Sri Lankan left leaders assaulted


Two leaders of the New Left Front in Sri Lanka were brutally assaulted on January 13 while campaigning in provincial council elections.

Dr Vicramabahu Karunaratne, the general secretary of the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP), Patrick Fernando, the NLF candidate for Wayaba province chief minister, and Nishantha, their driver, stopped in Padeniya for tea at around 10pm as they were returning to Colombo from a rally in Kobeyigane.

They were attacked by thugs who had followed them on motorcycles. The motorcycles were decorated with flags of the People's Alliance, the governing coalition.

All three received severe injuries and were treated at a hospital in nearby Kurunegala. Karunaratne and Nishantha were transferred from the hospital because of fears of further attacks, but Fernando had to remain to be treated for head and eye injuries.

It appears that violence between the People's Alliance and the right-wing United National Party is now being escalated to take in the left. As well as the NLF, the People's Liberation Front (JVP) has reported attacks on its candidates.

The NSSP is particularly disliked by chauvinists in other parties because of its call for the government to enter unconditional peace talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Messages protesting the attacks can be sent to Chandrika Kumaratunga, President of the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka, Presidential Secretariat, Colombo 1, Sri Lanka (fax: 94 1 333 703); and to General Anurudha Ratwatte, Deputy Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence, 15/5, Baladaksha Mawatha, Colombo 3 (fax: 94 1 439 380). Please send copies to the NSSP, 143, Kew Road, Colombo 2 (fax: 94 1 334 822).

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