தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

Home

 Whats New

Trans State Nation Tamil Eelam Beyond Tamil Nation Comments Search

Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Democracy, Sri Lanka Style >  Democracy continues, Sri Lanka style...

Sathyam Commentary
2 February 1999

 Democracy Continues, Sri Lanka Style...

Nadesan Satyendra
2 February 1999

"Sri Lanka has been a functioning and vibrant democracy for many decades. I'd class it with the United States and India..." Sri Lanka Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar in an interview reported in the Washington Times on 3 February 1999


On 13 March 1986, Senator A.L.Missen, then Chairman of the Australian Parliamentary Group of Amnesty International, adopted the words used in 'Democracy, Sri Lanka Style' (written in 1984/5), and declared in the Australian Senate:

"....The democracy of Sri Lanka has been described in the following terms, terms which are a fair and accurate description: 'The reluctance to hold general elections, the muzzling of the opposition press, the continued reliance on extraordinary powers unknown to a free democracy, arbitrary detention without access to lawyers or relations, torture of detainees on a systematic basis, the intimidation of the judiciary by the executive, the disenfranchisement of the opposition, an executive President who holds undated letters of resignation from members of the legislature, an elected President who publicly declares his lack of care for the lives or opinion of a section of his electorate, and the continued subjugation of the Tamil people by a permanent Sinhala majority, within the confines of an unitary constitutional frame, constitute the reality of 'democracy', Sri Lankan style.'" (Australian Senate Hansard, 13 March 1986)

More than 12 years after Senator A.L.Missen's comments,  'Democracy, Sri Lanka Style' continues to flourish. The reliance on extraordinary powers unknown to a free democracy continues.  Torture continues on a systematic basis. The disenfranchisement of the opposition continues and the Sixth Amendment to the Sri Lanka constitution stands unrepealed. The muzzling of the media and politically motivated attacks on journalists continue with increasing frequency. And, the impunity afforded to violators of human rights and perpetrators of extra judicial killings, torture and rape proves the deep involvement of successive Sinhala governments in nurturing  'Democracy, Sri Lanka Style'.

And, now,  the reports of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) on the Provincial Council elections held on 25 January 1999, expose the farcical nature of a so called 'democracy' where ballot boxes continue to be stuffed and voters are intimidated so that a 'democratic' facade may be maintained - a 'democracy' in form but with little content. The CMEV report declares, inter alia:

" Charges of

have, in the considered view of CMEV, irrevocably undermined the validity of this election as an exercise of the public’s free and fair choice."

Though Sri Lanka's election commissioner cancelled some of the votes in the elections, he rejected Sinhala opposition calls for a fresh poll, and announced that the President Chandrika Kumaratunga's People's Alliance, had won 30 out of the 52 seats in the North-Western Province provincial council!

The Sinhala opposition leader (belonging to the United National Party) was quick to declare:

"This is the most fraudulent election in Sri Lankan history.... We were certain to win in a free and fair election. That is why the government used state machinery and thuggery to make a mockery of democracy." (26 January AFP)

However, Sri Lanka Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar's  was moved to declare in Australia, a few days before the election, (in an interview with Peter Mares of ABC Radio, broadcast on 25 January 1999, but recorded earlier) that a PA victory was 'obvious':

Peter Mares: President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s People’s Alliance is facing a test of its popularity in the provisional elections for the Northwest provisional council. What do you think is going to happen in those elections?

Kadirgamar: We will win obviously.

Peter Mares: You are very confident of that?

Kadirgamar: Of course.

It seems that the supporters of the People's Alliance were intent on proving that their Foreign Minister was right - and that a PA victory was 'obvious' for more reasons than one.

But, ofcourse, the United National Party (UNP)  when it was in power, was no less assiduous in promoting 'Democracy, Sri Lanka Style'. Senator Missen's comments were, after all, directed to the period when the UNP was in power and when the present Sinhala UNP opposition leader was an influential minister in President J.R.Jayawardene's cabinet. It was an UNP regime which  was characterised by Sri Lanka President Kumaratunga  in a TV interview in South Africa in October 1998  in the following terms:

"Mr. J. R. Jayawardene ... believed that he could use violence against the Tamil people and solve the problem in the same way he used violence continuously against our people, Sinhala people and all other Sri Lankan people as a solution to all political problems. The Tamil people were attacked 4 times between 77 and 83, physically attacked, bodily attacked, their properties destroyed. 1983 was of course, the high water mark of this anti-Tamil violence practised by the UNP - horrendous crimes were committed against the Tamil people."

The spectacle of the pot calling the kettle black may have its entertaining moments. But, the harsh political reality is that the recent elections were to Provincial Councils which are also (supposedly)  intended to 'devolve' power to the people of Tamil Eelam. This is the 'democracy' that the people of Tamil Eelam have been invited to support.

The statement of  the U.S. mission in Colombo, that they hoped that Sri Lanka would review the allegations concerning election violence and would take "necessary steps to ensure public confidence in the electoral process" reflected, perhaps, the concerns that the US may have had concerning  the credibility of its own characterisation of Sri Lanka  for  twelve years and more as a "longstanding democratic republic with an active multiparty system".

The response of President Kumaratunga's government to these relatively mildly expressed concerns, followed a predictable path:

"Sri Lanka has said any comments by foreign missions in Colombo on the conduct of a recent regional poll will be seen as an interference in its internal affairs, diplomats told Reuters on Thursday...The foreign ministry said diplomats had no business making public statements, whether solicited or otherwise, since it contravened established diplomatic norms."" (Reuters, 2 February 1999)

Predictable, because  'Democracy, Sri Lanka Style' has always treated violations of human rights and genocide as 'internal matters'.

However, even apart from questions such as, whether human rights is an 'internal matter', the United States and the Western world may also be mindful of the negative implications of a policy directed to prop up a Sinhala Government which increasingly depends on internal repression, external aggression and foreign aid  to survive - particularly, when that policy also serves to alienate the feelings of more than seventy million Tamil people living in many lands, seventy million Tamil people who constitute a nation without a state.

Democracy, Sri Lanka Style may, ofcourse, continue to flourish for some further time, with the assistance of face saving committees and commissions of inquiry - and threatened criminal prosecutions against the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence. However, stuffing ballot boxes may be only a few steps away from doing away with them altogether.  And, the time may come when the Sinhala people may feel the need to revisit the words of Nadarajah Thangathurai in 1983:

"I want to ask this question from my Sinhala friends. Do you accept as correct and justified the various acts of oppression that the Tamil people have suffered until now, not only in our land, but in various parts of your land as a result of various acts of thuggery and terrorism? Do you also consider wrong our attempt to free ourselves from the inhumane oppression of your government? .... Or does it mean that you do not care what happens because the victims are Tamils? If that is so, our sympathies are with you. Believe me our freedom is an assured fact and will come. Once that happens your law books and terrorist laws cannot touch us.

Thereafter you will be the sole 'beneficiaries' of the very laws that oppress us now....

You must not run away with the thought that our sole objective is to establish Tamil Eelam. Tamil Eelam certainly remains an objective because we have learnt through bitter experience over the past several years that it is only by establishing a State of Tamil Eelam, can Tamils live with self respect.

But our vision is broader than that. Our vision is global. Wherever there is oppression, wherever there is violation of human dignity, whether in Africa or in Latin America, we are prepared to link hands with the oppressed and the under dog.

When our vision is so global how can it fail to take into account the future good of the Sinhala people?

May I mention this. We will not stop at raising our voices on behalf of those people. There is nothing that prevents two neighbouring nations living in co-operation. Even nations with differing policies get together for common economic good and for the purpose of common security. Does that mean that those nations give up their distinctive characteristics or sovereignty?."


Reports by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence
on the Provincial Council Elections North-Western Province

held on 25 January 1999

up

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 organisation to monitor the incidence of election-related violence - 32/3, Flower Road, Colombo 7 Phone: 565304, 565306, 074-714461 Fax: 074-714460 E-mail: cpa@sri.lanka.net

1.Report on  alleged violence on Polling Day at the North-Western Provincial Council Elections -  25 January 1999

2. Interim Report for the period  from the date nominations were closed on December 7, 1998 to the end of campaigning on January 22, 1999, two days before the election


Report on  Alleged Violence on Polling Day of the 1999 North-Western Provincial Council Elections - Monday 25th January 1999

Wayamba Election Should Be Declared Null And Void

Widespread election violations of every type are being reported mainly against the People’s Alliance (PA) by CMEV monitors in the field, independent observers and Opposition sources, in the North Western Provincial Council Election today.

Charges of

have, in the considered view of CMEV, irrevocably undermined the validity of this election as an exercise of the public’s free and fair choice.

The scale and magnitude of the violence as reported both directly to CMEV and through the Police, other independent monitors and political parties is unprecedented for an election of its kind even in Sri Lanka’s troubled past.

Moreover, this election is not taking place in the war arena, nor is there a breakdown of civil society due to an insurrection of armed youth. In comparison to the Local Government Elections of 1983, 1991 and 1997, as well as the 1993 Provincial Council Election, election day violations in the 1999 Wayamba Election appear to be greater in magnitude and scope.

The Police appears to be unwilling and unable to check the violence. In a number of the more serious incidents, they too were among the by-standers, and have expressed feelings of frustration and helplessness to CMEV monitors on the spot. The Government seems to have pinned its faith in the end result of all this violence and election fraud, oblivious to the toll on its own credibility and the very democratic electoral processes that brought it into power.

Reports received by CMEV have cited senior PA Ministers and party stalwarts as aiding and abetting the election violations, notably Kingsley Wickremaratne, DM Jayaratne, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Nandimitra Ekanayake, Jeevan Kumaratunga, Hector Bethmage (Chairman, Kaduwela Pradeshiya Sabha), and Chandra de Silva (Mayor, Kotte Urban Council).

At the time of finalising this report, UNP sources are alleging that at least 01 death has taken place due to election-related violence, but no confirmation of this was obtained from other sources. CMEV has confirmed four reports of life-threatening injury due to shooting and the use of sharp weapons, all of whom are UNP supporters.

A total of approximately 125 complaints have been received, of which 41 are Police complaints and the balance direct reports to CMEV. In addition, CMEV monitors have indicated that they are convinced, as eye witnesses to the incidents, that serious violations in over 50 Polling Stations have rendered the polling in at least these stations meaningless. In general, it is estimated that in around 75% of the polling stations, the opposition polling agents have been intimidated into leaving the station, thus providing undisturbed access to illegal voters.

In the Puttalam District over 25 complaints have been lodged direct with CMEV, of which alleged ballot stuffing by the PA has been reported from 07 police areas, and polling agents have been chased out of 08 stations. In fact, CMEV monitors in the Puttalam area record that it is only in one polling station out of 08 visited that there were opposition polling agents present. Of the incidents reported to CMEV, only two (02) are allegedly against the UNP, while the balance implicate the PA.

An example of the type of election violation recorded from Puttalam can be seen from the following incident reported to CMEV from one of its own monitors who was an eye-witness. At approximately 1.45pm a crowd of approximately 100 PA supporters jumped over the wall to enter Station No: 5 (Weaving Centre), sent the officials including Police out "polled" 10 bundles of votes within a space of 25 minutes. In Station No: 07 which is located opposite PA candidate MHM Navavi’s residence, approximately 30 PA supporters led by Minister D M Jayaratne allegedly attempted to cast illegal votes. However, due to the quick action of the Presiding Officer who locked up the ballot boxes and the support extended by the Police on duty, the Minister and his gang had left the premises, allegedly threatening to have all the officials concerned punished.

In Kalpitiya, it is reported that the early stuffing of ballot boxes led to the closing of two polling stations in the morning itself.

In the Kurunegala District approximately 50 incidents have been reported directly to CMEV. At least 05 Polling Stations in Polgahawela appear to have been a mockery, with PA candidate Tikiri Banda Adhikari allegedly polling approximately 150 illegal votes according to CMEV monitors who were eye-witnesses to the incident. The Police in the vicinity remained passive onlookers. Mr Adhikari is also alleged to have distributed ballot papers outside the polling stations.

In Yapahuwa and Galgamuwa there appear to have been no serious problems. In Giribawa Police Area, however, in the Thambutta MV Polling Station, PA supporters are alleged to have forcibly removed 07 ballot books of 50 votes each, as reported by election officers to CMEV monitors, who also estimated that over 75% of the votes cast today at that station were fraudulent.

In the Pannala and Giriulla police areas, 57 of the 65 polling booths do not have any non-PA polling agents due to threats and the use of physical force. According to UNP Chief Ministerial candidate Jayawickrema Perera, only 25-30% of the polling booths in the Kurunegala District are manned by UNP polling agents.

In Wariyapola, CMEV monitors report that when the police dispersed the crowd outside the polling booth near the Wariyapola police station, the police were threatened by a group of PA supporters that if they came out again they (the police) would be shot at. The police have been ordered by the PA Chief Minister Candidate, S.B. Nawinna, to ground all police mobile units, "otherwise they would be shot at." Minister Nimal Siripala Silva who was present at Mr Nawinna’s residence when CMEV monitors visited in order to obtain confirmation of this statement, said that he was unaware of the incident. CMEV monitors confirm that all police vehicles remain in the station.

The three (03) polling booths at the polling centre at the National School in Mawathagama were closed at 08.30 a.m. today just one-and-a-half hours after it opened for voting. According to the Presiding Officer and the Police at the centre about 150 PA supporters armed with T-56 automatic rifles and other weapons surrounded the centre and ordered the police to stand aside. Then they proceeded to stuff the ballot boxes. The Presiding Officer told CMEV monitors that his official stamp was taken away by the intruders. Voters of the area were unable to cast their vote due to this incident.

In Polling Station 41 Tittawelgala, the JVP polling agent Sumith Nandana Gunawardena was abducted, allegedly by PA supporters, in full view of the Police who had expressed contrition that they were unable to intervene for fear of the consequences. In Kumbukgete, when UNP polling agent A M Iranganie was threatened and had to leave the polling station, the Police Mobile kindly agreed to drop her off at her home!

The two polling booths at the Roman Catholic Primary School in Mawathagama were also effectively closed after a group of people, identified as supporters of the PA candidate Neranjan Wickremasinghe, stuffed the ballot boxes. People of the area told CMEV monitors that they are not going to the polling booths since their votes have already been cast. The Presiding Officer said that by 10:30 a.m. out of a total of 1301 votes, 1182 (91%) had been cast.

In Boraluwewa Polling Station 1500 (or 89%) out of a total of 1694 registered votes had been polled illegally according to election officials. Some individuals are reported to have made more than ten visits to the booth. The practice of removing the indelible ink after voting took place openly in many areas, in public places, often within sight of the polling station itself.


Interim Report for the period  from the date nominations were closed on December 7, 1998 to the end of campaigning on January 22, 1999, two days before the election

up

Introduction | Geographical Distribution of Violations | Types of Violence | Complainants | Sampling of Serious Incidents During the Election Campaign | General Comments | Acknowledgments | Table of Party Affiliation of Alleged Perpetrators of Violence

Introduction

This interim report on election violations during the campaign for the North-Western Provincial Council Election analyses the incidents recorded from the date nominations were closed on December 7, 1998 to the end of campaigning on January 22, 1999, two days before the election. The following is a summary of the main findings which will be fleshed out in the final report.

up


Geographical Distribution of Violations

Of the total of 675 incidents reported, Kurunegala District accounted for 480 (71.11%) while Puttalam recorded 195 (28.88%). Overall, Mawathagama and Kuliyapitiya Police Areas registered the highest number of incidents with 53 and 52 respectively, followed by Anamaduwa with 40 and Puttalam with 34. Fifteen Police areas recorded over 20 incidents of violence, while Alawwa, Ambanpola, Hospital Police Post, Kotawekera, Polgahawela, Polpithigama, Ranayakepura, Weerambugedera, Dankotuwa, and Wanathavillu registered under 6 violations

The geographical profile of the campaign, therefore, indicates that the main thrust of election-related violence was concentrated in around 20 police areas while the other 20 are relatively less violent. In fact, the former account for well over 80% of the total number of incidents, and for most of the serious ones.

Another important aspect of the location of allegations of violence is the concentration of incidents attributed a single party in some police divisions, notably Wariyapola, Rambodagalla, Puttalam, Kuliyapitiya, Giribawa, Kobeigane, and Pannala in all of which there is a PA preponderance, and Gokaralla where the UNP appears to have dominated the violence. In each of the former cases, the PA has been accused of over twice the number of incidents laid at the door of the UNP. In fact, in Wariyapola where the PA is the alleged perpetrator in 22 complaints, in comparison to the UNP’s 04 and 04 by persons of unknown affiliation, there appears to be no mitigation or rationalization whatsoever for the violence. It is contexts such as this that urgently need to be exposed and investigated so that the unilateral perpetrators of such gratuitous violence be called to account.

Kuliyapitiya with 22 allegations against PA members, 02 against the UNP, 27 against persons with unknown political affiliation and 01 against the Police, is another case in point. However, Anamaduwa is perhaps the most blatant and shocking example. Of the 19 incidents alleged against the PA, Puttalam MP DM Dassanayake has been accused in 13 separate complaints. He was also the accused in complaints made during the local government election campaign in 1997. It is inconceivable that a party that insists that it is committed to democratic norms and practices, especially free and fair elections would allow such a state of affairs to continue.

up


Types of Violence

The aggregate of election-related incidents has been analysed by alleged perpetrator and police area in which each was committed. Two incidents of Murder have been recorded in the run-up to the election, and this establishes the current campaign as comparatively more violent than the 1997 local government election where in 7 provinces six deaths were recorded. Moreover, in the North-Western Province in 1997 only one Murder took place and no cases of Attempted Murder, in comparison with 09 in 1999.

In general, Major Offences (categorised as Murder, Attempted Murder, Hurt, Assault, Threat & Intimidation, Robbery, and Arson) accounted for 53.35% of all offences in 1999, while in 1997 it was under 40%. In fact, the percentage of major offences in the North-Western Provincial Council election is comparable with the 1998 Local Government elections in the Jaffna Peninsula where the actual numbers were orders of magnitude less. In 1997 in the NW Province major offences accounted for 48.66% of the total.

Of the 49 offences involving the use of firearms, the PA is allegedly implicated in 24 (49%), the UNP in 08 (16.3%) and those with unknown party affiliation in 17 (34.7%). The number of incidents involving firearms is 7.3% of the total which is higher than comparable elections in the recent past.

up


Complainants

The pattern of complaints of election-related violence provides few surprises. CMEV received approximately 25 Direct Complaints which were not made to the Police, and around 200 where a Police Entry had also been made. Of these, 335 or 49.63% were submitted by members/supporters of the UNP and 237 (35.11%) by the PA. The JVP made 43 complaints (6.37%) and persons without party affiliations 46 (6.81%). The Police figured in 03 complaints – two made by them against the PA and UNP respectively, and 01 in which they were accused by the JVP

All groups who had lodged complaints with the Police and with CMEV had at least one charge against the PA. PA members themselves had 16 (5.16% of their total complaints) accusations against their own representatives. The JVP had made no complaints against the UNP and vice versa. In 1997, the PA made 38.22% of all Complaints, the UNP 45.73%, the JVP 6.53% and all others 9.07% in all the seven provinces.

up


Sampling of Serious Incidents During the Election Campaign
As Reported in the Daily Bulletins

 

Friday 8th January 1999

The most serious allegation was made by Abeysinghe Herath Mudiyanselage Arjuna Bandara Wadigamangawa, a UNP candidate for Puttalam district. Mr. Wadigamangawa alleges that an unidentified person or persons fired at Colombo district UNP MP Gamini Lokuge's van injuring Mr. Lokuge's driver Kasun Daminda, UNP supporters, Mervin Ernest and Piyadasa Epasinghe. He alleges that the incident occured at 2.45 p.m. today at Andahena Watte in Madurankuliya while Mr. Lokuge and he were traveling from Madurankuliya to Anamaduwa together with a group of UNP supporters.

According to a complaint lodged by Mr. Wadigamangawa at the Rasnayakepura police station Mr. Lokuge and he were in another vehicle in front of the van at which the shots were fired. The injured were taken to Kurunegala hospital. CMEV election monitors in Kurunegala have learned from hospital sources that the 03 have sustained minor injuries due to gun shots. CMEV sources in Madurankuliya who say the van after the attack report that shots have been fired at the driver's door from a shotgun. The perpetrator or perpetrators have not been identified.

In another incident in Anamaduwa, Priyantha Rajakaruna, private secretary to Anamaduwa, PA MP D.M. Dassenayake and a group of about 50 persons allegedly threatened 05 police constables last night. Police sources allege that constables Dissanayake, Indrajith, Lakshman, Sunil and Madavan had been threatened and one of them manhandled soon after they had stopped a vehicle in which Mr. Rajakaruna's group had been traveling.

According to charges made by the Anamaduwa police, the vehicle was stopped because it did not bear number plates. The charges also allege that the vehicle was not insured and that the driver and owner of the vehicle. Abu Sali Mohamed Sapir of Kalpitiya did not posses a driver's license. Mr. Sapir was charged with driving a vehicle without number plates and a driver's licence and was taken into custody last night. He was presented before the Puttalam magistrate this morning and released on Rs. 3,500 bail and ordered to reappear in court on 21st January 1999.

When Mr. Rajakaruna was contacted by CMEV, he denied threatening any police officials. He also said that he was not with Mr. Sapir when he was arrested and only spoke to the police on the telephone last night. No charges have been made against Mr. Rajakaruna.

Saturday 9th January 1999

The most serious allegation has been made by Mr. Y.M. Sisira Kumara Yapa, the UNP Organizer for the Niliantattawa and Rambukandeniya area. Mr. Yapa informs CMEV Kurunegala that at 1.00 p.m. today a T-56 rifle was fired at his house from a red double cab with he registration number 54-2615. He further alleges that it belongs to a PA Pradeshiya Sabha member Mr. Wilbert. Mr. Yapa has made a complaint to the Rambadagalle Police Station about this incident. In his complaint he estimates the damage to his property at Rs. 50,000.

Sunday 10th January 1999

Among the most serious incidents reported is a case of arson in which a UNP supporter’s house was allegedly set on fire by unknown perpetrators. Another, relates to alleged death threats received by a UNP candidate in Pannala, KA Abeysekera, from a group of PA supporters which included a deserter from the Army. According to the complainant, one of his aggressors carried a sword which was used to shatter the windows of his house. The largest number of incidents from a single Police Division was 05, recorded in Pannala and Kalpitiya. Of the 28 reported occurrences for the day, the People’s Alliance stands accused in 15, the United National Party in 06, the JVP in 01, while the party affiliations of 06 persons are recorded as not known.

Monday January 11, 1999

Among the most serious incidents reported since the campaign began is a case of Damage to Property on the 11th of January at 12.30 a.m., where a gang of around 100 persons allegedly trashed the office of UNP candidate Johnston Fernando, just 400 metres from the Mawathagama Police Station. The damage to the office and equipment is estimated at 250,000/-. The complaint identifies approximately 15 persons from this crowd as PA supporters.

A report which came direct to CMEV in Kurunegala highlights a disturbing new development. A representative of a Human Rights Organisation in the city has alleged that at11.00 pm on January 9th, a jeepload of PA supporters forcibly broke open and entered the house of Ms SLK Wadugodapitiya, UNP Pradeshiya Sabha Member for Wariyapola, threatened her, shot at random damaging the roof of her home, and warned her not to report the incident to the Police if she valued the life of her two daughters.

Ms Wadugodapitiya, who is responsible for two polling stations on behalf of the UNP, has not yet made a police complaint as she is scared to do so, and she claims that she will not even cast her vote at the elections. It appears that she has been advised by some colleagues in the UNP that it would be useless to make a police entry in the circumstances. If this is so, it marks a turning point in the violence insofar as there is a loss of faith in the mechanisms of law and order on the one hand, and the dispensing of even the charade of due process on the other. The OIC, Wariyapola is reported to have informed Ariya B Rekawa, UNP MP for Kurunegala that the Elections–related complaints are merely recorded, not investigated.

Wednesday 13th January 1999

In the first incident, the JVP's media committee on election-related violence alleges that two(02) of their supporters, M.T. Chaminda and R.G. Premeratne, were assaulted with iron rods and bottles by supporters of Kurunegala district PA candidate, Niranjan Wickramasinghe. The incident is said to have taken place on 11th January in Mawathagama. CMEV monitors have confirmed that Chaminda and Premaratne were admitted to Kurunegala hospital with head injuries, which the doctors at the hospital say are not critical.

In the second incident, the JVP alleges that two (02) of its candidates for Puttalam district, Patrick Pulle and Chandrasoma Vithanage were assaulted with iron rods by PA Puttalam district candidate, Dayashritha Tissera and twenty (20) others. The incident reportedly took place at Katuneriya in the Marawila police area on 12th January. The JVP alleges that Patrick Pulle was hospitalised with serious injuries.

Thursday 14th January 1999

New Left Front (NLF) Chief Minister candidate, Patrick Fernando and party leader, Wickramabahu Karunaratne were assaulted by unknown persons last night. Mr. Fernando is receiving treatment for minor injuries at Kurunegala Hospital.

Mr. Fernando informed CMEV that en route to Kurunegala at 10.30 last night Dr. Karunaratne and he were accosted by four (04) persons, 1 kilometres from Wariyapola at Mamunuwa junction. He alleges that they ripped off the NLF posters on his vehicle and when Dr. Karunaratne and he had intervened they were assaulted.

CMEV monitors have confirmed that Mr. Fernando is receiving treatment for minor head injuries at Kurunegala Hospital. Although Mr. Fernando is unable to identify the assailants, he alleges that a PA leaflet was visible on the petrol tank of the motorcycle used by two (02) of the assailants. Mr. Fernando has lodged a complaint at the Wariyapola police station.

PA Chief Minister candidate, S.B. Nawinna, whose office and home are in Wariyapola, could not be reached for comment, but his private secretary, Amarasena Pathiraja told CMEV that he was unaware that the incident had taken place.

In another incident, PA supporter Leslie Gunawardena was hospitalised after he and his son Chaminda were assaulted in Mawathagama last night. Mr. Gunawardena alleges that a group of about ten (10) UNP supporters had stoned his house at 11 p.m. yesterday. He also alleges that when he and his son had come out of the house, a person he recognised as Anju from Mawathagama had cut his arm with a sword.

CMEV monitors have confirmed that Mr. Gunawardena received five (05) stitches and was treated for bruises at the Kurunegala Hospital. Mr. Gunawardena has lodged a complaint at the Mawathagama police and five (05) persons were taken into custody today in this connection. The five (05) persons, Abdul Ishan Mohammed, H.D. Nandasena, Sunil Premachandra, G.G. Piyasena and G.G. Edward Senadhira were produced before the Kurunegala magistrate today and remanded until 28th January.

UNP MP for Kalutara and party coordinator for Mawathagama during the elections, Tilan Karunaratne told CMEV that four (04) of the five (05) are UNP members, but denied that any of them were involved in the attack on Mr. Gunawardena. The police has not been able to locate Anju, who is reportedly wanted in connection with several other offences

Friday 15th January 1999

A convoy of vehicles in which UNP leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe was traveling was allegedly stoned by a mob at Dematapitiya junction in Katuneriya in the Marawila police area at 11 a.m. today. Lucky Fernando, UNP provincial council candidate for the Western province, told CMEV that PA supporters Ravi, Bajiri and Neil had attacked his vehicle which was part of the convoy.

He also alleged that Dayashritha Tissera, a PA candidate for the Puttalam district, and fifty (50) of his supporters were present at the scene. According to a complaint lodged with the Marawila police by Mr. Fernando, the windows of his van were shattered as a result of the attack, causing damage estimated by him at thirty five thousand (35,000) rupees. No one was hurt in the incident.

Mr. Tissera could not be reached for comment, but Daya Kamalsiri, PA Pradeshiya Sabha member for Naththandiya and a campaign organiser for Mr. Tissera denied that such an incident had taken place. However, Marcus Fernando, private secretary to Yusus Peiris PA MP for Puttalam district, told CMEV that while such an incident had taken place there was no way to determine the identities or party affiliation of the assailants. No arrests have been made in this connection.

In another incident at the same location, Premaratne Gunasekera, UNP MP for Colombo district, alleged that he was shot last night when a mob of about 500 attacked UNP Puttalam district candidate Nimal Fernando’s house. He also alleged that a hand grenade had been thrown towards the house. The grenade had reportedly failed to explode.

CMEV has confirmed that Mr. Gunasekera had received out-patient treatment for minor head injuries at the National Hospital in Colombo. Mr. Gunesekera said that he had not lodged a complaint with the Marawila police yesterday because he had seen a large crowd gathered outside the Marawila police station when he had gone there soon after the incident. He told CMEV that he had then instructed his driver to bring him to Colombo because he had been afraid that the crowd would have assaulted him. Marawila police told CMEV that the people gathered outside the police station at the time were UNP supporters. As at 8 p.m. today Mr. Gunasekera had not made a complaint to the police.

Mr. Kamalsiri confirmed that a confrontation had taken place between PA and UNP supporters outside Mr. Fernando’s house at Dematapitiya junction last night. But he alleged that the confrontation had been initiated by Mr. Fernando and about sixty (60) of his supporters, who he said had been destroying PA posters and banners in the area yesterday.

Mr. Fernando denied the allegation.

Saturday 16th January 1999

UNP supporter P. Siva was shot dead last night by unknown persons in the first election-related murder since the beginning of the North-Western Provincial Council election campaign. Siva was killed when several rounds were fired from at least two T-56 automatic rifles at Kurunegala district UNP candidate Gamini Dissanayake’s house in Hettipola near Kuliyapitya at 11.50 p.m. yesterday.

Mr. Dissanayake’s wife, Padma and UNP Mahara Pradeshiya Sabha member K.S.M. Tudor were seriously injured in the incident. Mrs. Dissanayake was shot in the chest and Mr. Tudor was shot in the stomach. They have both been admitted to the National Hospital in Colombo. Mrs. Dissanayake underwent surgery at noon today and is listed as stable but doctors told CMEV that her condition needs to be reviewed periodically. Mr. Tudor is listed as serious and is warded at the Intensive Care Unit. Mr. Dissanayake and his two children were in the house when the shooting occurred, but did not suffer any injuries.

Mr Dissanayake could not be reached for comment, but his brother in law Mr. Gunawardene who was in Mr. Dissanayake’s house at the time of the incident told CMEV last night that more than fifty (50) rounds were fired at the house. He said that the assailant had arrived in three (03) double cabs, a white Toyota Hiace van and a blue Pajero with tinted glasses. Mr. Upul, one of Mr. Dissanayake’s supporters and an eye witness to the incident alleged that while the indentities and party affiliations of the assailants are unknown, a group of PA supporters had destroyed UNP banners and flags outside Mr. Dissanayake’s house earlier in the evening.

Senior Superintendent of Police for Kuliyapitiya, B.M. Premaratne informed CMEV that the police has only been able to retrieve eight (08) spent T-56 bullet casings. He also said that according to eye witnesses, the assailants had arrived in three(03) vehicles and fired at Mr. Dissanayake’s house with two T-56 rifles from the main road. The vehicles are then said to have been allowed to go through a police checkpoint about two hundred (200) yards down the road. No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting as at 1.30 p.m. today, but police constables Mangala, Tillekaratne, Kamal and Adikari who were manning the checkpoint have been interdicted.

UNP MP Piyasoma Upali for Kurunegala District blamed the incident on the government. He alleged that while more than thirty (30) incidents of election-related violence had been reported to the Kuliyapitiya police, the police had failed to take any action with connection to any of them. He alleged that therefore, perpetrators of violence have been acting with impunity in the area. CMEV has recorded thirty seven (37) incidents since 7th December 1998 in the Kuliyapitiya police area. This is the second highest number of incidents reported from a single police area in the province, next to Mawathagama.

S.B. Nawinna, PA chief minister candidate told CMEV that he believed the perpetrators were from his party. However, he said that he has not been able to determine the identities of the individuals.

Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Minister of Plan Implementation and Parliamentary Affairs who has been appointed to oversee the PA campaign in Kurunegala district condemned the attack and said that President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has ordered an immediate investigation into the incident.

In two other serious incidents, both reported from Ridigama in the Rambodagalla police area, the UNP office was partially burnt and two (02) people were hospitalised after they were assaulted, allegedly by a group of PA supporters last night.

In the first incident, UNP supporters R.M. Ranasinghe, D.M. Ranbanda and several others were assaulted at Ridigama junction at about 9.30 p.m. yesterday. CMEV monitors have confirmed that Mr. Ranasinghe and and Mr. Ranbanda were admitted to Kurunegala hospital with cuts and bruises. According to a complaint lodged with the Rambodagalla police by UNP supporter Lalith Bandara, the assailants were PA supporters. However, it is unclear how Mr. Bandara determined the party affiliation of the assailants. Mr. Bandara was unavailable for comment.

About two (02) hours later, the UNP office in Ridigama was partially burnt. S.M. Abeyshantha, UNP Ridigama Pradeshiya Sabha member alleged that the perpetrators are PA supporters.

In a serious incident that took place on 14th January, twenty-year old (20) G.M. Sisira was assaulted in Mawathagama. Mr. Sisira is currently warded at Kurunegala hospital. Doctors told CMEV that he has sustained deep cuts to his neck, back and shoulders and part of his left ear has been cut off.

Mr. Sisira alleged that M.T.M Anoous alias "Anju" had attacked him with a sword at Wewuda in Mawathagama Thursday night. He alleged that Anju is a supporter of Kurunegala UNP candidate and former deputy inspector of police, M.S.M. Nizam. Anju has been named as the perpetrator in three (03) incidents reported to CMEV so far. He has been named as the assailant in one (01) attempted murder case, one (01) case of hurt and one (01) case of assault, all in Mawathagama. Mawathagama police also alleged that Anju is a supporter of Mr. Nizam.

Mr. Nizam confirmed to CMEV that he knows Anju. However, he denied any involvement in the incidents attributed to Anju. He also told CMEV that he does not know Anju's present whereabouts.

Sunday 17th January 1999

Five (05) cases have been reported from Mawathagama in the Kurunegala district in the past twenty four (24) hours. Mohammed Thaha Anoous alias Anju has been named as the assailant in two(02) of these cases. There are now five (05) cases recorded against him since the beginning of the campaign. (Please refer Communique #2 on 16th January). Mawathagama police has not been able to apprehend him to date. Mawathagama has recorded the highest number of incidents from a single police area in the province, accounting for forty eight (48) cases. Kuliyapitya has recorded forty (40) cases so far.
 

Monday 18th January 1999

The incident reportedly took place when former Minister of Posts and Telecommunications A.M.S. Adikari and a group of about one hundred (100) supporters were distributing party leaflets near the PA Galgamuwa office. PA MP for Kurunegala district Bandula Basnayake, who was involved in the incident, alleged that the confrontation occurred when the UNP supporters threw a couple of stones at the PA office. Mr. Basnayake said that fifteen to twenty (15-20) of his supporters then responded by attacking the UNPers.

Mr. Adikari told CMEV that the PA supporters initiated the clash by throwing stones at a convoy of vehicles in which he was traveling. Complaints have been lodged by both the PA and the UNP alleging that the other party initiated the confrontation. One (01) of the injured is a bystander who was at the nearby Galgamuwa post office. The other eight (08) are UNP supporters.

Meanwhile, UNP candidate for Kurunegala district Gamini Dissanayake whose house was attacked Friday informed CMEV that PA supporters destroyed white flags and other funeral decorations outside his house yesterday. One of Mr. Dissanayake’s supporters was killed in Friday’s attack and his wife and another UNPer were seriously injured. However, a UNP source and an eye witness to yesterday’s incident told CMEV that most of the decorations were destroyed by Mr. Dissanayake’s own supporters.

Tuesday 19th January 1999

Eleven (11) JVP supporters are reported to have suffered minor injuries when they were attacked allegedly by PA supporters at Pannala at 4:30 p.m. today. JVP headquarters in Colombo alleged that PA candidate for Kurunegala Ranjith Wijesiri, PA Pradeshiya Sabha member Gamini Wijewardene and about 50 others attacked their supporters who were attending a pocket meeting in Pannala town. The JVP alleged that the makeshift stage at the site was burnt and the sound equipment destroyed. Some of the assailants were reportedly carrying firearms. However, SSP Kuliyapitiya, Premaratne Banneheka told CMEV that no shots were fired. He also said that a police party has already dispersed the crowd and arrested PA supporter B.M. Premaratne. CMEV monitors have confirmed that the incident took place, and are in the process of gathering more information in Pannala.

PA supporter and businessman M.M. Gamini was shot dead last night by an unknown person near Palaviya junction in the Puttalam police area. This is the second (2nd) election-related murder reported since the beginning of the campaign. Mr. Gamini was shot in the back at 7.38 p.m. outside a bar he owned adjacent to his home. The District Medical Officer for Puttalam told CMEV that Mr. Gamini died of gunshot injuries at Puttalam hospital about an hour later.

Puttalam police told CMEV that the shot had been fired from a shotgun at a distance of three (03) to four (04) metres from the victim. The shot is reported to have come from a small wooded area next to the bar. Constables manning a police check point one hundred (100) metres from the bar said that they did not see the assailant. They also said that they hadn’t seen any vehicles in the area at the time except a white double cab belonging to one of Mr. Gamini’s friends.

Mr. Gamini’s brother in law and PA Pradeshiya Sabha member, Ruwan Thushara alleges that the killing was carried out by the UNP. He also says that Mr. Gamini had been threatened several times by UNP members since the beginning of the campaign. However, no complaints had been made to the police in this regard until today.

UNP candidate for Puttalam district M.I. Bisrul Hafi denied that the UNP was involved in the killing.

No arrests have been made as at 6 p.m. today in connection with this case. The CID is conducting investigations.

Thursday 21st January 1999

An unknown person or persons fired several shots at five (05) journalists at 6.30 p.m. today. No one was hurt in the incident. Amal Jayasinghe and Sena Vidanagama of Agence France Press, Priyantha Walpola of Hindu and Frontline, K.J.M. Varma of Press Trust of India and free-lance journalist Chulawansa Sirilal were en route to Chilaw from Anamaduwa when they heard two bursts of gunfire.

The incident took place on a desolate stretch of road about twenty (20) kilometres from Ananmaduwa near Wendakaduwa. Mr. Jayasinghe told CMEV that they did not see anybody else in the area at the time. He said that they had covered a UNP meeting in Anamaduwa and were heading to cover the PA meeting in Chilaw when they heard the shots. Mr. Sirilal told CMEV that they had to avoid several burning tyres along the way. He also said that no bullets had hit the vehicle in which they were traveling.

CMEV monitors reported that Anamaduwa was tense earlier in the evening. About twenty five (25) to thirty (30) PA supporters had burnt several tyres at Anamaduwa town, close to the site of a UNP rally, which UNP leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe was addressing at the time.

The situation had become volatile when PA supporters and some of the three to four thousand (3-4,000) contingent of UNP supporters had begun to hurl insults at each other. Anamaduwa police and two busloads of Special task Force personnel had then positioned themselves between the two groups and prevented a possible clash. Anamaduwa police told CMEV that no complaints had been lodged and no arrests had been made in connection with this incident as at midnight today.

Meanwhile, the UNP office in Chilaw was attacked allegedly by more than two hundred (200) PA supporters also at 6.30 p.m. today. UNP member A.B. Thalagune who is in charge of the office and an eye witness to the incident alleges that the perpetrators had arrived in five (05) buses and two (02) double cabs adorned with PA posters and flags. He also alleges that the perpetrators had smashed the office windows, typewriters and a computer.

Friday 22nd January 1999

Two (02) supporters of UNP MP for Hambantota district Mervyn Silva were hospitalised with minor injuries after they were shot at Nochchiyagama on the border of Puttalam and Anuradhapura districts. The incident took place two hundred and fifty (250) metres from a police checkpoint at Kala Oya. .Mr. Silva alleged that the shots were fired from a Karuwalagaswewa Pradeshiya Sabha vehicle, but he was unable to identify the assailants. Doctors at the Anuradhapura hospital where the injured were admitted, told CMEV that the injuries were from gunshots. A complaint has been lodged with the Nochchiyagama police in this connection, but no arrests have been made as at 8.30 p.m. today.

Meanwhile, CMEV monitors report that Kuliyapitiya town was tense during a UNP meeting there this evening. PA supporters burnt tyres and exchanged insults with UNP supporters who had gathered for their final rally before the campaign officially ends at midnight today. Several squads of riot police positioned themselves between the parties and prevented a possible clash. CMEV monitors also report that the UNP meeting ended at 7.30 p.m. and that at the time of writing PA supporters are destroying UNP decorations in town.

In a serious development that relates to the significant increase in incidents involving firearms in the past week, Pannala police arrested nine (09) persons and impounded two (02) vehicles in two (02) separate incidents yesterday evening after they found several firearms inside the vehicles. The weapons seized included two (02) rifles, a shotgun, a revolver, two (02) swords, a kris knife, five (05) iron clubs and several toy pistols. Pannala police told CMEV that one of the vehicles in which weapons were found was a ministerial Pajero.

The police have been unwilling to identify the ministry to which the vehicle belongs. The other vehicle was carrying PA posters and leaflets, police said. The occupants of the Pajero have allegedly told police that they had come to Pannala from Colombo to help Kurunegala district PA candidate D.M. Chandratilleke in his campaign. All nine (09) suspects have been produced before the Kuliyapitya magistrate and remanded until 25th January. It is notable that all nine persons were outsiders to the Pannala area.

In the sequel to this incident, on January 22nd around 50 PA supporters picketed outside the Pannala Police Station against ASP Srinath who had been sent from Colombo to Pannala on election duty. The protestors carried offensive slogans and alleged that the ASP was pro-UNP.

up


General Comments

The Tables and Diagrams show that the PA is allegedly responsible for slightly under half the total incidents, the UNP for slightly more than half the PA, and those of unknown affiliation for just under a third of the total. A comparison with the same region in the local government elections of 1997 indicates a decline of alleged PA culpability from 48.06% to 45.93%, an increase of the UNP’s alleged quotient from 21.19% to 23.7% and the increase of those whose party affiliation remains unknown from 25.67% to 29.48%.

This statistic reinforces the reports received from election monitors in the field regarding the main parties’ increased reliance on outsiders for campaign work, including alleged violations. Part of the reason for this could be the fact that elections are being held only in one province and, therefore, additional manpower can be mobilized from elsewhere. Yet, the use of outsiders is a disturbing trend which needs to be discouraged since the ordinary checks and balances that militate against criminal behaviour within communities (such as the recognition of individual perpetrators and the fact that they have to continue to live in the area after the elections are long over) do not obtain in the case of strangers.

Moreover, the fact that senior party officials who are MPs (Cabinet Ministers in the case of the PA, former Ministers in the case of the UNP) were placed in charge of key areas, does not bode well for voter confidence in the system, given the fact that violence continued unabated in these very locations.

The Police too appear not to be taking complaints seriously. Reliable statistics are difficult to obtain since local Police sources are unwilling to commit themselves, but the percentage of complaints investigated adequately remains quite low. CMEV estimates this figure to be under 10%, with effective post-investigative action being taken in only a handful of cases. If public confidence is to be restored, this situation must be remedied forthwith. For this purpose, increased staff and other resources should be provided to the Police during the campaign and on election day. Political interference in the discharge of Police duty should be unequivocally rejected by all parties, and the Police should not be identified with any individuals or political parties under any circumstances.

up


Acknowledgements

CMEV acknowledges with gratitude the cooperation extended to it by the Election Secretariat in Colombo as well as from local police stations. As always CMEV is grateful to the public who assisted in innumerable ways in this election monitoring exercise. The support extended by the Elections Commissioner and his staff was invaluable. The Media cooperated fully with CMEV in its campaign to educate voters on the value of a free and fair election. CMEV wishes to record the financial support it has received from the Asia Foundation and others whose generosity has made this endeavour possible. All support from these and other sources is gratefully acknowledged. Errors and omissions, however, remain the sole responsibility of CMEV.

up


Table -
Alleged perpetrators of violence
7 December 1998 to 22 January 1999

LOCATION

PA

UNP

JVP

NO PARTIES

POLICE

TOTAL

Alawwa

2

1

1

4

Ambanpola

1

2

1

4

Bingiriya

1

3

10

14

Dummalasuriya

3

1

3

7

Galgamuwa

6

5

2

13

Giribawa

14

4

5

23

Giriulla

4

2

2

8

Gokarella

7

14

7

28

Hettipola

3

2

1

6

Hospital Police Post

1

1

Kobaigane

16

6

7

29

Kotawehara

2

1

2

5

Katupotha

5

1

5

11

Kuliyapitiya

22

2

27

1

52

Kurunegala

13

6

1

9

29

Maho

7

13

13

33

Mawathagama

27

20

6

53

Meegalewa

5

1

3

9

Narammala

9

8

17

Nikaweratiya

6

5

9

20

Pannala

16

7

2

4

29

Polgahawela

3

2

5

Polpithigama

2

3

5

Pothuhera

4

2

6

Rambodagalla

12

2

5

19

Rasnayakepura

1

1

2

Wariyapola

22

4

4

30

Weerambugedara

1

1

2

Wellawa

8

4

4

16

TOTAL (Kurunegala)

218

111

4

146

1

480

Anamaduwa

19

7

14

40

Chilaw

17

7

5

29

Dankotuwa

2

1

1

4

Kalpitiya

5

6

11

22

Koswatta

4

6

10

Madampe

2

4

2

8

Marawila

11

3

3

17

Mundal

10

7

5

22

Puttalam

19

6

1

8

34

Wanathavillu

2

2

Wennappuwa

3

2

2

7

TOTAL (Puttalam)

92

49

1

53

0

195

GRAND TOTAL

310

160

5

199

1

675

Mail Us Copyright 1998/2007 All Rights Reserved Home