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Sri Lankan intelligence officers increase surveillance of SEP candidates

Three members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in the North-East have been questioned and intimidated by the Sri Lankan military, the party said.

The SEP, who are running for seats in Jaffna, Colombo and Nuwara Eliya, have reported that military intelligence personnel have violated the democratic rights of the party by visiting the houses of key SEP candidates to extract information.

Last month, Paramuthirugnana Sampanthar, leader of the SEP in the Jaffna District, was visited by two intelligence officers at his home, claiming that they needed information about the candidates. Sampanthar refused to answer to them, stating that collecting information from electoral candidates is illegal. Prior to this incident, another SEP member, Rasenthiram Sutharshan, was also questioned at his home by two individuals claiming to be intelligence officers.

Following the questioning of these two SEP candidates, the General Secretary of the SEP, Wije Dias, wrote a letter to the defence secretary, Kamal Gunaratne, and the chairman of Sri Lanka’s Election Commission, detailing the incidents. The letter protested the questioning of the candidates and challenged the military’s actions. The letter and its demand for an explanation was ignored, and the interrogation of candidates did not cease.

Another candidate, Rajaratnam Rajavel, was questioned by two military intelligence officers at his house in Maniyanthottam, to which Rajavel refused to reveal his details. The officers demanded that the details were necessary to provide protection from clashes occurring between other political parties. The officers proceeded to take photographs of Rajavel when he refused to cooperate.

These incidents form part of the going attempts to question and intimidate electoral candidates in the North-East.

Read more here.

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