Monitoring election violence in Sri Lanka Parliamentary Election 2010: Media Communiqué 7

30 March 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: CMEV is deeply concerned by the escalating violence and intimidation that threatens to mar the forthcoming polls.

Recent incidents of election related violence are highlighted below;

UNP party meeting obstructed in Welikada

CMEV received a complaint from UNP candidate Shiral Lakthilaka(candidate no 21) alleging that the decorations set up for a UNP meeting in Welikada were removed by the Welikada Police at around 12.30 pm today.

CMEV Field Monitor visited to the scene and recorded a statement from Shiral Laktialka. According to him, they initially sought the approval of the Welikada Police to conduct a meeting on 30th March in a car park belonging to the Kotte Urban Council.  They were informed that since a meeting of UPFA candidate Wimal Weerawansa(candidate no 20) had been arranged the following day, the Police were unable give the UNPers approval. He further stated that they then decided to conduct their meeting in a car park located in Rajagiriya belonging to the Road Development Authority. However, the Welikada Police informed them that since the Police did not have enough officers to provide security for the Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickrmasinghe, they were unable to grant their approval. The UNPers finally decided to hold the meeting in a car park next to the Welikada Police Station.

CMEV contacted the Welikad Police Station. OIC Gamini Sarath stated that they only removed the illegal decorations, which were displayed outside the premises and did not obstruct the UNP meeting.  He denied allegations that they did not respond to the UNPers requests to hold a meeting and explained that they have also given approval to the meeting held today.

Repeated reports regarding the misuse of public property

CMEV Field Monitor observed that a lorry (WP LD 1304) belonging to the Ministry of Health was used to transport posters of the ruling party, to Embilipitya from Colombo on 29th March at around 05.15 pm. CMEV Monitor also learnt that around 80,000 posters were being transported.

Once CMEV confirmed the incident, CMEV immediately informed all the relevant police authorities including the Election DIG’s Office, the respective Police Station-Rathnapura- and the Emergency Line (119).  However, through subsequent calls, CMEV learnt that no action was taken to track the vehicle.

CMEV, once again, underscores the blatant misuse of public resources for electioneering and its bearing on the integrity and outcome of the polls. CMEV expresses its deep concern over the inability of the responsible authorities to arrest the situation.

UPFA supporters assaulted in Vavuniya

On 28th March, CMEV received a complaint from J.Jesir, a supporter of the former Minister and UPFA candidate, Risad Badhiutheen (candidate no 01), that he was assaulted by a group of supporters of UNP candidate Noordeen Mashoor (candidate no 05) in Chinna Chippikulam, Nerayakulam, Vavuniya at around 09.30 am. The victim sustained grievous injuries on his head and has been admitted to ward no 04 of the Chettikulam Base Hospital.

On 29th March, CMEV Field Monitor visited the hospital and recorded a statement from the victim.  According to him, the perpetrators attempted to stab him in the stomach with a knife, but he managed to escape. They subsequently stabbed him on his head.

CMEV learnt that a complaint was lodged with the Chettikulam Police in this regard by the victim on the same day and A.C.Razick, a suspect, was arrested in relation the incident.

When CMEV contacted Noordeen Mashoor’s office, Mr.Thameem, personal coordinator of the candidate, informed CMEV that he is not aware of the incident.

CMEV was unable to contact the Police.

Clash between two UPFA groups in Gampola

CMEV learnt that a group of supporters of UPFA candidate S.B.Dissanayake (candidate no 05) assaulted a group of supporters of UPFA candidate, Mahindananda Aluthgamage (candidate no 04) in Galgediyawa, Gampola at around 03.30 am on 28th March. Eight supporters of Mahindananda Aluthgamage sustained injuries due to the attack and were admitted to the Gampola Base Hospital.

On 30th March, CMEV contacted Mahindananda Aluthgamage. He informed CMEV that his supporters were attacked with wooden batons by supporters of S.B.Dissanyake.. He alleged that they also kidnapped one of his supporters whose release he obtained by speaking directly to S.B.Dissanayake.

CMEV contacted S.B.Dissanayke, he stated that he also came to know about the incident and that he is still not aware of whether his supporters were really involved in the incident or not.  He further informed CMEV that he will look into the matter.

Attempts to get further details from the Gampola Police Station regarding the incident were not successful, as no one officially responded to the queries.

When CMEV contacted the Gampola Base Hospital, Dr.Sunitha Jayasundara informed CMEV that the victims were admitted to ward no 01 and 02 of the hospital and were receiving treatment. She further informed CMEV that they are not in a critical condition.

As of 28th March, CMEV has confirmed 258 incidents of election related violence including 152 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, 10 instances of Damage to Property, 08 incidents each of Arson and Grievous Hurt, 07 instances each of Hurt and 02 of Robbery.

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