31 March 2010, Colombo, Sri Lanka: CMEV notes with concern the intensification of both inter and intra party violence in the lead up to the polls on 08th April. CMEV highlights the increasing number of assaults, resulting in injuries, hurt and grievous hurt. CMEV has confirmed 72 such incidents, which constitute 44% of the confirmed total of 161 Major incidents.
Recent incidents of election related violence are highlighted below;
Lack of Coordination between Election Officials
On 31st March CMEV learnt that the CMEV District Coordinator in Badulla was officially informed by the Assistant Election Commissioner of the Badulla District, T.A.C.N.Talangama in his letter dated on 24th March that CMEV and PAFFEREL Mobile Monitors would not be allowed into the polling booths.
The Election Commissioner has given approval for CMEV and PAFFEREL Mobile Monitors to enter polling centres in which their Stationary Monitors are not deployed, in his letter dated 06th March 2010. The letter was addressed to all the Returning Officers, Deputy, Senior and Assistant Election Commissioners.
CMEV contacted the respective Assistant Election Commissioner. The latter informed CMEV that in a meeting with the Election Commissioner, they were told that local Mobile Observers would not be allowed to enter the polling centres. He further stated that he was not aware of the letter of 06th March.
When CMEV contacted the Election Department in this regard, the Additional Election Commissioner, W.P. Sumansiri stated that he was only aware of the Commissioner’s approval to local Monitors to enter polling centres and that he was not aware of this approval being withdrawn, as stated in the Assistant Election Commissioner’s letter.
CMEV has written to the Election Commissioner and the Respective Assistant Election Commissioner in this regard with relevant references.
Intra party disputes
CMEV continues to receive reports regarding intra party violence. CMEV has recorded 58 instances of UPFA intra party violence of which 45 are categorized as Major. CMEV received 01 such incident (Major) against the UNP in the Kurunegala District.
CMEV has confirmed 10 UPFA intra party clashes from the Anuradhapura District, while 07 such incidents have been reported from the Matara District. CMEV has confirmed 06 Major incidents of UPFA intra party violence from the Badulla District. Six (06) intra party clashes are reported from the Ratnapura District. Four (04) such instances were reported from the Matale, Nuwara-Eliya and Gampaha Districts respectively. Three (03) incidents each of UPFA intra party violence were received from the Kalutara and Puttalam Districts. Furthermore, 02 each incidents were reported from the Kegalle, Kandy, Monaragala, Vanni and Digamadulla Districts. One (01) incident of UPFA intra party violence is reported from the Kurunagala District.
Abduction reported in Puttalam: CMEV Field Monitor reported that M.Riflas, a member of the political wing of the People Revival Front, was abducted by an unknown group on 31st March at around 11.25 am in Madina Nagar, Palavi.
CMEV contacted M.Munafdeen, Secretary of the People Revival Front. He informed CMEV that the perpetrators traveled in a red Pickup Truck (2007/2008 CC). He suspected them of being supporters of the incumbent Minister of Re-settlement and Disaster Relief Services and UPFA candidate for the Vanni District, Rishard Badiudeen(candidate no 01).
CMEV learnt that Riflas was released at around 12.30 pm today and that the party is an ally of the UPFA.
When CMEV contacted Riflas, he said that he was abducted by Mujahir- who reportedly is associated with RsihardBadiudeen- and two others and brought to a UPFA party office near the Thillayadi Railway Station. He further stated that he was assaulted and verbally threatened by them not to engage in politics. According to him, a complaint had been lodged with the Puttlam Police Station and his statement was recorded by PC Nimal(41189)
CMEV contacted the Police. OIC Gunasekara informed CMEV that they came to know about the incident but no one had complained to the Police as yet. He further stated that when they investigated on the basis of information received, they came to know that the person allegedly abducted had been released.
Clash between two UPFA groups in Nuwaraeliya: CMEV received a complaint from S.B.Ratnayake, a brother of UPFA candidate C.B.Ratnayake (candidate no 02) that their supporters were assaulted by a group of supporters of the Chairman of the Central Provincial Council, Saliya Bandara Dissanayake in Udawatha Kumbura,Hanguranketha on 30th March at around 12.30 pm. He alleged that around 20 supporters of Saliya Bandara Dissanayake assaulted his supporters with weapons. According to him, they were carrying a pistol, a repeater, a shotgun, 3.8 mm pistol and a sickle. They have identified 05 of the perpetrators namely D.V.J.Vithanage, Alfred Hettiarachchi, Siripala Siriwardhana, Nishantha Ratnayake and Ashoka Dissanayake. Ajantha Bandara, a supporter of C.B.Ratnayake, sustained head injuries. Two others were also injured in the attack.
CMEV learnt that Saliya Bandara Dissanyake campaigns in support of UPFA candidate Nimal Piyatissa (candidate no 01).
When CMEV contacted Saliya Bandara Dissanayke in this regard, he informed CMEV that supporters of C.B.Ratnayake unnecessarily increased the volume of the loudspeakers while they were passing land belonging to him and attempted to attack his supporters. He further stated that as a defensive measure his supporters attacked them.
CMEV contacted the Hanguranketha Police Station. Election OIC, Sarath Ariyananda, confirmed the incident and informed CMEV that they have received a complaint (EIB 44) from S.B.Ratnayake.
CMEV learnt that according to the Police complaint only one person was injured in the attack and that no one had been admitted to hospital.
Public Property Misuse
On 31st March CMEV Field Monitor reported that propaganda materials of UPFA candidate Chamika Budhadasa (candidate no 03) were displayed in a blue Isuzu cab (253-7122) belonging to the Ministry of Health of the Uva Provinicial Council.
CMEV learnt that the candidate is son of the Uva Provincial Council Health Minister, A.H.M.Budhadasa.
On above CMEV contacted Chamika Budhadasa who categorically denied the allegation.
When CMEV contacted the Health Ministry of the Uva Provincial Council, Assistant Secretary, Mrs.P. Athiraja, informed CMEV that the vehicle is for official work of the Minister and that she is not aware of whether it was being used for campaigning activities..
DNA candidate assaulted in Matale
March CMEV Field Monitor reported that P.G.Sunil Shantha (candidate no 06) was assaulted by a supporter of UPFA candidate Lakshman Wasantha Perera(candidate no 01) near the Naula Bus Stand on 30th March at around 12.45 pm. The victim was admitted to the Nalanada Divisional Hospital and discharged the following day.
CMEV contacted the victim. He informed CMEV that he was threatened against campaigning in the Naula area and then assaulted. He further stated that he lodged a complaint with the Naula Police Station in this regard.
Attempts to contact Lakshman Wasantha Perera were not successful.
As of 31st March, CMEV has confirmed 277 incidents of election related violence including 161 Major Incidents. The Use of Fire- arms and the Misuse of Public Property has risen to 40 and 44 respectively.
All CMEV reports and communiqués and the CMEV Incidents Google Map can be accessed online at http://cmev.wordpress.com