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25 September 2014: The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has been informed of 9 incidents of violence after the conclusion of the Uva Provincial Council elections held on 20th September 2014. The incidents reported to CMEV include incidents where UPFA supporters were involved in making threats to and/or damaging property of opposition candidates (particularly JVP and UNP). CMEV is concerned with the ongoing violence and the lack of accountability for it, which denotes the prevailing culture of impunity.
Although the Department of Police claimed to have a strict security apparatus to deal with post-election violence, these measures have been insufficient to deal with the violence that has erupted. Subsequent to the outbreak of post-election violence, the Police took action to deploy additional officers to neutralise the situation. It is evident that due to this action further violence was prevented and communities who feared an escalation of violence, reassured that this would not be the case. These incidents highlight the need for pre-empting post-election violence and taking necessary measures to prevent such situations.
CMEV is especially concerned by the incidents that transpired in Mahiyanganaya. A significant number of incidents were reported from the day of nominations to the post-election period. All three independent election observer organisations: CMEV, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), issued a joint statement highlighting these concerns. Following pre-election violence that transpired in Mahiyanganaya, the Election Commissioner, at a meeting held on the 10th September requested that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) takes necessary measures to respond to the situation and to take pre-emptive measures against any outbreak of violence. The IGP thereafter deployed 30 STF personnel to the area. CMEV learns that the STF personnel were withdrawn a day prior to the election redeployed on Election Day and withdrawn once more soon after the election. These measures are contrary to what the IGP agreed to at the meeting convened by the Election Commissioner on 10th September where he gave an undertaking that the Uva province DIG would provide security to opposition parties and take steps to prevent violence in the remainder of the campaign, on Election day and the post – election period. CMEV condemns continuing violence and urges all law enforcement agencies and political party leaders to take necessary measures to prevent further violence and to take action against those who are involved in and complicit in such violence.
Following are some of the incidents recorded by CMEV in the post-election period:
Attack on the residence of JVP Provincial Council candidate
The residence of JVP Uva Provincial Council candidate P. P. G. Wijesiri was attacked by an unidentified group at 12.30 a.m on the 22nd September. The said residence is located at Singhasiripura, Madurukatiya, Kumbukkana in Moneragala District. Subsequent to switching off street lights, the attackers shattered three windows and partially damaged a room. Mr. Wijesiri has lodged a complaint (No. 51) regarding the incident with the Moneragala Police. When contacted by CMEV, the Moneragala Police Division- Election Operation Centre confirmed that the incident was recorded.
Attack on UNP Provincial Council candidate
Roy Kalinga, former opposition leader of Wellawaya Pradeshiya Sabha and candidate of the UNP for the Uva Provincial Council, was assaulted by an unidentified group using clubs at his residence in Athili-wewa, Dambarawa, Wellawaya on the 22nd September. The group arrived in 2 white defender vehicles at 2 a.m and also attacked his vehicles. He was subsequently admitted to the Sirigala hospital in Moneragala and is being treated at ward No. 02 (photos available). The hospital confirmed that 2 persons were admitted and the condition of Mr. Kalinga is not serious. Mr. Kalinga’s spouse lodged a complaint (No. 52) on the incident with the Wellawaya police. When contacted, Moneragala Police Division- Election Operation Centre confirmed that the incident was recorded.
Attack on the residence of JVP Provincial Council candidate’s father
The residence belonging to the father of JVP Provincial Council candidate W. M. A. K Wickramasinghe Bandara was attacked by an identified group at 12.45 a.m on the 22nd September. The residence is located at Obbegoda, Dambagalla, in Moneragala District. When contacted by CMEV, Mr. Bandara claimed that the attack was due to his father’s involvement in his election campaign. The Moneragala Police Division- Election Operation Centre confirmed that the incident was recorded as complaint No. 53.
Attack on UNP Pradeshiya Sabha member
UNP member of Hali-Ela Pradeshiya Sabha, Chandana Ranmuthugala was assaulted allegedly by UPFA supporters, identified by Mr. Ranmuthugala as Nihal and Jayaweredana. The incident occurred on the 20th September when Mr. Ranmuthugala was on his way to the Badulla counting center close to the Lunugalla polling center. Mr. Ranmuthugala was admitted to ward No. 9 in Badulla hospital. A complaint regarding the incident has been made to the Badulla Police.
Attack on UNP supporter
R.M. Gunathilaka, supporter of UNP Provincial Council candidate Harin Fernando, was assaulted at his residence at midnight on the 20th September subsequent to threats made at 7 p.m allegedly by a group of persons led by vice chairman (UPFA) of Badulla Pradeshiya Sabha. A complaint regarding the incident has been made to the Badulla Police.
Attack on the vehicle of UNP Provincial Council candidate
Following news that the UNP party office in Hali Ela was set on fire, UNP Provincial Council candidate Harin Fernando and supporters were rushing to the area when an armed, unidentified group stoned the vehicle convoy. The incident took place around 5 p.m on 22nd September when the convoy was passing Hali Ela junction. 3 vehicles were damaged in the incident but no casualties were reported. A spokesperson for Mr. Fernando claimed that the Badulla Police took almost 2 hours to take the complaint.
The situation subsided without further violence or damage caused by the sharp weapons that were carried by the mob, due to the Police being deployed to disperse the mob. The incident took place in an area with a heavy Muslim population. The community was apprehensive about the violence. Mr. Fernando has informed CMEV that the mob blamed villagers of Hali Ela for UPFA electorate’s defeat. Mr. Fernando further informed CMEV that UPFA Badulla district MP Dilan Perera was amongst the mob. CMEV could not reach Mr. Perera for a statement.
During the incident, a journalist from the Lankadeepa newspaper, Chandana Kuruppuarachchi, was attacked by the mob. He claimed that the mob chased him for a distance of almost 1km and pelted stones at him. He was admitted to the Badulla hospital with a few broken teeth.
Attack against the Supporter of UNP Mahiyanganaya Organizer
CMEV received reports both from the field as well as through a complaint made by Upali Senaratne, UNP organizer for Mahiyangana electorate, that politicians were threatening opposition supporters in the Mahinaganaya area.
One incident was recorded at 7 p.m from Adaulpatha, Redeemaliyadda, Mahiyanganaya, where the driver of Mr. Senaratne’s, Chaminda Sampath, was allegedly attacked by supporters of UPFA MP for Badulla district, Thenuka Vidanagamage. He was later admitted to the Badulla hospital.
Another incident was recorded from the same area. Mr. Senaratne alleged that a three-wheeler belonging to Priyantha Kumara, one of his supporters, was damaged by UPFA supporters on the 22nd September.
A further incident was reported from the Mahiyangana police station, when Mr. Senaratne and his supporters were attempting to make a complaint to the Police officer in charge of elections. Mr. Senaratne and his supporters alleged that they were threatened and beaten by supporters of UPFA Provincial Council candidate Anura Vidanagama. Mr. Vidanagama himself had at the Police station threatened Mr. Senaratne and supporters. This incident took place in the presence of ASP S. Wedamulla from the Mahiyangana Police division. When contacted by CMEV, Mr. Vidanagama claimed that these were false allegations. He directed any further inquiries to the Mahiyangana Police who he claimed was conducting an impartial investigation into the complaints.
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20 September 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Election day saw a high number of voters in both the Badulla and Moneragala districts. News reports quoting election officers reported voter turnout at 50% in the Badulla district and 44% in the Moneragala district at midday. In the 2009 Uva Provincial Council election, 70.03% of the registered votes were polled. Although official confirmation of the final voter turnout of today’s poll is not available at the time of writing, mid-day news reports indicate participation could be at similar levels.
The following table highlights incidents as reported by the Police on Election Day.
The day was marked with 6 major incidents, which included assault, threats and intimidation. These included the use of firearms and dangerous weapons. One incident occurred within the premises of the Bandarawela police station. There were however no reported arrests at the time of writing.
It has to be noted that there were no reports of incidents of murder or grievous hurt on Election Day. However there was widespread abuse of state resources and violation of election law that occurred in the lead up to the polls and on Election Day.
CMEV was concerned about issues related to the presentation of identification documents that could impact the exercise of the franchise. As a result, CMEV responded positively to the request by the Elections Commissioner to support mobile clinics organized by the Department of Elections to issue special identity cards in the Badulla district.
Some key trends from polling day include:
- The heavy presence of politicians across parties and their supporters from outside of the Uva Province, was evident in both the Badulla and Moneragala districts. Several serious incidents reported allegedly involved UPFA politicians and their supporters from outside the Uva province.
- The overwhelming majority of ‘major incidents’ on polling day were reported from the Badulla District.
- A majority of election law violations, including transporting voters to polling stations were reported from the Moneragala district.
- All physical attacks reported to CMEV were attacks against politicians and party cadre.
- Intimidation and pressuring of voters was used to either influence or prevent voting.
- Illegal campaigning (graffiti/posters and other propaganda material/vehicles bearing names and/or preference numbers of candidates) was regularly seen near polling stations as well as elsewhere, despite the 13,000 police personnel deployed.
- Voters were not allowed to cast their ballot on account of non-possession of polling cards.
Methodology: CMEV records incidents of murder, attempted murder, assault, abduction, arson, robbery, grievous hurt and threats and intimidation and ‘major’ incidents while damage to property, threats, mischief and violation of election law are recorded as ‘minor’ incidents.
20 September 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Voting in the Uva Provincial Council election closed at 4 p.m. Further incidents reported during the polling period are detailed below.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Bandarawela Polling division. According to UNP MP Harsha De Silva a group of UNP supporters were travelling from Diyatalawa to Bandarawela when a group of people had disembarked from a white van that had blocked their path. The Coordinating Secretary of UNP Candidate Harin Fernando, Mr. Premasiri was assaulted by Southern Provincial Council Minister D.V Upul using the blunt side of a sword. Eyewitnesses also allege that the attackers fired several shots into the air.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Wellawaya, Athili Wewa Maha Viduhala. UPFA Moneragala election operation unit lodged a complaint with CMEV that UNP candidate Roy Kalinga contesting under the preference number 17, together with about 25 of his supporters, threatened a UPFA supporter not to cast his vote. The UPFA alleged that the Police refused to accept the complaint. However when contacted by CMEV, Wellawaya Police stated that the complaint was accepted as Complaint number 48 at 9.15 a.m
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Hali-Ela, St. James Tamil Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported voter Padmanathan Yogaratnam was assaulted with a knife, approximately 200 meters from the polling station when he arrived to cast his vote. The perpetrator – allegedly a JVP supporter according to the victim’s brother- was identified as Shanmuganathan and was allegedly involved in an altercation with the injured on the previous day. The injured was admitted to the Badulla Base Hospital. Upon inquiries from the hospital, CMEV was informed that a person with the name Pathmanathan Yogaratnam was admitted to ward 8. The hospital however refused to divulge any further information. The CMEV field monitor’s attempts to contact the hospital director for more details were unsuccessful. The Badulla base hospital police informed CMEV that this incident was a personal dispute, unrelated to election violence. CMEV has been informed by the injured person’s brother that this is an election related incident.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Wellassa. A hotel owned by H. A. Dushan who maintained a UNP party office opposite the Wellassa Jathika Pasala, was attacked by about 30 individuals who arrived in 5 vehicles. CMEV field monitors visited the location and were informed by witnesses that an unidentified group stormed into the hotel and assaulted 3 individuals including the aforementioned. Eye-witnesses alleged that the attackers fled the scene upon arrival of the Police.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Bibile, Moneragala Mariarawa Maha Viduhala Polling Station. A complaint has been lodged by the UPFA Party Office with CMEV that two UPFA representatives at the Mariarawa polling station were denied access to the premises.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Haputalle, Pitarathmala, Bandarewela/ Junior Tamil School Polling Station. A CMEV field monitor reported that at about 2 p.m a three – wheeler -bearing registration number UP. VK 3519 depicting the preference number of Mr. Agalan Sendil Thondaman (No. 02) and UPFA election symbol, was parked 50 meters from the polling station for a significant period of time. When the CMEV field monitor made inquiries from the three -wheeler driver, he revealed that in the lead up to the election date he was paid Rs. 1000 per day by the supporters of Mr. Sendil Thondaman for displaying the sticker and Rs. 1500 was offered for today (20th of September) by the same people. The three-wheeler driver further stated that similar offers were made to many other vehicles.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Wellawaya, Okkampitiya Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that campaign material was scattered outside Okkampitiya Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station (centre 26/27) depicting the number 15 and the betel leaf symbol – the preference number of Mr. Manamendra Patabedige Leelasena (photographic evidence is available) and the UPFA symbol, respectively.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Wellawaya, Okkampitiya Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported a vehicle bearing stickers with number 9 in yellow on a blue background, parked outside the polling station with the registration plate number WP KH-3434 (photographic evidence is available).
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Hali-Ela, District Vocational Training Centre Rockhill Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported propaganda material including preference numbers 17, 9 and 7 and the UPFA election symbol were discovered on the ground close to the polling station. The above preference numbers refer to UPFA candidates Manel Rathnayake, R. M. Nimal Rathnayake, and Arther Chamara Sampath Dasanayake Don respectively.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla district, Hali-Ela, Wewalginna Vidyalaya polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported a group of about 5 youths were speaking to the voters within a radius of 100 meters from the polling station telling them to vote for UPFA candidate Mr. Ajith Deshapriya contesting under the preference number 03.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Bibile, Bibile Nagala, Moneragala Nagala Piyarathana Kanitu Viduhala. A complaint was lodged by the UPFA Party Office with CMEV that the Senior Polling Officer has notified disabled persons that they will not be afforded the opportunity to cast their vote. The UPFA Party Office is reported to have made a complaint to the Elections Commissioner.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Wellawaya, Kiri-ibban Wewa Bandaranayake Secondary School. A complaint was lodged by the UPFA Party Office with CMEV that a group of persons used a white van to transport voters to the Kiribath wewa Bandaranayake secondary school polling center, close to Kiri-ibban Ara Mawara Bridge. They further alleged that the persons in the van were waving red flags.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Bibile, Mada Gama, Moneragala Bibilamulla Kanitu Viduhala Polling Station. A complaint was lodged by the UPFA Party Office with the CMEV field monitor, reporting that the Senior Polling Officer did not make necessary arrangements for disabled persons to cast their vote.
On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala district, Siyambalanduwa, Kumbukgeyaya Eksath Paropakara Samithi Shalawa, Athimale Wawe Polling Station. A Complaint was lodged by the UPFA Party Office with the CMEV that a police officer Karunamuni (63245) deployed for election duties was seen intimidating voters by informing them not to cast their vote.
20 September 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Voting in the Uva Provincial Council election commenced today, 20th September 2014. This election is the latest in the current cycle of Provincial Council elections held in four phases over two years. In total 942,730 registered voters are registered to vote at 834 polling stations in the 3 polling divisions of the Moneragala district and the 9 in the Badulla District.
Voting began at 7 a.m. By 1.00 p.m in the Badulla district voter turnout was recorded at 50% and in the Moneragala district at 45% by noon. During the previous Provincial Council election in 2009, the total voter turnout was 68.69% and 70.73% in the Moneragala and Badulla districts, respectively.
- On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla District, Passara, Gonagala Maha Vidyalaya, Gonagala Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that a graffiti depicting the number 18 and the betel leaf symbol had been drawn on the road in front of the polling station. It is noted that the graffiti indicated the election symbol of the UPFA and the preference number of Mr. Vadivel Suresh, who is the organizer for the Passara electorate. (Photographic evidence is available)
- On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Moneragala District, Moneragala, Horambuwa, Moneragala Horambuwa Kanitu Viduhala Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that from around 7 a.m, a bus bearing registration number ND-6622 was used to transport voters to the Horambuwa Kanitu Viduhala polling station. Furthermore the bus was used to provide transport to employees of the Moneragala Pradeshiya Sabha. CMEV field monitors report that UPFA Moneragala District candidate Shashindra Rajapaksa’s name was displayed prominently on the said bus. This narration of the incident was corroborated by an employee of the Pradeshiya Sabha, who was a passenger on the bus.
- On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla District, Haputale, Glananor Tamil Kanishta Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that a group of about 15 UPFA (CWC) supporters approached voters and asked them to cast their vote according to a model ballot paper that had marked numbers 2, 11, and 12 against the UPFA election symbol. The incident is reported to have taken place within a 100 meter radius of the polling station and the group had exerted particular pressure on women voters in this regard.
- On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla District, Mahiyanganaya, Dehigolla Maha Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that a group of people wearing blue t-shirts were distributing refreshments to the public on a by-road located within a 500 meter radius of the Dehigolla Maha Vidyalaya polling station.
- On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla District, Bandarawela, Bandarawela polling Division, polling Station Numbers 60 and 61. CMEV field monitors reported that two police officers turned away voters from the polling station who did not possess polling cards. Based on eyewitness accounts, CMEV field monitors estimated that by 11 a.m, almost 20 voters had been turned away.
- On 20th September 2014 UVA Province, Badulla District, Passara, Namunukula Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that the senior presiding officer attached to Namunukula Vidyalaya polling station was under the influence of alcohol while he was on duty. Furthermore when the CMEV field monitor approached the senior presiding officer to sign the CMEV observation form, he refused to do so. CMEV has reported this incident to the Elections Commissioner.
- On 20th September UVA Province, Badulla District, Passara, Yuri Estate Tamil Vidyalaya Polling Station. CMEV field monitors reported that around 1.05 p.m, a group of persons approached voters who were proceeding to the polling station and pressured them to vote for UPFA candidate Mr. Vadivel Suresh (No. 18 ). This incident is reported to have taken place within a 50 meter radius of the polling station.
- On 20th September 2014 Uva Province, Badulla District, Bandarawela, Bandarawela Police Station. Police Communique issued by the Deputy O.I.C of the Bandarawela Police stated that at 10.20 a.m, Mayor of the Bandarawela Municipal council Mr. Chaminda Wijesiri with five other supporters visited the Bandarawela Police Station to lodge a complaint regarding UNP supporters being threatened and assaulted. At about 10.40 a.m UPFA Member of Bandarawela Pradeshiya Sabha, Mr. Heenkenda and the Deputy Minister of Trade and his supporters (who arrived a short while after Mr. Heenkenda), entered the Police Station and had an altercation with the Mayor of the Bandarawela and his supporters.
- CMEV field monitors reported that the Mayor of Bandarawela was admitted to the Diyathalawa hospital and had reportedly suffered bruising as a result of the altercation. He has been transferred to the Badulla base hospital.