Tuesday, October 06, 2009

More election related violence reported from South

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) has confirmed 63 incidents of election related violence. Of these 17 have been categorized as Major and 46 as Minor.

Incidents of violence are increasingly being reported from the Galle District. Eleven (11) of the 17 Major incidents have been reported from there. Most of the minor incidents, 28 out of the 63 have been recorded from the same district.

The CMEV has recorded a total 22 incidents from the Hambantota District and 13 from the Matara District.

It is alleged that a group of supporters of Sajin de Vas Goonawardana (Candidate No. 25) of the UPFA for the Galle district had assaulted a group of supporters of Nishantha Muthuhettigamage (Candidate No. 20), another UPFA candidate in the same district on 2nd October 2009 in the Ahangama Police Division. A complaint has been lodged with the Ahangama police by T. Himal Kumara, stating that the alleged perpetrators – the supporters of Sajin de Vas Goonawardana had assaulted them with swords, wooden batons and that Daya Hemantha, a supporter of Nishantha Muthuhettigamage, had allegedly been kidnapped and robbed of Rs. 1,700.

A CMEV monitor visited the Karapitiya hospital on October 3, 2009 and reported that two victims of the incident D. H. Kumara and P. M. L. Senevirathne had been admitted for treatment. The CMEV contacted the OIC of Ahangama police and was informed that no suspects had been arrested and that further investigations were underway.

On October 3, 2009 at around 10.00 p.m. three supporters of JVP candidate Priyantha Rajapaksha (Candidate No. 19), namely Ranjith Nishantha, Jinadasa and L. K. Dayananda were assaulted by a group of supporters of UPFA candidate Sarath Weerawansa (Candidate No. 05).

Jinadasa sustained injuries to his head while Ranjith Nishantha’s leg was injured in the attack. They were admitted to the Morawaka District Hospital.

When CMEV contacted Priyantha Rajapakse, he stated that the supporters were attacked while pasting posters in the Morawaka town for the JVP meeting scheduled for October 5 at the Sanath Jayasooriya Stadium. He alleged that the supporters were assaulted by the groups of supporters of UPFA candidates, Weerawansa and Chandima Rasaputhra (Candidate No. 12), who came in four vehicles. He also stated that the perpetrators had threatened them by brandishing a pistol and that Weerawansa was seen inside the car when the incident occurred.

The CMEV contacted Weerawansa and he stated that they were obstructed and a side mirror of his vehicle was damaged by a group of JVP supporters when they were returning after a meeting. He further mentioned that a clash occurred between the two groups of supporters and that he instructed his supporters to leave the place soon in order to calm the situation. However, two of their vehicles were taken into custody by the Pitabedda Police, acting on a message from the Morawaka police. Their vehicles were returned to them after two hours.

Prabath Deshapriya, OIC Morawaka Police, stated that a compliant had been lodged by Ranjith Nishantha on October 3 and that a counter complaint has also been made with the Pitabeddara Police by UPFA candidate Sarath Weerawansa in this regard. He further stated, that investigations are being carried out by the Morawaka police and that the vehicles taken into custody were released on Police bail by the Pitabeddara Police.

The CMEV noted that as Polling Day approaches, both inter and intra party clashes have increased thereby creating a context of political violence in all three districts of the Southern province. Therefore, the CMEV called on the leaders of the political parties, the Election Commissioner and the Police to take immediate and effective steps to curb the violence perpetrated by various candidates and supporters which are clear threats to the integrity of the electoral process and democracy in Sri Lanka, the CMVE said.

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