Sunday, December 14, 2014

Over 90 Sri Lankan academics urge ‘free and fair’ poll

Sunday Times, 14/12/2014


Over 90 academics from eight universities across Sri Lanka and some from abroad have issued a firm but emotional appeal to the Elections Commissioner to ensure a free and fair election and to “intervene forcefully to prevent the violation of election laws and ensure the safety of all parties concerned”.
In a joint declaration, the group said, “while we will exert pressure on those who are responsible to commit (to these issues), we will continue to advocate the implementation of proposed constitutional and policy changes even after the presidential election”.
The signatories included well-known academics such as Dr. Chandana Aluthge, Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, Prof. Savitri Goonesekere, Prof. Camena Guneratne, Dr. Farzana Haniffa, Dr. Pavithra Kailasapathy, Dr. Kumudu Kusum Kumara, Prof. Gameela Samarasinghe and Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda Univeristy (all from University Colombo); Dr. Harini Amarasuriya and Dr. Mahim Mendis (Open University of Sri Lanka); Dr. K. R. B. Herath, Prof. Vijay Kumar, Prof. A. M. Navaratna Bandara, Prof. A. Parakrama, Dr. S. Sivamohan and Dr. N. D. Udagama (University of Peradeniya): Dr. Rajan Hoole, Dr. Kirupa Hoole and Dr. Daya Somasundaram (University of Jaffna); Prof. W. P. S. Dias (University of Moratuwa); Prof. Maithri Wickramasinghe (University of Kelaniya); Dr. J. Hewage (University of Ruhuna); Chandraguptha Thenuwara (University of Visual and Performing Arts); Dr Vasuki Nesiah (New York University); and Prof. Kumar David, Dr. S.I. Keethaponcalan, Prof. Gananath Obeyesekere, Prof. Ranjini Obeyesekere and Dr. G. Usvatte-aratchi.
Citing a list of crises the country has faced like “unprecedented politicisation of the judiciary and the unlawful impeachment of the former Chief Justice, “political control over the police and lack of accountability of the police force”, “intimidation of journalists and suppression of the free media”, “breakdown of public institutions and services”, ” politicisation of universities”, “widening gap between the rich and poor”, “increasing intolerance of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity”, corruption, bribery and waste”, and “violation of election laws”, the group urged ‘fellow citizens’ to carefully consider not only the above issues but also the future of the country when exercising their civic duty.
“The time has arrived for each of us to act decisively in the name of generations to come and cast our valuable vote for a candidate who has committed (to bring positive change and freedom),” the group said.

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