Spent the last couple of days updating a map of election violence in Sri Lanka. It’s depressing work. A culture of violence, largely perpetrated by the ruling party (the UPFA), and also demonstrating signs of mindless tit-for-tat attacks by the UNP pervades the Sabaragamuwa and North Central Provinces in the lead up to election day on Saturday.
The Google Map is so packed with markers of incidents that you need to zoom into some places (e.g. Kekirawa, Polonnaruwa or Anuradhapura) to see the degree of violence on the ground. It’s really incredible, especially when reading through the incident reports. Shooting at each other is routine. So is arson, looting and violent assault. Heck, even swords are used.
Positively medieval this.
It was interesting to note the reaction of several journalists after the press conference held by the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence this morning, who came up to me and said that the map helped them to understand better the pervasive nature of violence on the ground. They said it was far easier to understand a map than to go through a detailed report of incidents. Interestingly, they also said that they referred to the detailed reports more than before after looking at the map first, especially to find out more information on places where violence is especially bad.
CMEV was the first elections monitoring body to introduce Google Maps based incident mapping in Sri Lanka and to date the only one to use it. Frankly though, I wish I had introduced the technology for a purpose other than to help citizens understand the nature of the savage brutes they elect to power.