Thursday, November 17, 2005

Election Day Media Communique No. 1

Here is the Election Day Media Communique No. 1 released by the Center for Monitoring Elction Violence. You can find it on their website along with some other useful material too, but I'm reproducing the entire thing here:

Media Communiqué on Election-related Violence
Presidential Election - 2005

17th November 2005 - Election Day Media Communique No. 1

CMEV has received an initial set of 122 reports of incidents of election violence today, polling day 17th November 2005. The bulk of the major incidents including murder and causing grievous hurt were recorded in the North and East. The general environment and context that prevailed in these areas was one of intimidation, tension and violence. This is directly attributable to the LTTE call for a boycott of the presidential election by the Tamil people which translated into negligible polling by the people in the areas directly under their control, negligible polling in the north and low polling amongst the Tamil community in the east.

The LTTE as a political actor has the right to call for a boycott of the election. In its statement to this effect it also pledged that it would not prevent or obstruct the exercise of the franchise by those who chose to vote. The reports received by CMEV clearly indicate the contrary. The actions of front organizations of the LTTE ranging from the burning of tyres, barring access to polling stations and the intimidatory presence of LTTErs including their surveillance of voters clearly indicate that the call for a boycott apart, the LTTE actively engaged in preventing and obstructing people from voting. In addition the grenade attacks on EPDP offices in Jaffna and on polling stations in the Batticaloa District alleged to have been perpetrated by the LTTE on November 16th, the day before polling, and on November 17, election day.

The CMEV unequivocally condemns the actions of the LTTE in this respect. The exercise of the franchise is the basic mechanism of choice and change in a democracy and the choice of the chief executive of the country has clear implications for a process of democratic political change that will enable a just and sustainable peace in Sri Lanka. The use of violence and intimidation in the context of the presidential election is the most recent measure of the LTTE’s commitment to a negotiated political settlement of the ethnic conflict and of its willingness and ability to participate in a democratic process. This in turn compounds the challenge to all processes of democratic transformation throughout Sri Lanka.

Following is a summary of major incidents that have been reported to CMEV as of 8 p.m. 17th November 2005.

Weligama: Weligama Polling Division – No. 48 & 49 Welipitiya Zahira Collage
04 JVP supporters including JVP MP Premasiri Maannage were assaulted by supporters of UNP MP Mahinda Wijesekera, in the vicinity of the polling center at around 1400hrs. Following the assault, a complaint has been lodged with the Weligama Police. A double cab [reg. no.51-4913] belonging to Premasiri Maannage has also been damaged by the UNP supporters.

Weligama: Weligama Polling Division
UNP MP Mahinda Wijesekera and a group of his supporters have damaged a van [reg. no. 60-4252] approximately at 1345hrs in the vicinity of Galbokka junction in Weligama. It is also alleged that the said UNP MP had been traveling around the Weligama polling division in a convoy of 15 vehicles. Furthermore, MP Mahinda Wijesekera had threatened officers of the Weligama Police subsequent to which, police officers in the area have refrained from taking any action against the activities of MP Mahinda Wijesekera.

Digamadulla: Kalmunai Polling Division – No. 52 Pandirippu Nawalar Vidyalaya
Two youth were killed in Pandirippu following a bomb blast inside a bakery approximately at 1330hrs, close to the No. 52 Pandirippu Nawalar Vidyalaya polling centre. 05 other occupants sustained injuries and were admitted to hospital. When contacted by CMEV, the Kalmunai Police stated that the bomb blast may have been an accident due to the victims mishandling an explosive device, and ruled out the possibility of an outside attack.

Digamadulla: Kalmunai Polling Division - No.24/25/26 Kalmunai Al-Bahiriya Vidyalaya
Tensions has prevailed through out polling time due to UPFA and UNP supporters congregating outside No.24/25/26 Kalmunaikudi Al-Bahiriya Vidyalaya hall no. 1,2,3 from approximately 1100hrs to close of polling. Both groups were actively involved in distributing propaganda material.

Digamadulla: Kalmunai Polling Division
Mr.Falleel, the Moulavi of Al Hamiya Madarasa was shot at around 1130hrs by a group of unidentified persons. Mr.Falleel sustained gunshot wounds and was later admitted to Kalmunai Hospital.

Digamadulla: Sammanturai Polling Division - No. 16 ST/Darul-uloom Vidyalam
There was an attempted impersonation by a UPFA supporter at No.16 ST/Darul-uloom Vidyalam in Sammanthurai, which was foiled due to the intervention of the UNP polling agent resulting with the arrest of the impersonator. Subsequent to this incident, UPFA Deputy Minister Anwer Ismail, along with his armed bodyguards had entered the polling center and assaulted the UNP polling agent, forcing a 30 minute temporary closure of the polling center.

Batticaloa: Batticaloa Polling Division - No. 117 Kattankudi Maha Vidyalaya
Police petrol has come under fire following an attempt by the Police to disperse a group of approximately 100 people who was congregating in front of No.117, Kattankudi Maha Vidyalaya Hall 01. SI Sivanathan, a Police officer attached to Kattankudi Police has sustained gun shot injuries following this incident.

Batticoloa: Kalkuda Polling Division - No. 01 & 02 Chenkaladi Maha Vidyalaya
CMEV monitors report that a hand grenade was lobbed by unidentified persons who came on a motorcycle, resulting in two police officers and three voters sustaining injuries and being admitted to the Eravur Hospital. This incident took place in front of the No.01/02 Chenkaladi Maha Vidyalaya, at approximately 1210hrs.

Badulla: Hali-Ela Polling Division - No. 25 Kirinda Vidyalaya
Polling centre No.25, Kirinda Vidyalaya was forced to close for approximately 2 hours subsequent to armed UPFA supporters entering and chasing away UNP polling agents.

Kegalle: Dedigama Polling Division - No. 12 & 13, Mangedara Primary School
Systematic impersonation has been reported from No. 12/13, Maagedara Primary School Hall 02. CMEV monitor from the Dedigama electorate has observed approximately 15 – 20 voters being provided with forged ballot papers for voting.

Nuwara Eliya: Hanguranketha Polling Division
UPFA Central Provincial Council Minister Jayarathne Dissanayake was assaulted by a group of UNP supporters at approximately 1340hrs in the vicinity of the Hewaheta town, Rathungoda junction. CMEV monitors report that Mr. Jayarathne Dissanayake, who was traveling towards Hanguranketha along with a group of his supporters, encountered a group of UNP supporters led by Mr. Jayalath Dissanayake and Mr.Ranjith Dissanayake when the skirmish took place.

Kurunegala: Kuliyapitiya Polling Division – No. 40 Ennoruwa Maha Vidyalaya
UPFA Chief Minister for North Western Province, Athula Wijesinghe, had threatened and assaulted a UNP supporter in the vicinity of No. 40 Annoruwa Vidyalaya using a handgun. This incident took place approximately at 1200hrs

Dr. P. Saravanamuttu Co-Convenor
Sunila Abeysekera Co-Convenor
Seetha Ranjani Co-Convenor

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