- ”Speaker should take measures to protect the rights of the MPs” says JO Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena
- ”Government should immediately reveal the MP’s involved in the riots to Parliament. It is their responsibility” says JVP Leader
- ”Joint Opposition expressed its support to the government, is it correct to try to imprison MPs?” asks JO MP Bandula Gunawardana.
- ”Joint Opposition (JO) MP Wimal Weerawansa’s statement made in Parliament on 7 March was totally misleading” says Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam
Chief Opposition Whip and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday (8), demanded that the Government reveal in Parliament the names of the Parliamentarians who were allegedly involved in the communal riots in Kandy and Ampara. Dissanayake referring to the claim…… made by Co-Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne that two MPs, two members of a new political party and a secretary of a MP had been involved in the Ampara and Kandy communal riots during the Cabinet media briefing on 7 March, stressed that Parliament has the right to know who the two MPs are.
The JVP Leader made this demand during a heated argument which erupted when Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam raised a Point of Order saying that the Joint Opposition (JO) MP Wimal Weerawansa’s statement made in Parliament on 7 March was totally misleading. Kariyawasam said, “Weerawansa on 7 March said that several shops in the Kuliyapitiya area had been set on fire. He alleged that a MP had been involved in the incident and that the said MP had got the suspects released by influencing the Police. This is totally wrong and misleading.”
At this juncture, JO MP Bandula Gunawardana, referring to Dr. Senaratne’s claim stressed that if someone tries to imprison MPs during a critical time like this, such a move would be totally unacceptable. “The JO expressed its support to the government to solve this issue and to build up reconciliation between the communities. In a situation like this, is it correct to try to imprison MPs?” he queried.
United National Party (UNP) MP Nalin Bandara also condemned Weerawansa’s claim made on 7 March. “Some people tried to spread communal clashes to Kurunegala as well. Recent clashes in Kandy and Ampara are a result of racist seeds sown by MPs like Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila,” he asserted.
The JVP Leader at this juncture stressed, “A Government newspaper carried a news item with the title ‘invisible hands behind communal clashes have been revealed.’ Since it is a government newspaper, we believe that it is the government’s opinion on the matter. If it is true, we have a right to know who they are. Therefore, the Government should immediately reveal this information to Parliament. It is their responsibility.”
Participating in the discussion, the JO Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena requested Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to protect the rights of the MPs. He said, “During Black July in 1983, the JVP was banned and several MPs were arrested. However, it was revealed later that the UNP had been involved in the tragic incidents. Now, the government is trying to imprison MPs again. This should be prevented. Therefore, the Speaker should take measures to protect the rights of the MPs.”
JO MP Rohitha Abeygunawardana said that without pointing fingers at each other, everyone should work to ensure the protection of both the Sinhalese and Muslim communities. Responding to Dissanayake and other MPs, the Speaker said that he speaks thrice a day with the Inspector General of Police and the other authorities to get updates about the situation. He also said that a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) investigation is in progress in this connection. “After the CID report is released, Parliament can discuss the details mentioned in it,” the Speaker said.
The JVP Leader said that, “In that case, Dr. Senaratne should not have made such claims. It is unacceptable that Ministers make statements according to their wishes even