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CMEV condemns electoral attacks and military involvement in electoral process

Election pamphlets destroyed during attack on Ananthy Sasitharan's house. Photograph CMEV

The Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), in a statement released today , highlighted concerns about the worrying involvement of military personnel and lethargic police response,  during yesterday’s attacks on the residence of TNA candidate, Ananthi Sasitharan.

Photograph CMEV

Full statement reproduced below.

Northern Provincial Council Election Violence

Communique No 6 on events of 20th September 2013, Chulipuram, Vadukkodai Electorate, Jaffna District, Northern Province.

As reported by CMEV Field Monitor, the residence and campaign office of Ananthi Sasidharan (TNA Candidate No1– Jaffna District) in Tholipuram in the Chulipuram area was attacked, allegedly, by a group of military personnel at around midnight on 19th September. Some of the attackers were reported to have spoken in Sinhala and were also identified to CMEV as military personnel, on account of their clothing. Nine (09) persons including lawyer Sugash who went to assist the victims, were injured in the incident.  Ms Sasidharan was able to escape the attack with her children.

When CMEV contacted the Jaffna Police Headquarters around 12.45am, the Police told CMEV that they were not aware of such an incident and directed CMEV to the Vadukkodai Police. However once CMEV contacted the Vadukkodai Police around 01.05am, they said that they had been told that the Chulipuram area is not in their division. However when contacted again, the police informed CMEV that a team of police officers had been deployed to the location.  As at 8am, the police also informed CMEV that no official complaint of the incident has been lodged with them.

CMEV is particularly concerned about the alleged involvement of the military as the perpetrators of this attack.  Throughout the campaign, there have been a number of allegations of threat and intimidation of voters and electioneering on behalf of particular candidates by military personnel in uniform and by Military Intelligence and Civil Defence personnel. Since the campaign concluded at midnight on Wednesday 18 September, the number of such incidents reported to CMEV has increased

CMEV unreservedly condemns any military involvement in the electoral process- the basic mechanism of choice and change in a functioning democracy.  Such involvement seriously undermines the integrity of the process and in the context of this election, gravely undermines reconciliation and unity in the country.

CMEV calls upon the Election Commissioner and all relevant authorities to ensure that this involvement ceases and that all allegations in respect of incidents of violence and malpractice are investigated and the culprits brought to book.  The protection and the strengthening of the institutions and processes of electoral democracy in the country, demand no less.

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