Media Communiqué on Election-related Violence,10th May 2008 – 14.30 hrs – Media Communiqué 2
CMEV has received 25 complaints of election related violence, today 10 May 2008, polling day in the Eastern Provincial Council Election. Of these, eighteen (18) fall into the category of Major Offences. The offences in the latter category include Murder, Attempted Murder, Assault, Threat and Intimidation, Impersonation and Ballot Stuffing. Of the Major Offences, 13 were reported from Batticaloa, 03 from Ampara and 02 from Trincomalee.
CMEV is concerned that the fears expressed by political parties and monitors regarding an upsurge of violence and malpractice on polling day are being confirmed by accounts of systematic impersonation, ballot stuffing, the chasing way of Polling Agents and the intimidatory presence of armed groups in the vicinity of Polling Stations. The nature and extent of the violence is such that we call upon the Elections Commissioner to annul the poll in Polling Stations identified below. The context of violence in which this election is taking place has also been reinforced by the sinking of a Sri Lanka Navy logistics vessel inside the Ashraff jetty in the Trincomalee Harbour this morning. This has been attributed to the LTTE.
CMEV calls upon all political parties and armed actors to desist from violence and malpractice which endangers human security and the integrity of the electoral process.
SYSTEMATIC IMPERSONATION IN THAMBUVIL, TIRUKOVIL
TMVP supporters at Polling Station 52, AK/Thambiluvil Central Collage were seen removing voter ink from their fingers and returning to vote repeatedly with new Polling cards at around 9.15 a.m. The TMVP office is located right next to the Polling Station. A CMEV monitor reported that there are no Polling Agents of the other political parties inside the Polling Station. A PAFFREL monitor and a Police Officer were present at the Polling Station. It is also reported that a TMVP supporter was seen in front of the Polling Station carrying a T-56 Weapon. CMEV Colombo office reported this to the SSP Ampara who was unaware of this and said he would investigate.
In 51 AK Thambiluvil Kaleimagal Vidyalaya, Thambiluvil, TMVP members were observed distributing Polling Cards at the entrance to the Polling Station and impersonating voters. Here too, no Polling Agents from other parties were present in the Polling Station and the Voters List given by the Gramasevaka has reportedly, not been updated. The distribution of Polling Cards and voter impersonation was observed by CMEV monitors from 10am this morning. When contacted by CMEV, TMVP Ampara Office (0773 971201) stated that no such incident had taken place and that if anyone has lodged such a complaint that the TMVP would investigate it.
Given the systematic impersonation of voters, CMEV calls for the voting in Polling Stations 51 and 52 to be annulled.
MORTAR ATTACK CLOSE TO POLLING STATIONS
Two Polling Stations – Sri Sudharashanaramaya 2 – C Village and Pannalagama Vidyalaya, Pannalagama, came under mortar attack at approximately 7am this morning. The mortar fell on houses close to the Polling Station. Four people sustained injuries including three women and a child who was grievously hurt. It has been reported in the media that the mortar attack was carried out by the LTTE. The Polling Stations were subsequently re-opened. The police is carrying out investigations.
Given the violent disruption of the poll that has occurred, CMEV calls upon the Commissioner of Elections to order a re -poll in that Station.
INTIMIDATION AT DEHIATTAKANDIYA
The CMEV monitor in Dehiaththakandiya observed three vehicles (WP KD – 3784 Maruti Alto, 32-3381 Pajero, JF – 3114 Double Cab) in the vicinity of Wevumedagama and Diyawiddagama this morning. CMEV monitors also reported that two people in these vehicles were bearing arms and that they stopped a Land Master tractor carrying voters and snatched their Polling Cards. These voters reported the incident to the CMEV monitor.
Police Officers headed by S.P Samarasinghe and accompanied by STF personnel have arrested the group of armed people traveling in the three vehicles and informed CMEV of the action they had taken. Deputy Minister Premalal Jayasekara who came to the Police Station claimed that the arrested persons with arms were in his security detail and that he was traveling with them when the reported incident took place. He claimed that the people in the tractor ran away when his vehicle stopped by them, and denies taking their Polling Cards. The Police have released the individuals. No complaints or statements have been recorded.
IMPERSONATION IN VALACHCHENAI
CMEV monitors report that voting in Polling Station numbers 58, 59, 60, 68, 69, 72, 73, 75 and 76 has been marred by systematic impersonation including the use of false ID cards and by violence and intimidatory presence in the vicinity of the Polling Stations. CMEV calls upon the Commissioner to order a re -poll in these Polling Stations.
ASSAULT OF PARTY MEMBERS
Two cadres from the EPDP, Siva and Arasaratnam Kalamohan, were allegedly attacked by the organizer for TMVP in Arapattu, Shanthan (Sasi) and his cadres at 1.10 pm today. According to Navaratnam Navam of the EPDP Batticaloa Office, the TMVP were intimidating voters. Batticaloa Hospital confirmed to CMEV that the two individuals had been admitted.
OPPOSITION POLLING AGENTS DENIED ACCESS TO POLLING STATION KATHANKUDY
CMEV Monitors report that Polling Agents of Opposition Parties have been denied access to the Polling Stations by TMVP cadres from 7 a.m. this morning at Palamunai Aliyar Vidyalaya Hall No. 2, Kathankudy, Batticaloa. There are further reports that because of violence by the TMVP against them, no Polling Agents from the other political parties are present in Polling Stations in the area. CMEV calls upon the opposition political parties in particular, to urge the Commissioner to annul the poll in the area, on account of this.
ASSAULT OF CANDIDATE IN KATTANKUDY
Farook Majeed of SLMC complained to CMEV that Mr. Mohammed Nilam Candidate No 10 of Independent Group was assaulted near the Polling Booth by alleged UPFA supporters when he was trying to enter the polling booth at 110 Hiluriya Vidyalaya Kattankudy 03 at 9 am. According to Majeed he was admitted to the Kattankudy Hospital. The hospital stated that there was no such case, but Mr. Majeed insists that he was injured, received treatment and left the hospital. No Police complaint has been made as of noon.
CMEV Monitors report that UNP and SLMC supporters were using the PA system of the Mosque near Mavadichchennai at 8 a.m. to dissuade voters from supporting the UPFA. They are reported as saying that those who do will “Face Consequences” and that they, the SLMC and UNP supporters will not “guarantee the safety of such voters.”
ASSAULT AND OBSTRUCTION OF VOTING
At Tiriyaya Maha Vidyalaya, Kuchchaveli a large group of people allegedly assaulted voters at 7 am. According SLMC Leader, Rauf Hakeem, the thugs were both inside and outside the Polling Station and that they were preventing people from casting their vote. He claimed that this continued and was on going, at 8.30 am. The OIC confirmed that people had been prevented from voting.
CMEV calls upon the Commissioner to order a re – poll in this Polling Station.
CMEV MONITORS NOT PERMITTED TO MONITOR POLLING IN PALATHOPPUR
CMEV monitors were not permitted to visit polling stations in Palathoppur and were detained at a check point at around 10.40 a.m. today. They were taken in for questioning to the Muttur Police Station and as of noon, they have been released and allowed to continue with their monitoring work.
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 organization to monitor the incidence of election related violence. It is currently constituted by CPA, FMM and INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre.
DR.PAIKIASOTHY SARAVANAMUTTU, Co-Convenor, CMEV
MR. UDAYA KALUPATHIRANA, Co-Convenor, CMEV
MS. SEETHA RANJANI, Co-Convenor, CMEV