Candidates from the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) who are contesting in the Eastern province are “on the verge of withdrawing due to ferocious threats and harassment” from paramilitary groups, said party leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, with parliamentary elections scheduled for next week.
Speaking at a press conference, Ponnambalam said that paramilitary organisations and Sri Lankan military intelligence had pursued a campaign of intimidation and harassment against party members.
"In Amparai 3 of our candidates are on the verge of withdrawing due to ferocious threats and harassment from the Karuna group,” he said. “In Batticaloa, one of our candidates is under threat from Pillayan group for the last 3 years."
"Sri Lanka military and police have arrested our activists and continue to engage in intimidation and harassment, our candidates are facing threats from paramilitary groups, and the TNA continues to attempt to weaken us."
Ponnambalam highlighted efforts made by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), who he said “sided with the Pillayan group in blocking our candidate from attending Local Government meetings”.
He also added that Sri Lankan military intelligence is planning a fake news campaign targeting the party on the last day of election campaign “allowing little to no time for us to refute these stories".
"Similarly, false news stories were planted by Sumanthiran in 2015 on the last day of the election campaign with outlets refusing to carry our rebuttals the next day," he added. "We seem to be the common adversary to paramilitary groups, mainstream Sinhala parties contesting in the Tamil homeland, and the TNA."