Image courtesy Nidahasa

The Editor of Vikalpa, Sampath Samarakoon, was mercilessly attacked by Hambantota Urban Council Chairman Eraj Frenando (of the toy pistol infamy) yesterday as he was taking part in a street drama with leading rights activists and artistes. A detailed report by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) around this incident can be read here. The Police arrested Eraj Fernando today in connection with the incident and remanded him till the 24th of December.

Groundviews caught up with Sampath upon his return to Colombo and recorded the following interview in Sinhala. You can also access the interview directly here. Key points made by Sampath during the interview are summarised in English below.

  • Went to participate in the Veediye Virodaya street drama and street activism programme, along with renowned Sinhala artiste Jayatilleka Bandara and others.
  • Saw Eraj Fernando, with a group of around 40, lolling around the area the performance was about to be conducted.
  • After a short while, they came over and told the leader of the Opposition for the District that he could do whatever he wanted but that outsider could not. He said that the city was developed by our King with great difficulty, and at the same started attacking me and Jayatilleka Bandara.
  • In trying to protect Jayatilleka Bandara from the vicious attack, I took the brunt of the blows.
  • Swearing in filth, Eraj Fernando left the scene and returned with the pistol. Along with him, I observed his group also had around five to six other pistols.
  • Throughout the time he was beating us, he kept shouting he was going to kill us.
  • I believe the effort was to abduct Jayatilleka Bandara.
  • The group had arrived in around five vehicles with garage license plates, very clearly and completely decorated with stickers depicting President and his son Namal Rajapaksa.
  • It is very clear that as the Presidential Election draws closer, election related violence will increase across Sri Lanka. A clear indication of this is the violence that was meted out in Hambantota – the President’s home town.
  • It is evident that the President, using whatever violence necessary, will coerce the votes he needs at the election.