The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence, as a member of the March 12th Movement (M12M), is organising a signature campaign in Badulla today. The vehicle parade of M12M has approached Badulla after a long march. And many of the religious / CSO / Political leaders are putting their signatures at this very moment at the function being held at Badulla town. The objective of this campaign is to obtaining 1 million signatures and to submit it to all political leaders, to put pressure on them requesting, not to give nominations to unsuitable candidates.
Download the report here.
The hot topic these days is electoral reforms. Each and every political party is concerned with the electoral reforms and many proposals have been brought in. One of the major election monitoring bodies, Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) Technical Advisor D.M. Dissanayake, speaking to Ceylon Today, expressed views about these proposed electoral reforms.
A petition filed by two refugees residing at the Menik Farm, challenged the holding of the elections of Pudukuduirippu and Maritimepattu Pradeshiya Sabha’s, which was to be held on the 8th of October 2011. Considering the petition, the Appeal Court issued an injunction order. The cases were withdrawn since the Northern Provincial Council Election in 2013, and the Presidential Election this year were held in Pudukuduirippu and Maritimepattu. Finally the Election Commissioner has decided to hold this election on 28th February 2015.
Brief Information on the Election:
Eligible Voters: Pudukuduirippu – 29,269 , Maritimepattu – 23,489.
Polling Stations: 45 in Pudukuduirippu, 50 in Maritimepattu.
Contested Parties – Pudukuduirippu Pradeshiya Sabha: Illankai Tamil ArasuKachchi (ITAK), United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), United National Party (UNP), Nawa Sama Samaja Party (NSSP), Puravesi Peramuna and one independent group.
Contested Parties – Maritimepattu Pradeshiya Sabha: Illankai Tamil ArasuKachchi (ITAK), United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA), United National Party (UNP), Puravesi Peramuna, JanathaVimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC)
No. of Candidates:
Pudukuduirippu Pradeshiy Sabha – 72
Maritimepattu Pradeshiya Sabha – 90
The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) was formed in 1997 by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), the Free Media Movement (FMM) and the Coalition against Political Violence as an independent and nonpartisan organization to monitor the incidence of election related violence. Currently, CMEV is made up of CPA, FMM and INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre.
Our contact details are for the Local Government Elections:-
Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Co-Convenor-CMEV
(+94) 777731458 (Direct)
Mr. ManjulaGajanayake– National Coordinator
Mr. Mani Maran- Field Coordinator
The Presidential poll of 8 January 2015 inspired the largest number of voters in Sri Lanka’s history to turn out to elect a new president. The #IVotedSL campaign, which went viral in the lead up to and on the day of the election, was an unprecedented effort over social media to enhance voter turnout. Thousands of Sri Lankans participated.
This new campaign seeks to build on and sustain this interest in reframing our country.
As we all know, the work to shape Sri Lanka’s future doesn’t stop with electing a new president or a new government. Change will need to involve all of us as citizens in our various positions and roles in society. There is now a vibrant public and private debate of citizens across the country (and beyond its borders) about the hopes and vision for Sri Lanka’s future. This is currently taking place on social media, traditional media and also in homes and workplaces.
The campaign encourages us all to focus on what we can do in our individual capacities, as well as what other citizens in government, opposition politics, public services, business or our own neighbourhoods can do, to bring about change for good.
Use the hashtag (#icanChangeSL) to flag an action that you took, a resolution you have made, or an example that you personally want to follow. For example:
- “I just refused to pay a bribe to a public official #icanChangeSL”
- “I will speak up the next time I see a woman being harassed on the bus #icanChangeSL”
- “I am trying to learn about other religious beliefs #icanChangeSL”
Use the hashtag (#wecanChangeSL) to highlight an example of a positive social practice, an inspiring news story, an idea for your friends or community, or an aspiration for the country as a whole. For example:
- “Let merit not ‘influence’ decide who gets the job #wecanChangeSL”
- “Rather than criticizing public services, let’s suggest how to improve them (with available resources) #wecanChangeSL”
- “Just heard of plan to establish a post A/L volunteer corps for Sri Lanka! #wecanChangeSL”.
Some people are already using the hashtag (#ChangeSL) to mark positive changes that they see taking place in the country.
This is a tool to get your views as a citizen heard, to share your ideas and get feedback. Please use it.
This country is ours to change.
Download the logos here for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and the web.
14 January 2015
At present CMEV has recorded a total of 45 incidents with 27 major incidents and 18 minor incidents in the post poll period. The rise in such incidents is worrying and CMEV urges the President and the law enforcement officers to take immediate action to prevent further incidents and to bring the perpetrators of those detailed below, to book.
13th January petrol bomb attack in Galle
It was reported to CMEV that a house belonging to Minister Sajin Vass Gunawardena in Ambalangoda Thuduwa Mulla had been attacked. According to the security guard who was there at the time, three petrol bombs had been thrown at the house at about 8. 45 pm which caused damages to the walls and windows of the house. A police complaint has been filed at the Ambalangoda Police Station in pages 78, 79 and 80. Speaking to CMEV, Mr Gunawardena stated that this type of violence must be stopped.
12th January residence stoned in Polonnaruwa
CMEV received a complaint from the Polonnaruwa Electorate where the residence of D.R. Asanthika Munaweera, a supporter of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) living at 15/19C, Udawela Nawanagaraya was stoned at about 2 am. According to the victim, she and her two children had been at home at that time and her mother’s house which was also nearby, had been stoned.
11th January attack in Polonnaruwa
According to the CMEV monitor in Polonnaruwa, a group of people had broken into the house of D.M. Leelawathi and K.M. Karunarathne, supporters of New Democratic Front (NDF), at about 1.30 pm and attacked and wounded the residents including their two sons. The assailants had arrived in motorcycles carrying metal rods and attacked the four people in the house. Both parties suffered injuries in the fight that ensued, with one of the sons of the victims Sunil Premaratne (aged 32) rendered mute after severe head injuries. The victims have been taken to the Polonnaruwa Hospital while the assailants were taken to Welikanda Hospital for treatment. A police complaint was filed by Mr Karunarathne at the Welikanda Police Station under CIN 01 355/57. In the complaint, they have accused several people namely, Rukman, Chamara, Vikum, Manjula, Asanka and Chaminda who are known to be supporters of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). According to the CMEV monitor, this incident had followed a dispute that took place on the day before the Presidential Elections (January 7th) when the victims had been engaged in campaign activities supporting NDF and the assailants had confronted them.
11th January UPFA supporter’s house burnt in Chilaw
It was reported to CMEV that the residence of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) supporter Uruliyagamage Bandula had been burnt at about 10 30 pm by United National Party (UNP) supporters led by UNP Pradeshiya Sabha member Lalith Ananda. A police complaint has been filed at the Madampe Police Station under MCR 66/62.
11th January UPFA supporter’s house burnt in Rakwana
Another incident of a house being set on fire was reported to CMEV from the Rakwana area. The house belonged to United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) supporter Lionel Fernando who suspects supporters of New Democratic Front (NDF) to be responsible for it. He has filed a complaint at the Rakwana Police Station under MOIB 138/62.
11th January attack in Kandy
CMEV received a complaint of an attack on Supun Pushpakumara, spokesperson for United National Party (UNP) who was threatened by Pradeshiya Sabha member K. Rajanayaka (a supporter of UNP). According to Mr Pushpakumara, the assailant and his followers had arrived at his house in two cabs and called out to him. When he went outside to meet them, they had beaten him and left him in a nearby ditch. He had filed a police complaint at the Galaha Police Station under MOB 363/21.
11th January UNP convoy attacked in Kandy
An assault in Pathadumbara in Kandy to a convoy led by opposition leader United National Party (UNP) A.G. Wijethunga was reported to CMEV. The convoy consisting of 1 bus, 10 three-wheelers and 4 lorries, had been leaving a meeting addressed by President Maithripala Sirisena when it was attacked. According to Mr Wijethunga, about 30 supporters of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Pradeshiya Sabha member, U. S. Prasanna had halted the bus and attacked it. 9 individuals had been admitted to the Jambugaspitiya Hospital and later transferred to Peradeniya Hospital. A police complaint had been filed under CIB 11169/130. CMEV was informed by the Wattegama Police Station that three suspects were arrested and that 8 persons were receiving treatment at the Peradeniya Hospital.
11th January UPFA office stoned in Madirigiriya, Polonnaruwa
A CMEV monitor in Polonnaruwa reported an attack on a United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) office in Polonnaruwa by a group of unidentified people at about 1 pm. Damages include the destroying of UPFA cutouts.
11th January residence stoned in Polonnaruwa
The stoning of a residence in Polonnaruwa by a group of unknown people at about 11.30pm, was reported to CMEV. According to the resident Anuradha Sandamali who is a supporter of United People Freedom Alliance (UPFA), the house had been repeatedly pelted with stones which caused damages to the house. A police complaint had not been filed.
11th January Tar attack in Anuradhapura
It was reported to CMEV that the residence of N.M Nawaratna Banda who is a United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) supporter (No 530, Hurulu Nikawewa, Galenbinduna Wewa) had been damaged by a tar attack by unknown people at about 2am.
10th January attack in Gampaha
CMEV was informed of an attack in Ja Ela when 10 – 12 vehicles had been driven to the residence of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) supporter Sunith Gunasekara and assaulted his wife and mother. A police complaint had been filed under CIB III 107/135 at the Ja Ela Police Station and in it, the suspect is identified as United National Party (UNP) Urban Councillor Anju.
10th January threat and intimidation in Kandy
It was reported to CMEV that Prof. Sujith Nissanka’s life had been threatened by four unidentified people who had arrived in a double cab at the Kandy Sokanchi Primary School at about 7.30 pm. Prof Nissanka had predicted the victory of President Maithripala Sirisena in a TV programme on Sirisa TV recently. A police complaint had been filed under 119 CIB 314/11.
9th January threat and intimidation in Polonnaruwa
It was reported to CMEV that the residence of A.G. Dilani Gaya Sanjiwani, a supporter of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) was broken into by a group of people who had threatened the residents. A police complaint had been filed at the Aralaganwila Police Station under EIB 251/53 and in it, a person known as Dharmarathna, a supporter of New Democratic Front (NDF) has been named as a suspect.
A similar incident took place on the same day at the residence of Dugganaralage Biso Manike, a supporter of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), when a group of unidentified people had broken into their residence at about 9.45pm and caused damages to property including doors and windows. A police complaint had been filed at the Aralaganwila Police Station under EIB 258/55.
8th January polling agents attacked in Gampola, Kandy
It was reported to CMEV that three polling agents on duty at the Mountain Temple Building Polling Station in Gampola had been attacked by United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Urban Councillor Dharshana Nayanatharanga and supporters. The three individuals S.G.H.M. Jayalal, S.L. Bandara and S. Prasad Kumara were attacked soon after the ballot boxes were ready to be taken to the counting centres.
12 January 2015
CMEV continued to monitor the post election situation and note several incidents reported in the period 9-12 January. At present CMEV has recorded 11 major incidents and 6 incidents in the post poll period. There is one casualty from post poll violence and several instances of assault, threat and intimidation. CMEV notes that most of the victims in the incidents reported are from the UPFA.
CMEV notes that President Maithripala Sirisena urged non -violence in the post poll period but unfortunately the incidents report targeting of political opponents. Political parties and their leaders must ensure that their members and supporters desist from violence and urge the authorities to conduct independent investigations and hold to account perpetrators of violence.
Following are some of the incidents reported to CMEV:
10th January, three injured one dead in Puttalam
CMEV was informed of a murder in Kumbutukuliya, Chilaw. Six UNP supporters including Warnakulasuriya Manjula Prasanna had driven from Bangadeniya to Kumbutukuliya at about 1.50pm and visited J.R Sarath, a supporter of UPFA,and his son. A clash ensued between the two parties in which Manjula Prasanna received injuries to his head. He subsequently succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead on the same day at the Chilaw base Hospital.
CMEV spoke to Chilaw Police, OIC Kasthuriarachchi who said that the suspects were arrested and investigations are underway. The three people who received injuries during this clash are undergoing medical treatment at the Chilaw Hospital.
10th January threat in NikaweratiyaKurunegala
An unidentified gunmen had arrived at H.M. Priyanthi Hirukumari’s (supporter of National Democratic Front) residence at about 8.30pm on 9th January in Nikaweriatiya and threatened her to not get involved in politics. She had been with her husband when the assailant had arrived and had called 119. No complaint has been filed with the Police.
11th January, Tar attack in Anuradhapura
United People Freedom Alliance (UPFA) supporter B.G Premachandra’s house located at No 534 Hurulunikawea, Galenbidunuwewa was attacked by two unidentified motorcyclists using tar around 10.30 pm yesterday. Mr.Premarathne informed CMEV that he has not filed a complaint with the Police.
11th January, Tar attack in Anuradhapura
United People Freedom Alliance (UPFA) supporter Noel Indika Premawansha’s house was attacked by unidentified gang of people using tar around 1.30 am yesterday.
According to Galenbidunuwewa police station, no complaint has been made with them.
11thJanuary, Tar attack in Anuradhapura
United People Freedom Alliance (UPFA) supporter B.K.D Madushan’s house located in No, 530, Hurulunikawewa, Galenbidunuwewa was attacked by an unidentified group of people using tar yesterday.
According to the inquiry done from Galenbidunuwewa Police station they have not received any complaint regarding this incident.
11th January Tar attack in Anuradhapura
CMEV received a report from Anuradhapura about a tar attack on K.G Mallika who is a supporter of UPFA, by unknown persons. A white van – 64-6463 – parked in the garden had been damaged in this attack along with the front and side walls of the house. A police complaint has not been filed.
11th January, Threatened and attempted to hit a UPFA supporter in Anuradhapura.
CMEV received a complaint that a supporter of the United National Party (UNP),Anura Bandara had threatened and attempted to hit UPFA supporter B.K Danuka Madushan in front of the UNP Party office in Galenbidunuwewa.
The Galenbidunuwewa Police station informed CMEV that no police complaint was made regarding this incident.
11th January, Maithriplasirisena’s supporter was attacked in Batticaloa
CMEV was informed that a supporter of President Maithripala Sirisena was attacked yesterday. According to the victim MrJeyarathnam a group (7) of Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal supporters had cut his hand using a sharp knife and had threatened him and demanded to know who the supporters of Mr Sirisena are.
Victim has filed a complaint (141/30) in Valiaichenai Police station, According to Valachenai Police officer Mr M.B. Thibbettumuwe, this celebration of the newly appointed President ended in violence.
11th January, Assault in Anuradhapura.
CMEV was informed that supporters of United National Freedom Alliance (UPFA) P Dayapala and Wijerathne were assault in front of ‘PilimePansala’ in Hurulunikawewa yesterday around 10.00am. According to them United National Party (UNP) supporter Anura Bandara had slapped them and shouted abuse. Furthermore he had threatened Mr Dayapala saying “Thorahanawawedithogeoluwatakaluthelwakkarannathibune” Police complaint has not been filed.
9th January attack in Kandy
An incident in Yatinuwara where six people including Bobby Dassanayake had broken and entered in to the residence of K.V.S. Abeywickrama UPFA opposition leader was reported to CMEV. The assailants had entered the house from the balcony, wounding the elder son Nipuna. A struggle ensued between the two parties with injuries to both of them. An eyewitness, Tampitiya Wanaratna Thero from the Pilimatalawe Paranagala Temple in close proximity to the house, confirms the situation. A police complaint had been lodged under CIB 5/2015.
8th January UPFA PS chairman’s house stoned in Trincomalee
CMEV received a report from Trincomalee stating that Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Kapila Nuwan Athukorale’s residence has been stoned by unknown persons.
Download a PDF of this letter here.
H.E Maithripala Sirisena
President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,
10th January 2015
Request for a Depoliticised Public Service and Introduction of Reforms
We write to you as two independent election monitoring bodies which have monitored elections in Sri Lanka for several years and proposed electoral reform. We write to urge you to take immediate steps to ensure a public service that is depoliticised and non-partisan.
At this historic juncture in the political landscape in Sri Lanka, we believe steps are needed to ensure a public service strengthened by the appointment of secretaries to ministries and other key officials who have the necessary experiences and training required for the respective office and not on the basis of political and other considerations. We have previously observed that secretaries and other key positions to Ministries and other State institutions were politicized with many involved in and/or supporting politicians and political parties. Such practices severely undermined the independence and integrity required of the public service to ensure the effective implementation of government policy. This is an opportunity to correct past wrongs and to ensure appointments made are based on merit and for the furtherance of good governance and democracy in Sri Lanka.
In this context, it is paramount to facilitate the appointment of independent institutions including independent commissions for elections, police and public service and to introduce much needed constitutional and legal reform to provide for the integrity of the electoral reforms. We look forward to engaging with you and others in Government regarding this.
P.Saravanamuttu, Co-Convenor, CMEV
Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director, PAFFREL
Download this as a PDF in English here.
CMEV deployed a total of approximately 4,500 monitors in the field, in polling stations and in mobile teams in the 2015 Presidential Election. On Election Day, CMEV recorded 223 incidents with 101 major incidents and 122 minor incidents. Out of the 223 incidents CMEV documented 124 incidents against the ruling UPFA with unknown actors cited as the alleged perpetrator in 81 incidents. Out of the major incidents, six incidents related to assault and six were of threat and intimidation. Election day witnessed several other incidents of election related violations including electioneering and misuse of state resources with most violations attributed to government politicians and supporters.
Notwithstanding the above and the incidents in the campaign noted below, CMEV believes that the voting in this Presidential Election was not significantly distorted by violence and malpractice and we salute our fellow citizens for ensuring this.
Turnout was relatively high reflecting the level of interest in the election despite the short campaign period. There were challenges however, that impacted the ability of some voters to freely exercise their franchise. For instance, on Election day, CMEV also raised concerns with the Commissioner of Elections about of an estimated 6,000 eligible voters in Puttalam being unable to travel to Mannar to vote. The inability to address this issue resulted in a significant population being deprived of their constitutional right to the franchise and is indicative of the political thuggery embedded in our political culture and practice. CMEV received reports as well of voters having to mark their ballots in full view of election officials and others.
The Northern Province witnessed a number of attempts to impact voter turnout on Election Day through intimidation, threats and confusing messages. The call for a boycott and attempts to discourage voting for the common opposition candidate through the circulation of unsolicited text messages and handbills, all contributed to a charged and confused environment. This coupled with two explosions – one each in Jaffna and Vavuniya, respectively, may have impacted the relatively lower turnout than expected in these districts.
The pre election report released by CMEV on 6 January 2015, raised concerns about shortcomings in the postal voting process, the role of the military in particular in the intimidation of voters and the unprecedentedly large- scale abuse of state property including the employment of the state –controlled media, even after the end of the official campaign period and on polling day, for relentless government propaganda. CMEV welcomed several court orders against perpetrators of election violence, but is dismayed that no one has yet to be held to account. The campaign witnessed several instances where CMEV monitors were threatened and attacked, human rights defenders and media activists threatened. This election, although not seen as one of the most violent in recent history, witnessed attacks against election officials by supporters of ministers, which CMEV condemned and called for swift action in respect of.
CMEV takes this opportunity to commend the decisive action taken by the Commissioner for Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya to insist on a correction on air by Rupavahini to a false news item broadcast this morning, claiming that UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa had joined the Government.
The Commissioner of Elections issued a number of instructions prior to voting day in order to minimise abuses of electoral law. Furthermore, recognising international standards on the important role election monitors can play in increasing transparency and public confidence in the electoral process, Mr. Deshapriya granted election monitoring organisations the opportunity to monitor the counting process for the first time in Sri Lanka.
Whilst CMEV notes the constructive responses of the Commissioner and his officials on a number of occasions, we also note that there were instances where our efforts to monitor the process were thwarted. On Election Day, CMEV was unable to access two polling centres – one each in Kalutara and Matara, respectively. When apprised of this, the Commissioner of Elections remedied the anomalies. CMEV places on record its appreciation of the Commissioner’s response and looks forward to similar constructive engagement in the future.
In this context, CMEV reiterates the need for independent institutions including independent commissions for elections, police and public services, underscoring the need for constitutional and legal reform to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.
We conclude this report by thanking the Commissioner of Elections and the Police for the cooperation extended to CMEV, and very especially to our monitors and the public for their steadfast commitment and support which made our monitoring exercise possible.
An interview conducted with Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu at around 9.20pm on 8th January 2015, looking back at the polling day and key developments.
CMEV notes that polling has been brisk but a few major incidents have been reported. Three explosions have so far been reported on the day of polls. The first was in Point Pedro reported in Communiqué 1. A second incident involved an explosion from Beruwala targeting a house of a Muslim businessman. No injuries were reported. The third incident from Vavuniya is provided below.
CMEV also notes several incidents of assault, threat and intimidation allegedly by ruling party politicians and their supporters. Some incidents are as follows –
Grenade explosion outside Vavuniya polling station
A grenade explosion took place near Nelukkulam Kalaimagal Maha Vidyalaya, Polling Station 32-33-34, Vavuniya at 2.30 pm. The explosion took place 50m near to the gate of the polling station. No injuries were reported. The police are investigating.
Two women struck by UPFA Deputy Minister in the Attanagalla Electorate, Gamapaha District
A report has been received by CMEV that UPFA Deputy Minister Sarana Gunawardana and a group of supporters have hit two women, near the Yatiyana Junior School (Polling Centre no: 51) at approximately 1.00 pm on the 8th of January. It was also reported that Deputy Minster Gunawardana and his group of supporters have been travelling in 7 vehicles in and around the area. CMEV is yet to receive further information regarding this assault.
Assault near Mihintale Polling Station
CMEV received a report that North Central Minister S.M. Ranjith, his supporter Sumith and others had assaulted Wimalasiri A.H.M. and a few other people the culprits were seen with wooden rods and guns. The victim, Wimalasiri A.H.M. has been admitted to the Senapura Hospital. No complaint has been lodged.
Minister R.M. Ajantha Kumara Jayasinghe intimidating voters in Kalawewa Anuradhapura
CMEV received a complaint that Minister R.M. Ajantha Kumara Jayasinghe was intimidating voters and asking them to vote for President Rajapaksa near the Thambuttegama Community Hall in Kalawewa, Anuradhapura.
SLMC member assaulted and threatened.
CMEV received a report that supporters of Minister A.L.M. Athaula’s (National Congress) have assaulted and threatened a Sri Lanka Muslim Congress member, Mr. Thalha in Akkaraipattu. Mr. Thalha has made a police complaint regarding this.
Allegations of Iniya Bharathi entering Polling Centre in Thirukovil
Eyewitnesses informed CMEV of SLFP organizer, Iniya Bharathi, entering Sri Ramakrishna Vidyalayam Polling Station (number 79) at 11.45 am in Thirukovil and allege that he carried with him extra ballot papers which he stuffed into the ballot boxes. CMEV monitor at the centre confirms Iniya Bharathi entering the polling centre but no other information is presently known. The Commissioner of Elections has been informed by CMEV and is presently investigating the situation.
CMEV received a couple of incidents where continuing campaigning and other violations were committed by the EPDP.
Voters escorted to the polling station by EPDP members
CMEV received a complaint at 8.55 am that Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) local council member Iyathurai Sri Rangeswaran and escorted a few voters from the KKS electorate, polling division C in Jaffna to the Tellipalai Mahajana College (polling station number 32) to vote.
Campaigning in front of polling stations in Kilinochchi
CMEV monitor in Kilinochchi reported at 10.15 am that one EPDP member and one member of the Pradeshiya Sabha, along with some Samurdhi Development Officers, are present at the entrance of the polling station at Punnalneeravi Government Tamil Mixed School (Polling Station 57), urging voters to vote for President Rajapaksa.
Intimidating the voters in Puttalam
CMEV received a report at 9.15 am from the Palaviya Sinhala Maha Vidyalaya, No.42 polling station, the SPO was standing near the polling booth and inspecting in how people are casting their votes. When the CMEV monitor had inquired, he has stated that he was monitoring whether the ballot papers were being taken out of the polling station.
Voters picked up by a private bus and taken to polling stations
It was reported to the CMEV at 8.05 a.m. that ten persons comprising of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) supporters and civil defence forces picked up voters along the route to Kiribbanwewa Vidyalaya (No.87), a polling station for people of the Mullaitivu area. They had been picked up by a private bus bearing the license plate number HT6173 by people wearing red t-shirts. CMEV monitors have photographic evidence.
Army Officer standing outside polling station in Visvamadu, Mullaitivu
CMEV has received a report around 8.35 am of an Army officer standing outside the Bharathy Vidyalaya, Visuwamadu – Hall No. 2 polling station (No. 54) in the polling division “C” Mullaitivu, of the Vanni Electorate of the Mullaitivu District.
Polling for the Presidential Election 2015 commenced at 7am. One incident of an explosion was reported during this period from Point Pedro, Jaffna. CMEV was informed that the explosion was caused due to a hand grenade with no injuries reported.
CMEV received a report of voters being prevented from voting as more than 200 of them living in Nagavillu and Huseniya, Puttalam whose polling stations are in Mannar, are unable to travel there as the buses are blocked by Puttalam Urban Council Chairman, Mr K.A. Baiz and his supporters. From last night, Baiz and his supporters threatened the CTB and private bus drivers and prevented them from going to these villages.
CMEV is concerned that voters are being prevented from exercising their franchise and urge the authorities to take immediate action. CMEV has raised the issue with the Commissioner of Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya urging immediate action. He informed CMEV that he is aware of the situation.
CMEV received a number of incidents where attempts have been made to intimidate of voters. Between 7.30 – 8.30am UPFA supporters at Arafa Primary School, Polling Station 5, Weligama, Matara attempted to force voters to support President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
CMEV also notes several areas where there was no privacy in the voting booths in the polling centers and where voting is visible to persons in the polling station and outside. Areas where this has been reported included Matara (Polling centres 40-41), Pottuvil (Polling centre 64) and Mullaitivu areas (Polling centre 77).
CMEV is continuing to receive reports of campaigning on Election Day despite it being forbidden under electoral law. Some of the reports received include unsolicited SMS messages being circulated and distribution of campaign material in and around polling stations. CMEV received a number of such complaints all against the UPFA including:
- A mass SMS message circulated in Sinhala from the number +94766887347 urging recipients to vote for the betel leaf. CMEV attempted to contact the user of the phone, however no one responded.
- A mass SMS message in Tamil calling for a boycott of the election from the number +778313850. CMEV also received reports of SMS messages in Tamil calling for a rejection of candidate Maithripala Sirisena sent via numbers +775478817 and +770217836.
- Canvassing for the UPFA candidate around the Deraniyagala Kanishta Vidyalaya polling station 23, Deraniyagala, Kegalle at around 8.00 am.
- UPFA leaflets were distributed near the Allepola Maha Vidyalaya polling station 10 in Balangoda, Ratnapura at 7:05 am.
- An unknown party distributed leaflets instructing voters to cast their vote for the betel leaf (UPFA) on the road leading to the Ahaliyagoda polling station 40, Ratnapura at 8:30 am.
- A small group of people had arrived in a three-wheeler (NW AH 3788) at the Bogawalana polling station, No 36, Dambadeniya, Puttalam and distributed printed cards in support of the UPFA.
- About 100 meters away from the Weuda Kanishta Vidhyalaya, No 04 polling station, Kurunegala, group of persons have distributed UPFA cards with the betel symbol.
- From around 7am onwards fake ballot papers marked in favour of President Rajapakse were handed out to voters within 500 meters of the polling station Number 75, Al- Hamra Muslim Maha Vidyalayam, Irakkakandy, Trincomalee. Similar reports were received near Soranathota Primary School (Polling Center No. 14), in the Viyaluwa electorate in the Badulla district.
8th January – voters transported by a private bus to polling stations
CMEV was informed at 8.05 a.m. that ten persons comprising of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) supporters and civil defense forces picked up voters along the route to Kiribbanwewa Vidyalaya (Polling Center No. 87), Mullaitivu. They were picked up by a private bus bearing the license plate number HT6173.
The podcasts below give a sense of what’s going on in Sri Lanka on election day, featuring Manjula Gajanayake speaking in Sinhala and D.M. Dissanayake, Convenor of CMEV in English.
Download the PDF of this press release in English here.
The day prior to polling witnessed the first fatality of the Presidential Election of 2015. Mr Shantha Dodagangoda who was critically injured in a shooting incident at Kahawatte, Ratnapura on the morning of Monday 5th January, died at 3.05 pm today at the Ratnapura hospital. Although the Pelmadulla Magistrates Court issued an arrest warrant for Deputy Minister of Power & Energy, Premalal Jayasekera, Minister Nilantha Jayakodi and Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Vajira Dharshana de Silva on 5th January, no arrests had taken place as of the 7th.
CMEV is extremely concerned by the rise in election-related violence and violations a day prior to polls including a death threat to a CMEV monitor by a Pradeshiya Sabha Minister and continuous death threats faced by human rights defenders (HRDs). These violations demonstrate an inability among officials within the present system to take necessary steps to address the culture of impunity. CMEV urges the authorities to take all steps to ensure the integrity of the poll.
CMEV received two reports of attempts to pay for identification documents from two different districts. In Akkaraichennai, Muttur in Trincomlee District, CMEV received a complaint stating that National Identity Cards and Drivers Licenses, have been collected in exchange for approximately Rs. 1000, by unknown persons. CMEV was informed by TNA Northern Provincial Council member Mr. Janadharan that he suspects UPFA supporters are involved in this incident. In Beruwela, Kalutara District, CMEV monitor had witnessed an incident where a UPFA supporter and former Organiser of the Urban Council, Mr. Mohamed Marjan, handing out Rs. 5000 each in exchange for National Identity Cards.
After the close of the campaign, CMEV has received a number of reports of the distribution of campaign material and other propaganda activities. A poster of President Mahinda Rajapaksa had been given out with the “Tharuni” newspaper on the 7th of January at Bibile. Complaints have also been received regarding an article signed by Minister Nimal Siripala Silva with content against Common Presidential Candidate Maithripala Sirisena, being distributed by supporters of the Minister at Lower Street in Badulla at approximately 4.45 pm on the 7th of January. Copies of “Litha” (charts of auspicious times) with the picture of President Rajapaksa, have been distributed in the Wellawaya area by supporters of the Wellawaya Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Mr. Rohana Wanniarachchi.
Another area of concern has been attempts to influence voters through misinformation circulated to confuse and discourage voters. CMEV was informed of a specific handbill that was circulated in Kilinochchi on the 6th of January. According to the complaint, the handbill discourages voters from casting their vote, with content against Common Presidential Candidate Maithirpala Sirisena and President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The handbill is printed under the name of the ‘Independent Group of the Tamil National Alliance’. The TNA has denied involvement with the issuing of such a statement.
CMEV wishes to reiterate its concern about the presence of the military adversely impacting voter turnout especially in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Throughout the 6th & 7th January, CMEV has received many expressions of concern and allegations of the intimidatory presence of the military and therefore raises this issue yet again as one of serious concern.
Incidents Reported on 7 January
7th January – Death threat to CMEV monitor in Kalaweva, Anuradhapura District
CMEV Monitor R.S.S. Doragamuwa was threatened via a phone call by UPFA Pradeshiya Sabha Minister Nimalsiri who threatened to break his arms, legs, and to murder him on the 9th of January. The threat was attributed to the CMEV monitor not supporting President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and also because of his involvement in Election Monitoring.
7th January – Military officials in possession of ballot box and ballot papers in Upparu, Muttur, Trincomalee District
CMEV received reports in the morning of Navy officials at the Koganna Navy Camp in Upparu, Kinniya, Trincomalee being in possession of a ballot box and ballot papers. CMEV has notified the Commissioner of Elections regarding this matter.
CMEV also previously communicated to the Commissioner of Elections and the Assistant Commissioner for Trincomalee District that approximately 100 ballot boxes were being filled at approximately 1.00pm by two high level naval officers at the Sober Island Resort, Trincomalee, which can only be accessed via boats departing from the Trincomalee Naval Base. The Assistant Commissioner subsequently informed CMEV at 4.00pm that he had sent personnel to the Sober Island Resort to check on the allegation and found it to be false.
7th January – Ballot papers and a ballot box held by Navy in the Koganna Camp, Kinniya, Trincomalee District
CMEV was informed of an incident where the Sri Lanka Navy is allegedly to be in possession of a ballot box and ballot papers, which is reportedly being kept at the Koganna camp, in Upparu, Kinniya, under the protection of Senior Navy officials. This incident too was reported by CMEV to the Election Commissioner.
7th January – Text message circulated in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu
CMEV received complaints regarding a text message, which has been circulated in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu from a blocked number, asking the recipients to vote for President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
7th January – Message to Nalanda College Old Boys’ Association
An email sent from President Mahinda Rajapapaksa on the 7th of January to the Old Boys’ Association of Nalanda College was forwarded to CMEV. The message focuses on the shared Nalanda connection between President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the recipients in a general appeal to alumni to fight for the security of the nation that was won in the civil war, by supporting President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Election.
7th January – Blockage on Road leading to Polling Center
CMEV received a report of a road blockade impeding accesss to a Polling Center, in Baddegama in the Galle District. The Polling Center, Mabotuwana Nawala Kanishta Vidyalya (Polling Center No 25) is currently not accessible by a vehicle due to the presence large stones left on the road leading to the center by the Vanduramba Pradeshiya Sabha, with the explanation that it is in the process of tarring the road. An alternate route to the Polling Center would take more time. The stones are effectively blocking access by Polling Center Officials and monitors.
7th January – Fake Ballot papers distributed in Arasadithivu, Kokkadicholai, in the Batticaloa District
CMEV received a complaint regarding an incident where supporters of Mr. Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, better known as Karuna Amman, have distributed fake Ballot Papers, where Common Presidential Candidate Maithripala Sirisena’s symbol has been changed from a Swan to a Three Wheeler, on the 7th of January.
7th January – Message against Common Presidential Candidate Maithripala Sirisena circulated via SMS in Kattankudy, Batticaloa
CMEV received a report regarding the circulation of a text message with content going against Common Presidential Candidate Maithripala Sirisena, being sent and circulated by number 0768385917, in Kattankudy, Batticaloa. According to reports, a text message stating that Common Presidential Candidate Maithripala Sirisena was Deputy Defense Minister when 50,000 Tamils were killed in 2009, and therefore advising the public not to vote for him, was circulated.
7th January – Bribery at Dehiaththakandiya, Ampara District.
CMEV received a complaint regarding an incident where a relative of Parliamentarian Mrs. Sriyani Wijewickrama was distributing money in exchange for the promise that citizens will vote for President Mahinda Rajapaksa. According to the complaint, the money was distributed to a number of people at No. 31, Gurugammanaya, Dehiaththakandiya. When CMEV contacted ASP Mr. Chandrapala regarding the incident, he stated that it was a meeting for officials of the Polling Center, and no bribery had taken place.
7th January – A market declared open in Gampala, in the Kandy District
A complaint has been received by CMEV regarding an opening of a public market near the New Road, in Gampala. According to the complaint, Prime Minister Dimu Jayaratne, along with his son, Parliament Minister Anuradha Jayaratne has been present and had declared the market open. During the campaign period CMEV highlighted the use of development projects to carry out election propaganda, and it is an issue of concern that this is continuing even after the campaign period has ended.
7th January – Gathering of information for state assistance in Handapanagala, Wellawaya, Monaragala District
CMEV received a complaint regarding an incident in Handapanagala, Wellawaya , Monaragala District on the 7th of January, 2014 where Mr. Sepala, a Samurdhi Officer had been distributing forms which were issued by the Divi Neguma Department of the Ministry of Economic Development, to Three Wheeler owners of the Handapanagala area. The Samurdhi Officer had reportedly stated that the information was required by the Divi Neguma department of the Ministry of Economic Development, under the Budget of 2015, proposed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, so as to provide life Insurance and a pension scheme for three wheel drivers in the future. CMEV is currently attempting to obtain a copy of the distributed form.
7th January – Kiribath (Milk Rice) Dansala to be held on the 8th of January opposite a Polling Center in Bibile, in the Monaragala District
CMEV received a complaint regarding a Kiribath Dansala which is scheduled to take place on the morning of the Presidential Election, opposite the Badullagammana Vidyalaya (Polling Center No17) in Bibile, a Polling Center in the District of Monaragala. CMEV was informed that the Bibile Pradeshiya Sabha Minister Buddhika Seneviratne, has been the main organiser of this Dansala which is to take place at the Cooperative Society Building, opposite the Polling Center.
7th January – No security at Polling Center in Linganagar, in the Trincomalee District.
CMEV monitor in the Trincomalee District reported that at Konalingam Maha Vidyalay (Polling Center 31) apart from the Senior Presiding Officer and two Junior Presiding Officers, there was no Police or any form of security available for the Polling Center. The CMEV monitor noted a small gathering of unidentified persons within 50 meters of the polling center.
Several major incidents were reported from 6th of January including attacks
6th January – UNP supporter’s business place attacked in Hali Ela, Badulla
CMEV received a complaint with regard to an incident where the business place of a UNP supporter, Mr. Muthubandara was attacked on the 6th of January, at Hali Ela, Badulla. According to the victim, the perpetrators had attacked “Anuradha Hotel” twice. Following the first attack, he had seen the attackers leaving the premises in a white Defender vehicle. The second attack was approximately 30 minutes after the first. The victim had identified the vehicle number plate as WP KB – 6570. The attackers had struck the victim with an iron pole and fired shots. According to Mr. Muthubandara, the perpetrators are supporters of Minister Dilan Perera. He had received treatment at the Ettampitiya Hospital. A complaint was lodged at the Ettampitiya Police station under the complaint number EIB 48/16.
6th January – UNP Supporter’s house attacked in Ettampitiya, Badulla District
CMEV received a complaint regarding an attack on the house of a UNP supporter, Mr. V. Weerasinghe. According to the complaint, the house, which is situated in Ettampitiya, was attacked during the early hours on the 6th of January, damaging the windows, walls and the roof of the house. According to the victim, the suspects are alleged to be employees working under Minister Dilan Perera at the Foreign Employment Bureau. A complaint has been lodged at the Ettampitiya Police.
6th January – Family member of UNP supporter attacked in Mahiyanganya, Moneragala District
A complaint was received by CMEV regarding an incident of threat and intimidation of a UNP supporter, Mr. Janaka Abeyratne, on the 6th of January at approximately 6.00 pm when a mob came in search of him. Mr. Abeyratne alleged that the attackers had been unable to find him but instead found his father, Mr. D.M. Abeyratne. The seniour Mr Abeyratne claims that the mob included UPFA Mahiyangana Lead Organiser and Uva Provincial Council Agricultural Minister Anura Vidanagamage along with Parliament member Mr. Thenuka Vidanagamage and UPFA supporters who had allegedly threatened to kill his son and had struck him in the abdomen with a gun. When speaking to CMEV, the victim stated that he had explained the situation in detail to the OIC of the Mahiyanganaya Police Mr. C.I. Wickremasinghe. However, speaking to CMEV, the OIC stated that the victim had informed the Police that he did not know who the attackers were. No complaint has been lodged with the Police.
6th January – House of Beliatta UNP Communications Secretary attacked in Beliatta, in the Hambantota District
CMEV received a complaint pertaining to an incident where the house of the Secretary of the Beliatta UNP Communications Department, Mr. S.H. Kamalsiri, was attacked on the 6th of January at approximately 11.45 pm. According to the complaint, shots had been fired and had hit the walls, as well as a three- wheeler, which was parked on the premises. Mr. Kamalsiri had made a phone call to the 119 emergency hotline when the incident took place, to which they responded by advising them to stay indoors until help was sent. The Police had arrived 20 minutes later but had been unable to apprehend or identify the attackers. A complaint was lodged at the Police under the entry number EIB 224/147.
On the 6th of January, UPFA supporters were seen openly holding political meetings in the Batticaloa District, including a meeting held at 4.30pm at the Pentacostal Church located on the Polonnaruwa-Batticaloa Road, where armed military personnel and vehicles were visibly in attendance.