Why is there a belief in the International Community and even the Sri Lankan Diasporas that things are returning to normal in Sri Lanka? This account from a highly credible source that cannot be named for security reasons, is clear evidence that this false perception has more to do with media censorship than fact.
There are a number of areas that we are still concerned about especially in respect of the upcoming General Election. I will try to list out a few of those below.
— During my travels around the country the most alarming sight was the fact that there were no signs of the participation of any opposition candidates in the elections. There were no posters or banners depicting their concerns. I could see only those of the government candidates. This shows that there are instances of intimidation and force brought upon the opposition and they are not allowed to display any of their propaganda material.
— This leads to the fact that there is no possibility for us to expect a free and a fair election. It appears that violence is increasing all the time. The question remains whether it is going to be a ‘one horse race’, that they are expecting. This is also a part of the wider restrictions on the freedom of expression.
— Violence is spreading widely as the election is drawing near. There was an attack on the media institutions Sirasa and MTV a few days ago. Mobs have come in a bus supposed to have been taken from a state travel depot and pelted stones at the above institutions, damaging the buildings badly. It is almost certain that there won’t be any action taken regarding these incidents or there will be any attempt to identify any of those responsible. Violence at local levels too is increasing.
— It appears that the Election Monitoring Systems too will be handicapped. I have seen a news item to the effect that none of the monitors will be allowed by the Elections Commissioner to enter the Counting Centres. This will hamper the effectivity of the monitoring system enormously.
— The cost of living is going up all the time. It is expected that all the controls that are in place now, will be lifted almost immediately after the elections, leading more and more increases and burdens on the ordinary people in the country.
— The crime of the utter wastage of public funds is continuing unabated. Further the extremely high costs of the campaigns both individually by the candidates and corporately by the political parties is increasing all the time, almost in a very competitive manner. Whether this is done by the government parties, or the opposition parties is not the matter for concern, but the fact that these are all the resources within the country that are wasted.
— The situation of the IDPs has not improved as yet. It has been observed that the supply of water, sanitation and health facilities may grind to a halt in the days to come.
End of account