Monitoring election violence in Sri Lanka Parliamentary Election 2010: Media Communiqué 5

28 March 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: CMEV expresses its deep concern about the flagrant misuse of public property for electioneering and the inactivity of responsible officers in arresting the situation. Attacks on party offices and supporters increase in the lead up to the election. CMEV calls upon the leaders of two main political parties in and their allies to act to prevent further violence and to take effective action against members and supporters who have perpetrated violence.

Obstruction to CMEV Field Monitor

CMEV learns that a camera belonging to the CMEV Field Monitor in Nikaweratiya, Nihal Chandrasisiri, has been snatched by a man in a white Hi-ace van at around 07.15 pm today while he was photographing a damaged UNP Party Office in Nikaweratiya.

CMEV Field Monitor informed CMEV that the candidate number and the name of UPFA candidate Johnston Fernando were displayed on the back mirror of the vehicle. His name was displayed as’Jhony’ in Sinhala. CMEV monitor was unable to identify the vehicle number.

CMEV learns that at the time of the incident the Police were also present at the location to investigate the attack on the UNP party office.

According to the instruction given by the CMEV Secretariat, CMEV Field Monitor has lodged a complaint at the Nikaweratiya Police Station.

CMEV will write to the Election Commissioner and the IGP in this regard.

CMEV unreservedly condemns this obstruction of the work of election observers by the politicians and their supporters.

Clash between UPFA supporters in Mirissa

CMEV Field Monitor reported that a clash between a group of supporters of the incumbent Minister of Cultural Affairs and National Heritage and UPFA candidate, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena(candidate no 03) and a group of supporters of UPFA candidate, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena(candidate 01) at Mirissa Junction, around 12.30 pm toady.

CMEV contacted Yamuna Punchihewa, a UPFA member of the Weligama Pradeshiya Sabha(PS) and a supporter of Lakshman Yapa Abeyawardena, who stated that they were obstructed by supporters of Mahinda Yapa near the Mirrissa Junction when they came in a procession from Kamburugamuwa. She further said that the perpetrators attacked them with wooden batons, stones and glass bottles. He also alleged that they were carrying a pistol.

According to Yamuna Punchihewa, two UPFA members of Weligamuwa PS namely Susantha Jayalath and Pushpakumara Bettage were amongst the perpetrators.

CMEV contacted Susantha Jayalath who informed CMEV that a tense situation arose after supporters of Mahinda Yapa hooted supporters of Lakshman Yapa who were near the Mirrissa Junction. He said that he intervened to control the situation. He categorically denied that they assaulted the supporters of Lakshman Yapa and stated that no one carried fire- arms.

CMEV contacted the Weligama Police Station, Mr.Mahesh, OIC of the Weligama Police Station, informed CMEV that they rushed to the scene of the incident once they were informed. He further stated that they managed to disperse the crowd before the situation worsened.

AITC supporter threatened in Warani, Jaffna

On 28th March, CMEV received a complaint from AITC candidate, S.Subramaniyam(candidate no 11) alleging that K.Arumugam, one of his supporter was verbally threatened by Y.Yogachandran, who claims to be a EPDP supporter, in Warani North at around 04.00 pm today.

According to Subramaniyam, he was threatened not to campaign in the Kudathanai area as the area “belongs” to the EPDP and was he to do so, he was told that he would be killed.

On contacting the Kodikama Police Station, CMEV learnt that no complaint has been lodged with the police as yet.

Repeated intimidation to UNP supporters in Norwood

On 27th March R.Kalaivanan, a UNP supporter, made a complaint to CMEV that members of his family are continuously intimidated by Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) supporters, an ally of UPFA. He alleged that the incumbent Minister of Youth Empowerment and Socio Economic Development and UPFA candidate Arumugam Thondaman(candidate no 10) threatened them to remove their shop located at No.02,Maskleiya Road Norwood immediately. He further alleged that he instructed the OIC of the Norwood Police Station to take immediate actions against him and his father Mr.Rajendran, Opposition Leader of the Ambagamuwa PS.

Repeated attempts to contact Mr. Arumugam Thondaman were not successful as he was in a meeting.

When CMEV contacted the Norwood Police, OIC Saman Kumara informed CMEV that Arumugam Thondaman visited the area on 26th March for campaigning but that no quarrels occurred during the visit as alleged.

Public property misuse in Polonnaruwa

On 28th March CMEV Field Monitor reported that a bus (03sri-9868) belonging to the Mahaweli Authority was used to transport a group of UPFA supporters from Welikanda to Kalahagala for campaigning activities on 27th March.

CMEV contacted the residence project manager, Ranjith Perera who confirmed that the bus belongs to the authority and that he has strictly instructed the staff not to use any vehicles for electioneering.  He said he was not aware of this incident.

04 UNP party offices damaged in Sooriyawewa

CMEV Field Monitor informed that 04 UNP party offices have been attacked by an unknown group, yesterday 27 March in the Sooriyawewa area.

According to CMEV Field Monitor, attacks were carried out between 01-04 am and campaigning materials were set fire to by the perpetrators.

CMEV learnt that the offices were maintained by 04 UNP supporters namely U.K.Gunadasa, H.H.William, T.L.Ranjth and G.G.Thanuja Sampth.

When contacted H.H.William, a UNP supporter, alleged that the attacks would have been carried out by the UPFA and they would not make a complaint to the Police because they lacked trust in them.

When contacted, the Sooriyawewa Police Station, Sergeant Ratnaweera stated that they had not as yet received a complaint.

UPFA supporters attacked in Pottuvil

On 26th March, CMEV Field Monitor reported that National Congress Organizer for Pottuvil, M.A.Majeed, and a group of National Congress supporters, an ally of UPFA, were attacked with stones at a UNF meeting held in Pottuvil.

According to CMEV Field Monitor, they were attacked by UNF supporters gathered at the meeting after UPFA supporters in a van (WP HM 6975) intentionally knocked down a pillar of the pavilion set up for the meeting.

CMEV learnt that a tense situation arouse after the clash and Mr.Majeed and two Police Officers namely M.Aleem(PC 49821) and Indula Athula Mudali, Traffic OIC of the Pottuvil Police Station were injured. Mr.Majeed was initially admitted to the Pottuvil District Base Hospital and then to the Akkraipattu Base Hospital.

CMEV contacted M.S.M.Marsook,Chairman Pottuvil Pradeshiya Sabah(PS). He informed CMEV that he and Mr.A.M.M.Thajudeen, Vice Chairman of Pottuvil PS were arrested by the Police on 26th March and released on bail the following day.

When CMEV contacted the Pottuvil Police to get further details regarding the incident an officer who did not reveal his name refused to give any details regarding the incident and stated that they have already released the necessary details to the media.

UNP supporter attacked in Kattankudi

On 24th March N.M.Nishad, a UNP supporter, was attacked allegedly by a group of supporters of UPFA candidate M.A.M.Hisbulla(candidate no 03) in the Main street Kattankudi at around 08.10 pm while he was returning to his residence after a UNP meeting held in Kattankudi. The victim sustained grievous injuries on his left hand and was admitted to the ward no 14 of the Batticaloa Base Hospital.

When CMEV contacted Mr.Hisbullah, he denied the involvement of his supporters in the incident.

CMEV Field Monitor visited the Kattankudi Police Station and confirmed the incident. According to him, a complaint (EIB 166/111) has been lodged with the Police by the victim and further investigations are underway regarding the incident.

ITAK supporters arrested in Vaharai

On 26th March ITAK candidate, Mr.Ariyanendran (candidate no 01) made a complaint to CMEV that the Vaharai Police obstructed vehicles of his supporters and arrested 12 ITAK supporters as well as took into custody a vehicle in Vaharai at around 12.25 pm.

CMEV learnt that 06 of them were released by the Police on 26th March at around 02.30 and the other 06 at around 08.00 pm on the same day.

According to Ariyanendran, the Police have not yet stated the reason for the arrests and that their vehicle is still in the custody of the Police. Ariyanendran further alleged that they experienced the same problem with the Vaharai Police during the last Presidential Election.

CMEV repeatedly contacted the Vaharai Police Station to get further details regarding the incident but was not successful as no one officially responded to the queries.

Attack on UPFA party office in Kaleliya

On 27th March UPFA candidate Anjan Umma(candidate no 04) made a compliant to CMEV that her party office located in Hansgiriya, Kaleliya was attacked allegedly by a group of supporters of UPFA candidate Kokila Harshani Gunawardhana(candidate no 21) on 25th March at around 11.00 pm.

When CMEV contacted Sampath Wickramasinghe, coordinating secretary of Anjan Umma, alleged that Kokila Harshani Gunawardhana was present at the scene and that the perpetrators came in two Jeeps and a lorry and they could not identify the vehicle numbers.

When contacted Kokila Harshani Gunawardhana categorically denied her involvement in the incident.

CMEV learnt that no complaints have been lodged with the police in this regard.

As of 28th March CMEV has confirmed 235 incidents of election related violence including 141 Major Incidents. The Use of Fire- arms and the Misuse of Public Property has risen to 36 and 40 respectively.

Major Incidents include 48 incidents of Assault, 40 instances of Public Property Misuse, 22 incidents of Threat and Intimidation, 09 instances of Damage to Property, 07 instances each of Arson, Hurt and Grievous Hurt and 01 of Robbery.

CMEV has received 169 complaints against UPFA and its allies, of which 46 were by party members. The UNP is accused in 11 incidents. In 45 instances, the party affiliation of the perpetrators is not identified. CMEV has also received 03 complaints against the EPDP and 01 complaint each against the DNA and ITAK and an independent group contesting in the Badulla District.

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