Deprival of franchise of the upcountry people!

- Virakesari Editorial

(September 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The upcountry parties are engaged in a postmortem examination regarding their defeat at the recent provincial council elections.

It is clear that the election results have reflected the feelings and the voices of the Upcountry people. They have expressed frustration over the conduct of their leadership. They feel that the upcountry parties do not appreciate the aspirations of their people.

The upcountry leadership is responsible for the loss of their representation in the Sabaragamuwa provincial council.

There are reports that more than 9500 upcountry Tamils have been denied their right to vote at these two provincial council polls because they could not establish their identity. But, it is unacceptable that people belonging to a particular race being denied the right to vote for failure to establish an identity.

Before stipulating that voters should establish their identity at the time of polling, step should have been taken to provide documents of identity to the people. It is no secret that the people living in estates are unable to get relevant documents such as birth certificates to obtain identity cards.

The leadership of these people and this country must put down their heads in shame that this group of people, who have been living in this country for 150 years, are unable to get such an important document.

It took the upcountry society four decades to rise from the sorry plight of being political orphans. Now, they are in the sordid plight of having to fight for their voting rights. Having guaranteed them citizenship rights, they are deprived of their voting rights.

It must b reiterated that the right to vote is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution. The fundamental right of the upcountry Tamils qualified for franchise was denied at the recent provincial council polls. The upcountry Tamils must be vigilant!

(An English translation of the Editorial in Virekesari, a Tamil daily, based in Colombo.
)- Sri Lanka Guardian