17th March 2011, 1000Hrs: Polls opened at 7.00 am today in 234 Local Authorities. The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has received a number of reports of violence and violations relating to electoral law, including individual incidents of voters being chased away from a polling booth in Dambulla MC and an attack in Beruwela UC on the house of a candidate. CMEV is monitoring the polling through the deployment of Mobile Teams.
Transportation of voters from Puttalam to Mannar
CMEV was informed by its monitors, that voters are largely being transported to polling centres by political parties, particularly from Puttalm to Mannar. This is a violation of electoral law. CMEV contacted the Mannar Election Office and was informed by an officer in charge of transport that the Election Department has not provided transportation facilities this time and therefore political parties had stepped in to do so. He confirmed that he had received information regarding this.
Hand Grenade attack in Dimbulagala PS, Polonnaruwa
A hand grenade attack has been reported from Dimbulagala PS of Polonnaruwa District at around 3.20 am. The attack occurred inside a polling centre namely Maguldamana Vidyalaya according to the Aralaganvila Police Station. CMEV learnt that a police officer on duty had been injured during the attack and had been admitted to the Polonnaruwa Hospital. CMEV was later informed by its monitor, that this attack was allegedly carried out by a group of UPFA supporters when the police officer prevented the pasting of posters near the polling station. However, a police constable attached to the Aralagangvila Police Station informed CMEV that the poll is being conducted at the said centre as scheduled.
Tension in G.B.Senanayaka MV of Ekala PS, Gampaha
At around 08.30 am a CMEV Monitor reported that a tense situation prevailed near the G.B.Senanayaka MV polling centre due a dispute between the UNP polling agent and election officials. According to the CMEV monitor two centres have been established – one for men and another for women- in the said centre and although two UNP polling agents were allowed access to the centre only one voter list was given. Subsequently the polling agents had an argument with the SPO to provide two separate voting lists to each of the polling agents. It is also reported that police also intervened in the incident. At around 09.00 am CMEV Monitor informed that the police had the situation under control.
Voters driven away by thugs at Dambulla Rajaye Madya Maha Vidyalaya hall no.02, Dambulla MC
At around 9.00 am voters at the Dambulla Rajaye Madya Maha Vidyalaya hall no.02 polling station were beaten and chased out of the station by a group who arrived in a vehicle. A mobile police vehicle of the Dambulla police station arrived at the scene and the group fled the area. According to the people around the polling station, this group is affiliated to the UPFA. CMEV contacted the Dambulla Police who stated that a complaint had been lodged relating to the assault.
Tension and attack on UNP candidate’s house in Beruwala UC , Kalutara District at around 9.30am
UNP candidates have complained to CMEV about a tense situation around the Beruwala Urban Council arena. It is reported that UPFA supporters allegedly led by Marjan Hajiya had attacked the Mahagoda residence of UNP candidate Hasan Fasy (No. 8 ) and assaulted his family. CMEV was informed that the attackers numbered around fifteen persons, including five with pistols. When CMEV contacted the Beruwela Police Station, it was informed that 42 Air Force personnel have been dispatched to the area.
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.