Request for a Depoliticised Public Service and Introduction of Reforms

Download a PDF of this letter here.

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H.E Maithripala Sirisena
President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,
Presidential Secretariat”
Colombo 01

10th January 2015

Your Excellency,

Request for a Depoliticised Public Service and Introduction of Reforms

We write to you as two independent election monitoring bodies which have monitored elections in Sri Lanka for several years and proposed electoral reform. We write to urge you to take immediate steps to ensure a public service that is depoliticised and non-partisan.

At this historic juncture in the political landscape in Sri Lanka, we believe steps are needed to ensure a public service strengthened by the appointment of secretaries to ministries and other key officials who have the necessary experiences and training required for the respective office and not on the basis of political and other considerations. We have previously observed that secretaries and other key positions to Ministries and other State institutions were politicized with many involved in and/or supporting politicians and political parties. Such practices severely undermined the independence and integrity required of the public service to ensure the effective implementation of government policy. This is an opportunity to correct past wrongs and to ensure appointments made are based on merit and for the furtherance of good governance and democracy in Sri Lanka.

In this context, it is paramount to facilitate the appointment of independent institutions including independent commissions for elections, police and public service and to introduce much needed constitutional and legal reform to provide for the integrity of the electoral reforms. We look forward to engaging with you and others in Government regarding this.

Thank you,

P.Saravanamuttu, Co-Convenor, CMEV
Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director, PAFFREL

Presidential Election 2015: Statement at the Conclusion of Polling 8th January 2015

Download this as a PDF in English here.

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CMEV deployed a total of approximately 4,500 monitors in the field, in polling stations and in mobile teams in the 2015 Presidential Election. On Election Day, CMEV recorded 223 incidents with 101 major incidents and 122 minor incidents. Out of the 223 incidents CMEV documented 124 incidents against the ruling UPFA with unknown actors cited as the alleged perpetrator in 81 incidents. Out of the major incidents, six incidents related to assault and six were of threat and intimidation. Election day witnessed several other incidents of election related violations including electioneering and misuse of state resources with most violations attributed to government politicians and supporters.

Notwithstanding the above and the incidents in the campaign noted below, CMEV believes that the voting in this Presidential Election was not significantly distorted by violence and malpractice and we salute our fellow citizens for ensuring this.

Turnout was relatively high reflecting the level of interest in the election despite the short campaign period. There were challenges however, that impacted the ability of some voters to freely exercise their franchise. For instance, on Election day, CMEV also raised concerns with the Commissioner of Elections about of an estimated 6,000 eligible voters in Puttalam being unable to travel to Mannar to vote. The inability to address this issue resulted in a significant population being deprived of their constitutional right to the franchise and is indicative of the political thuggery embedded in our political culture and practice. CMEV received reports as well of voters having to mark their ballots in full view of election officials and others.

The Northern Province witnessed a number of attempts to impact voter turnout on Election Day through intimidation, threats and confusing messages. The call for a boycott and attempts to discourage voting for the common opposition candidate through the circulation of unsolicited text messages and handbills, all contributed to a charged and confused environment. This coupled with two explosions – one each in Jaffna and Vavuniya, respectively, may have impacted the relatively lower turnout than expected in these districts.

The pre election report released by CMEV on 6 January 2015, raised concerns about shortcomings in the postal voting process, the role of the military in particular in the intimidation of voters and the unprecedentedly large- scale abuse of state property including the employment of the state –controlled media, even after the end of the official campaign period and on polling day, for relentless government propaganda. CMEV welcomed several court orders against perpetrators of election violence, but is dismayed that no one has yet to be held to account. The campaign witnessed several instances where CMEV monitors were threatened and attacked, human rights defenders and media activists threatened. This election, although not seen as one of the most violent in recent history, witnessed attacks against election officials by supporters of ministers, which CMEV condemned and called for swift action in respect of.

CMEV takes this opportunity to commend the decisive action taken by the Commissioner for Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya to insist on a correction on air by Rupavahini to a false news item broadcast this morning, claiming that UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa had joined the Government.

The Commissioner of Elections issued a number of instructions prior to voting day in order to minimise abuses of electoral law. Furthermore, recognising international standards on the important role election monitors can play in increasing transparency and public confidence in the electoral process, Mr. Deshapriya granted election monitoring organisations the opportunity to monitor the counting process for the first time in Sri Lanka.

Whilst CMEV notes the constructive responses of the Commissioner and his officials on a number of occasions, we also note that there were instances where our efforts to monitor the process were thwarted. On Election Day, CMEV was unable to access two polling centres – one each in Kalutara and Matara, respectively. When apprised of this, the Commissioner of Elections remedied the anomalies. CMEV places on record its appreciation of the Commissioner’s response and looks forward to similar constructive engagement in the future.

In this context, CMEV reiterates the need for independent institutions including independent commissions for elections, police and public services, underscoring the need for constitutional and legal reform to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

We conclude this report by thanking the Commissioner of Elections and the Police for the cooperation extended to CMEV, and very especially to our monitors and the public for their steadfast commitment and support which made our monitoring exercise possible.

Presidential Election 2015: Media Communiqué 14

Download this press release as a PDF in English here.

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7th January 2015

Since the completion of campaigning, CMEV received several major incidents involving assault, threat and intimidation, damage to property, and misuse of state resources. All incidents reported to CMEV are instances where opposition party members and supporters were attacked, threatened and property damaged.

CMEV is concerned at the scale of violence less than two days before the commencement of polls. Threat and intimidation and the use of firearms are major incidents that can, if not addressed, create fear among the public and impact voter turnout. CMEV urges that the police take immediate steps to investigate these incidents and to hold to account perpetrators. Quick action in this regard can provide confidence among voters that perpetrators of violence will be held to account and thereby addressing the culture of impunity. It also provides a clear message that violence of any nature is unacceptable during elections in Sri Lanka.

CMEV has also received several instances of continued electioneering by UPFA ministers, members and supporters despite the campaign period ending at midnight on 5 January. In some instances electioneering was done in the guise of providing assistance. CMEV received reports of such incidents from areas in Eppawala, Matale, Matara, Nawalapitiya, Ambalanthota, Kurunegala, Wellawaya, Batticaloa, Raththota, Jaffna, Akkaraipattu and Colombo and raised this issue with the Commissioner of Elections.

Major incidents of post campaign incidents:

6th January – Wife of UNP member beaten by UPFA Mahiyangana Lead Organiser at Mahiyangana, Badulla

CMEV received a complaint regarding an incident where the wife of UNP member Ruwan Arumapperuma was beaten and kicked by UPFA Mahiyangana Lead Organiser and Uva Provincial Council Agricultural Minister Anura Vidanagamage. According to the reports, Minister Vidanagamage himself had gone with UPFA supporters with the plan to confront Mr. Ruwan Arumapperuma of the UNP, but instead met his wife, and had kicked her when she stated that she did not know of her husband’s whereabouts.

Subsequently UPFA supporters had visited Mr. Arumapperuma’s wife and threatened harm to both of them. She was told that her husband had to visit Minister Vidanagamage and apologise for supporting the UNP, and vow to work for President Mahinda Rajapaksa. CMEV is following up on the nature of injuries received. Police investigations presently underway.

6th January – Shooting in Bammanna, Kurunegala damages houses of UNP supporters

CMEV received a complaint regarding a shooting by unidentified persons, which took place on the 6th of January at Bammanna, in the Kurunegala District. According to the complaint, the houses of UNP member Mr. Samantha Padmasiri and supporter Mohamed Ismail Mohamed Distham was shot at after stones were thrown during the early hours on the 6th of January resulting in damage to walls and windows. Both victims have lodged complaints at the Pannala Police station under the entry numbers EIB 105/41 for Mr. Padmasiri and EIB 105/42 for Mr. Mohamed Distham.

6th January – Former Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) members attacked by TMVP supporters in Batticaloa

CMEV received a complaint regarding former TMPV members Mr. Mayura, Mr. Sanjaya and Mr. Palkudi being attacked by current TMPV supporters. According to the complaint, the attack was caused as the three victims had removed posters of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. No police complaint was made.

CMEV also notes incidents of threat & intimidation and assault, which occurred on the last day of campaigning:

5th January – UNP member attacked in Chillaw, Puttlam

CMEV received a complaint pertaining to an incident where Mr. Vajira Manoj, a member of the United National Party, was attacked on 5th of January and subsequently hospitalised at the Chillaw Hospital. CMEV was informed by the hospital police that in his statement, Mr. Manoj states that he was attacked by the driver of the UPFA Arachchikattuwa Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, near the Arachchikattuwa market. The perpetrator was identified as Mr. Dinesh Dhammika. Mr. Manoj’s both arms were badly hurt in the incident. The wife of the injured, Mrs. Nirmala, made a statement to the Police under the number 362/69, stating that Dinesh Dhammika had threatened both Mr. Manoj and his wife approximately 2 days before the incident, stating that Mr. Manoj will require a wheelchair if he is to continue supporting the Common Presidential Candidate Maithripala Sirisena.
5th January – Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) leader Mr. Chandrakanth threatens NDF Office in Valaichchenai, Batticaloa

CMEV received a report where TMVP leader Mr. Chandrakanth, also known as “Pillayan” threatened the people at a NDF office situated at Kalaivani Road, Karuvakkeni, in Valaichchenai, Batticaloa. According to reports, he has also threatened to murder Mr. P. Sulakshan of the NDF. CMEV was informed that Pillayan had with him a pistol at the time of making the threats. Two hours after the threat, Mr. Sulakshan met with Mr. Kaandeepan, a supporter of Pillayan, to inquire why he was being threatened. During this meeting, Mr. Kaandeepan’s mother has assaulted Mr. Sulakshan with a broom, and chased him away from the premises. Subsequently Mr. Sulakshan lodged a complaint at the Police under the entry number CIB 376/66, stating that he was threatened by Pillayan and assaulted by Mr. Kandeepan’s mother. CMEV was informed by Valaichchenai Police that no entry was made by Mr.Sulakshan regarding a murder threat but an entry was made regarding him being struck with a broom by Mr. Kandeepan’s mother. However, Mr. Sulakshan confirmed with CMEV that his complaint to the Valaichchenai Police contained both the murder threat and the assault.

Presidential Election 2015: Media Communiqué 13

Download this PR as a PDF here.

6th January 2015

The Presidential Election campaign ended at midnight with several major incidents reported. At the end of campaigning, CMEV documented a total of 420 incidents, with 237 major incidents and 183 minor incidents. The highest number of major incidents were reported from Jaffna District with 22 incidents followed from Badulla District with 19 incidents, 18 incidents from Kurunegala District and 17 incidents from Kandy District. CMEV noted 26 incidents of fire arm use during this period and 3 separate incidents where petrol bombs were used with two resulting in threat and intimidation of residents. CMEV also noted 132 instances of misuse of state resources for electioneering.

The final day of campaigning commenced with a shooting incident which left one UNP supporter critically injured. There were also incidents of threats and intimidation reported including the intimidation of two human rights defenders in Negombo. The last day of campaigning also witnessed a clash between UPFA and UNP supporters resulting in 3 persons being hospitalised state resources being used by the UPFA for electioneering, and reports of false ballot papers being circulated in parts of Sri Lanka, an issue raised by CMEV with the Commissioner of Elections.

 

Several court orders were issued today to arrest perpetrators of violence and to halt programmes which are biased towards one candidate. CMEV welcomes these court orders and urges the authorities to implement these without delay. It is paramount that officials take all necessary steps to ensure that election laws are respected and the integrity of the electoral process upheld. Furthermore, CMEV raised in communiqué 12 the assault of two election officials in Trincomalee by UPFA supporters and the subsequent role played by a Deputy Minister to release the perpetrators. Such actions must be condemned and authorities must take all steps to uphold law and order and hold perpetrators to account.

5th January – UPFA campaign organiser Mr. Arumugam Chandrakumar knifed in Kopai, Jaffna


CMEV received a complaint that UPFA Organiser Mr. Arumugam Chandrakumar (38 yrs) was knifed by two unknown individuals near the Navalar School in Kopai. Mr. Chandrakumar received knife wounds in the back and arm at approximately 9.20 pm on the 5th of January. According to the OIC of Kopai Police, Mr. I.P. Jayakodi, he was taken immediatelyto Kopai Hospital and subsequently transferred to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital at 10.05 pm for surgery. Hospital staff stated that they will not comment on Mr. Chandrakumar’s status until the surgery is completed. The CMEV Field Monitor is currently on location obtaining further details.

5th January, three injured in shooting in Kahawatta Ratnapura


CMEV received a complaint regarding a shooting that took place in Kahawatta, Ratnapura at about 2 am in the morning on January 5th. United National Party (UNP) supporters, preparing the grounds for a meeting to be addressed by the Common Presidential Candidate Maithripala Sirisena, were shot at by an unidentified group of people. According to Police OIC L.P.K. Rajamanthri, the three injured persons, D.I.W. Karunadasa Ranasinghe, H. Hussain Dulshan and Shantha Dodangoda received treatment at the Ratnapura Hospital. CMEV was informed that investigations are underway. Ratnapura Hospital Police officials confirmed that Shantha Dodangoda is critically injured (injuries to his chest) and is currently receiving treatment in the Intensive Care Unit. A police complaint was made by Mr. T.M. Upali, a UNP Pradeshya Sabha member.

The Pelmadulla Magistrates Court issued an arrest warrant for Deputy Minister of Power & Energy, Premalal Jayasekera, Minister Nilantha Jayakodi and Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman Vajira Dharshana de Silva.

5th January, Misleading fake ballot papers distributed in several Districts

CMEV received information regarding the distribution of false and misleading ballot papers(a photo of this ballot paper is attached) depicting erroneous symbols for the Common Presidential Candidate Maithripala Sirisena and the United Socialist Party Candidate Sirithunga Jayasuriya within the Puttalam (Madurankulama and Arachchikattuwa), Kandy (Kundasale and Kandy Town), Batticaloa (Kalkuda) Anuradhapura (Kekirawa, Kalawewa, Anuradhapura West and Horowupothana), Badulla (Haputale), NuwaraEliya (Hatton), Monaragala (Bibile) and Trincomalee Districts. The fake ballot paper depicts a trishaw for Maithripala Sirisena (as opposed to the correct symbol of a swan) and an elephant for Sirithunga Jayasuriya (as opposed to the correct symbol of a trishaw), while the symbols of the remaining candidates including the incumbent president remained error free.

CMEV, via its field monitor, has obtained a copy of the said misleading ballot paper at 1.30pm on the 5th of January from the 96th Junction area in Thissapura, Muttur, Trincomalee District, allegedly distributed by supporters of UPFA Thambalagamuwa Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman ChampikaBandara. The CMEV Eastern Province Coordinator subsequently reported the incident to IP Seneviratne, OIC of the Thambalagamuwa Police Station who directed two police officers to the location. A complaint on the incident, bearing the number EIB 71/08 was also subsequently filed by the CMEV monitor.

In Aarachchikattuwa, Halawatha, the said fake ballot papers were distributed on the 4th of January. According to North Western UNP Provincial Councillor Sisira Kumara, the ballots were allegedly distributed by Minister Neomal Perera’s supporter Jude and ten others. They were also distributed at a public street drama performed by UPFA supporters.

CMEV is concerned by these incidents, which are a violation of election laws and are likely to confuse the public during the last few days leading up to polling day. CMEV has also raised the issue with the Commissioner of Elections urging immediate remedial action to ensure that the integrity of the election is not undermined by such actions.

CMEV also welcomes information received of an arrest made in the Hatton area (alleged perpetrator DS Princes, van number 56-4918 as per the Hatton police station) in relation to this unlawful distribution. It commenced on the 31st of December 2014 and has been halted in the Bibile area upon the intervention of the Commissioner of Elections.

5th January – Clash between supporters of UNP and UPFA at Rambukkana, Kegalle


CMEV received a report regarding a clash between supporters of the UNP and UPFA in front of the Rambukkana Train Station. Three persons supporting the UNP were injured as a result of this clash and admitted to the Rambukkana Hospital. Head injuries were sustained by Mr. Priyantha Pradeep and Mr. Sandun Udaya, while Mr. Chanaka Ruwan suffered a neck injury. All three patients were subsequently transferred to the Kegalle Hospital. CMEV was informed by the OIC Kegalle Police, Mr. Bandara Dekandawela and the hospital staff, that none of the injured are in critical condition.

 

4th January, Human Rights activist Brito Fernando and Prasanga Fernando intimidated in Negombo

CMEV received a complaint with regard to an incident which took place in Periyamulla, Negombo on the 4th of January. Human rights activist Mr. Brito Fernando along with his family returning home from an outing on the 4th of January discovered a plastic bag in which a severed head of a dog was hung on his gate. Fellow Right to Life staff member Prasanga Fernando also reported that he was subjected to the same treatment at his home.
CMEV was informed by the police of a complaint filed at the Negombo police number CIB 2/33 on January 5th. The victims believe that the possible reasons for the intimidation could be related to the commemoration of the disappeared, which was organised and carried out by the Right to Life organisation on the 27th of October 2014. Subsequent to this ceremony, posters with the faces of Right to Life staff members and other human rights activists were found all around the city of Negombo. The posters were captioned “Makara Raakshayo Athurudahan Wuuwan Vikunagena Kai.” A police complaint was lodged at the Seeduwa Police related to this. Later that day the house of Brito Fernando was stoned. According to the two victims, the group responsible for this latest incident is also responsible for the posters and the stoning of their houses, which are attempts to intimidate them.

Statement on elections poll falsely attributed to CPA

5 January 2015, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is aware that a poll purportedly done by CPA projecting the results of the Presidential election is being circulated in the mainstream media and online. It first appeared on a Facebook page called “We vote Mahinda Rajapaksha” which is linked to the official website of the incumbent. Furthermore, the edition of the Silumina on Sunday (4thJanuary) claimed that since the poll showed a Mahinda Rajapaksha victory, CPA deliberately suppressed it.

CPA issued a disclaimer in the first instance and wishes to point out that in one instance we are supposed to have published the results of a poll projecting a Mahinda Rajapaksha victory and in another suppressed it!

It is clear that those behind this misinformation are very keen to have CPA validation of their work and objectives.

CPA wishes to state that this is NOT a CPA survey and that the results of any CPA survey have NOT been suppressed on the grounds, as implied, that they are disappointing and not in line with the supposed political objectives of the organization.

The results of CPA surveys can be accessed on the CPA website.

Presidential Election 2015: Media Communiqué 11

Download this update as a PDF here.

On 4th January 2015 at 1.00 pm:

02nd January, Common Candidate Maithripala’s rally was attacked- Pelmadulla

It was reported to CMEV that a public meeting conducted by Common Presidential Candidate Maithripala Sirisena near Pelmadulla depot came under attack at about 7.20pm (2ndJan).

As soon as the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councilor Manjula Dias Wikramanayake’s speech was concluded, assailants aimed stones at Mr Sirisena, who was soon ushered away by his security officers. Pelmadulla Electorate Organizer H.D.D Senavirathne was injured and later admitted to the Pelmadulla Base Hospital.

When CMEV spoke to Ratnapura Senior Superintendent of Police, Palitha Fernando, he said that he received a verbal complaint about this incident from the United National Party (UNP) headquarters “Sirikotha” operations unit. Officer-in-Charge L.P.K. Rajamanthri in Kahawatta Police Station stated that the situation was now under control and that two suspects have been arrested. Investigations are underway.

The incident has been confirmed by Rathnapura District Election Operation Unit officer in charge K.T.M.P.D Thilakaratne. He also said that he was following up on the incident with the Kahawatta Police Station.

Pelmadulla Base Hospital Medical officer in charge Dr. Waruna Sampath confirmed that Mr Senaviratne had been admitted to Hospital and that he had sustained minor injuries to the head.

Army and Navy attempt to obtain details of polling centres from Assistant Election Commissioner, Mullaitivu

Assistant Election Commissioner of Mullaitivu Mr R Saslaian reported to CMEV that he was requested to provide details of the polling centres of the Mullaitivu electorate, specifically the number of voters per polling station.

According to Mr Saslaian two persons from the Navy approached him on January 1st requesting the above information. Mr Saslaian refused this request on the basis that he is not authorised to disclose it. Mr Saslaian informed the officers that if they wish to get this information they would have to obtain a letter of authorisation from the Election Commissioner. On January 2nd the same individuals had arrived at the Department of Elections, Mullativu and repeated the request, having identified themselves as being from the Nandikadal Navy Camp. Mr Saslaian had denied the request for the second time.

On January 3rd an unidentified individual telephoned Mr Saslaian and requested the same information. Subsequently two Army officers approached Mr Saslaian and stated that Major Mendis had sent them to obtain the said details. Mr Saslaian denied this request, too.

According to Mr Saslaian, the individuals had stated that the information requested was required for security purposes. He further stated that the information had already been made available to the Police, and that the Army and the Navy are not entitled to receive it unless the Election Commissioner grants written permission.

CMEV states that it is incongruous for the Army and Navy to request for information for “security purposes”. There has been no public statement by any of the officials involved that the Army and Navy have been requested to support the Police to provide security on Election Day.

1st January attack on UNP office in Beliatta – Hambantota

An attack on United National Party (UNP) Beliatta electorate organizer W.B.Wimal Jayasiri’s house at about 6.45pm yesterday (01st), was reported to CMEV. According to Mr. Jayasiri, a group of six people arrived in motorcycles while he was at a meeting with three (03) UNP supporters at the above location. Four (04) armed individuals with T56s fired shots into the sky, removed campaign decorations in the vicinity, entered the house and damaged furniture, destroyed important documents and assaulted his wife A.M.P Priyanka, whose forehead was injured as a result. Four motorcycles parked in their residence were also damaged.

According to Mr.Jayasiri, they had threatened him and his family saying “Meh dewana wathawata kiyanne umbalata aye kiyanena. Umbala okkomala maranawa, 8 wenidata kohomath maranawa itakalin marun noka hitapan.

Furthermore he reported to CMEV that another complaint was previously made to the Beliatta Police Station about a similar assault and threat (on December 29th) on him (CIB (2) 347/446).CMEV contacted Beliatta Police officer in charge Mr. Wijerathne who confirmed that a complaint was filed about the previous incident. He added that two suspects were arrested in connection with the incident and that further investigations are underway. He directed any further inquiries about the incident to the Police media spokesman and refused to give the complaint number.

CMEV spoke to Hambantota District election operation unit who confirmed the receipt of the complaint on 01st January at about 8.30pm, and added that they visited the location at about 9.00pm.

Mr. Jayasiri’s wife identified the persons to be ‘Karambakatiye Hichchi Malli’ and ‘Dammulle Gedara Sudda’. She also says that they were the same two people involved in the assault on the 29th.

3rd January attack and assault on postman in Badulla

CMEV received a report of an assault in Badulla where a postman named Periyasami Gnanasekaram who was on duty in the Newburg area was attacked by a group of unidentified people who arrived in three vans. They had accused him of not attending meetings by United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Uva PC Minister Senthil Thondaman and beaten him, stolen valuable documents and personal belongings such as phone and his gold necklace. In the Police Complaint filed at the Ella Police Station (222/5) Mr. Gnanasekaram, says that 35 voting cards were stolen along with Rs 40,000. According to P.G. Gunawati, Post Master of Ella Post Office, the victim Periyasami was hospitalised.

3rd January, Clash between Puttalam UC Chairman K.A. Bais, his supporters and members of Puttalam Public Awareness Forum.

A dispute between members of the Puttalam Public Awareness Forum (PPAF) and supporters of Urban Council Chairman K.A. Bais around noon on 3rd January was reported to CMEV. Police had called both parties to settle the dispute on January 3rd and the clash had occurred when both had left the Police. PPFA members had been attacked but no serious injury is reported. This second incident was also filed as a complaint by both parties EIB /1/15 and EIB / 2/ 15.This case is presently before the Puttalam Magistrates Court

The previous day (2nd January) there was an incident at about 7.20 p.m. in the evening when members of PPAF had been holding a small informative gathering at the Puttalama Muslim Mosque to educate women in that area about the importance of voting. Supporters of K.A. Bais had arrived at the gathering and asked the PPAF members to take the meeting elsewhere and to not hold it near the mosque. One person had received minor injuries during this dispute while several others had been assaulted Supporters of PPFA filed a complaint at the Puttalam Police Station CIBI 197/90.

The CMEV monitor who had gone to the Police to verify the incident was informed by supporters of UC Chairman Bais not to take any pictures or videos of the discussion between the two parties.

January 3rd shots fired at NDF party office in Polonnaruwa

CMEV received a complaint about a shooting at a New Democratic Front (NDF) party office in Polonnaruwa at about 6.30 pm. According to an eye -witness, about 50 armed individuals with T56s guns had arrived in about 10 Defenders and attacked the office. Damages include destruction of cut-outs and damage to a motorcycle and lorry that was parked in the vicinity. The eye witness also suspects the identities of two of the assailants to be United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Dimbulagala Pradeshya Sabha members Dammika Nishantha and Ananda Wijeyaraja.

Former United Nations Party (UNP) Pradeshya Sabha member S.A. Janaka Samarasinghe who was at the office at the time was attacked with a glass bottle by one of the assailants and hospitalised at the Polonnaruwa Base Hospital as a result of the severe injury to his head.

Three complaints were filed at the Aralaganwila Police Station namely EIB 13/2015 (complaint filed by H.M. U. Alahakoon), EIB 14/2015 (filed by R.M. W. G.Podibanda) and EIB 15/2015 (filed by D.M. K.P. DIssanyake).

2nd January shooting at North Western PC member Lakshman Wendaruwa residence in Kurunegala

CMEV received a report of a shooting at the residence of UPFA North Western Provincial Council Lakshman Wendaruwa at about 11.45 pm on 2nd December. Two men who arrived in a jeep (plate number unknown) had shot Samarakoonge Abeykoon, driver of Mr. Wendaruwa. At the time, Mr.Wenadaruwa was out at a meeting. The driver who had heard a vehicle outside the gate, had gone out to open the gate when he was shot. He was taken to the Kuruenegala General Hospital and has undergone minor surgery for his injuries.

CMEV notes that the shooting took place just hours after Mr. Wendaruwa announced his decision to support the Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Election.

#IVotedSL | Exercise your vote on the 8th!

Voting is an important civic responsibility and one way all of us exercise and enjoy our Sovereignty. This responsibility becomes particularly important during a Presidential Election, because of the immense power vested in this office.

With less than one week to go for the 2015 Presidential Election, the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) officially launched #IVotedSL, a trilingual campaign to encourage citizens to exercise their right to franchise.

The campaign calls on voters to take a public pledge that they will exercise their right to vote on January 8th. An individual can signify this pledge by changing their profile/account picture and cover/banner page on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other social media platform. On election day those who take the pledge can share through social media a picture of the fifth digit (little finger) of their left hand which is marked with indelible ink using the hashtag #IVotedSL.

We’ve also created banners Editors of news media and bloggers can choose feature on their websites, in print or via television.

All images are copyright free and available in Tamil, Sinhala and English variants. Download them all from http://bit.ly/ivotedsl.

Over the new week, the #IVotedSL campaign will disseminate infographics on the importance of voting and encourages the general public to also share photos, memes and other media content depicting the importance of voting using the hashtag #IVotedSL.

Our first infographic in this regard is below.

Voter ed 1_Final

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 non-partisan organisation to monitor the incidence of election related violence. Currently, CMEV is made up of CPA and INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre.

CMEV does not support and or endorse any candidate or political party. #IVotedSL is meant to get citizens animated around the importance of exercising their vote. It is emphatically not aimed at the promotion or criticism of any particular candidate.

CMEV on Telegram

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) can now be reached over Telegram, a secure messaging app that’s completely free to use.

Download Telegram here (available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows, Linux, Apple OS X).

Connect with us via +94 727772810 or by searching for our username, CMEVSL, in the app.

CMEV will continue to use WhatsApp (see here for details) to send daily updates to around 300 subscribers to date. However, it strongly encourages whistle-blowers and the general public – with information around electoral fraud, violence or vote-rigging – to use Telegram to get in touch with us in a manner that minimises risk to personal safety and security.

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As noted on the web, “Telegram is a messaging app with a focus on speed and security. Unlike WhatsApp, Telegram is cloud-based and heavily encrypted. As a result, you can access your messages from several devices at once, including tablets and computers, and share an unlimited number of photos, videos and files (doc, zip, mp3, etc) of any size”.

Presidential Election 2015: Media Communique 10

On 31st December 2014 at 10.00 pm:

Electioneering under the guise of distributing rice for flood victims in Paddiruppu -Batticaloa

CMEV monitor in Batticaloa, Mr. KirubanandaSivam, informed CMEV of a meeting in Rasamanikkam Hall, Paddiruppu, Batticaloaat around 11am on 31st December where Deputy Minister of Resettlement VinayagamoorthyMuralitharan had distributed rice to families who were displaced by the floods.

Mr. Sivamwho was present at this meeting says that around 60 families who were affected by the heavy rains were offered rice. At the meeting which lasted for about an hour, Minister Muralitharan had emphasised that the rice was distributed under the guidelines of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and had requested the recipients to cast their votes for President Rajapaksa.

31st December, UPFA procession conducted by Nil Balakaya in Matara

An election procession in support of President Mahinda Rajapaksa took place near the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) party office near Nupe Junction in Matara. According to the CMEV monitor in Matara, Member of Parliament Namal Rajapaksa, Deputy Minister of Postal Services Sanath Jayasuriya and many UPFA local government representatives along with about 1500 people had taken part in this procession which started at about 9 15 a.m. Individuals in Nil Balakaya T shirts were shouting the phrase ‘EdatthadathMahindamai. Janapaththithumata Jaya Wewa!’. The processionwhich had caused much congestion in the area and had ended in a meeting at the Sanath Jayasuriya Ground in Matara.

The Election Complaints Section at the Matara Police informed CMEV that it was not a rally but a canvasing walk where people distributed leaflets.CMEV was unable to reach the Officer in Charge.

CMEV also spoke to the Matara Urban Council Opposition Leader Upul Nishantha who said a large number of people had been transported in SLTB buses and that the procession had caused much congestion.

Images taken by the CMEV monitor indicate buses from Hakmana, Galle, Ambalangoda and Alpitiya. Alpitiya Depot Operation Assistant A.G. Suranga said that thirty to forty buses are sometimes assigned to transport people and that seven buses were used for this specific procession. He further said that no payment was made for them. However, he refused to mention who gave permission for the seven buses to be released. CMEV was informed by the SLTB head office in Narahenpitiya that that no buses were released for this particular procession and that thebuses are only released when a payment is made.

Matara Procession (2) Matara Procession

ITN involved in election propaganda of President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Mr Mahinda Deshapriya,
Commissioner of Election,
Election Secretariat
Sarana Road,
Rajagiriya.

27th December 2014

Dear Sir,

CMEV was informed that the Independent Television Network (ITN) is conducting a programme named ‘Juriye Katha’, a election propaganda programme in favour of President Mahinda Rajapaksha and held at Lake Front Hotel in Kanthalai, a hotel which is maintained by Navy Officers. People in the area have been transported to view this programme via SLTB bus (WP NA 49 79) belonging to the Kanthalai Depot.

Many politicians including the Minister of Disaster Management Mahinda Amaraweera are participating in this programme.

Three types of government property are being misused in connection with this programme. This is in direct violation of the media guidelines issued by your department recently.

  1. CTB bus
  2. The Hotel run by the NAVY
  3. ITN which is a State Chanel

The programme is being live telecasted now (9. 30 p.m.) Please take necessary steps with regard to this as soon as possible.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

National Coordinator
Manjula Gajanayaka
CMEV

Presidential Election 2015: Media Communique 5

Download PDF of this statement here. Download this in Sinhala here.

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On 27th December 2014 at 7.00 pm:

Offering letter to offer permanent jobs at Civil Security Department during the period of Presidential Election – 2015

CMEV received a complaint from a Civil Security Officer that many employees at the Civil Security Department (CSD) have been given permanent jobs effective from 19th Dec 2014. He repeatedly asked CMEV not to reveal his identity, as he believed that his job would be in jeopardy.   Further he said that thousands of civil security officers have been given letters making them permanent, after many years as temporary employees. According to him thousands of CSD officers are being used for President Mahinda Rajapaksha ‘s election campaign by making their temporary jobs permanent .

According provision no 7 of the circular issued by Department of Election on 2nd Dec 2014, no person can be offered a job in the government sector after the declaration of the Presidential Election. In the letter, a copy of which CMEV received from the complainant and is attached, it is clearly stated that this officer will come under the category of a permanent government servant effective from 19th Dec 2014. This is a serious violation of Election Law.

Letter to Elections Commissioner regarding current floods and the impact on the exercise of franchise

Download a PDF of this letter here. Download as a JPG here.

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Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya,
Commissioner of Elections,
Election Secretariats,
Sarana Road,
Rajagiriya,

27th December 2014

Dear Sir,

I am writing to you with regard to the current floods and the impact it will have on the exercise of the franchise, especially in the North Central and Eastern provinces. I understand that approximately 400,000 or more persons have been displaced on account of the floods. I am writing in particular to ascertain from you as to what special arrangements are being contemplated with regards to the exercise of their franchise. My concerns relate to them being displaced from areas in which their polling stations are located, including the loss of polling cards and other identification documents.

Please do seriously consider special arrangements for the exercise of the franchise by these recently displaced persons as a matter of priority.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. P. Saravanamuttu
Co – Convener