20 speech.

“He said ‘it’s because the people’s mandate was betrayed that this happened. Remember that.’ Remember that? How can an MP say that?”

Recalling past assassinations of parliamentarians such as former foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, Wickremesinghe said while those MPs had their critics outside the House, those inside were united in their condemnation of their murders irrespective of party difference.

“Now it’s happening inside.

“Is he condoning these arson attacks? Is murder being condoned? Is the attack on Welgama being condoned?”

The MP further expressed his surprise at an allegation that he claimed Wickremesinghe had made linking him to a massacre of 600 policemen in 1990 by the separatist Tamil Tigers.

“I am flabbergasted and shocked by the statement the Hon. Prime Minister has made in Parliament, alleging me, having connivance with the present parliamentarian Hon. Sivanesathurai Chandrakandan (Pillayan), in the massacre of 600 policemen in 1990. I categorically deny any association with any militant organisations, since birth, to date.

“The irony of the matter is, when this incident took place, I was not even born. I am sure the Hon. Prime Minster has been grossly misinformed in this regard. As such, I earnestly request the Hon. Prime Minister to check the veracity of my statements and issue a clarification in this regard,” he wrote.

The PM’s claims and insinuations, Rasamanickam said, could pose a threat to his life if the public blindly accepps what he has said, given Wickremesinghe’s position and stature. The MP called for corrective measures to be taken in light of this.

“At this juncture, I would like to state, that the priority and the need of the hour expected from the legislators, is granting relief to the people of this country, addressing their grievances, assuring all three meals and relieving them from this distress. I would be supporting any measure taken, which would render solace to the people of this country, whilst providing them immediate, as well as sustainable relief, towards meeting their present grievances and future wellbeing,” he wrote. (Colombo/Jun13/2022)

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