Former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga's fear over 'constant surveillance'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 March, 2014, 1:31am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 March, 2014, 1:31am


Sri Lanka's former president said she fears for her safety because the government's secret services are conducting constant surveillance on her - an allegation the government rejected yesterday.

Chandrika Kumaratunga was president from 1994 to 2005 but has been sidelined from politics since being succeeded by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Recently, she has been outspoken on alleged rights violations in the country and ill-treatment against her. Her allegations of government surveillance come amid speculation she is considering returning to politics by contesting the presidency.

In a letter dated March 5 to the current president, Kumaratunga said her phone calls, e-mails and her two residences were under constant surveillance.

She also said her friends were interrogated by secret service officials after they visited her.

She said Rajapaksa's government violated her privacy and caused her harassment.

Kumaratunga claimed secret service officers also interrogated the management of hotels after she visited them and have kept a 24-hour surveillance on another hotel where she stayed with foreign friends. Her hosts are also subjected to harassment by officers after she visits them.

She wrote: "This amounts to a calculated strategy of your Government to … cause severe mental and emotional stress to me, while intimidating my friends and associates". She added she has "serious reasons to be concerned about my safety".

The president's office responded that there wasn't "even a shred of proof to justify such charges of a serious nature".

Presidential secretary Lalith Weeratunga said in a reply posted on the office's website: "What is set out is seen as a litany of generalities, marked for being vague and unauthenticated." Rajapaksa assured Kumaratunga that no surveillance was being conducted on her phone calls, e-mails and residences. The reply also alleged Kumaratunga's letter was intended to synchronise with the "wholly unfair allegations" being lodged in the UN.

The Sri Lankan government is facing criticism for human rights violations and resisting calls to probe alleged war crimes.

The United States is sponsoring a third resolution at the UN Human Rights Council calling for an international investigation of alleged war crimes if Sri Lanka fails to conduct one of its own and to end post-war human rights violations and abuses.