스리랑카에서 대선 이후 선거 결과에 의혹을 제기하거나 정부를 비판하는 목소리를 잠재우기 위해서 표현의 자유를 제한하는 조치를 취하고 있다.
마힌다 마자파크세(Mahinda Rajapaksa)전 대통령이 합참의장 출신 시라스 폰사카(Sarath Fonseka) 후보를 제치고 재선에 성공한 지난 1월 26일 이후, 부정행위 의혹과 함께 정부를 비판하는 목소리가 높아졌다.
이에 대한 대응으로 스리랑카 정부는 언론인과 정치 활동가, 인권옹호자들에 대한 탄압을 가하고 있다. 야당 후보 지지자들과 일부 언론인들이 체포됐으며, 몇몇 유력 일간지 편집장은 살해 위협을 받았다.
선거위반감시센터(CMEV)의 보고에 의하면 두 명이 살해되고, 몇몇은 폭행당한 사례를 포함해 선거 이후 85건 이상의 사건이 발생했다. 본 사건들에 대한 자세한 정보는 공개되지 않고 있다.
지난 1월 24일에는 스리랑카 언론인인 프라깃 크날리고다(Prageeth Eknaligoda)가 스리랑카 수도 콜롬보(Colombo)에서 마지막으로 목격된 이후 행방불명 되는 사건이 발생하기도 했다.
국제앰네스티는 언론인들, 정치활동가, 인권옹호자 등에 대한 탄압이 중단돼야 한다고 목소리를 높였다. 또한 납치나 폭행 등의 사건들에 대한 즉각적이고 철저하며 독립적인 공정한 조사를 실시함으로써 인권기준을 충족시키려는 노력을 보여줄 것을 스리랑카 정부에 요청했다.
Sri Lanka must halt pre-election attacks on political activists
Amnesty International has called on Sri Lankan political leaders to investigate attacks on activists during one of the most violent presidential elections in the last 20 years.
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) said that more than 600 violent incidents had been reported until Thursday, including five murders and five attempted murders of political activists. Police are investigating grenade attack on the home of Tiran Alles, a prominent opponent of the ruling party who has been receiving death threats for several months.
“These attacks highlight the prevalence of political violence in Sri Lanka even after the military defeat of the Tamil Tigers,” said Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty International’s deputy Asia-Pacific director.
“Attacks by paramilitary groups or thugs attached to politicians jeopardize prospects for a free and fair election.”
A number of NGO workers have spoken to Amnesty International about their fears over violence and intimidation ahead of the 26 January elections. Transfer of weapons from military sources (particularly army deserters) has led to an increase in armed crime including grenade attacks on political opponents.
Attacks have taken place in many parts of the country and supporters of various opposition parties. According to CMEV, supporters of the ruling party, the United People’s Freedom Alliance, have suffered 354 attacks, the largest number of incidents.
In eastern Sri Lanka, an area often receiving less media attention, the TMVP (Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal), has been accused by local activists and observers of ballot rigging, intimidation and violence in Ampara and Batticaloa districts.
The TMVP, a Tamil political party comprised of ex-rebels, is now engaged in electoral politics. The party has split into two factions led by men facing accusations of serious violations of human rights and the laws of war: Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan (alias Karuna Amman), a member of parliament for the Eastern Province and Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan (alias Pillayan), Chief Minister of the Eastern Province.
”The government overlooked the atrocities alleged against these two men and brought them into the political mainstream, and now it appears unable to hold them to account,” Madhu Malhotra said.
“The unwillingness and inability to investigate and prosecute those responsible for violence gives carte blanche to armed groups or thugs to continue attacks”.
Abuses by paramilitaries are not the only source of violence. The role of armed groups who operate with the complicity of political candidates is a growing concern. For example, Amnesty International received reports that political organizers liked to the UNFP have been responsible for most of the preelection violence in the eastern district of Ampara.