08 March 2018

MEDIA RELEASE FROM PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MALINDA SENEVIRATNE

The Government has failed, the people must not

I completely and unequivocally condemn all acts of violence that followed the unfortunate incident where a man succumbed to injuries sustained when he was attacked by a group of people. The ethnic identities of the relevant parties are irrelevant in the face of the law and I note and emphasize that it has not been established that the attack which resulted in this death was racially motivated. 

However, as has often happened unfortunately, the incident was taken as being a racially motivated act and this has brought about the terrible situation we are facing now. 

If the relevant authorities had stepped in fast and effectively to assure the aggrieved parties that justice would be done in terms of the provisions in the law, perhaps this could have been avoided.

I believe firmly that maintaining law and order is the first and foremost responsibility of the Government. The unfortunate and tragic situations that developed in both Ampara and Digana clearly indicate that those responsible for ensuring the security of people and property have knowingly or unknowingly erred. In short, this should not have happened.

In a situation where there's a long history of mutual distrust among communities it is particularly important to facilitate dialogue and forge understanding.  This of course can take time. However, authorities need to understand that given how fragile things are, even the most trivial incident can blow up into a conflagration that becomes hard to control.

This is why the law enforcement authorities should act fast and effectively while all relevant resources are deployed to counter mischief-makers who indulge in rumour-mongering.  It is unfortunate that this did not happen.

If the government is unwilling or incapable of executing these basic precautionary measures and is unable to deal with unsavoury situations, then it is up to the general public to do so.

I therefore strongly appeal to all people to exercise utmost restraint, remain calm, privilege reason rather than emotion, and let the law proceed unhindered.  

Our country cannot afford to slide back to communal disharmony. All decent, civilized and responsible citizens and groups must step forward and support all efforts to bring things back to normalcy.  

Once again, I appeal for calm, responsibility and reason.  These alone will help subdue emotion, agitation and irrational behavior. 


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