Current TamilWeek
Presidential Election: Sole Representation and the
Disenfranchisement of Tamils in the North and East

The Sri Lanka Democracy Forum (SLDF) condemns the election violence,
intimidation and the consequent disenfranchisement of Tamil citizens by the LTTE in
the North and East. The elections in the North and East were held in a climate of fear
as the LTTE, through its front organizations, called for a boycott of the elections. This
directive was backed by violence on the days leading up to and on Election Day, as
LTTE cadres on motorcycles beat and chased away voters and tyres were burned as
road blocks to intimidate civilians. LTTE cadres appointed by the New Left Front as
polling agents (normally used in elections to challenge fraud and can only be
appointed by a party with a candidate in the elections), were used by the LTTE to
intimidate voters inside polling booths and to identify voters who could then be
targeted for retribution. On the day before the election, there were at least five
grenade attacks on the offices of the EPDP in Jaffna, a political party supportive of
presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapakse. Two days before the election, cadres from
the LTTE's cultural wing brought a youth, twenty-two year old Dinesh, to the grounds
of Kokkuvil Hindu College and tied, tortured and beat him to death in public view.
Grenade attacks and killings were also reported in the East on Election Day. The
Jaffna Government Agent and the chief election officer for the Jaffna District stated
that only 1.5% of the eligible voters cast their votes.

The 2005 presidential election in the North is very similar to the 2004 parliamentary
elections when, once again, Tamils living in the North were denied their democratic
rights. In this regard, the low voter turn out in this election is no different from the
90+% of the votes, which the LTTE manufactured in the 2004 elections for its proxy
the TNA through violence, intimidation and massive fraud. Indeed, as John
Cushnahan of the EU Election Monitoring Mission noted after the elections in 2004,
the elections in the North and East were the "anti-thesis of democracy" and the
"primary source of the violence was the LTTE who were determined to ensure that the
TNA would emerge as the sole representative of the Tamil people."

After three and a half years of a much-violated Ceasefire Agreement, democratic
space in the North and East has been greatly diminished, not only in terms of electoral
politics, but also in terms of the rights to life, freedom of expression and freedom of
association. Indeed, the very basic civil and political rights necessary for democratic
space and engagement have progressively been curtailed during a time of peace.
During yesterday's elections, yet another opportunity for the people of the North and
East to voice their concerns on fundamental political and economic issues, as well as
the peace process, was taken away from them. And, underlying and justifying this
constant silencing of Tamil and Muslim voices is the LTTE's claim to
"sole-representation".

SLDF calls on all political parties and civil society actors in Sri Lanka, foreign
governments, multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the European
Union, and the Donors involved in the peace process in Sri Lanka, to publicly
denounce the intimidation and violence that kept Tamils from exercising their
democratic rights during yesterday's presidential elections. Fundamental to this will be
a refutation of the LTTE's claim of sole-representation, which has been antithetical to
democracy in both name and practice. Finally, given the LTTE's attacks on democracy
and the rights of Muslims and Tamils, any resumption of peace talks should be
inclusive with participation of independent delegations from the Muslim community and
other Tamil parties.
 [SLDF Press Release]
TamilWeek, Nov 13 - 19, 2005
TamilWeek, Nov 20 - 26, 2005