Presidential Election 2010: Media Communiqué No. 14

17 January 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: As of 14th January 2010, CMEV has confirmed a cumulative total of 609 incidents of election related violence of which 271 incidents have been categorized as Major. Of these, 2 incidents of Murder, 5 incidents of Attempted Murders, 73 incidents are of Assault, 77 are of Threat and Intimidation, 27 of Grievous Hurt, 30 incidents of Hurt, 35 cases of the Misuse of State Resources and 11 incidents of Robbery and Arson respectively. The total number of incidents involving the use of firearms is 88. In addition, 338 incidents have been categorized as Minor.

Sabaragamuwa Province

Shooting in Kegalle

CMEV has learned of a shooting at 5.30pm at Lellogoda, Padiyadora in Mawanella, where UNP supporter Mr. D.P. Wijesinghe suffered injuries to the head. He was initially admitted to the Aranayake Hospital and has subsequently been transferred to the Kegalle Hospital. According to a nurse at the Kegalle Hospital, Mr. Wijesinghe’s head injury had occurred due to an assault, and was not a gunshot injury as initially reported.

According to a Mr. Nimal Shantha, a relative of Mr. Wijesinghe, a group of 15 persons including Mr. K.D. Piyathissa, a supporter of Chief Minister of the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council Mr. Maheepala Herath, came to Mr. Wijesinghe’s house in a car and 3 tippers, and fired several shots in the air. The attackers had been carrying a T-56, a 9mm pistol, rods and swords.

According to member of Mawanella Pradeshiya Sabha Mr. Anura Chandana, who was at Mr. Wijesinghe’s house at the time, Mr. K.D.Piyatissa held the 9mm pistol to his head, threatening that they should not carry out any canvassing activities in the area. The attackers had also assaulted everyone at Mr. Wijesinghe’s house including women that were present.

When contacted, IP Leelarathne of the Mawanella Police confirmed the shooting to CMEV, adding that a complaint was in the process of being lodged at the time by Mr. Wijesinghe’s son.

CMEV attempted to contact Mr. Maheepala Herath, but was unable to do so as he was in a meeting at the time.

North Central Province

Threat and Intimidation in front of Traffic OIC at Thambuththegama Police and Threat by ASP of Thambuththegama Police.

According to North Central Provincial Councilor Mr. Mahindarathne (UNP), he was allegedly threatened at gunpoint by Mr. Ajith Kumara, the Coordinating Secretary of Non Cabinet Minister for Petroleum Resources Mr. Duminda Dissanayake, and Mr. Shaman Pradeep, between 4.45pm and 5.10pm today, within the Thambuththegama Police premises, in front of several Police Officers including Traffic OIC Mahesh, who watched the incident but took no action. According to Mr. Mahindarathne, Mr. Shaman Pradeep who first attempted to assault him, subsequently pointed a pistol at him, saying “we are thugs of the Government, are you messing with the Government?”.

According to Mr. Mahindarathne, ASP N.A. Jayashantha of the Thamubuththegama Police, who arrived at the scene subsequently, also threatened him when he attempted to lodge a complaint against the above incident, saying “you are the ones who should be taken in to custody, you are the ones who have committed crimes”.

Mr. Mahindarathne was outside the gate of the Police Station on his way out, when the ASP drove in to the station. The ASP had seen Mr. Ajith Kumara and Mr. Shaman Pradeep, who were also outside the gate at the time. According to Mr. Mahindarathne, Mr. Ajith Kumara and Mr. Shaman Pradeep are persons who should be taken into custody, as they have been named as the attackers in several incidents, but the ASP took no action against them.

CMEV has received the following complaints against Mr. Ajith Kumara and Mr. Shaman Pradeep.

3rd January, 11.30pm, 180 Track 2, Rajanganaya, Three-wheeler burned – GCR 3/2010 – Mr. Shaman Pradeep named

6th January, 10.00pm, Thalapolaweva, Galnewa, Threatening UNP supporter Mr. Dinesh Kumara Rajapakse using vehicle bearing number WP GG 9417– no Police complaint – Mr. Ajith Kumara named.

10th January, 12.30am, Track 10, Rajanganaya, Damaging NDF party office and home of supporter – EIB 53/11 – Mr. Shaman Pradeep

When contacted, ASP M.A. Jayashantha told CMEV that he came to the Police Station upon hearing of this incident, adding that an incident was about to take place, which he had prevented upon arrival. He stated that a complaint was being lodged by Mr. Mahindarathne, and that an investigation will be conducted in accordance with the complaint.

The Police Officer who answered the phone when CMEV tried to contact Traffic OIC Mahesh, told CMEV that the OIC was not at a contactable location within the station, refused to provide the OIC’s mobile number, and hung up on CMEV.

When contacted, OIC Kumarasiri told CMEV that no assault took place, but that an argument did take place between the two parties within the Police Station premises.

Upon being contacted, Minister Dissanayake told CMEV that he was at a meeting and did not know anything about an incident taking place within the Police Station. He added that he did however hear of an attack on a UPFA supporter, who had been assaulted and taken to hospital, and had also had his three-wheeler damaged, and shots fired at the location.

When contacted, Mr. Shaman Pradeep told CMEV that he did not even know of such an incident and proceeded to ask CMEV for details regarding the incident. He added that Mr. Mahindarathne makes complaints against him for every incident, despite his lack of involvement.

When contacted, Mr. Ajith Kumara told CMEV that such an incident did take place, adding that they were in front of the Police Station, when Mr. Mahindarathne arrived at the station with his supporters, bearing rods and swords. He said that Mr. Mahindarathne’s supporters had attacked a UPFA supporter earlier today, and that a clash took place between Mr. Mahindarathne and himself (including a large group of supporters) at the Police Station as a result of the attack on the UPFA supporter. He added that the Police had resolved the clash by using teargas and firing shots in the air, stating further that Mr. Shaman was not at the Police Station at the time of the incident.

However, ASP Jayashantha denied that shots were fired in order to resolve the issue.

Mr. Mahindarathne had initially gone to the Thambuththegama Police, along with 4 of his supporters, in order to lodge a complaint regarding an assault by a group of supporters of Chief Minister of the North Central Provincial Council Mr. Berty Premalal, which took place at Daladagama Handiya, Kalawewa earlier today.

Hurt in Polonnaruwa

According to JVP Organizer for Minneriya Mr. T.B. Sarath, on the 16th of January at 6.15pm, 4 persons who arrived on 2 motorbikes slashed a cut out of General Fonseka, following which a clash took place between the attackers and villagers from the surrounding area. A UPFA supporter Mr. M.A. Gunasekera sustained cuts to two of his fingers from the knife that was bourn by the attackers.

When contacted, OIC Sagara Sarathchandra of the Minneriya Police told CMEV that a complaint has been lodged regarding the above incident (GCR 3/10) and 2 persons, namely Mr. S.A. Rasika Nuwan and Mr. K.A.P. Krishantha Pieris, have been arrested in connection to the above incident, along with the motorbike bearing the number NC UP 0762.

Eastern Province

Hurt and Damage to Property in Digamadulla

According to the CMEV monitor, at 1.00pm this afternoon, a group of approximately 20 NDF supporters were assaulted at Arasiyadi Junction in Akkaraipattu, by a group of NC supporters of Minister of Water Supply and Drainage Mr. A.L.M. Athaullah (including Coordinator Mr. Maharoof, Mr. Shafique, Mr. Kalij, Mr. Jameel, Mr. Shafees and Mr.  Harens), resulting in 7 persons sustaining injuries. They have been admitted to wards 7 and 8 of the Ampara Hospital as confirmed by the Administrative Officer Mr. W. Wedage.

Provincial Councilor and Authorized Agent of General Fonseka Mr. Daya Gamage and his supporters were en route from Ampara to Pottuvil for canvassing purposes, when the NC supporters hurled stones at the busses (bearing the numbers JJ 1436, JJ 1440, JJ 1451) in which they traveled.

When contacted, PC Rangala of the Elections Branch of the Akkaraipattu Police initially told CMEV that no such incident had taken place. When CMEV stated that our monitor had witnessed the incident and that we had also confirmed the injuries of the victims from the hospital, PC Rangala then stated that he had no knowledge of the incident as he was indoors, and added that they have been asked not to provide information to anyone. When asked if anyone was arrested in connection to the incident, PC Rangala told CMEV that no arrests were made. However, when we stated that our monitor had reported that 3 persons were arrested in connection to this incident, PC Rangala then stated that some persons were arrested earlier in the day, but did not confirm the number, nor that they were arrested in connection to the above incident. As reported by the CMEV monitor, the Police had arrived on the scene, and fired several shots in the air in order to disperse the crowd.

According to Ampara Urban Council Leader of the Opposition Mr. Nishantha Manjula Fernando, the busses had been attacked yet again at approximately 3.30pm close to the Irakkakaman area.

When contacted, Minister Athaullah told CMEV that he knew of the incident that had taken place at Arasiyadi Junction, but denied the fact that his supporters were involved.

However, Personal Secretary to Minister Athaullah Mr. Jaufer, when contacted told CMEV that the NDF supporters were pasting posters in their area, and that Mr. Athaullah’s supporters had gone to the location, at which point a clash had occurred between the two groups.

Hurt in Batticaloa

According to UNP Organizer for Kalkuda Mr. Jegan, on the 15th of January, between 8.30pm and 9.00pm, UNP supporters Mr. M. Kethesh, Mr. Nishanthan and Mr. Kumarasami were assaulted by a group of TMVP supporters at Main Street, Kalkuda, causing cuts and injuries to all three victims. The CMEV monitor has confirmed that Mr. M. Kethesh and Mr. Nishanthan are currently receiving treatment in ward 1 of the Valachchenai Hospital, while Mr. Kumarasami is currently in ward 11 of the Batticaloa Hospital.

2 persons, Mr. Ajith and Mr. Manraj have been arrested in connection to this incident by the Valachchenai Police, and have subsequently been released on bail. A complaint regarding the above incident has been lodged, bearing the number EIB 56/63.

Northern Province

Misuse of State Resources in Jaffna

According to the Chief Regional Manager of SLTB Jaffna Mr. Ganeshapillai, a payment of Rs. 13,000 per bus for 41 SLTB busses from the Jaffna region, used for transporting UPFA supporters to the rally held by President Rajapaksa on the 10th of January at the Thuraiappa Stadium in Jaffna, remains unpaid as at the 17th of January.

CMEV contacted Mr. Ganeshapillai based on reports from the CMEV monitor regarding a large number of SLTB busses being used, for the purpose of transporting UPFA supporters to the President’s rally.

According to Mr. Ganeshapillai, 147 SLTB busses were used for this purpose, of which 106 were from areas other than Jaffna, including Colombo, Kandy, Matale, Polonnaruwa, Puttlam and Trincomalee. 41 busses were from the Jaffna region, of which 12 busses were from Point Pedro, 9 busses from Karainagar and 20 busses from Jaffna.

Mr. Ganeshapillai told CMEV that the rate of rental per bus for a 24 hour period is Rs. 13,000. In addition to this fee, a further charge is also levied for diesel costs. According to Mr. Ganeshapillai, only the cost of diesel has been paid thus far for the rental of the above busses. The Rs.13,000 due per bus remains unpaid as at the 17th of January.

Mr. Ganeshapillai added that a 14 day period is available for payment to be made. This 14 day period ends on the 24th of January, after which an additional 5% of the total cost is charged as a delay fee.  

Southern Province

Hurt and Damage to Property in Matara

According to an eyewitness to the incident, on the 16th of January between 3.15pm and 3.30pm a group of UNP supporters who were leaving a rally in Hakmana, had been assaulted with stones by an unidentified group, causing head injuries to UNP supporter Mr. Ruwan Keerthi. Mr. Keerthi was initially admitted to the Mawarala Hospital, and subsequently transferred to the Matara Hospital, from which he was then sent to the Karapitiya Hospital, and finally to the National Hospital in Colombo. According a nurse at the National Hospital Mr. Ruwan Keerthi is presently in ward 9 with an injury to his head, but no further information was given regarding his condition.

A vehicle belonging to UNP Coordinator for Hakmana Member of Parliament Mr. Magala Samaraweera had also been damaged in the incident.

Officers from the Mawarala Police, including the OIC, had arrived on the scene in response to a 119 call that they had received. The crowd had dispersed as they arrived. The Police had then provided a security escort for Mr. Samaraweera and UNP Organizer for Deniyaya Mr. Sagala Rathnayake. No Police complaint has been lodged regarding this incident.

When contacted, Mr. Rathnayake told CMEV that he knew nothing about the attackers, adding that people are now quite agitated as a result of the elections. He stated that he feels a high level of threat at present. He added that a complaint has been lodged regarding the above incident at the Matara Police bearing the number EIB 375/68.

The Matara Police refused to give CMEV any information regarding the incident.

CMEV attempted on several occasions to contact Mr. Samaraweera, but he did not pick up the phone.

All CMEV reports and communiqués and the CMEV Incidents Google Map can be accessed online at http://cmev.wordpress.com

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.