Posted on August 19th, 2009

By Walter Jayawardhana

Pandemonium reigned at an opposition United National Party (UNP)meeting at Kurunegala yesterday when Mangala Samaraweera was hooted down and was compelled to stop his speech.

Ultimately the United national Party Deputy leader karu jayasuriya’s efforts to calm down the vociferous members of the meeting to stop their boos had to be given up.

Video clips broadcast of the incident show dozens of members simultaneously boo Samaraweera when he was trying to make a point about the Internally Displaced Persons camps run by the government.

“280,000 people are camped out there because 20,000 terrorists are among them,” he said while many started booing him.

Losing his cool Samaraweera then said those who hoot at him “should stand up on their chairs so that others could see their faces.”

The statement made the restive audience hoot more at the speaker.

Then the Deputy leader of the party , Karu Jayasuriya appealed to the audience to calm down but the protesters did not heed him. In the midst of the hooting Samaraweera stopped his speech and climbed down from the stage.

Defense sources have accused that the opposition is trying to stop the screening process conducted at the IDP camps to catch nearly 20,000 terrorists of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who are hiding among the civilians. The contention of the defense sources is that the free release of direct combatants of the LTTE back to settlements is a matter of national security. It is suspected that some of the suicide bombers of the former Black Tiger units are also hiding among the civilians.

All LTTE direct combatants are kept in a different camp undergoing rehabilitations programs. But the 20,000 Samaraweera is speaking about are hiding among the regular civilians of the other camps subject to a screening process to identify regular combatants of the now defunct LTTE. It is believed Kumaran Pathmanathan was threatening to reuse them before his arrest in Kualumpur, Malaysia few weeks ago.

Few days ago both Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Chief of Defense Staff and former Army commander Sarath Fonseka said the former Tamil rebels now living in government “”…”run welfare camps pose a serious threat to national security if allowed to leave the camps .

Rajapaksa was quoted having said, “LTTE terrorists masquerading as civilians now taking refuge among the displaced could resume attacks if the government gave into internal and external pressure and released them”.

He was also quoted having said, “If we loosen up security measures and bombs start exploding the same crowd will demand the resignation of the government”.

Pressure has been brought on the government to release the IDP’s without screening them for the LTTE combatants.

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