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Election violence in Sri Lanka

Presidential Election 2015: Media Communiqué 14

Posted on January 7, 2015 by Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) in Press Releases, Press Reports, Situation Updates and tagged Presidential Election 2015.

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.
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