Lankan people's political right must be respected: Amnesty

Amid allegations that Rajapaksa government in Sri Lanka is using military to obstruct Tamil voters during Thursday's presidential polls, rights group Amnesty International today said authorities must ensure that people's right to political participation is respected.

PTI| Last Updated: Jan 06, 2015, 20:37 PM IST

London: Amid allegations that Rajapaksa government in Sri Lanka is using military to obstruct Tamil voters during Thursday's presidential polls, rights group Amnesty International today said authorities must ensure that people's right to political participation is respected.

"The growing harassment and violence against those campaigning for the coming elections is deeply troubling. The authorities have a responsibility to ensure that all people in Sri Lanka can exercise their rights to political participation and freedom of expression without facing threats or violence, and can vote without fear," said David Griffiths, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

"Reports of a potential organised plan to obstruct voters on election day, allegedly orchestrated by the government through the military, is also a matter of grave concern," he said.

The opposition in Sri Lanka has accused the government of deploying thousands of soldiers in civilian clothes in Tamil-dominated northern areas to prevent the minority community from voting in the polls.

Three opposition workers were injured yesterday in a shooting incident on the final day of campaigning for Sri Lanka's crucial presidential election.

Shots were fired at a venue in Nivithigala which was to be used for an election rally by the opposition, injuring three people.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is seeking a record third straight term in office, is pitted against Maithripala Sirisena, his former health minister and General Secretary of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), who is now his main challenger in the January 8 polls after defecting to the opposition.