| by Dharisha Bastians
( December 19, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The people are well aware of who is behind white van attacks against Government detractors, United National Party Member of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya charged yesterday, condemning the attempted assault on senior attorney-at-law Guneratne Wanninayake.
Wanninayake is also the Convenor of the Free March, a constituent association in the Lawyers Collective that is carrying out a vocal campaign to preserve judicial independence and stands against the impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
Attorney Wanninayake was allegedly ambushed by a group of four armed men on his way home on Monday (17) who threatened him and attempted an assault. The assailants escaped in a white van, Wanninanayake claimed.
“He is a senior lawyer who is very vocal about safeguarding the Judiciary. He was attacked in broad daylight by assailants who escaped in a white van – how do these groups manage to avoid the scrutiny of the security apparatus every time? How do they operate so openly?” Jayasuriya said, addressing the media from his private office in Kirulapone.
The senior Opposition politician said that the incident was eerily similar to the attack on Judicial Services Commission Secretary Manjula Tillekaratne in October. “We condemn this brutal injustice. It is no longer a secret that this Government seeks to perpetuate only its own viewpoint and it will use fair and foul means to do it,” Jayasuriya charged. The UNP lawmaker also criticised the Government’s extravagance in the face of crushing poverty that the common people were grappling with. “Last weekend were the night races. Thousands of people were inconvenienced, weddings in the city were not attended, road closures caused innumerable hardships – was this worth Rs. 200 million of public money?” he said. Jayasuriya said that the Government had displayed the same lack of responsibility when it came to spending on IIFA in Colombo and its disastrous bid for the Commonwealth Games 1918, which cost the state coffers millions in order to satisfy the whims of the rulers. “The Government wants to show off before the world – they are using our money to do it,” he said.
Tear gas, iron poles and guns will not suppress public opinion forever, the Opposition legislator said. “I would like to remind our current brutal rulers about that. They are blinded by power,” he charged.