Ampara civil society organisation’s report launched blocked by Election Commission

The Law and Society Trust (LST) is deeply concerned with the decision that impeded the launch event of a report published by the Human Elevation Organisation (HEO) in Addalachchenai, Ampara on October 12th, 2019.

HEO, a partner organisation of the People’s Alliance for Right to Land (PARL), compiled a report on land issues in the Ampara district titled ‘Land, Grabbing – Denial of Our Existence’. The Election Commission blocked the launch event that was scheduled to take place at the Al Sakki Hall in Addalachchenai, stating it to be in breach of election laws.

A few days prior to the event, the organizers communicated with the area politicians and informed them that in accordance with instructions sent by the Election Commission, they should not attend the event. The event was designed as a discussion forum for civil society and the aggrieved community. On the day of the launch, the organizers, community members, regional and national activists, and the media, gathered outside the blocked venue, and questioned government officials who arrived on the scene, as to who would be accountable to them for their lost lands.

The citizens of Ampara face a myriad of land-related issues, and LST believes the Presidential Election should not impede them from speaking out about their issues. Whilst we respect the Election law, and recognize the importance of its proper implementation, it should not be a barrier for citizens to raise their grievances and hold those in power accountable, particularly at an important political moment such as a Presidential Election.