Emergency extended for another month, JVP walks out

[TamilNet, Friday, 11 September 2009, 05:19 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s parliament Thursday evening approved the motion to extend the State of Emergency for another year by a majority of eighty-seven votes. One hundred parliamentarians of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and its constituent parties voted for the motion. Thirteen parliamentarians of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) voted against. The main opposition United National Party (UNP) parliamentarians were not present in the house during the debate, parliamentary sources said.

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), one time ally of the ruling party walked out of the parliament when the Speaker put the motion to vote. JVP parliamentarians were not in the house. Earlier, JVP had said that it would vote against the extension motion. Since 2005 the JVP had voted for the extension.

The Leader of the House and Health Minister Nimal Sripala de Silva tabled the motion to extend the State of Emergency on behalf of the government. He said the smaller terrorist groups that are affiliated with the LTTE had to be rooted out and that the emergency law was essential for this.

He further said that the recent revelations of an assassination plot against President Rajapakse and Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse proved the need to maintain vigilance regarding security.

“Some are indirectly assisting the assassination of the president by canvassing for the lifting of the emergency. Those who cannot defeat the president in a democratic manner want to have him assassinated to achieve their political goals,” he charged.

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe accused the government of attempting to bring in criminal defamation through the backdoor by using the temporary provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act against media personnel. “These laws (PTA) were enacted in 1979 to replace the Proscription of the LTTE Act 1978, since then the government had identified a number of terrorist groups. This legislation does not take away the freedom of speech and expression including publication contained in Article 14.1 (a) of the Constitution,” the Opposition Leader said.

Referring to the recent conviction of journalist J.S.Tissanayagam, Mr. Wickremasinghe said the government has not respected the rule of law.

“The government did not produce any evidence to establish that Tissanayagam was a member of the LTTE. He has been prosecuted as the Editor of a website that is as a media person. This certainly was not the intention when we passed the PTA. This judgment is not against Mr.Tissanayagam but against the media. This is a dangerous trend. Journalists are arrested under laws pertaining to terrorism even if they are not,” he said.


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