Monitoring election violence in Sri Lanka Parliamentary Election 2010: Media Communiqué 6

29 March 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: CMEV repeats its call to the relevant authorities, political party leaders and their supporters to act fast to prevent further violence and to take immediate actions against the members who have perpetrated violence.

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Obstruction to CMEV Field Monitor in Nikaweratiya

Yesterday, in its 05th Media Communiqué, CMEV highlighted the incident of a camera belonging to its Field Monitor in Nikaweratiya, being snatched by a man who appears to be a supporter of Johnston Fernando. The Monitor was photographing an attacked UNP Party Office in Nikaweratiya.

CMEV Field Monitor lodged a complaint (MOIB 270/44) with the Nikaweratiya Police Station at around 07.30 pm yesterday. On contacting the Police, CMEV learnt that the further investigations are being carried out and that no one has been identified in relation to the incident.

On 29th March CMEV contacted UPFA candidate Johnston Fernando in this regard. He informed CMEV that he is out of Nikaweratiya, today and will look into the matter once he returned to Nikaweratiya tomorrow.

CMEV unreservedly condemns any attempts to undermine it and urges the authorities to assure an impartial and speedy investigation into the incident.

An arson attack to UPFA stage in Ninthavoor

On 29th March, CMEV received a complaint from CMEV Field Monitor that the pavilion set up for a UPFA meeting in Main Street, Ninthavoor was set on fire, allegedly by a group of UNP supporters at around 10.30 am today.

CMEV contacted Mr.Jahufer, Personal Secretary to the incumbent Minister of Water Supply and Drainage and UPFA candidate A.L.M.Athaulla(candidate no 02). He informed CMEV that around 400 UNP supporters were involved in the incident and that they broke the stage and set fire to the decorations and furniture.

CMEV contacted M.A.Jinnah, Personal Secretary to UNP candidate Faisal Casim(candidate no 08). He admitted that they are UNPers. He added however that they were not instigated to attack the stage and that he too condemns the attack.

CMEV learnt that the STF was deployed in the area after the attack to provide security to the meeting.

Attack to DNA Party Offices in Tissamaharama

CMEV Field Monitor reported that two DNA party offices located in Tissamaharama were attacked by an unknown group who came in a car and a cab at around 01.00 am today. According to him, cutouts and decorations were damaged due to the attack.

CMEV contacted V.K.Sunil, a DNA supporter. He alleged that the attack was carried out by Nil Balakaya(Blue Force, a movement led by UPFA candidate Namal Rajapakshe) and that they were carrying fire arms. According to him bullets were fired in the air, thrice.

CMEV contacted the Tissamaharama Police Station. An officer who did not mention his name, confirmed the incident and stated that they have received two complaints regarding the incident from the DNA. He further informed CMEV that further investigations are being carried out on this account.

Intra Party disputes

Nuwara-Eliya: On 29th March CMEV received a complaint from R.M.S.Sunethra Menike, District women wing Organizer of the National Freedom Front, an ally of UPFA, that their women working committee meeting held at the Community Hall located in Morabedda,Harasbedda, was interrupted allegedly by a group of supporters of the incumbent Minister of Livestock Development and UPFA candidate C.B.Ratnayake(candidate no 02) today at around 12.00 pm. According to her the group was led by H.Ananda Hithtetige known as Ajantha, a Samurdhi Officer.

CMEV contacted the Walapane Police Station. A police officer who did not reveal his name, confirmed the incident and that a complaint (EIB 161/76) has been made by R.M.S.Sunethra Menike.

Attempts to contact C.B.Ratnayake were not successful as he was in a meeting.

Anamaduwa: CMEV received reports regarding an intra party clash between two groups of UPFA supporters in Anamanduwa.

On 26th March W.A.Chaminda, Driver of the Chairman of the Arachchikattuwa Pradeshiya Sabah(PS)-Jagath Samantha- was assaulted by a group of supporters of UPFA candidate Priyankara Jayaratne(candidate no 09) in Maduwakkulama, Andigamuwa while they were going to hand over a loudspeaker to a mosque located in Maduwakkulama, Andigama.

CMEV learnt that Jagath Samantha is a brother of UPFA candidate Sanath Nishantha(candidate no 02) and that the loudspeaker was a gift from Sanath Nishatha Foundation.

A counter attack was allegedly carried out by Jagath Samatha and his supporters on a group of supporters of Priyankara Jayaratne on 27th March near Galkuliya Junction, Andigama. Three supporters of Priyankara Jayaratne sustained injuries due to the attack and K.M.Nihal, a UPFA supporter, was admitted to the Chilaw General Hospital.

When contacted, both parties denied the allegations against them and made counter- allegations against each other.

CMEV learnt that W.A.Chaminda made a complaint (MOIB 210/199) to the Pallama Police station and a counter complaint was lodged with the Anamaduwa Police Station. When CMEV contacted the Anamaduwa Police Station, Election OIC, N.D.Sarath refused to provide any details regarding the incident as the complaint is not categorized as election related.

Kalutara: CMEV learnt that UPFA candidate Kumara Welgama(candidate no 07) entered a party office of UPFA candidate Vidura Wickramanayake(candidate no 13) and attempted to attack a UPFA supporter in the eve of 27th March.

When contacted, Indika Chandratilaka, Personal Secretary to the Prime Minister, informed CMEV that they have lodged a complaint with the Horana Police Station.  She asked CMEV to get further details from them.

On 29th March, CMEV Field Monitor visited the Horana Police Station, OIC Gunasena Geekiyanage informed CMEV that they have not received a complaint regarding the above incident.

Repeated attempts to contact Kumara Welgama were not successful as he was not contactable.

UNP party office attacked in Nikaweratiya

CMEV Field Monitor reported that a UNP Party Office located in Nikaweratiya was attacked by a group of supporters of UPFA candidate Johnston Fernando (candidate no 14) while they were returning after a UPFA meeting held in Nikaweratiya under the patronage of the President, Mahinda Rajapakshe. Furniture and the campaigning materials were damaged due to the attack.

CMEV contacted the Organizer and UNP candidate, Herath Banda Tennakoon(candidate no 13) who informed CMEV that according to the information he received from his supporters, the attack was carried out by supporters of Johnston Fernando and stated that a 50,00-100,000Rs estimated loss was incurred.

CMEV contacted Jhonston Fernando, he informed CMEV that he also came to know about the incident and denied the involvement of his supporters. He further told CMEV that one of his cut-outs was also damaged by an unknown group in Nikaweratiya on the same day.

CMEV learnt that no complaint had been lodged with the Police on this account.

ITAK candidate threatened in Batticaloa

0n 29th March CMEV Field Monitor reported that a ITAK Party Office was attacked by a group of TMVP supporters allegedly led by the Eastern Provincial Council Chief Minister, Sivaneshanthurai Chandrakanthan at around 05.30 pm yesterday in Mamanga Pillayar Temple Road, Batticaloa.

When CMEV contacted ITAK candidate Yogeshwaran(candidate no 07), he informed CMEV that he was verbally threatened allegedly by Sivaneshanthurai Chandrakanthan 03 days before the attack. According to him, he was warned by Sivaneshanthurai Chandrakanthan not to get involved in politics and that if he did, he would be killed after the election.

CMEV contacted TMVP team leader and candidate, A. Selvendran(candidate no 01)who categorically denied both allegations. CMEV Field Monitor visited the Batticaloa Police Station and was informed that a complaint, (CIB 175/335), was lodged by Yogeshwaran in this regard and that further investigations are underway.

As of 28th March CMEV has confirmed 254 incidents of election related violence including 149 Major Incidents. The Use of Fire- arms and the Misuse of Public Property has risen to 40 and 41 respectively.

Major Incidents include 51 incidents of Assault, 41 instances of Public Property Misuse, 25 incidents of Threat and Intimidation, 09 instances of Damage to Property, 07 instances each of Arson, Hurt and Grievous Hurt and 02 of Robbery.

CMEV has received 181 complaints against the UPFA and its allies, of which 53(29%) were by party members. The UNP is accused in 11 incidents. In 50 instances, the party affiliation of the perpetrators is not identified. CMEV has also received 04 complaints against the EPDP and 01 complaint each against the DNA and ITAK and an independent group contesting in the Badulla District. CMEV recorded a complaint against TMVP from Batticaloa.

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