Visit to Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Vanni, Jaffna, Colombo and Upcountry
Website : www.tchr.net
Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR
Centre Tamoul pour les droits de l'Homme - CTDH
Centro Tamil para los Derechos Humanos
(Established in 1990)
Visit to NorthEast and Upcountry
in the island of Sri Lanka
by representatives of TCHR
July - August 2004
9, rue des Peupliers
95140 - Garges les Gonesse
Email : email@example.com
Fax : + 33 - 1 - 40 38 28 74
Website : www.tchr.net
Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR
Centre Tamoul pour les droits de l'Homme - CTDH
Centro Tamil para los Derechos Humanos
(Established in 1990)
Fact-finding / Study Mission 04
Situation in Colombo
Overnight Bills 06
Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)
National Police Commission (NPC)
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka – HRCSL 07
International news agencies 08
Visit to East
People recall some incidents after the CFA
The Tamil Muslim problem-a new phenomena 09
Karuna was discharged
Seven disabled cadres killed 10
LTTE political office closed in Batticaloa
Special Task Force (STF)
The modus operandi of the STF
Survivors’ eye witness accounts of Massacres in Batticaloa 13
Mahiladythivu-Kokadicholai massacres 14
Survivor of Prawn breeding farm massacre
Survivors of Mahiladythivu, Kokadicholai massacres 15
Thonni Thaddamadhu Massacre 16
Sithanddy Massacre 17
Punanai Massacre 19
Pendukalchenai Massacre 20
7000 thousands widows in Amparai
Adapallam Massacres 21
Veeramunai Massacres 22
School at Karathivu
School at Karathivu
Army from Malwathai camp
Sathurukoddan Depot Massacre
Col. Karuna? 23
Child soldiers in Batticaloa
Release of under age youth by the LTTE (2004) 24
Colonisation in Batticaloa
Tamil-Sinhala populations in the Eastern province, 1827-1981
Tamil and Sinhala populations in the Batticaloa district, 1827-1981
Tamil and Sinhala population in the Amparai district, 1963-1981
A few noteworthy massacres in the Amparai district
Visit to Trincomalee
Internally Displaced People 26
1986 massacre in Thampalakamam 27 1998 massacre in Thampalakamam
Some massacres in the Trincomalee district 28
Peruveli Manatchenai Refugee Camp
Disappearances during Col. Thenekoon’s tenure
Colonisation in Trincomalee
Encroachment on Tamil's paddy fields by Sinhalese
Tamil and Sinhala populations in the Trincomalee district, 1827-1981
Geysers in Kanniya 29
Visit to Vanni
State and Private schools in the North East 30
Tamil Eelam Police
Meeting with Mr Nadesan - Head of Tamil Eelam Police
Mr. Nadesan's concerns 32
Mass graves in Kilinochchi
Discovered un-identified skeletons
Discovered identified skeletons 33
Tamil Eelam Judiciary
Post Traumatic Stress
Kurukulam Children’s home
Recollections from an artist’s memory about a massacre 37
Saved from two suicidal attempts
Gathering information by some staff of INGOs
Visit to Jaffna
Internally Displaced People
Sorrowful stories of displacement
Military Zones in Jaffna 38
Muslims in Jaffna 39
Journalist Nirmalarajan Mylvaganam
Nirmalarajan's family went quietly – BBC 40
Free and fair election
Leader of Up-Country People Front (UPF)
Nutshell - Plantation workers in Ceylon/Sri Lanka
Internal rift in the EPDP 45
Grateful acknowledgements 48
List of abbreviations used 49
Fact-finding / Study Mission
The Tamil Centre for Human Rights is the first and the only human rights organisation which has visited the conflicting villages in the NorthEast where there had been severe human rights violations - massacres, disappearances, rape, looting, arson arrest, torture and what not during the twenty years of bloody conflict in the NorthEast and upcountry in the island of Sri Lanka.
Four representatives of TCHR - Ms. Deirdre McConnell – Director International Programme (United Kingdom), Mr. S. V. Kirubaharan – General Secretary (France), Mr. Indiran Chinniah (The Netherlands), Mr. Thambirajah Gengatharan (Switzerland) and many other local representatives of TCHR participated in the recent six week study mission to Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Vanni, Jaffna, Kandy, Hatton, Nuwara Eliya and Colombo.
The TCHR delegation met with many members of the civil society – lawyers, religious leaders, journalists, women’s groups, NGO representatives, academics, parliamentarians and civilians including victims of war.
Everyone with whom we met and spoke, requested us to withhold his or her name and address in our reporting for obvious reasons, except the people in Vanni. In fact, some of the people whose names were published in our last reports had been warned by some government authorities.
Terminologies used in this reporting were expressed orally by the people whom we met.
In the past, there had been reports of fact finding missions by a few foreign human rights organisations. Those reports were written after visiting Colombo the capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy, Beruwela and other tourist locations where there is no ethnic conflict.
TCHR representatives have travelled from Maha Oya in the East to Kankesanthurai in the North through every village and town. We have visited Puttalam, Chilaw, Negombo, Colombo and Upcountry.
Situation in Colombo
During our stay in Colombo we met many NGO representatives, parliamentarians, academics and media personnel.
In Colombo, we saw vehicles being checked by the Police and the other security personnel in the evenings. Three wheelers known as “autos” were frequently checked by the Police. Our cab (taxi) was stopped on two occasions in Colombo by the Police. The Police enquired from the driver in Sinhala about us and the destination of the vehicle.
In Colombo Fort, all the roads close to the President's residence are closed to public use. This is a commercial area where Central bank and other prominent banks are situated.
Local public transports were overloaded with commuters hanging on at the foot boards of buses and trains.
We were told that the conditions of public transport have worsened since the nationalisation of transport. Ministers get their job for their own betterment but not to improve public transport. Ministers enact laws to achieve their own ulterior motives and not to improve the living condition of the people.
Near old Parliament Gale Face Green is like open carnival in the nights. It is over-crowded and people enjoy fresh air at the beach of the Indian Ocean.
In Colombo, people are in panic after President Kumaratunga's interview to the United Press International (UPI) on 16 August 2004.
In that interview the volatile President had the effrontery to issue an indirect challenge to the LTTE that she is prepared to meet the LTTE militarily. Her statement seems to be highly unwarranted and premature, especially at a crucial juncture when the Norwegian delegates are shunting off from country to country to uphold the cease-fire environment and to explore ways and means of recommencing the peace process.
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has cautioned the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that she would order troops to march into the rebel-controlled areas if the internecine war between the guerrillas were to endanger the country's stability. Such action would amount to a violation of the two-year-old Norwegian brokered cease-fire. (Excerpts - Interviewed by Ravi R. Prasad of United Press International)
Since the present government came into power, the earlier tactics of lobbying the international community have started again, said a Lawyer in Colombo.
This involves calling for various seminars, meetings and conferences through some institutions in Colombo and using those occasions to carry out the government’s lobbying. At the end of these meetings, the Minister of Foreign Affairs will throw a cocktail party and give his final brain washing talk, said the Lawyer.
He further said he has his doubts about the meeting on "Peace in Sri Lanka" which took place on 20 August 2004, in Oslo, Norway. When one looks at the people behind this meeting, one could easily understand who sponsored it! The speakers were the usual "Pied-Pipers" who play for good pay. They were silent during the UNP regime, now they have got an opportunity again.
Many lawyers, academics and others in Colombo told us that within a short period, Sri Lanka has seen three new constitutions, but none has taken the ground reality into account.
When then Ceylon was given independence by the British in 1948, the first constitution came into effect, and it was known as the post-independence constitution. It was superseded by the 1972 Republican constitution which re-named Ceylon as “Sri Lanka” and declared Buddhism as the state religion. This constitution deprived the Tamil people in the island of the minimum protection that was provided for in the previous constitution. Then again in 1978, when the Presidential system was introduced in Sri Lanka, a fresh constitution replaced the 1972 one. This conferred unswerving executive powers to the President.
In Sri Lanka, every political party claims to have certain mandates. However only a few mandates are endorsed by the people. Unfortunately none of the mandates goes well with each other! This creates a very delicate political situation. Here we would like to high-light some of the mandates which the people from civil society whom we met, discussed with us.
* The United National Party (UNP) claims that the people have given them a mandate to form a government but that party’s grudge is that its political right was denied.
* Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) claims that it has a mandate to safeguard Sinhala Buddhism from any sort of conversion and to build-up Sri Lanka as a Sinhala Buddhist country.
* Tamil National Alliance (TNA) have the people’s mandate to asseverate that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are the sole representatives of Tamils and that any future political negotiations by any government should be only with the LTTE.
* President Chandrika says that United Party Freedom Alliance (UPFA) has been given a mandate to re-start negotiations with the LTTE. She also claims that she has another mandate to use her executive presidency to restart the war, if the necessity arises.
* The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) being part of UPFA government says that it has the mandate to oppose any negotiations with LTTE and to any political solutions to the island’s ethnic problem.
* The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) says that it has the mandate to play a part in any negotiations on political matters in the island.
* The Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) says that it has the mandate to join any government party of its choice to upgrade the life style of the plantation workers who are also known as estate workers.
There are so many more confusing mandates claimed by other political parties.
At the moment many bills were brought to parliament by the ruling party and the people consider those bills as over-night raids on people. Out of those many bills, two bills seem to be rather controversial!
The one which is known as the "Anti-conversion bill" which is aimed at preventing Sinhala Buddhists from being converted to Christianity. Most of the people whom we met, including Buddhists, strongly believe that this bill will bring religious disharmony in Sri Lanka.
In fact, this bill is in violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 18 of the International Covenant of Economic Social Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and many other International laws.
The second bill introduces special identity cards for local, provincial, general and presidential elections in the future. Many political parties and individuals belonging to civil society and organisations are against this bill and they argue that those who drafted it have "Ulterior motives".
They say that the National Identity Card (NIC) system which is in practice now is enough to identify voters. They further said that this special new identity card system for the elections will only disenfranchise displaced people from the North East as well as the Plantation Tamils. It is also believed that this would lead to further malpractices by the authorities, would involve a massive cost and would serve no purpose. This special identity card system would violate many an international law.
Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)
One of the subjects spoken of widely by civil society in Sri Lanka is the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). This Act was introduced on 19 July 1979 by the then President J. R. Jayewardene as a temporary oppressive measure to use against the newly born Tamil militancy in the North East of the island.
Under the PTA, the police and other security forces have the power to arrest anyone, search their houses without warrant and detain anyone for a period of eighteen months without trial. During which period, the victim undergoes severe torture by the Police and other forces. Thousands of Tamils fall victim to this act and there are still people in detention and serving long term jail sentences with no scope of a fair judicial proceeding.
"Today this temporary bill (PTA) brought to curb terrorists acts is now 25 years old and the so called militants metamorphosis into fully fledged freedom fighters is an undeniable truth" said a human rights lawyer in Colombo.
Civil society in the North East and in Colombo is demanding that the government repeal the PTA. In the mean time, some International institutions and certain sections of the civil society in Colombo, mostly Sinhalese, are advocating amendments to this act, which would include a provision that children be exempted. In other words these international institutions still want the PTA to be in use. This Act has inflicted abominable suffering on Tamils.
National Police Commission (NPC)
The National Police Commission (NPC) appointed on 24 December 2002 has no provision to take legal action against any police officers below the rank of an inspector.
There are two different arguments on the lack of this provision. One, the acts of torture is carried out mostly by the officers below the rank of an Inspector and the NPC has no provision to take any action against them. Police inspectors and police personnel holding them ranks above are the real culprits. They should take responsibility for acts of torture committed by the police.
On the whole, NGOs feel that there should be an independent Commission on torture for all categories of officers in all forces because torture is rife in Sri Lanka.
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka - HRCSL
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka was established in March 1997 under the Human Rights Commission Act No. 21 of 1996.
The HRCSL has failed to realise that the violation of human rights has neither a deadline nor an expiry date. The present political atmosphere permits anyone to travel anywhere and gather information and carry out investigations into the violations which had taken place in the past.
The HRCSL has failed in its duty towards the NorthEast of the island. Hundreds of complaints which were made in the past by the people from the NorthEast, still have not been entertained by the NRCSL. But ironically the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka came out with a report about Child soldiers in the East. (Batticaloa in February 2004)
"HRC Chairperson, Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy said a fact-finding mission sent to the East recently by the HRC purports to claim that child abduction is rife in the region.
The team held extensive discussions with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and the parents of the children who had been abducted by the LTTE.
"We are convinced that child recruitment and child abductions continue to take place in the east after the ceasefire agreement. This is one of the most disturbing elements since the signing of the ceasefire," Coomaraswamy told The Sunday Leader. (Excerpt – The Sunday Leader of 08 February 2004)
Human Rights activist (DC) in the East told us that "Batticaloa town is not the only place in the East, it includes Amparai, Trincomalee and hundreds of villages where horrendous human rights violations have taken place.
A Lawyer (PR) in Batticaloa told us that "for the HRCSL, human rights violations means only ‘Child soldiers’. This idea is unduly manifested to discredit the LTTE. The HRCSL is a mouth-piece of the government".
A school teacher (LR) from Batticaloa said "the HRCSL was established to carry out propaganda against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - LTTE. It became so obvious when they published their report about the recruitment of child soldiers, which the HRCSL says exists in the East - ignoring all the other violations suffered by the Tamil people in the same area. They have funds and manpower to investigate about child soldiers, but nothing is done about the other violations that take place in the same area".
He asked us whether the HRCSL has taken any effort to investigate the massacres, rapes, looting and what not which have been carried out by the security forces in Batticaloa and other places. What have they done so far about twenty years of state terrorism against the Tamil people and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)? Are the foreign funders aware of the hidden agenda of the HRCSL?"
A Priest (MG) in Batticaloa told us that "the government has found a Tamil as the Chairperson to the HRCSL to inform the world that it is headed by a Tamil like the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka. These are matters for analysis", he said.
A Human rights activist (DC) from Trincomalee told us to "look at the prominent people working at the HRCSL. In the past they all, including the chairperson of the HRCSL, justified the state violations internationally and ignored the human rights violations faced by the Tamils.”
Many members of the civil society in the East told us that the HRCSL has never visited any of the villages controlled by both the army and the LTTE in Batticaloa. They write reports after visiting only the town, staying in luxury hotels, meeting only those who are amicable to them and those who could provide them with information to serve their purpose.
The HRCSL sends letters to Tamils in Sinhala. TCHR is in possession of such a letter. In fact, the Paris principles are totally ignored by the HRCSL.
Witnesses to the horrendous human rights violations from NorthEast are still living and waiting to relate their stories. But neither the international organisations nor the HRCSL is ready to listen to them, compensate them or even bother about them.
Large sums of foreign and local funds are used by the HRCSL and other international organisations to pursue the subject of child soldiers.
"Why does the HRCSL have such double standards? What has it done for the victims of the twenty year war? Did it take any interest to list those victims? If it does it would have to go against the Sri Lankan security forces for which it is not ready", said a school teacher (LR) in Batticaloa.
The HRCSL branch in Jaffna never dealt with issues like HSZs, disappearances, the Chemmani mass grave, massacres, violence against women, loss of public properties like school, churches, temples, etc. It deals only with petty complaints about the police.
It is obvious that the National Commission on Human Rights of Sri Lanka has only a selective application on Human Rights, especially in the NorthEast. In fact, its functions are mingled with politics.
International News Agencies
A journalist (VG) in Jaffna told us that, "All the international news agencies and the representatives based in Colombo are dominated by Sinhalese. Therefore the information spread to foreign countries is biased. It is always against the Tamils and the LTTE. They indirectly support the government’s propaganda against the Tamils’ political aspirations. The truth remains mute in this country".
A Lawyer (YS) in Jaffna told us that "many foreigners do not know the differences between the Tamils and Sinhalese. When a Sinhalese correspondent reports for a foreign press on the political situation in Sri Lanka, he/she gives his/her biased opinion. This opinion is accepted as a correspondent’s report from Colombo. But this is actually a Sinhalese point of view. The international community perceptions are based on lack of true information".
* * * * *
Visit to the East
When we were travelling through the Eastern province we saw numerous military camps and check points. There were many new check points in the East. We saw Sri Lankan Army, Navy, Air force, Police, STF and Home guards in the Trincomalee and Batticaloa areas where they are involved in joint operations.
Due to twenty years of military operations, hundreds of acres of paddy lands remain uncultivated, with grown up bushes on both sides of the road.
Wherever you see a Home Guard battalion you can be sure that those areas have Sinhala settlements in the Tamil areas.
Many lands legitimately owned by Tamils in the East have been forcefully acquired by the government and Sinhalese. In Batticaloa and Trincomalee many acres of such land have been confiscated from the Tamils. They are left wondering as to where they should lodge a complaint regarding this illegal encroachment. (Please refer to page 28)
People recall some incidents after the CFA was signed
In April 2002, the Sri Lankan Navy attacked the Tamil and Muslims civilians who were diving for crustaceans/shellfish at Vakarai. Three people were killed in this incident.
On 09 October 2002, when people demonstrated protesting against the STF for assaulting the LTTE cadres in Kanchirankudah in Amparai district - the STF opened fired at the demonstrators killing seven and injuring fourteen.
Following the Kanchirankudah incident, there was a demonstration in Trincomalee on 11 October 2002 and a grenade was thrown at the demonstrators by Army personnel in the guise of civilians. In that incident, three protestors were killed and twelve others injured.
The government maintains a divide and rule policy as far as the Muslims and Tamils are concerned. In our discussions with both the communities, we gathered that the government is the one that masterminds the division between these two communities.
In order to achieve this task, the state uses several tactics. One method is to create confusion among the Muslims and Tamils, which always results in bloodshed.
The Tamil-Muslim problem - a new phenomena
"The Tamil-Muslim problem is a new phenomena which never existed earlier in this country", said a Muslim trader in Kathankuddy, Batticaloa. "If you go through the history, you will see that we (Muslims) had several violent clashes with Sinhalese in the past. In every community you find extremists. It is true that some of our people (Muslims) helped the STF and Army in harassing and killing Tamils here. Even some Tamils helped the Army to kill their own people. It is the government that creates problems among us. We are Tamils, we want to live in peace with our Tamil brethren like before".
The harassment of journalists continues in Batticaloa. After the assassination of renowned journalist Mr. Nadesan, other journalists too have received death threats and as a result many have fled Batticaloa.
When we met some of the lecturers in the Eastern University in Batticaloa, they explained to us how and why their colleague Mr. Kumaravel Thambyaiah was killed on 24 May 2004 by Karuna's group.
Mr. Kumaravel Thambyaiah (48), a senior lecturer and head of the Economics department of the Eastern University, was shot dead at his home in Gnanasooriyam Square in Batticaloa town by (then known as) unidentified gunmen. Mr.Thambyaiah was from the village of Aasikulam in Vavuniya. Mr. Thambayiah was forced out of Batticaloa due to the harassment he had received at the hands of Karuna's friends. He had later returned when normalcy had returned in Batticaloa.
Our visit to Batticaloa was a frightening and risky one. We visited both areas – the government controlled areas as well as the LTTE administrated areas.
Batticaloa abounds with security forces. Every hundred yard there was a large battalion of STF personnel either moving about on shanks mare or taking positions. All the check-points were manned by the STF and one saw many different types of military vehicles. The pervasive military presence in Batticaloa gave signals to the public that war may break out at any time.
A few days before our arrival in Batticaloa, the killings of LTTE cadres Sellathurai Jegathesan (Bawa) and Nagalingam Jeevarajah (Yoga) of the political wing took place, on 20 August, at Pullavi bend which is between Panichengkerni and Mangkerni. They were shot dead in a government controlled area between two check-points of the Sri Lanka army - close to the Kayankerni Army Camp . The female member who escaped without injury told the reporters, that the Army soldiers at the checkpoint had clapped hands and ridiculed her.
Several similar types of killings have taken place in the government controlled areas of Batticaloa, at close proximity to the Sri Lanka Army or STF camps. But investigations into these killings have not made any breakthrough.
Karuna was discharged
On 06 March 2004, the LTTE Commander-in-charge of Batticaloa, Karuna, was discharged on charges of financial irregularities and questionable conduct, says LTTE. When the LTTE leadership became aware of these irregularities, they summoned Karuna for an inquiry. Fearing reprimand and possible disciplinary action, Karuna ignored the orders from the leadership.
Soon after he was expelled from the LTTE, Karuna became the most trusted person of the Sri Lanka military machine. Since then all the nefarious activities of Karuna and his few colleagues were very well supported by the Sri Lankan military intelligence, including several killings in Batticaloa and Colombo. Those killings have no trace and no arrests were made.
There are Sinhala political parties which are against any negotiated settlement for the ethnic problem. Many Sinhalese owned media and the Sri Lankan security forces began to support all acts of murder perpetrated against LTTE members by Karuna and his colleagues.
The Colombo based Sinhalese owned, "Island" English newspaper reported on August 1, 2004 that "…………..The only law he (Karuna) broke when Karuna threw the gauntlet at the Sooriya Thevan was the Tiger law. Therefore assisting Mr Karuna was/is not illegal, according to the law of the land".
Killings are taking place in Batticaloa and Colombo with the help of the Sri Lankan military intelligence. The "Island" newspaper is openly encouraging and justifying them as legal killings by Karuna.
"When these sorts of media are in Sri Lanka how can we expect these killings to be stopped?", asked a journalist (VS) working for a Tamil news paper in Colombo.
Seven disabled cadres killed
Down the road to Mullaamunai, we passed the house where seven disabled LTTE cadres had been living in Ponnaankanichenai, and where they had been shot dead in cold blood on 25 April 2004 by Karuna's colleagues. This house is located in a straight road, just 1.5 km away from Vavunathivu Army camp. Vavunathivu Army camp is the only one which is in the LTTE administrated area in Batticaloa.
LTTE political office closed in Batticaloa
The Sri Lanka Army, Special Task Force (STF), Police, Navy, Air force and Home Guards are in full operation in Batticaloa. Tension prevails in Batticaloa and the LTTE political offices in Batticaloa and Valaichenai are closed down due to lack of security.
Special Task Force (STF)
The Special Task Force (STF) was formed in 1983 by the then President J. R. Jeyawardena who meticulously selected personnel from the Police, Army, Navy and Air force personnel already in service. They underwent and still undergo the most advanced training. Special Air Service (SAS) teams provided specialized training to the STF.
The STF was started to prevent the merger of the NorthEast at any cost. This task was assigned to the then President’s son Ravi Jayewardene. A huge budget was allocated to the STF to have a free hand operation in changing the demography of East, especially Batticaloa.
In 1987, the STF had taken over full control of the Batticaloa region from Kiran, right down to Potuvil in the South and were deployed in several camps. The STF dominated the ground in the Batticaloa and Amparai region.
According to the people of Batticaloa and the Citizen committees, thousands of Tamils were evacuated forcibly by the Special Task Force Commandos (STF) in Batticaloa and Amparai districts.
They destroyed thousands of acres of farms, cattle, boats and fishing nets in the villages.
One of the STF personnel said to an English newspaper in Colombo that "In our hearts, they're still terrorists...... Peace has not made a difference to us. We still have the same responsibilities and we constantly have to be prepared for war at any time. We were trained to fight and we are ready".
(Sunday Leader – 18 July 2004)
The modus operandi of the STF:
1 – Once they arrest someone, they take that person to the seaside and make that person to dig a hole in the sand. Then they put him in alive and cover him with sand up to his neck. They then pour petrol or diesel or kerosene on his head and set fire.
2 – When a person is arrested, they stack a few used tyres around his body and set fire to the tyres.
3 – The soldiers fill empty petrol/diesel drums with water and hold the arrested person’s head submerged in water for a certain length of time. In some instances they mix chilli powder with the water.
4 – They strip the clothes of the person and apply chilli powder on all his/her sensitive parts especially on the private parts. They also crush men’s genitals with pliers.
This sort of torture still exists. Other security forces in Sri Lanka also use the same modus operandi.
As a result of the military operation, there are more than 17,500 widows in the Batticaloa and Amparai districts. They all have lost their bread-winners and are pushed to a very difficult life. Several of them have been raped by STF, Army, Sinhala thugs and home guards into which Muslim thugs are also recruited.
Many of the widows are traumatised and are leading abnormal lives.
The people in Amparai and Batticaloa are still living in utter fear that if the war starts again, they would fall victims of the STF, Army and others.
Kokadichcholai is an area surrounded with paddy fields. Some fields were not cultivated due to military presence in that area. We visited Batticaloa during the harvest season. Wherever there was no paddy harvest, we saw big bushes on both sides of the roads.
It was a festival season of the Sivan temple of Kokadichcholai.
Kokadichcholai consists of Mahiladythivu, Arasathythivu, Porathivu, Pondukalchenai, Illupadychenai and Mavaddychenai.
Kokadichcholai was subjected to constant military operations and two big massacres took place in this area. The Army camp at Eluvankarai known as Manmunai camp is just a kilometre away from Mahiladythivu.
We met a prominent person in the village of Mahiladithivu. He had taught in many schools, in Kandy, Kalutara, Colombo, Nuwera Eliya, Polonnaruwa and other places. Born in Mahiladitivu, his wife is from a nearby village. He was the Principal in a government school, and retired in 1990.
The Special Task force used to visit him, he told us. They spoke to him several times and Tamil Mercenaries were employed to interpret. He was in Kalutara during the 1956 anti-Tamil riots. He and many others came from there to Kokkodicholai with government protection.
During the 1950s and 1960s Sinhala colonisation took place in the Maha Oya area. Sinhalese thugs, armed with shotguns, came in jeeps and tractors and set fire to peoples’ houses in the Kokkodicholai area in villages such as Maruadmunmari and Panichaddimunmari. He described how people attempted to resist the colonisation. During that time the bridges were made of timber pillars, so the Tamils removed the bridges to prevent the thugs entering Kokkodicholai.
The Sinhala thugs caused irrigation problems in the fields. Poultry and dairy farms were also affected. Thugs came in tractors and shot the grazing goats, cows, bulls belonging to the Tamil people. They would then take the meat of the slain animals to Badulla market and sell them. This is a case of economic oppression, as well as downright theft.
The retired teacher further said, “If they could take our hard-earned money and the fruits of our labour with impunity, it is better to continue our struggle to save ourselves from them.
State terrorism had started, it was already expanding its militarization in the East, in Batticaloa and other places. The purpose of the military camps was to safeguard the Sinhala thugs and settlers in our land.”
In October 1986, the Sri Lankan army had set fire to certain houses and had assaulted the people. It was during festival time of Thanthonrey Sivan temple at Kokadichcholai that the army told people to line up along the road. They were targeting the men. Even the priests were beaten. About hundred people were forced to walk to Kaladi camp, fifteen kilometres away, through Valairrovu, on tarred road under the hot sun. One of the prominent men in that village who liked to smoke cigars was forced to eat a cigar to humiliate him in front of all others.
The arrested people were forced by the STF to shout slogans, “We don’t want Tigers!”. Then all of them were subsequently locked up.
The October 1986 treatment earned the enmity of the people, the retired principal explained and many more started joining the LTTE. The Sri Lankan army cordoned off and searched the schools. Children escaped and joined the LTTE. During that time no-one knew of Pirabakaran or the LTTE but they joined because their lives were in danger. At that time people in Kokadicholai had no clear knowledge of the struggle.
Children thought it was better to go and die in war defending their people, than to get killed by army soldiers in their own homes.
On 28th of January 1987, about twelve soldiers were air dropped nearby, by helicopter. They started walking towards South of Kokkodicholai, Manapetti Road. They arrived at 5a.m. They shot a village council member and several other people. They dumped the bodies in the well at the Education office. Another man who went to visit his paddy field, was told to sit next to a well. They shot him dead and he fell into the well. This happened to several people.
The son of a local Doctor, Dr Kandasamy, was arrested. The father went to look for his son and he too, disappeared. To this day neither of them has been found. The Sri Lanka army came especially to shoot down people.
The “Serendib Seafood Company” at Kokkodicholai was run by Americans. Professionals and educated youths below 30 were working there. People went to the factory, thinking the army would not go there. The army went to the prawn factory, cut the barbed wire and brought the people from the factory to the Methodist church. All of them were shot dead, only six survived. Then the bodies were loaded onto the tractor. The tractor was driven to a spot and unloaded. Petrol was poured over the bodies and they were unceremoniously burnt to ashes. (Refer to eye witness’ account – page 14)
Soon after this incident the army was stationed in Sarasvathy Vidiyalam and the Pillayar, Amman Temple. This school and the temple are in the village. The army looted everything from the temple, including the beating drums used at holy festival times. They beat the drums in the evening. Nothing was left.
In the meantime they arrested the chairperson of the village council and other important people in order to prevent the leaking of this news to the outside world. For fifteen days, they had no food.
Mr. Anthony Mutthu, the then Government Agent (GA) came with newspaper reporters. He was warned by the soldiers that if the truth was told, he would be in trouble. So they could not come out with the truth of the incident.
There was no electricity. All the prawns from the factory were airlifted by helicopter to Colombo and government VIPs enjoyed the Batticaloa prawns. In the presence of the army you cannot do anything. All these incidents were narrated by the elderly retired principal.
Several times he had to vacate his house. His house was damaged and large section of it was destroyed four times. In August 1986 Kokodicholai was targeted by aerial bombing. Six artillery shells were fired from the nearby army camp. Bombs fell in several places, including his house, destroying part of it. They all escaped to a nearby village.
The Government Agent wanted to complain about all these events in the area but had been warned by the STF that it would be against his interests to do so, and may cost him his job. So nothing happened.
In December 1990 the Kokkodicholai Sri Lanka army camp was established. By this time the army had moved from the school. They took the furniture and clothings from the houses of the people who had fled to safer places.
Tamil mercenaries from PLOTE Mohan’s group visited the houses. The Sri Lankan army would come and go, and in between, the Tamil mercenaries would come asking for money and goods. They were armed. One day he agreed to give them 500 rupees. They said it was not enough and insisted to give them more.
The army would go by tractor to get provisions from some other place. On 12 June 1991 one person was killed in a landmine. (Refer to eye witnesses' account of the survivors of massacres - Page - 15) Looting and arson took place. In 1991 the army commander-in-charge was Kupel Seneviratne.
The following question was put to the principal: Since you are in Batticaloa, what is your opinion about the accusations made against child soldiers?
"To my knowledge I never saw or heard of children joining as "Child soldiers". Even if it did happen before, it was in many forms, like vocational training and so on but not to go to the war front. Recently a child opposite to my home wanted to join the LTTE, and went to try but he was sent back home because he is under age. The accusations have no meaning. In that case, are these people going to agree that all the military victory by the LTTE in the past were achieved with the power of child soldiers. It is a shame on foreign trained government soldiers".
His concern is for the future generation. He was very sad that Baba – Sellathurai Jegathesan was killed on the 20th August. He said, Baba was a good person who encouraged the people to follow codes of conduct.
He told that a few years back an LTTE cadre Nissar was killed in a claymore attack. That had happened in the LTTE administrated area. He said, he had heard that this was done by PLOTE-Mohan and his group. They are Tamils working with the Army.
At the end, he sadly said "If the war starts, this area will be like a desert and we may not be alive".
Survivors’ eye witness accounts of massacres in Batticaloa
Here we publish some eye witnesses' accounts by survivors of a few massacres which have taken place in Batticaloa. We could not get any information at all about many massacres because there were no survivors to relate the story.
Pullumalai is a traditional Tamil village in Batticaloa, in an area where the government started settling Sinhalese people. Since 1983, the STF Sinhala thugs and home guards have made attempts to chase away the Tamils, more than seven times.
In Pullumalai, there are many water tanks (reservoirs) which serve irrigation purposes. Pannichaddykulam, Kalpothanaikulam, Thumpalachenaikulam, Velikakandykulam and Pullumalaikulam are some of the favourite ones.
Every time when there was an attempt to destroy Pullumalai, the people fled to Urugamam, Kithul, Marampalam and Sinnapullumalai.
No-one knows what happened to more than four hundred- 400- families in Pullumalai. They have been missing since 1983. There is nobody to trace these families or to find out as to what actually happened to them.
There are about a hundred and fifty widows finding it difficult to manage their livelihood. The destroyed Saiva (Hindu) temples, Christian churches and schools still stand as witness to the genocidal atrocities perpetrated on this village.
Mr. SS has been displaced to Urugamam. He related his eye witness account of the killing of his brother and his wife.
“In June 1983, nearly fifty five Tamils houses were set on fire after they were looted by the Army and the Sinhala thugs. We all escaped to Mungilmalai. But soldiers came and arrested us there. During that time my brother's wife (sister-in-law) was pregnant. The soldiers raped her in front of my brother. Soon after raping her, they cut her stomach with a knife and took the baby out of the stomach. Also they shot dead my brother. On the same day at the same spot they killed another six people. Altogether nine (9) people were killed in this incident (1).”
“In 1999, the army arrested many youths and men in Pullumalai saying that they were taking them for an inquiry. When the relatives went and enquired from the Army camp, the soldiers had told them to come on the following day and a few days passed like this.
One day a soldier told the relatives that they had released all the thirteen (13) arrested people in the forest (2). But the relatives didn’t go to the forest on the same day fearing that they may be killed there. When they went into the forest on the following day to search for those arrested – they smelt odour of decomposed human bodies coming from one corner of the forest. When they reached that spot, they found the arrested youths and men hacked to death. Their mutilated bodies were thrown into ditch. As they were scared to stay in the forest, they left the bodies as they were and came back to their village.”
“In 1998, fourteen (14) youths went fishing (3) in a nearby Tank. As they didn’t come back after fishing, the members of the family went in search of the youth and found all fourteen (14) youths hacked to death near the Tank.” said Mrs. KR who lost her husband and her sons in these killings.
An elderly man Mr. MK, told that he lost his daughter, son-in-law and four grand children – three boys and one girl in the killings carried out by the STF in Pullumalai. An Army camp was established in 1986 in the village. Since then many houses were set on fire and there were frequent killings and rapes in this village.
He further said that, every time when the soldiers of STF and home guards come into their village, they hack to death and shoot men of certain age and rape women. “Children were torn into pieces. When they take a girl or women to a covered area, we could hear the screaming of the women. All the soldiers jointly rape the unfortunate victims. Sometimes they shoot the women after raping them and sometimes very strangely their lives were spared. They take the men to the camps, and soldiers torture them to death. This is the life of the Tamils in Pullumalai. Now there are only a few Tamils left in this village and we are at the edge of being chased away from here.”
Mr. JP related another massacre which had taken place on 9 July 1990. “By about 1.00 o'clock in the afternoon, the STF soldiers in large numbers came in trucks and lorries and surrounded our village. About 40 to 50 of us ran into the forest of Kulaveddy and Oddaithandy. When we were in the forest we heard the sound of continuous firing in our village. We waited until evening. When the firing stopped it was dark, we came back to our village. It was a nightmarish experience. We saw fifty five (55)people shot and hacked to death by the soldiers (4). The women were raped and killed. Even the babies were ruthlessly shot dead. Many houses were looted and set on fire.”
In January 1985, the soldiers went into Pullumalai Pillayar temple and took nine (9) men into custody. After a few days, the soldiers went to the same temple and took the priest of the temple and another nine people (10) working in the nearby shops. Until today nobody knows as to what happened to those people or their whereabouts (5).
In January 1985, the soldiers went into the village and shot dead seven (7) men (6) including one government Surveyor. On the same day many houses were looted and set on fire. Some women were raped by the soldiers.
In 1986, they arrested eight 8 men from this village (7). They all were shot dead in front of the Pullumalai Pillayar temple and their bodies were burnt with tyres, in front of the same temple.
In 10 November 1986, a hundred and three - 103- people were shot and hacked to death (8) by the soldiers. Women were raped, houses were looted and set on fire.
1 - 09 5 - 19
2 - 13 6 - 07 Total 228
3 - 14 7 - 08
4 - 55 8 - 103
Survivor of Prawn breeding farm massacre
The Prawn breeding farm was just a few metres away from Mahiladythivu junction. This project was managed by Americans. The workers in this farm worked on shifts.
This project was brought to an end on the 28th of January 1987 after the killing and burning of a hundred and thirty seven (137) Tamils by the STF. The victims were from Muthalaikudah, Munaikaddu, Mahiladithivu and Ampilanthurai. About twenty six workers in this farm were also killed in this massacre.
Two survivors of this massacre and workers in this farm were able to relate their eye witness account :
Mr. RS was a security guard in this farm. He related his eye witness account of the massacres.
“That particular morning, three helicopters were hovering around the area. People from Muthalaikudah, Munaikaddu, Mahiladithivu and Ampilanthurai were panic-stricken and started coming to our farm thinking that nothing would adversely happen in the farm because it was managed by Americans.
One of the STF buffaloes (armoured vehicle) came and stopped in front of the farm. As soon as they arrived, soldiers started shooting at the people who were entering the farm. Farmer, Narayanapillai was the first victim.
Some small boys were working in our farm on casual basis to chase the birds away from the prawns. They were also shot dead by the STF. As they were shooting indiscriminately at the crowd in the farm, I started running towards the back yard. One soldier was shooting and shouting at me not to run. But I ran through the canals and I escaped to Kannakaadu.
Mr. DS was a driver in this farm. He related his emotional eye witness account of this massacre:
“We all were under the impression that nothing would happen in the farm. But the soldiers started shooting at us demanding us to stay in a line. Then they ordered all of us to get into a tractor (trailer) which belonged to our farm. Some were assaulted and shot at.
When all got into the tractor, as I was the driver of that vehicle, I was ordered by the Commander to drive with twenty (27) seven workers in the farm. I drove the tractor up to the nearby junction. In the meantime all the valuable items in the farm like water pump and other equipments were removed by the soldiers.
Many were severely assaulted and some were pleading for their release. At the junction, one soldier assaulted me and pushed me down from the driving seat. Then he drove the tractor along with 27 workers from the farm towards Muthalaikudah. In a few minutes, we all heard continuous firing for few minutes. All the 27 people were shot dead and their bodies were stacked inside the tractor.
The group of soldiers in the junction, walked into every house and brought the people our to the junction.
Then they brought the tractor with 27 bodies and ordered me to get into the trailer and stand on the bodies. Now the time was past 12.00 noon. They parked the tractor at a bend in a covered area. Then I was ordered to get down from the trailer.
Around 1.00p.m., they started bringing four people at a time and each one was asked to get into the trailer and stand on the bodies and then all were shot dead inside the trailer. At one stage the trailer was full of bodies. Immediately they cleared some of the bodies from the trailer and stacked the bodies in a nearby market building.
By that time another vehicle came to that spot. The man who came in the vehicle was calling the soldier who was leading the massacre as "Kodithuwakku". Then they both had some discussion. The man who came in the vehicle is one "Senivaratne".
Latter all the bodies were re-loaded into the trailer and tied-up with a rope. All together hundred and thirty seven (137) bodies were in the trailer. During that time it was a little dark and I took that opportunity and ran away from the spot. They chased me calling "driver" "driver". but I escaped from the murderers. They couldn’t catch me.
I don’t know what they did with those bodies. But I heard that they had established a camp at Kalchenai on the same day.”
Survivors of Mahiladythivu, Kokadicholai massacres
In Kokkadicholai we managed to meet a lady whose gave witness to a Commission concerning the Kokadicholai massacres. Her statement was published in the "Virakesari" newspaper of July 1991. She was a primary school teacher from Mahiladitivu. She lives just near the Methodist church junction where a monument was erected in memory of the "Kokkodicholai massacre victims".
When we asked her to relate her tale, she and some elderly men from Mahilathivu started relating their tragic tale.
They said that on 12 June 1991, a tractor belonging to the Sri Lankan soldiers was struck by a land-mine and one soldier died on the spot. Immediately, the army started firing from the nearby army camp and everyone in the vicinity started running for shelter.
She was coming alone on her bike from the direction where the land mines blast had taken place. She said that she thought that the army suspected that she had laid the mine. When she saw the army, she fell from her bike and started running towards her hut. She ran about 25 yards till she was targeted by a soldier who shot at her in both the legs. She fell down and lost consciousness. They left her to die. The incident took place around 12.45 p.m.
She remained lying there unconscious, unaware of all the other incidents that took place on that day. Round about 6.00 p.m. she was found by an elderly lady who was looking for her daughter. She remembers asking for water, and gaining consciousness at that point.
Everyone else had run to other villages. Some ran towards Muthalaikuda and sought shelter in a school. One group of the Army went to Muthalaikuda and took some men with them. Some women gave their jewellery trying to prevent the army taking their husbands and sons, but they took all of them into a rice mill and burned them along with many others. All together hundred and thirty two -132 - men and women were massacred inside the mill. Then they burned those bodies with diesel and all sorts of things. We were so sad to look at those bodies because some babies who were still breast-feeding were also victims of these killings.
Another group of soldiers set fire to nearly 400 houses in Mahiladitivu and the surroundings. All the houses in those areas were full of paddy bags. They even burned the paddy and forced men into the houses that were burning and some men were burnt alive. The houses, paddy bags and the bodies were in flames.
Women and girls were raped in front of their parents and husbands. Teachers and children in the nearby school were also raped.
One teacher is still going through the traumas of the rape. She could not get married. A young girl who was raped still refuses to pass through this part of the village, due to the traumatic memories which still scare and disturb her psychologically. She still faints at the sight of the army.
When some survivors of these killings were taken to Polonaruwa hospital for treatment, the staff had refused to treat those patients because they were Tamils. Some of course died because they were not provided medical treatment in time.
All the furniture were looted from their houses. Anyone seen in the village was shot at by the Sri Lankan soldiers.
Since then life has been very difficult for the primary teacher. She finds it difficult and painful even to get to the toilet. Two bullet scars are visible on each of her legs, indicating where the bullets entered and left her body. For two years she had been bedridden in hospital unable to get up.
When she was asked to give evidence to the Commission set up to investigate the Kokkodicholai massacre, she was threatened by the army several times that she would have to face serious consequences if she did so. The Army tried to kill her, she said. She was even threatened in the hospital to give a false confession to the Commission that she was caught in cross-fire. She insisted, it was the army which had shot at her. She identified the army personnel who shot at her.
One of her brothers was killed by the STF in 1987. Another brother has been arrested three times and had been tortured in the Boosa army camp.
At the end, we asked what the outcome of the Commission was. Nothing, the army is still killing and raping people with impunity, we were told.
The commission is an eye wash to the outside world, the local people said
Thonni Thaddamadhu Massacre
Pannichaikerny river is running across Thonni Thaddamadhu village. It is not very far from Vaherai. This area is very famous for paddy harvesting.
Like in the cases of the other massacres previously described, this village was also ransacked by soldiers and ten (10) people were killed in the village on 27 May 1987.
Mrs. TP and Mrs. VM. related their eyewitness account of the massacres at Thonni Thaddamadhu.
“On the 27th May 1987, the soldiers from Mavaddy odai, Vammyvedduvan, Kathiraveli and Vaharai came in their trucks to Pillayar Temple. They arrived in the small hours of the morning and while they were walking they started firing at the people. Whoever were caught by the soldiers were hacked to death and their bodies were burnt.
When a young woman saw the soldiers moving forward, she started to run carrying her two children, the Army immediately shot at her and the two children were thrown into the fire. A family was completely wiped out. Their bodies were burnt.
Only a few of us who ran away from the village escaped from the soldiers. All others were killed.”
Murugan temple at Sithanddy is a famous temple. Most of the people in this village are farmers and owners of dairy farms. The Santhamadu river runs across this village.
Whenever the soldiers cordoned this village, people sought shelter in the Murugan temple.
Mr. NK related his eyewitness account of the massacres at Sithanddy.
“On the 20th of July 1990, as the army had rounded up our villages – as usual, the people from Sithanddy and the village of Mavaddyvempu sought shelter at the Murugan temple. There were Tamils who work with the army who had also come with the soldiers.
As soon as the Army entered the temple, they demanded us to line up. Then they selected eighty (80) men and went away. The relatives pleaded with the soldiers to release them. But they refused and took all the 80 men with them.
Then again, they came on the 27th and selected another fifty seven (57) men and took all of them in an army vehicle.
Those arrested were not released. The family members went to the army camp after two days to enquire of the whereabouts of their relatives. The soldiers simply replied that they did not take anyone into detention.
In fact, the army tied the hands behind the backs of all the hundred and thirty seven people and took them in to a Sinhala village. The army told the Sinhalese that they had brought 137 Tigers and then shot all of them dead them in front of the Sinhalese people. Then they took all the bodies and buried them somewhere. Until today none knows what happened to the bodies”
This massacre is also known as the Eastern University massacre. As the army from Valaichchenai camp went into the villages of Vantharumoolai, Sungankerny and Karuvakkerny, the people ran into the Campus for protection. The lecturers at the campus provided protection for them and hoisted a white flag in front of the University.
One of the lecturers Mr. VG related his eye witness account of what happened in the campus and the massacre.
“As soon as the army went into the villages of Kondayankerny, Sungankerny and Karuvakkerny they started shooting and hacking the people to death. Wherever they killed people, they lost no time in burying the bodies. The soldiers were equipped with a Bulldozer which made it very easy to bury the bodies.
In those three villages – they arrested forty eight (48) people and took them to Valaichchenai main road. There they shot dead all 48 people and buried their bodies in the compound of a private land.
In seven days, the campus was full of fifty-five thousand - 55,000 - refugees. On the eighth day, the army walked into the campus ignoring our white flag. Some Tamils and Muslims collaborating with the army also came with the army.
As soon as they entered the campus they asked us as to who were staying here. We told them the people from Valaichchenai and Arumugathan colony were there.
While he was talking to us, two empty buses came to the campus. The soldiers ordered the people to come in a line and with the help of those collaborators - they selected hundred and thirty eighty 138 youths from the camp. All were ordered to get into two buses. All the parents and family members started pleading and screaming. But they were all taken to an unknown destination.
We prepared the names and addresses of all 138 people who were taken by the army. Later we went to all the army camps and inquired about the whereabouts of the 138 people. But the army said that they were not aware of those people.
As I was away from my house for a long time, I went to my house in Valaichchenai through narrow lanes via the beach. Unfortunately I was also arrested by the army and taken to Navaladdy camp. In the camp, Capt. Ratnamal recognised me. He was studying with me. At this camp, I saw another thirteen - 13 - people from my village whose hands were tied behind with rope.
After three days the Commander in charge of the camp came there smoking a cigarette and a soldier untied the hands of all 13 people. The commander gave his smoking cigarette to all thirteen to smoke. Then their hands were tied again. The commander told them in broken Tamil, that they all are Tigers.
The soldiers were drunk and they started dancing for a Sinhala song condemning the LTTE. In the meantime, some soldiers who came armed with Axes, Iron bars and batons started beating all the thirteen people. For few minutes, they were screaming and blood was bleeding from their whole body. Some heads were broken into pieces, some hands and legs were cut off – within a few minutes there was no noise. All 13 were hacked to death. Then they put all the bodies in a pit and burned those bodies with tyres and firewood.
From this incident I presume that the same thing must have happened to all 138 people who were arrested in the campus. In Navaladdy camp, there were a lot of pits. If these pits are excavated the number of people who were killed in this camp could be discovered.
Later they asked me and another person to go and sleep in a room. How can I sleep, after seeing the cold blooded massacre. I couldn’t have a wink of sleep the whole night.
During my stay in that camp, I had seen some Muslims coming into that camp with their hats on. Then they removed the hats and went with the army for various activities against the Tamils in those areas.
I was on tenterhooks for nearly nine days in that camp. Then I was released with a warning that I should not disclose those matters to anyone outside. They warned me not to disclose those things to anyone and that I would face the same consequences, they said.
Soon after my release, I went along with my colleagues to Kondayankerny camp to find out as to what had happened there. There we saw a pit covered and by the side of the pit, there were ladies cloths including several bras. Also we saw children’s cloths. Then we knew, what had happened there for the women who were taken into custody. It is believed that forty eight - 48- people were buried in this camp! Even now it is not too late to re-open this pit to see how many bodies were buried there.
To my knowledge, the killings continued for a week in the villages of Sithanddy, Kondayankerny, Vantharumulai, Iyankerny, Sathurukoddan and Karuvakerny. Hundreds of people were killed. There are few survivors who are eye witness to these killings. But they are scared to reveal these secrets to outsiders. They were warned by the soldiers not to disclose anything to anyone. If they did so, they would face the same fate.
One Lt. Killad was the person who master-minded all these killings. Now he is a Captain. I know, how he killed one Jeyaveran who is known to me. That camp was next to a mosque. Jeyaveran’s head was hit against the mosque wall. As he was not killed, he brought a big baton and killed him by hitting him on his forehead.
At Oddumavaddy bridge, many were hacked to death by the soldiers with the help of some Muslims. If some one can get hold of Muslims at Oddumavaddy, you can get the whole truth of these massacres. The name of these perpetrators, the names and number of victims, the places where the offences were committed etc.
He concluded by saying that one day all these mass graves will be opened and it will be proved to the world that thousands of Tamils were hacked to death in Batticaloa by the Army.”
Mrs. PT, told that her son, brother, son-in-law and her 65 years old uncle were killed in Vantharumulai by the army.
Punnai is a border village not very far from Vahaneri tank. There are a lot of dairy farms as well as vast greenery for cattle grazing. There were many attempts to annex this village with Polonaruwa district. In the meantime settling Sinhala families in this village had also started. About 1000 acres of land had been colonised with Sinhalese. A Buddhist temple had also been built in this village.
In 1990, the Army and the Home guards looted and destroyed all the shops and farms in this village. More than two hundred Tamil families had been displaced in the neighbouring villages of Kallady Veddai. About forty families had come back and started their life in the village.
The names of many Tamil villages had been changed into Sinhala names. Mylanthanai was renamed as "Sithapura" and Munianddykaddai as "Ravethana". Army camps were established in these villages to protect the Sinhala settlers.
Mr. YP and Mr. KG related their eye witness accounts of the massacres that took place in their villages.
“The soldiers from the camp of Karaddyvachakulam came into our village on the 9th of August 1992. They rounded up the people from three different areas and brought us to one place. They set fire to the houses. In the mean time they took all the knives, axes, clubs which were at our homes. As soon as we arrived at a particular place, we heard a sound of firing. All of us started running. Immediately the soldiers started attacking us with knives, axes, clubs, etc.
I was running with my two children towards a dairy farm, but the soldiers started firing at us. I left my children and wife and ran into the forest. Some of us reached Kallady veddai via forest. There we told the Grama Seveka (Village council officer) what was happening in our village. He informed the Red Cross about it, said YP.
The following day, the Red Cross personnel came and requested one of us to accompany them to the village. All refused to go with the Red Cross, eventually I agreed to go with them hoping that I could find out the whereabouts of my wife and children.
While we were going in a Red Cross van to our village, we were stopped by the Army Commander at Batha road. The Commander told the Red Cross that they cannot enter the village due to lack of security in that village. The Red Cross personnel argued with the Commander. After several wireless communications, we were allowed to go into our village.
As the village looked deserted we returned from there. All we saw was pools of blood.
While we were returning the Commander told us that there is no-one in the village and asked me whom I was looking for? I told him that I was looking for my wife and children. Then he showed us a lorry and asked me to find out whether my wife and children are among the dead bodies loaded in that lorry. I went and had a look. There were thirty six 36 dead bodies of persons who were hacked to death. I couldn’t find my wife’s and children’s bodies among those. I was screaming and crying.
During that time I saw a vehicle coming from Karaddyvachakulam. A Judge from the courts came in that vehicle. He asked us whether anyone had come from that village. I said that I was from that village. The judge took me to a side and asked me, who and who were missing from my family and he also asked me whether I had seen any of their bodies there? I told him that everyone was known to me and that my wife and children were not among the bodies. Then the lorry was taken to Karaddyvanchankulam Camp and all the bodies were unloaded. There were many bodies of children.
Then the Judge went and spoke to the Commander and told me, that the Commander has sent nine seriously injured people to Polonaruwa hospital.
The Judge asked me whether I want to take those 36 bodies with me. I told the judge that everyone in the village has gone as refugees to other villages and that it was very difficult to locate them. Therefore, I requested him to do the needful.
Immediately all the bodies were re-loaded into the lorry and taken to a nearby area. A bulldozer was brought in and a large pit was dug. All the bodies were dumped into the pit and set fire after pouring diesel on them.
The following day, I went to Polonaruwa hospital looking for my wife and children. Going to Polonaruwa is another long story. In the hospital, I went in to all the wards looking for my wife and children. But I couldn’t see them in any of the wards. Then I gave a bribe of fifty rupees to a Nurse working in the hospital and she immediately took me to the Children ward. There I saw my children were treated for the injures. Then I inquired about my wife and I was told that some injured people were transferred to Peradeniya hospital in Kandy.
It took about fourteen days for me to trace my wife in the Peradeniya hospital”, said YP.
“Actually everything was manipulated by the Army. They send their first batch of soldiers to round us up and kill us. Then the other batch came pretending to save us from the massacre. The Judge tried his best to do something. As a result of his initiative, there was an identification parade. Twenty four soldiers were identified by the people. But nothing happened.
First the case took place in Mineriya courts, then it was transferred to Batticaloa courts and eventually it was transferred to Colombo. This was a tactic they used to prevent us giving evidence. Most of the people here are very poor. How we can afford to travel to Colombo to attend this case? This is the justice you get from the Sri Lankan government,” said KG.
The neighbouring villages of Pendukalchenai are Tharavai, Kulavil, Nappathavil and Puleepainthavil. They were surrounded by many army camps. As there were frequent attacks on the people by the soldiers – most of the people were displaced to different areas. Those who were determined to stay in their village, used to stay at home during the day time and go to Pendukalchenai river side to spend their night.
Mrs. PT who lost her husband and children was stabbed five times by the soldiers. She related her eye witness account of the massacres that took place at the river side of Pendukalchenai.
“On 30 June 1995, at about 4.00 clock in the morning, the soldiers came to the river-side and started to fire at us. My husband, children and many others were killed in this incident. They all were killed in their sleep. Soon after they stopped shooting at us, they came at us with their knives.
I was facing down pretending that I was also killed. They started to stab all the dead bodies. They stabbed me five times. I saw the army seated on the branches of the trees. As I was bleeding from the stab wound, I started shouting at the army to kill me as well. One soldier came and hit me with his boots. They were at this place until 6.00 o'clock in the evening.
Soon after the army left the place, our people from the village came to the river side. It was horrible, I lost my husband and my three children in this incident. I am unable to relate more. Please find justice. Our people are killed for nothing. The army is doing whatever they like, who is asking them to do it?”
Udumpankulam is in Thirukovil G.A. Division, in Amaprai district. Soon after independence from the British in 1948, the first Prime Minister of then Ceylon started his Sinhala colonisation scheme in Amparai.
Amparai is under the full control of the STF. They loot and destroy houses. They rape and kill women. Hundreds of men were hacked to death by the STF and buried in pits.
There are about seven thousands widows (7000) living in Amparai district.
Ms. TK who was a victim of rape and eye witness to the massacres that took place in the paddy field of Udumpankulam, related her story. It was on 19 February 1986, that the following incident took place.
“In the night, the Army which came from Kondavedduvan camp rounded up all the people working in the paddy field. Then they started shooting the men and raped five of us. We pleaded with the soldiers not to do anything to us. But they all raped us, in line in the paddy field itself. As we couldn’t bear-up the pain, gradually we lost consciousness.
After an hour or so we recovered and ran into a cave of a mountain. From there we saw the soldiers covering all the bodies with paddy sacks and dried grass and setting fire to those bodies.
After two days Akaraipattu Citizen committee President Mr. Ahamad Lebbai, General Secretary S. T. Moorthy, Deputy President Rev. Fr. Philip, Batticaloa Citizen committee President Rev. Chandra Fernando and accompanied by press reporters came to the paddy field. The air in that area was laden with repellent smell of decomposing bodies and they saw bodies half burnt. They found that there were sixty six - 66 - people massacred.
They took photographs of all the bodies. They recorded our statements as well. Even Kalawana Member of Parliament, Mr. Sarath Muthugama spoke about this massacre in the parliament but all those efforts were of no avail. There is no justice here. No compensation was paid either to members of the family of the victims or to us who were raped by the soldiers.”
Adapallam is one of the villages in Amparai district. The four frontiers of Adapalam are sea, river and paddy fields, it is not very far from Ninthavoor. These areas are under constant surveillance of the STF and killing, raping, torture and looting are commonplace there.
No-one has any proper records of the people raped and killed in this village. These have been happening since 1983. The number of victims is in hundreds.
Mrs. KK who lost her mother, son, daughter, sisters and a brother-in-law in the hands of the STF, related her story:
“My three daughters went with my brothers and others by a CTB bus to Colombo on 21 November 1990. They were going to Colombo to attend my sister's wedding. On their way, they were stopped at the check point at Malwathai – they all were checked and allowed to proceed. This CTB bus was driven by one Mr. Tharmalingam
When they reached the Valuthapiddy STF check point, my son, daughter, mother, two sisters, brother in law and four others were asked to get down from the bus and board a white van, saying that they will be released after inquiry. That was the end of the story of all the ten (10) people. Until today none knows what happened to them.
We went everywhere to trace them. We went to STF camps, Army Camps, Police stations, CID in Colombo, Government Agent’s office. At last we were told that "None of them are alive. They were killed by unidentified persons”
One of the STF Commanders asked us to go to Kachcheri (Government Secretariat) and register our relatives as killed by unknown persons’. They said that they would give us compensation, I wanted to tell him that "I know the killers", but as I want to live a little longer, I kept silent.
Who wants this money? The money is given only if we register the cause of death as killed in "Cross-fire" or “by the LTTE " or by "Unknown killer". These are utter lies. The STF is killing the people here.
The STF would have been worried that the CTB driver Mr. Tharmalingam may disclose the facts about the arrests of the 10 people to someone. Later the driver, Mr. Tharmalingam was also killed by the STF”.
Mrs. PR whose husband was killed by the STF related her story:
“The STF started rounding up all the Tamil villages and taking all the men into custody. Down the road and lane the soldiers opened fire. On 2 August 1990, they rounded up our village and took five men (5) including my husband. They took five of them near the school and shot them dead.
They rounded up Ninthavur, Thiraikerny and Adapallam and took forty five (45) men to their camp and killed them. Those who escaped from the soldiers ran to a school in Karathivu. The soldiers came to this school as well. Here they shot dead seven (7) men in front of many others. They took some people with them but nothing is heard of them since then.
If anyone is interested in knowing about the STF killings in this area, they have to only count the number of widows in Nithavur, Oluvila, Karathivu, Veeramunai, Thiraikerney and Adapallam. This will give at least half the number of people killed by the STF here”.
Since 1954 this village has been subjected to continual attacks by thugs with the backing of the Sinhala politicians. There were instances people of this village have being chased out by the Sinhala settlers. The Tamils who moved away from this village are living in Veeracholai, Valathapiddy, Mallkaithivu and Malwathai for nearly thirty six years.
On 20 June 1990, the soldiers rounded up people of Veeramanunai and its surrounding villages Valathapiddy, and Veeracholai and demanded everyone to assemble in the compound of a temple. The soldiers selected fifty-six (56) men and killed them then and there. This incident took place in front of the members of their families.
Temple at Veeramunai 20/06/1990 56
On 28 June 1990, thirty seven (37) men were shot and burned in Samanthurai (Malaikaddu).
Samanthurai Malaikaddu 28/06/1990 37
Kondaivedduvan 29/06/1990 56
School at Karathivu 04/07/1990 12
School at Karathivu 10/07/1990 11
Army from Malwathai camp 16/07/1990 08 Raped and killed
On 26 July 1990, the army which came from Vedduvan army camp arrested eight 08 men from Malwathai, Veramunai, Kalathipuram and Puthunagar. Until today none knows what happened to them.
On 08 August 1990, the army soldiers along with Sinhala and Muslims home guards hacked to death eight 08 Tamils and dumped their bodies in a well.
On 11 August 1990, the people in Veeracholai, Valathapiddy and Mallkaithivu vacated their villages and moved to Mandoor. On their way to Mandoor, people were stopped by soldiers at Savalkaddai Army camp eighteen 18 people were hacked to death.
On 12 August 1990, the soldiers and the Muslim home guards went into the village of Konddavedduvan and set fire to the houses after looting the houses. In the meantime, they hacked to death twenty five Tamils and set fire to their bodies.
Many people who were injured in this incident were admitted to Amparai general hospital. The soldiers removed all those people from the hospital and killed them.
Amparai Hospital 12/08/1990 number killed uncertain
Sathurukoddan Depot Massacre
Sathurukoddan is not very far from Batticaloa town. This village comprises Pannichaiaddy, Pillayaraddy and Oorani.
Mrs. SS who lost almost all her relatives – 35 blood relations in the Sathurukoddan Depot Massacre related her story. This massacre took place on 9 August 1990.
“On a Sunday evening, the army and the Muslim thugs rounded up our village and took thirty-five (35 ) people including three handicapped teenagers. The Muslim thugs started assaulting the people.
On the previous day, some of our people knew that the army was going to round-up Pannichaiaddy and Pillayaraddy. In order to escape from this round up, many people from here went to Kuddyeruppu. Then the soldiers took ten 10 people from Kuddyeruppu.
They brought everyone near Pillayaraddy. There were about hundred and eighty five 185 people. They took everyone to a covered area in Vincent Depot. Then we couldn’t see anything. But we heard people were shouting and screaming. In between we heard a few firings. After a few minutes we saw the flames in full swing. Until the morning, the bodies were burning. They had shot and hacked to death hundred and eighty four - 184 - people. Those who were taken on a pretext that they would be released after an inquiry, were in flames.
For a few days, no-one was allowed to go near the depot. After a week, we went to the army camp and enquired about the whereabouts of the members of our family. They said that they never came to our village and they never took anyone. What else can we do other than asking the army? There is no guarantee that this will not happen again. So I decided to move to Karadianarou for my safety.
There is only one survivor. He saw everyone being cut with big knives and thrown into the fire. When he was cut with a knife by a soldier, he fell down and pretended to have died. But before he was thrown into the fire, he got up and ran away. They couldn’t catch him. He is somewhere in this region, meet him. He will tell you more stories.
When we were in Batticaloa, we were thinking how we should address Karuna's name to the people – whether it should be as Colonel Karuna or as Mr. Karuna. On many occasions when we said to the people as "Col. Karuna", they insisted that we should say as "Traitor Karuna" but not as "Col. Karuna".
"Karuna's trick of spreading regionalism didn’t work here. It is not important whether you are from Batticaloa or Trincomalee or Jaffna or elsewhere. We Tamils should be united to safeguard our historical homeland from Sinhala domination. This should be the priority of every Tamil in this land", said a History teacher in Batticaloa.
Child soldiers in Batticaloa
During our last visit in December, we met several members of the civil society in Jaffna especially to discuss the issue of child soldiers. We met several representatives of the civil society, parents and victims of war and others. We also witnessed many debates, arguments, eyewitness accounts, etc on the subject of child soldiers in Sri Lanka.
A civil society organisation in Jaffna gave us a list of 96 persons from the Jaffna district who said they had volunteered to join the LTTE between November 2002 and June 2003, but were sent back home by the LTTE on the grounds that they were not accepting any volunteers. (Please refer to - http://www.tchr.net/econ_soc_volunterst_list.htm)
According to the members of the civil society in the North East, the subject of Child soldiers was a one-sided story which has copious media coverage in the Colombo racist media.
According to some academics in Sri Lanka, this issue is taken up by organisations, which “do” human rights as “Business”. Such informed persons continue to say that “the more you pay, the more they exaggerate and highlight”.
Residents of the North East complained that those who raised the Child soldiers issue now in Sri Lanka, never uttered a word about what really happened to the people, including the children, in the North East. They said fathers had either been killed or were in prison; mothers and sisters had been either raped or killed; houses and schools had been destroyed by aerial bombing or shelling and undamaged schools are still occupied by Sri Lanka soldiers.
Furthermore, an economic embargo had been imposed on the Tamil regions for more than a decade resulting in massive ongoing health problems and the conditions in which internally displaced people (IDPs) live are still deteriorating.
Release of under age youth by the LTTE (2004)
Until March 2004 - 998
April - 269
May - 1300 Voluntarily sent home
July - 34 (Kilinochchi)
August - 24 (Kokkadicholai)
Total - 2595
"Many Sinhalese and some local NGOs are not bothered about what is happening to the Tamils in this country. But, they raise the child soldier issue to discredit the LTTE. They know very well that they can spread all sort of fictions against the LTTE and convince the international community, said a human rights activist DC in Colombo.
A school teacher LR told us "this UNICEF should have been active ten years ago in the North East. It is too late, after all the damages have been done successfully to the Tamil children, the Sri Lankan government has allowed the UNICEF and other institutions to talk about the child soldiers here".
Colonisation in Batticaloa
The colonisation started by colonising Sinhalese in the Tamil regions in the border villages. But now it has spread to important cities and towns.
Prof. Kallinga Gunaratna was the person who drafted the plan for the Sinhala colonisation. Now Amparai is given the Sinhalese name of "Thikamadullai". (For statistics, refer to page 25 )
A leading human rights lawyer in Colombo told us that, since the independence from British, the Sinhalese governments have had a covert programme for settling Sinhalese families in the Tamil regions. They have done it successfully in Amparai, Trincomalee and other places.
Since 1827 - Tamil and Sinhala populations in the Eastern province
(Table is shown on a language basis)
Year Speaking Speaking
1827 99.24% 0.53%
1881 93.82% 4.66%
1891 93.89% 5.06%
1901 91.8% 5.05%
1911 93.4% 3.76%
1921 93.95% 4.53%
1946 87.8% 9.87%
1953 85.5% 13.11%
1963 79.25% 19.9%
1971 78.61% 20.7%
1981 74.4% 24.92%
(After 1981 no census was taken in the NorthEast)
Since 1827 - Tamil and Sinhala populations in the Batticaloa district
Table is shown on a language basis
(Until 1963 it includes Amparai district)
Year Speaking Speaking
1827 99.62% 0.00%
1881 93.27% 4.75%
1891 93.2% 5.21%
1901 92.34% 5.21%
1911 92.95% 3.74%
1921 93.12% 4.56%
1946 92.55% 5.83%
1953 87.64% 11.52%
1963* 95.6% 3.35%*
1971 94.49% 4.49%
1981 95.95% 3.21%
* Creation of Amparai district
Tamil and Sinhala population in the Amparai district
Table is shown on a language basis
(Amparai district was created in 1963)
Year Speaking Speaking
1963 70.22% 29.34%
1971 69.47% 30.18%
1981 62.03% 37.64%
(After 1981 no census was taken in the NorthEast)
(For further information, please refer to our report on colonisation -
A few noteworthy massacres of Tamils in the Amparai district
Date Place of incident Killed Remarks
10/06/1956 Amparai 150 During anti-Tamil
19/02/1982 Udumpankulam 103 While threshing
paddy in field
17/05/1985 Narpaddimunai 23 Abducted - killed
11/02/1990 Fancy House Kalmunai 111 51 men and 60
12/06/1990 Karathivu Refugee camps 35 youths arrested in
a round-up and
12/06/1990 Viramunai & Sammanthurai Temple 85 youths killed in
13/06/1990 Ninthavoor 64 youths arrested in
a round-up and
24-25/06/1990 Akkaraipattu Methodist Church >
Alayadivempu Thirunavukkarasu Vidyalam > 104 rounded-up in a
30/06/1990 Pottuvil 132 rounded-up in a
18/07/1990 Chavalkkadai 32 while returning
home after work
08/07/1990 Central Camp 18 while attending a
06/08/1990 Thiralkkerni 54 out of 54, 3
women were raped and killed
16/09/1990 Chavalkkadai 4 raped and killed
in the night
04/01/2003 Addalaichenai 2 raped and killed
in the field
(Many more to be included)
Visit to Trincomalee
We arrived in Trincomalee at night. The people at the bus stand and three wheeler (auto) drivers were waiting for hire speaking only in Sinhala. It surprised us because we have travelled through many Sinhalese towns and villages and we have seen people speak in Sinhala and in English.
When we asked a school teacher about this, he explained how Trincomalee has been “Sinhalised” within a short period. The reason for this, he said, is that the Tamils in the North East have always claimed Trincomalee as their historical capital. He further said that the famous Saiva (Hindu) temple Thiru Konneswaram inside the Fort Frederick, is the historical witness to this claim.
About fifteen years ago, the Tamils in Trincomalee appealed to the government to make the Konneswaram Temple in the Ford Fredrick as a "Holy site". There is ample Saiva (Hindu) archaeological, scriptural and inspirational evidence for the Tamils to claim Thiru Konneswaram as a Holy site. But the government has not only ignored this request, but also encouraged the Sinhalese to build a Buddhist temple in the same site covering the view and importance of the Saiva temple in Ford Fredrick.
In Trincomalee, we had the chance of visiting the memorial building raised in memory of 53 Tamil prisoners who were massacred in the Welikadai prison in Colombo by the Sinhala prisoners on the 25th & 27th of July 1983. This massacre took place in the prison during the peak days of the July 1983 anti-Tamil pogroms in the island.
Internally Displaced People
According to government sources out of 57,563 displaced families in the Trincomalee district, 51,282 have been able to re-settle in their villages. But an NGO worker claimed that only the Sinhala settlers were able to re-settle in the villages, where in fact, they had been colonised before. The Tamils remain displaced. Several Tamil families chased away from the East have gone and settled in the North.
According to an unconfirmed NGO report nearly forty thousand Tamil houses have been damaged in the Trincomalee district.
The Chariot of the Sivan temple in Trincomalee town was completely burned down in an arson attack in 1985.
In Trincomalee there are many Saiva (Hindu) temples which are defunct due to military presence in Trincomalee. People say they have been systematically prevented from praying in them. Not far from Trincomalee town, we passed a Krishna temple, no longer in use. Now the areas surrounding this Krishna temple and two other temples are exclusively inhabited by Sinhalese, part of the colonisation process.
Historical Thiru Konneswaram Temple is inside Fort Fredrick in Trincomalee town. To the surprise of all, a big Buddhist temple has been constructed at the entrance of Fort Frederick. The devotees of this temple told us that - in another ten years this temple would end up as a Buddhist temple fully dominated by Sinhalese, like Kataragama Murugan temple in the South.
"Since the Colonisation is in progress, wherever there is a Saiva (Hindu) Temple, a Buddhist shrine has been built next to it and in many places there are large army camps. Wherever there is a Bo tree (Peepul-tree), a Buddhist temple has been built up. Wherever there are no Bo-trees and Buddha statues, they are planting Bo saplings" said a Saiva priest in Trincomalee.
A Buddhist Temple is being constructed next to Tampalakamam Koneswary Temple.
We visited Tampalakamam, a few miles away from Trincomalee town. The people living there related what had happened to them over the years. They live even today in fear of persecution and threat. The Sri Lankan army have camps on every side of the main roads and there is a sense of being under constant surveillance by them.
As usual, this family also recounted their experiences on the condition that we do not publish their names in our reporting.
In Thampalakamam, we went passing a small pond where a herd of water Buffalos were seen, resting in the water.
1986 massacre in Thampalakamam
They told how one night the Sri Lankan soldiers went on a rampage terrifying all in the village. Almost everyone went to Tampalakamam Konneswaram temple, for safety, fearing to stay at his/her house.
Unfortunately, one family decided to stay at home and did not go to the temple that night. The father was away at that time, he worked in the Kachcheri (District Secretariat). Mangaleswary, a teacher aged about 35 years old, was at home with her mother and her three young children. Round about 9.00 p.m., while the grandmother was cooking, the army came and forcibly entered the house. They shot the grandmother in the mouth and killed her. They repeatedly raped the mother and then killed her and her two infant children. The third child, a little girl of eight years old was assaulted, her arm was broken and she was left uncared for.
In the morning the traumatised child was found by neighbours, and with difficulty she told her horrific ordeal. The bodies were found. The mother’s body was naked. The neighbours we spoke to remember the horror of finding them dead. They clothed the bodies to prepare them for burial.
The village was visited by ICRC personnel, a judge and the police. The child who survived identified the soldier who perpetrated the crime. One month later the same Sri Lanka army soldier was seen at one of the checkpoints near the village.
The conclusion of the case was that the LTTE had killed that family. The finding was another travesty of justice.
We came across the same pattern, time and time again in the NorthEast. An atrocity occurs, perpetrated by the Sri Lankan armed forces, in cold blood, against unarmed civilian Tamils. Then the truth of what happened is covered up, denied and witnesses intimidated and harassed.
1998 massacre in Thampalakamam
Everyone was watching a video at home. Six men were forcibly taken from a house by a group of Sri Lankan army soldiers where a house warming ceremony was taking place in Pokkuruni. The soldiers then took two other men from a nearby house as well. Of the eight, four were bachelors and four were married with children. All were killed.
PLOTE came and backed up a demonstration on behalf of the victims. In fact it was organised by the PLOTE on government instruction to please the kith and kin of victims. The inquiry concluded “killed by LTTE or in crossfire”.
In 1990 they arrested eight youth from this area and held them in Trincomalee Fort Frederick for nearly three months. Their parents went to see them and were told they would be released. They were never released. They were shot dead and their burnt bodies were found on the beach in front of the fort.
In Tampalakamam itself, more than 2,000 people have “disappeared” Until today no-one knows what has happened to them and none of their names are registered in any records. The relatives still live in the area, with their painful memories. We hope international human rights organisations will make note of this.
In this village every family has lost at least one member.
During the time of the IPKF this village was badly affected. Many women were arrested. There are more than 1,000 widows in the area. The ICRC is doing some social work to help the widows, providing them with sewing machines, loans to set up income generating projects like poultry farms.
The members of the family with whom we spoke said that their house had been looted four times. Even while they were in the house the army brought their trucks and loaded everything : all electrical and electronic appliances, showcase, beds, bed-sheets, grills from the window, the windows and doors were taken away. The house was partially rebuilt three times.
Before the cease-fire agreement was signed, during daytime, a masked Army soldier had gone into this village and forcibly snatched all the "Thali koddis" (Marriage necklaces) from many women there. Eventually all the people in the village went to the Army camp and complained to the commander and recovered all their "Thali koddis" and this case is still pending in Trincomalee courts.
It is very interesting to note that this soldier's family owns a jewellery shop in Kurunagala.
All the areas around the main road have been colonised by Sinhalese. Before the Ceasefire Agreement, there were army in the area, now it is under Police control.
This family lamented that the Sinhalese people who have moved into Tampalakamam are doing business and the Muslims are also opening up shops.
During the peak of the conflict, the Tamil families who left this village had left their possessions with Muslims families for safe keeping. But when they come back and asked for their belongings the Muslim families had betrayed them saying that the Army had taken them.
Some massacres of Tamils in the Trincomalee district
Place of massacre Date N°. Killed
Kanthalai massacre 11/11/1985 06
Sampur, Muthur 27/11/1985 22
Sampalthivu 26/06/1986 15
Thamplalakamam (Forest) 28/06/1986 34
Mullipothanai 09/07/1986 11
Peruveli Manatchenai Refugee Camp 16/07/1986 44
Pankulam 31/12/1986 08
Trincomalee (Iruthayapuram) 13/03/1991 14
Disappearances during Col. Thenekoon’s tenure 1990 +1000
(Many more to be included)
Colonisation in Trincomalee
Encroachment on paddy fields by the Sinhalese
Hundreds of acres of paddy lands belonging to the Tamils in Thillaimadhu Velli and Nallathanneer Ootru Pulavu at Thennamaravadi in Trincomalee district, were forcibly confiscated by Sinhalese from the Siripura and Padavi Siripura areas.
Thennamaravai village was attacked several times by Sinhalese thugs and the army in 1984 and more than 200 Tamil families were displaced.
Since the Ceasefire Agreement was signed they have been anxiously waiting to return to their lands but the Sinhalese who forcibly confiscated the lands are refusing to give it back to the owners.
Many appeals were made by the owners of these lands and by parliamentarians requesting the government to help the lawful owners to take possession of their lands. The government turned a blind eye on this matter.
In the same manner acres of land owned by Tamils were confiscated forcibly by the Sinhalese in many other border villages of Trincomalee.
Since 1827 - Tamil and Sinhala populations in the Trincomalee district
Year Speaking Speaking
1827 98.45% 1.53%
1881 90.72% 4.21%
1891 91.44% 4.3%
1901 89.04% 4.22%
1911 90.54% 3.82%
1921 92.13% 4.38%
1946 75.09% 20.68%
1953 78.8% 18.22%
1963 79.25% 19.9%
1971 70.2% 28.8%
1981 65.38% 33.62%
(After 1981 no census taken in the NorthEast)
(For further information, please refer to our report on colonisation -
Geysers in Kanniya
At a distance from Trincomalee in Kanniya, the famous geysers are found. These are historically connected to Tamils and Saivaism (Hinduism).
There are seven small wells issuing water at differing temperatures and visitors bathe there using buckets to pour water over themselves. It would be refreshing in the relative cool of dawn. The water is believed to have healing effects.
Near the geysers is the ruins of a rest house, “Pilgrim’s Rest” which is in total ruins, pockmarked with bullet holes. Yet another civilian building ravaged by war. A small shrine, under a tree welcomes the visitor to the geysers.
In the same location, there is a small Saiva (Hindu) temple. Since the cease-fire, the people in this area wanted to build this temple. But the Buddhist monks in Trincomalee have objected to this and have filed a case in the courts.
In fact, Kanniya and the geysers are in the traditional Tamil area where Sinhalese and Buddhist do not have any claim on the land.
A young man in the area where geysers are located showed us a growing Bo tree and told us that when we come back after another ten years, we may be able to see a Buddhist temple.
* * * * *
Visit to Vanni
It has to be said that the A9 road is much better than it was before. There is nothing to complain about the road condition from Vavuniya to Jaffna. Certain interior roads in the Vanni are still in the same condition but this is the case with various other roads in the island.
When we entered Omanthai, the Army check point and the LTTE check points were located at the same places as before.
The travellers along the A9 feel that the Army checking at Omanthai when going towards Vanni is unnecessary and a waste of time. After all, the passengers are going into the LTTE administrated areas.
But when we came back to Omanthai from Vanni, the Army checking was severe and there were military intelligence officers harassing the passengers. They ask for all information about the LTTE activities in Vanni and other parts.
Also the soldiers who check the passengers in a small covered dark room, demand money and deliberately check the private parts of the body.
Some of the construction work in Vanni is being undertaken by Sinhalese skilled workers from the South, such as masons, carpenters, electricians, plumbers and others. Before, many of these workers went to the Middle East looking for green pastures, which they now find within the island of Sri Lanka. But they undergo the same immigration and customs procedures as any immigrant worker in other countries.
As a follow-up meeting to our previous report, we met Mr. Illakumaran, head of the Education Council of Tamil Eelam.
Mr. Illakumaran told us the following our meeting with him in his office in Kilinochchi :
During the whole period of the peace process, Education has received NOTHING from the government – only from NGOs. In fact the government has not allowed NGOs to fill vacancies for teachers. There is a massive shortage of Tamil medium teachers in the North whereas there is an excess of five thousand Sinhala teachers in the South. For the last ten years, there has been a 30% shortage of Tamil medium teachers, island-wide.
UNICEF complains about child soldiers but underestimates the holistic needs of ”The Child”. As far as the children are concerned child soldiers is not the only issue.
Only a small number of teachers are being trained at the National College of Education (Kopay, Jaffna). Teachers Training Programmes in Tamil medium are required, but the Sri Lankan government has closed down all the teacher training colleges – due to excess of teachers in the South.
State and Private schools in the NorthEast
(all grades : 1ab, 1c, ii & iii)
District Functioning Functioning Temporarily Total
at original at different closed
Amparai 391 09 04 404
Batticaloa 290 16 14 320
Trincomalee 235 12 24 271
Vavuniya 104 75 11 190
Mullaithivu 90 07 08 105
Killinochchi 58 32 04 94
Mannar 68 23 21 112
Jaffna 326 89 76 491
Total 1562 263 162 1987
According to the available statistics of the National Education :
TAMIL medium – Teachers Sinhala medium - Teachers
Island wide - approved 47,636 Island wide - approved 139,499
- available 37,848 - available 144,129
- shortage - 9,788 - EXCESS 4,630
North East - approved 26,128
- available 20,311
- shortage - 5,817
Officials working in the Ministry of Education, Colombo :
Several other departments have work related to Education, but there are no Tamils working in those departments. Therefore they do nothing in Tamil – eg. Archaeology department.
The National Institute for Education is responsible for preparing syllabus, teacher training, curriculum development, teachers’ guides and textbooks. Since 1984 the Tamil text books have been translated from Sinhala into Tamil. The Tamil books are laden with mistakes and mistranslations. Certain Tamil text books have no translations at all.
The government prints history textbooks with the same mistakes which have already been brought to their notice. These are deliberate errors and mistranslations. Therefore the Tamil students do not answer certain questions in the exams.
In the five-year plan for Education 2000 – 2004, the government statistics record a shortage of text books.
During the last ten years no schools were constructed in the NorthEast. Since the cease-fire came into effect, only 5% of repairs and re-construction have been effected with the funding of NGOs.
In the LTTE administrated areas, Education is improving with little resources. In government controlled areas, the Tamil medium is going downhill in Education.
While TCHR representatives were in the island, the Advanced Level (AL) results were released and we found that LTTE administrated Vanni had fared very well compared to many other areas in the Island. At one time, Jaffna was producing the best results in the whole island, but it has gone to 14th place in the last AL exams. We were informed that the reasons attributed to this decline are Army domination and the government’s hidden programme of destroying the culture, education, social and traditional life of the people of Jaffna.
In conclusion – there are four main problems in Education :
Mr. Illankumaran said the current "Standardisation" of Education is worse than that which was introduced in the 1970’s. Then, there was an open standardisation on University entrance, denying equal access to the Tamil students. Now the discrimination is done subterfugely, not openly as then.
In Kilinochchi, there is a big shortage of English teachers. The actual need is for 166 teachers and they have only 8 teachers. Now, English is compulsory to enter the University, so indirectly standardisation is forced on the Tamil students. The “logic” of standardisation is impossible for outsiders to fathom.
English Teachers – North East
- approved 3,121
- available 1,122
- shortage - 1,999
There are 37 Technical Colleges in the island : (Government statistics)
Sinhala medium 32
Tamil medium 05*
(* Batticaloa, Sammanthurai, Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Jaffna)
Foreign aid is given to the technical colleges in the South and those are functioning well. But Technical colleges in the Tamil areas have great problems in existing. For example, in the Jaffna technical college, there are several shortages. 94 members of staff are needed, but there is only 39 staff. It is functioning without a Principal and a vice-principal.
* * * * *
Tamil Eelam Police
Meeting with Mr Nadesan - Head of Tamil Eelam Police
As a follow-up meeting, we met Mr. Nadesan, the Police chief of the Tamil Eelam Police.
Mr. Nadesan said that their prisons are open for UNICEF, ICRC, UNHCR inspection. They are allowed to visit the prisons at any time.
TCHR representatives paid a visit to one of the prisons of our choice and it was not an arranged visit. It is very well maintained and the prisoners enjoy all sorts of facilities – from recreation to news-papers. One of the prisoners asked us, who we were and where we come from? During the time we visited, many were enjoying an afternoon naps.
During our visit we found a Hindu priest in the prison. When we asked the prison officials about his case, they said that he was legally married and living in Colombo with his wife. After a few years of marriage he left his legal wife and eloped with another young girl and he had chosen to lead his romantic life in Vanni.
Unfortunately the legal wife has brought this to the attention of the Tamil Eelam Police and he was arrested and ended up in Tamil Eelam Prison.
Under LTTE administration, "polygamy" is not accepted. Bigamy is an offence in law. It is a violation of social norms. If the husband and wife have problems, they are allowed to go for free counselling service which is provided by the Tamil Eelam courts. In the meantime they have their choice to divorce and live separately and to marry again after divorce or judicial separation.
Mr. Nadesan's concern
Mr. Nadesan told us that "Sri Lanka has been a member of the United Nations for a very long time. What have all these member countries and international institutions like UNICEF, UNHCR and others done when: the Citizenship of plantation Tamils were withdrawn and disfranchised; Sinhalese were colonised in the Tamil homeland; Sinhala Only Act was introduced, forcing Tamils to study Sinhala; Standardisation was introduced into the Education system depriving our children of having University education; when the draconian law known as Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) was introduced to target the Tamil youths? All these are total violations of International law".
“Failing to act at the right time then, now the UN member countries and International institutions are trying to find fault with us! Why is there this double standard?
Those who talk about norms, acts and law should have come and spoken out when several anti-Tamil pogroms took place in this island from 1956 to 1983. During the communal riots Tamils were butchered, properties were looted, set on fire and destroyed. Did the international laws and UN Declarations permit these people to do this at that time?” asked Mr. Nadesan.
When we asked him about the 48 hours period for a suspect to be produced in Tamil Eelam courts, he explained that it is still two days because there are not enough vehicles to transport the suspects from the places of arrest to the station. Sometimes the police officers walk miles and miles to bring the suspect to the police station.
Mr. Nadesan also pointed out that they do not have any facilities to take finger prints. The police need technical assistance. He said if they obtained methods of finger printing, they could prevent future crimes there.
He also added that now People are getting used to the traffic regulations. They are, on the whole maintaining the speed limits as indicated.
Mass graves in Kilinochchi
Kilinochchi was occupied by the Sri Lanka Army from September 1996 to September 1998. During which period many people who went to see their belongings in Killinochchi never returned.
Since Kilinochchi came under the control of the LTTE administration, people who have resettled in Kilinochchi have discovered many mass graves.
The Tamil Eelam police have released the following details concerning mass graves in Kilinochchi.
Un-identified skeletons discovered in Kilinochchi
No. Place recovery Date of Details
01 Ampal kulam, Kilinochchi 28/08/2001 - Human Skelton and artificial
leg and clothes found. Suspected
to be the skeleton of K. Surenthiran
02 Next to Hero's Cemetery 17/08/2000 - Human skull was found
03 5th Canal, Uruthirapuram 24/03/2000 - Parts of human bones, clothes found
04 In a toilet pit in Rathynapuram 20/03/2000 - Parts of human bones found
05 In a water well at 3rd Canal, 05/05/2000 - Parts of human bones and
Pannagkandy clothes found
06 In a compound at Uthyanagar, 18/08/2000 - Parts of human bones found
07 In a toilet pit at 3rd Canal,Paranthan 09/05/2000 - Parts of human bones found
08 In a toilet pit, Vivekananthanagar 16/09/2000 - Parts of human bones, clothes found
09 In a compound at Kathannagar 03/01/2000 - Two skulls and clothes found
10 In a toilet pit, Thirunagar 29/05/2001 -Three skulls and clothes found
11 Next to Hero's Cemetery 11/03/2000 - Parts of human bones found
12 In a water well at 3rd Canal, 17/06/2001 - Parts of human bones, clothes found
Identified skeletons discovered in Kilinochchi
No. Name of victim Date of Date of Place of recovery
01 Ganeshanathan 29/06/1997* 06/03/2000 In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
02 Verraiayah Chelliah 27/05/1997* 06/03/2000 In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
03 Ramiah Muthiah 09/03/1997* 06/03/2000 In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
04 Amirthanathan Nageshkumar 29/07/1997 06/03/2000 In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
05 Vayravan Manickam 03/05/1997* 06/03/2000 In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
Subash Colony, Akarayan
06 Rathynam Sivakumar 04/06/1997* 06/03/2000 In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
07 Kanthiah Balasubramaniam 10/03/1998* 06/03/2000 In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
08 Seenivasagam Pannirselvam 05/07/1998 22/06/2000 In a toilet pit, D3 Pannagkandy
Union kulam, Akarayan
09 Nagalingam 00/00/1997 08/06/2001 In a water well at
252/3 Mullai-Paranthan Road
10 Perumal 00/00/1997 08/06/2001 In a water well at
Vaddakachchy 252/3 Mullai-Paranthan Road
* * * * *
TAMIL EELAM JUDICIARY
The Tamil Eelam courts started functioning in 1993.
There are seven district courts, two high courts and one appeal court in the LTTE administrated areas, said Mr. Para who is in charge of the Tamil Eelam judiciary system. The district courts are in Killinochchi, Vavuniya, Mannar, Mullaithivu, Addampan, Batticaloa and Trincomalee. Presently there are no Eelam Courts in the Jaffna peninsula.
He said that violence committed against women receives the maximum sentence. In rape cases, once proved of the offence, the culprits are given capital punishment. So far four death sentences have been executed – for offences like rape and murder but within the last three years no death sentence was passed in any of their courts.
Mr. Para further stated that Mr. Pirabaharan, the Tamil National Leader is seriously considering abolishing the death sentence after the return of durable peace in our homeland. Mr. Pirabaharan, is also strongly advocating for the existence of independent judiciary.
He said that the people in Tamil Eelam have full confidence in their judicial systems. The people within the Government controlled areas in the Tamil homeland prefer to go to the Tamil Eelam courts than to Sri Lankan courts. In the Sri Lankan judicial system, there is a problem with the implementation of court orders.
Mr. Para claims that Criminal cases in Tamil are totally abandoned in the Government controlled areas because the Policemen working in those areas are all 100% Sinhalese speaking.
The Tamil Eelam judiciary system has a free legal consultancy service for those who cannot afford to pay lawyers.
New premises have been built for the Law college in Kilinochchi. Presently there are 120 Lawyers and 26 Judges who are graduated from the Law college of Tamil Eelam.
This year only THREE TAMILS entered the Law College of Sri Lanka.
NorthEast Secretariat on Human Rights - NESOHR
On 9 July 2004 a human rights body known as the “NorthEast Secretariat on Human Rights – NESOHR” has been established in Kilinochchi. It has been announced that this body will monitor the human rights violations in the NorthEast and implement actions to strengthen the human rights in the NorthEast.
The members of NESOHR are academics, parliamentarians, lawyers, human rights activists, religious leaders and others.
Fr. M. X. Karunaratnam has been elected as the Chairperson of the NESOHR. The secretariat is located on the A9 road at Karadypokku junction in Kilinochchi.
It is widely known that well over 2,076 Saiva Temples (Hindu Temples) in the Northeast have been destroyed or damaged during over twenty years of war. (Please refer to our website : http://www.tchr.net/religion_temples.htm)
In this report we have already mentioned about destroyed and damaged temples in the East. The situation is no different in the North.
In big temples, one finds a separate building housing intricately decorated religious chariots used during important religious festivals. Many of these too have been destroyed by arson or by aerial bombing or by shelling by the army.
TCHR representatives visited Vattrapillai Amman temple in Mullaitivu. The manager of the Temple told us of his vivid memories, when in 1990 the temple was bombed by the Sri Lanka Air Force, causing extensive damage to the temple. The temple chariot was also completely destroyed.
Two years later on 14 June 1992 during the Temple’s most important festival of the year, it was hit by a shell fired from the Sri Lanka army camp at Mullaitivu. Twenty five people were killed on the spot. An ICRC vehicle on the premises was also hit by the shelling wounding ICRC staff.
On the same day fifteen people who were gathered at the nearby bus-stop were also killed by Sri Lanka army shelling.
In 1996, a week before the LTTE took control of Mullaitivu Sri Lanka army camp, shelling and bombing from that camp killed about 100 cows that were kept behind the temple.
Uttankarah Pillayar Temple in Mulliyawallai in Mullaitivu District was also affected. The chariot in the temple was burnt down.
Post Traumatic Stress
In Vanni and other places, most people have had traumatic personal and family experiences, and naturally, each individual responds in his/her own way. Research shows that 20-25% of those surviving life-threatening trauma may be affected by Post Traumatic Stress. With few resources, those working with women and children are doing wonderful work, providing nurturing, healing environments where people can start to come to terms with their past experiences, to rebuild their lives. Staff are dedicated and keen to find new ways to meet the needs of those they are looking after.
We saw many new developments in the various organisations that are caring for women, children, the aged and the disabled.
People in Vanni have lived for over two decades amidst the horrors of war and the draconian effects of the economic embargo which stopped food, medicine and necessaries reaching the people in the NorthEast.
Most of the welfare centres in Vanni are fully self-funded. Some projects in Vanni are funded by certain NGOs and TRO.
During our last trip we could not meet the staff and children at Kandaruban children’s home, so we were very glad this time to have had the opportunity to meet them. Amudan showed us around and we met several of the young students who were smiling and cheerful. Even the six year olds were keen to practise their knowledge of English, amongst lots of giggles.
Kandaruban was started in 1993 with 55 children in Jaffna, all of whom had lost their parents in the war. This centre is for boys. There are about 227 children, they are looked after well with the limited resources available.
The children attend local government schools, but there are not enough teachers to assist the students with private tuition. One of the students has entered Jaffna University and two students have entered Technical college. The home was displaced eight times during the war, having to move and re-establish itself in safer locations.
This is an adult education centre for disabled war veterans. The Academy was founded in 1983 in Suthumalai in Jaffna. 160 students currently follow a variety of courses, both practical and theory. There are recreation facilities such as volley ball and football.
Here there are courses held over a period of four months in: Motor mechanics, science, video skills, electronics, computing, cultural studies, language, Braille, English, politics and Music.
At the moment they are in the process of organising a permanent building. Construction has not started yet. According to Mr. Kalaikovan, the person in charge of this academy, they are looking for funds to construct a permanent building. The residents in this academy have a musical group and they performed a musical show, which TCHR representatives also attended.
We visited Chencholai and learnt about their new developments and their plans. About half of the children’s home has been relocated to Iranamadu Tank Road, in Kilinochchi. They are waiting to move to their permanent building at Thiruvai aaru.
We met Ms. Janani, the Directress of the home. Janani with her amazing vision and energy continues to develop the facilities at Chencholai and incorporates new ways of working with the children.
The children were happy and lively. Staff are doing a wonderful job to give the children a stable and nurturing environment with the limited resources available.
Obviously the children and young people are deeply affected by the traumas of war and the loss of their parents. It is challenging work for all at Chencholai.
While we were there, two girls who have now grown up, came and visited Janani and others at Chencholai. One is working in the customs office and the other is at Teacher's Training college. Both were happy and satisfied with their careers, and clearly they were delighted to be back at home to tell their news.
Vettimanai is a home for women suffering from mental illness due to war-inflicted trauma. We wrote quite a detailed report of our visit in April 2003. It is one of the projects run by Centre for Women’s Development and Rehabilitation - CWDR.
The work of Vettimanai has been growing from strength to strength and there have been several further developments. New buildings are currently under construction in spacious surroundings in Kilinochchi. Construction work has been aided with assistance of Japanese funding. Much thought has gone into the architecture and planning of the new facilities, which aims at providing a sense of community as well as affording the women more space individually in their rooms.
There are now programmes for the induction and training of staff working at Vettimanai. Ms Mithira, the Directress co-ordinates the training and organises for staff to go to Jaffna by minibus, stay in a hostel there, and receive a five-day training course on effective ways of working with the patients.
While we were there, the third group of five young women embarked on the trip to Jaffna professional training. Tellipillai Hospital, located within a High Security Zone area, has temporarily moved near Jaffna, and here, weekly seminars are held for those working in mental health services, as counsellors, occupational therapists and so on. The Vettimani workers are invited to take part in discussions pertaining to issues that affect them such as case management.
If the residents at Vettimanai need in-patient medical care, at the moment they are obliged to travel from Vanni to Jaffna Hospital. One of the residents was admitted to Jaffna hospital. It was apparent that it was very difficult for her to adjust to the unfamiliar environment of the hospital. When Vettimani moves to Kilinochchi, there will be medical care on site, Mithira said.
It was wonderful to meet one of the residents of Vettimani whose mental condition has improved so much that she is now working in Kilinochchi. She eagerly showed us photos of her family and friends when we met her in the CWDR Head office in Kilinochchi.
One of the ladies we met working at Vettimanai is called Rathinam. She is in her 40s. Her husband was killed by the IPKF in 1987, and her son who was a policeman in the Tamil Eelam Police Force was shot dead by the Sri Lankan army. She has overcome those tragic losses by serving others, with gentleness and kindness. Such dedication to work for the well-being of others abounds in the Vanni.
Malarcholai means “Flower Park” and is true to its name. It is abundant with trees and flowers planted with careful planning.
Malarcholai is one of the CWDR projects, a home for pregnant women where they can also bring their other children. For various reasons the women may have been estranged from their husbands or abandoned.
There are forty-five women and twenty-six children. Some families have been reconciled here and accommodation is made available for families until they can be self-supporting.
Ms. Queelini is the co-ordinator of the project and Ms. Nithai is the administrative officer whom we met.
We visited this home in Kilinochchi briefly. It is co-ordinated by Ranida and the administrative officer is Subathira. There are twenty five women in this home who have had severe learning difficulties from birth.
This is a home for abandoned children, children living in abject poverty and children whose parents/families cannot look after them. We visited this home last year and visited again, briefly, on this trip. This year an additional dormitory has been built with the help of UNICEF. We met the assistant co-ordinator, as Ms Selvi the chief in-charge of this home was away. Senthalir is CWDR project.
Kurukulam Children’s home
Kurukulam now has a beautifully constructed outdoor play area for the children. It is situated at the front of the building and has slides, climbing frames and the equipments are brightly coloured and look attractive. We arrived in the early evening and the younger children were playing happily together in this area. We met Ms. Girija who is in charge and told us about the latest developments.
We recognised a boy whom we saw last year. His name is Thilipan. We mentioned him in our last report. Now he is growing up and was a little shy to talk to us, this time.
Since TCHR last visited Kilinochchi, the work of the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation- TRO, has expanded. It now has a three storey building in the heart of Kilinochchi, from which it organises its work. This building was opened by one of the western diplomats. It is a busy centre with a waiting room where visitors can read local papers and have access to internet.
Recollection from an artist’s memory about a massacre
In Vanni we met a young artist who is from Mannar. This young man told us about a massacre he had witnessed at the age of seven, twenty years ago. He was living in a village in Mannar and Sri Lanka army came and hacked to death many people. He saw people being mutilated in front of him. He had managed to run away. The scene has never left his memory.
He is gifted with the ability to paint and he creates expressive pictures that depict the different aspects of life. He teaches others drawing and painting.
Saved from two suicidal attempts
There are many people in the Vanni who have worked hard to overcome their own tragic life experiences and who strive to make life better for others. We met an elderly man who is now working at the Rural Development Service in Kilinochchi.
In fact he had lost his daughter and both sons in the war and he had wanted to end his own life, feeling completely dejected. He threw himself into a well on one occasion and tried to overdose on another. Both times he was saved and coaxed back to living life anew.
Later, he had been seen crouching in the corner of a building where Rural Development seminars were taking place. The facilitators noticed him, and after listening to his story and giving him encouragement and guidance, he wants to help others. Now he is doing a wonderful job, assisting others. He cannot forget his sorrows, he says, but he can work to alleviate the suffering of others.
Gathering information by some staff of INGOs
Some members of foreign staff working for International NGOs and certain institutions in the LTTE administrated area were gathering information for someone. This has been proved on several occasions and when this was reported to the notice of the International NGOs and institutions – they terminated the services of such members of the staff and avoided media coverage.
We were told of several instances how some staff working for International NGOs and institutions have approached the local civilians to obtain information on matters for which they were not assigned. Those members of the staff were ready to reward the civilian with non-food items in return for the information.
* * * * *
Visit to Jaffna
In Muhamalai the checking was as we informed in our last report. The Army check points and LTTE check points were the same as before.
There the passengers were harassed by the military intelligence officers who ask for information about the LTTE activities in Vanni.
Internally Displaced People
During the conflict, the government evicted civilians from the Jaffna peninsula and opened “High Security Zones” in many areas in the Jaffna peninsula. Similar problems exist in Vavuniya, Mannar, Trincomalee and Batticaloa.
The “High Security Zones” – HSZs were created by the government and are controlled by the army. Civilians are forbidden to reside inside these zones and the security forces are refusing to compromise on this basic right of the people.
Nearly 21,000 families or 68,000 individuals were displaced from these areas and are forbidden to return to their lands and homes located there. They still languish in refugee camps and welfare centres. It is a pure violation of the ceasefire agreement signed between the LTTE and the government.
Sorrowful stories of displacement
One family we met, told us about how difficult life had been after the invasion of Jaffna by the Sri Lankan armed forces at the end of 1995. They fled Jaffna with three children and were displaced for eight long years in Mallavi. They encountered great difficulty surviving. It was the time when the economic embargo was in force. The father walked miles and miles daily, even near army controlled areas, which was risky, to pluck and sell coconuts to earn a livelihood. He looks older than his age.
A gentleman working in a bank told us of his experiences of displacement for a period of nine months. His dignity was affronted by the lack of basic sanitary conditions, and the need to queue up for food to feed his wife and young children. There is no point having money in the bank because one cannot have access to it, he said. His voice went quiet and he softly murmured that no-one should ever have to face the humiliations and sufferings of displacement.
Military Zones in Jaffna
Our last report covers information on IDPs in Jaffna whom we met during our last two visits to Jaffna.
The displaced people and so called High Security Zones (HSZs) are an unresolved issue. In our observation, it is in fact very wrong to say that there are HSZs in Jaffna.
In fact, these are vast territories of Military Zones (MZs) designed to protect military interests and military installations. The government declared those areas as HSZs because they do not want to reveal to the world that they have such vast military territories under their control in Jaffna.
Then it would be clear proof of military domination in Jaffna to the outside world.
If there are HSZs, what is preventing the people from resettling in their own houses and villages? Now it is the time for the government to admit that there is military domination in the Jaffna peninsula.
In Jaffna, farming and fishing are still at a stand-still.
There were many demonstrations by the displaced people in Jaffna demanding for resettlement in their villages. But the government has turned a deaf ear to these demands.
The majority of the fertile land is used for military purposes and the farmers are living in IDP camps.
In Jaffna peninsula alone 299 Christian churches have been bombed and damaged. Nearly 93 churches are fully damaged, 186 churches partially damaged and about 20 churches slightly damaged.
(Please refer to - http://www.tchr.net/religion_churches.htm)
Whilst in Jaffna we visited the Navaly St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church and the surrounding areas. We knew about the bombing by the Sri Lanka air force on the church and its compound on July 9th 1995, killing instantly over 120 people who were refugees who had taken shelter there. The Sri Lankan press had reported on this incident.
There were denials about the severity of the bombing. The government had accused the ICRC of lying about the incident, accusing that it was a “discourteous” act to write about it.
Presently, there is an extensive army camp around Navaly Church of St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s, so we were cautious about visiting the surrounding areas.
One person whom we met told us how they had rushed to the scene after the bombing, and had shovelled part of the mass of unidentifiable pieces of flesh and parts of human bodies onto a tractor. This incident is still lingering, etched in his memory. He described how amongst the dead, he had seen the faces of a mother and her baby. Their faces were intact, but all the rest of their bodies were mutilated. This scene had haunted his dreams ever since.
We met an elderly man near the church, who described how his two granddaughters had been killed on that fateful day. He showed us a place where there was a heap of rubble. He told us that the bombing had reduced that house to rubbles.
We paused a while at the monument erected, in memory of the victims.
Muslims in Jaffna
Many Muslims have returned to their homes in Jaffna and are leading a normal life. We were able to see many Muslim traders running various businesses in Jaffna town. Also we were able to witness peace and harmony prevailing between the Muslims and Tamils in Jaffna.
When we spoke to some Muslims in Jaffna, they described to us how the government was exploiting their situation for its own advantage. Some told us that they wanted to return to Jaffna when the LTTE asked them to return to Jaffna. But they were prevented by the government from returning. The politicians were trying to manipulate local and international opinion.
Some Muslims in Jaffna said that "it is true that the LTTE has asked us to vacate Jaffna in the past. But since 1995 Jaffna has not been controlled by the LTTE. It has been controlled by the government and its security forces. But the government told us not to return to our homes in Jaffna. It was not a public announcement, but one made through their Tamil agents, the EPDP and others. This was done with ulterior motive.”
Fishermen are still restricted from deep-sea fishing and they are frequently harassed and assaulted by the Navy and the Army in the sea and on land.
The fishermen are not allowed to do fishing independently. There are many restrictions on fishing in the North. Representatives of fishing Unions have said that now it is more than two years since the signing of the ceasefire agreement and still the Army, Navy and others are refusing to allow them to go fishing.
The special pass system introduced for fishermen is still in use. Even though there were several requests to remove the pass system, the Army has rejected those requests.
Journalist Nirmalarajan Mylvaganam
On 19 October 2000, the celebrated journalist Mylvaganam Nimalarajan was murdered in his house in Jaffna. Nimalarajan, aged 38, was a freelance journalist reporting both to the local and international media on war and political developments in Jaffna. He was a regular contributor to the BBC’s Sinhala and Tamil services, Tamil daily newspaper Virakesari, the Sinhala weekly Ravaya and to many other media. He was also the Secretary of the Northern Journalists’ Association and had been active in defending press freedom in Jaffna.
When we were in Jaffna, the talk in the town was about the suspect of the murder of Mylvaganam Nimalarajan seeking political asylum in the United Kingdom. An EPDP paramilitary leader, Sebastian Ramesh alias Napoleon, a prime suspect in the killing of Nirmalarajan, fled the country with a forged passport under the pseudonym of R. Patrick de Silva.
It is widely believed that he has sought political asylum in UK while taking refuge in a detention camp at Dover. This EPDP suspect is also a wanted person in many other criminal cases in Kayts, one of the islands in Jaffna.
Mr Nimalarajan was killed on the 20th of October 2000 but his murder case has been dragging on for four years under the pretext that the Criminal Investigation Department has still not completed its investigations.
A human rights activist VT in Jaffna told us that “the present UPFA government needs the support of the EPDP. The President of the EPDP, Douglas Devandanda is a Minister in President Chandrika's present cabinet. Therefore there cannot be any breakthrough either in the murder case of Nimalarajan or in getting the prime suspect extradited from the UK".
Nirmalarajan's family went quietly
Frances Harrison -
“As I leave Sri Lanka I have on my mind a journalist called Nimalarajan Mylvaganam. He worked for the BBC in the northern city of Jaffna.
“Two armed men burst into Nimalarajan's house as he was listening to the news on the BBC Tamil service at night.
“One man shot Nimalarajan five times in the head and chest. The other knifed his elderly father; the medical report said he had thirty three centimetres of cuts on his face and neck.
“When my Sinhala colleague organised an event to mark the first anniversary of Nimalarajan's death, he received a threatening telephone call.
“Redialling the number another man said it was the local army camp. Later we identified the number. It was actually a fellow Sinhala journalist. So much for basic decency let alone professional solidarity.
“Almost four years later Reporters Without Borders who championed this case commented that it was now apparent the police were unable or unwilling to conduct an investigation and gather physical evidence.
“Impunity is a word that's often used in Sri Lanka but it's still astonishing that despite the peace process, the change of government and the international attention given to this case - justice has not been done.
“The killings have started again. Another Tamil journalist was shot dead in the east at the end of May. Several others are in hiding in Colombo after receiving death threats.
“The BBC's reporters in the eastern town of Batticaloa no longer report in voice as it's considered too dangerous. Another BBC reporter in the north received a death threat last year.
“As I prepare to say goodbye to Sri Lanka I think of how Nimalarajan's family left this country. No big send off, no farewell gatherings, no interviews - they went quietly - their departure unnoticed by anyone.
“The children were excited about starting a new adventure abroad but Nimalarajan's parents were in tears at the thought of leaving their country. They knew it was the right thing to do, but they felt they'd been made unwelcome in their own home. (Excerpt from http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/highlights/story/2004/08/040820_frances.shtml)
We saw the fully reconstructed Public Library of Jaffna and the Post office. But the other buildings like the Courts, the Municipality buildings, Subramniam Park, Rest House, the Museum and the surrounding buildings were all completely in ruins.
A Lawyer YS in Jaffna told us that "the Sinhalese are very clever. They were in a hurry to re-rebuild the Public Library not because they like the people of Jaffna to be well read. There is no logic to the fact that those who destroyed the library rebuilt it! In fact it is because the burnt library was standing as a witness to the cultural genocide perpetrated on the Tamils. Foreigners who saw the burnt library would look down upon the Sinhalese, I mean the politicians and the government, for what they have done".
"These ruined buildings still bear witness to the 20 years of State terrorism against the Tamils", said a Principal of a college in Jaffna.
Free and fair election
A government servant RS told us that "whether in politics or sports, always the losers find a pretext to justify their defeat. Recent parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka are no exception to this. The loser always says that the election was not free and fair and sees to it that some inter-governmental organisation takes the same line with hidden motives.
Well if that is the case, what has this inter-governmental organisation got to say about the 1977 General election in which the people of the North East voted for an independent state? What happened to this mandate given in a free and fair election? These are the reasons for the government to introduce a special identity card for future election, so that they can manipulate the votes. In my opinion the government’s propaganda is still working very well internationally!"
The Buddhist vihara near Ariya kulam in Jaffna is the only recently reconstructed religious building in the whole of Jaffna. Recently another new Buddhist temple has been constructed near Chunnakam at a place called Kantharoday.
Illicit liquor brewers and vendors are found everywhere in Jaffna. According to the local residents, the Police officials are turning a blind eye to all these. “It is a government’s policy to encourage brewing and illicit liquor in Jaffna”, said a Christian priest in Jaffna.
Editor of Namathu Eelanadu of Jaffna, Mr. Rateyan, explained to us about the severe psychological intimidation inflicted on the people of Jaffna by the Sri Lankan army. He related to us a story about a young girl harassed by the army.
A soldier whom she sees daily on her way to school was trying to force her to marry him. Thereafter she had to be taken to school by her mother. Although the Ceasefire Agreement has introduced certain restraints on the army and police personnel, harassments continue. Parents are scared to send their children to school. Checkpoints are still positioned outside schools.
A Buddhist monk was caught at the Omanthai check point for trying to smuggle a pornographic video. This was destined for Jaffna. But to whom?
Mr. Ratheyan further said that during the last parliamentary elections - the Buddhist monks had offered one thousand rupees (Rs 1,000) to each voter demanding him or her to cast his or her vote for a Sinhala party or to the EPDP. They insisted that people should not vote for TNA.
At the moment there is no war here. But psychological oppression is pervasive and people are not allowed to live in peace”.
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We travelled through the dark green hillsides belonging to tea plantations in the hill country of Sri Lanka. This cool hill region that is also known as Upcountry, comprises Uva, Sabaragamuwa and Central Provinces of the island.
In the mid-nineteenth century, when the island was known as Ceylon, the British introduced tea and coffee plantations. They brought workers from Southern India and colonized them in Ceylon.
In 1795 the British employed indentured labourers from South India to Malaysia, South Africa, Mauritius and Ceylon to work in their tea, rubber, cocoa and sugar cane plantations in those countries.
The people who were brought by the British to Ceylon, in the 1820s were known as “plantation Tamils/Indian Tamils/Estate Tamils”. Today Plantation Tamils are some of the poorest and most isolated people in the island.
The tea, coffee, cocoa and rubber plantations need hard-working labourers. People are needed to plant and tend the growing bushes, to pick the delicate beans or to pluck the tender leaves or to collect latex all of which involve tedious labour. The work is hard, the hours are long and the wages are low.
Conditions of work were so bad that the workers were often treated as slaves. They remained an isolated and vulnerable group.
The majority of the Tamils who were taken by the British in 1800s from South India to Malaysia, South Africa and Mauritius as indentured labourers are today leading a prosperous life. They are well educated, socially stable and are holding good bureaucratic positions in the private sector as well as in the government. But the majority of the Tamils who were brought to work in the plantation on this island are still doing the same labour.
When we compare the Tamils brought here to Sri Lanka to work in the tea, rubber and coffee plantations with the Tamils who were taken to South Africa to work in the Sugar cane plantation, we can notice a great disparity between the indentured labourers.
The Plantation Tamils came to this island during the same period others went South Africa. Yet in spite of apartheid policy in South Africa all the Tamils have got their citizenship and are doing very well. Presently we doubt whether there are any Tamils working in the Sugar cane plantation in South Africa.
After independence in 1948 the new government deprived the plantation Tamils of Ceylon citizenship and began to take away the rights they already possessed. Its aim was to force them back to India. But most of them were born in Ceylon and had few or no links with India. In any case they were given no employment. In later years, some were ‘repatriated’ to India as a result of agreements reached between the two countries.
Mr O. A. Ramiah is a trade Unionist active in the Plantation Sector Social Forum (TUs and NGOs) and the Christian Workers’ Fellowship. He is Secretary-General of the Joint Plantation Trade Union Centre. His wife is a vice-principal of a school.
Mr Ramiah explained that in 1911 legislation classified the Tamils under two categories:
Of the latter category, 100,000 to 200,000 have no proper records, and are living in the NorthEast. 50,000 are voters in the Vanni.
The Estate workers, plantation Tamils, mostly live in Central, Uva and Western provinces. The conditions they live in have rendered amongst the poorest people in Sri Lanka. Their daily income is about 147 S.L. Rupees. Legally they should have at least 25 days work a month. But on average they have only 18 days work a month. They own nothing. They have no schools, no health, no education facilities, no transport and the roads are not good. They suffer from malnutrition and many of the women are anaemic.
In Nuwara Eliya and Badulla there are strong trade unions and hence better living conditions are enjoyed by the Tamils there. But the living conditions in Matalai, Ratnapura and Kandy are worse.
The problem of citizenship is that all amendments under the 1948 Citizenship Act, do not change the fact that the Tamils are categorised into the two different groups. Their demand is for the repeal of the 1948 Citizenship Act. Under this Act their citizenship was withdrawn. According to the constitution there should be no discrimination between citizens by descent or registration. In 1947, the “plantation” Tamils were citizens with full civil status and voting rights. Until 4 February 1948, they were all British subjects.
These Tamils are victims of triple oppression he says:
When we asked Mr. Ramiah whether they were affected by the twenty years of war, he said that this war had a serious effect on the plantation Tamils. “Many of our youths were arrested and tortured. Some of them have joined the organisations in the North” (he did not say anything in detail). “Many of our people have been displaced and in Vanni there are villages with 100% plantation Tamils."
Leader of Up-Country People Front (UPF)
Mr. Periyasamy Chandrasekaran, leader of Up-Country People Front (UPF) speaking in Badulla District said :
''For the 1.5 million people we do not even have a reputable national school. There are only name boards. The few big buildings we have are all constructed by foreigners. The Sri Lanka government does not allocate funds even to maintain them.”
''We want to live with freedom, dignity and justice. Leaders of the Muslim people are fighting for their rights. The late leader Ashraff obtained a university for them. His successor, Rauf Hakeem, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader, has secured another university. Now they have demanded proportionate admissions for Muslims at the Sri Pada College of Education. Our upcountry leaders should also fight for their people and get similar benefits for the estate workers,''
''Villages in plantation area are in the same condition as they were 50 years ago. The people's representatives have plundered even the roofing sheets donated by the Indian government to the plantation people. This situation should be changed,'' Mr. Chandrasekeran, said.
When the then Ceylon was granted independence by the British in 1948, the Tamils had 33% of the voting power in the island. After the disenfranchisement of the estate Tamils in 1949, this proportion dropped to 20%.
This gave the Sinhalese more than a two third majority in the Parliament. Obviously it made it impossible for the Tamils to have an effective opposition to whatever policies or motions that were brought against the Tamils by the Sinhalese in the parliament.
Nutshell - Plantation workers in Ceylon / Sri Lanka
1823 - Labourers from South India arrived in Ceylon/Sri Lanka to work in Tea, Rubber, Cocoa and Coffee plantations in the Upcountry. They came from the districts of Chenkelpettai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Thanjavoor, Thiruchirapalli and others parts in India.
1920 – The first Plantation Tamil representative to the legislative council in Ceylon.
1924 - Franchise was granted only to the elite. Plantation Tamils represented 12900 out of 205,000 electoral votes. Two Indians were nominated to legislative council.
1931 - Universal adult franchise was introduced in Ceylon/Sri Lanka under the Donoughmore constitution. Plantation workers were also granted franchise.
1936 – The number of registered plantation Tamil voters rose from 100,000 to 145,000.
1939 – A resolution was introduced in the State Council to deport 150,000 Plantation Tamils. A second resolution was moved by Ceylon's 1st Prime Minister D. S Senanayake to deport all Plantation Tamils appointed to government service after 1934 and to discontinue the services of all those with less than ten years service.
Arrival of Jawaharlal Nehru in Ceylon on the advice of Mahatma Gandhi to unite all the Plantation worker groups. Emergence of the Ceylon Indian Congress - CIC.
1947 - Elections bring political strength to the Plantation Tamil community with the election of seven out of the 95 members in Parliament. This was equal to the seven Tamil members elected from the North and East.
1948 - The Ceylon Citizenship Act, which spoke of the eligibility for citizenship, providing the qualifications to be a citizen, was designed to disqualify the Plantation Tamils of Indian origin from applying.
The provision stated that “only a person born in Ceylon prior to the date of the Act coming into force, of a father born in Ceylon could be recognised as a citizen”.
This de-citizenized all persons of Plantation Tamils on the basis that proofs of birth of two generations were necessary.
1949 - Enactment of Indian and Pakistani (Residents) Citizenship Bill. It laid down qualifications for citizenship for registered citizens. The qualifications inherent in the bill were designed to deny citizenship. This act disenfranchised almost all the Plantation Tamils in the upcountry.
1951 - 237,034 applications were made for citizenship for 825,000 (90%) Tamils of Indian origin in the plantation sector.
Majority of applications were rejected on the grounds that they were unable to produce evidence to prove their births in Ceylon/Sri Lanka, which would establish uninterrupted residency or provide proof of an assured income.
1956 - Elections too proved futile to plantation Tamils since they had no strength to field candidates due to the fact that the majority of them were disenfranchised.
1960 - The government created nominated representation for the plantation Tamils and appointed Mr S. Thondaman – the leader of Ceylon Workers Congress to Parliament.
1964 – The government decided to solve the citizenship problem in keeping with the Sinhala thinking that Plantation Tamils should return to India.
An Indian delegation led by Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Prime Minister of India, agreed to accept 525, 000 Plantation Tamils back.
Ceylon/Sri Lanka reciprocated by agreeing to grant citizenship to 300,000 persons assuring that the future of 150,000 people would be settled later.
1965 - The UNP government too nominated Mr. S. Thondaman to Parliament in return for the support he extended to defeat the SLFP government.
1974 - A further bartering was agreed upon under the Sirimavo-Indira Gandhi agreement, to equally share the remaining people between the two countries.
1977 – CWC Leader Mr S. Thondaman contested the Nuwara Eliya – Maskeliya multi member seat and was elected to Parliament as the third member.
Thirty years since 1947, only one member from the Plantation Tamils was elected to Parliament by the people of the Upcountry.
1978 to 1987 – Mr S. Thondaman made several representations for the expeditious granting of citizenship under the two Indo Ceylon Agreements. He also urged that persons who were left out of the two agreements be granted Sri Lankan citizenship.
Only 506,000 persons applied for Indian citizenship out of the 600,000 envisaged under the agreements.
1988 - Granting of Citizenship to Stateless Persons (Special Provisions) Act No. 39 of 1988 was presented to Parliament by President Premadasa and was passed.
This was opposed by the SLFP and it voted against it. The people of Indian origin who were until then deprived of the rights flowing from citizenship were overwhelmed by their achieving their long cherished goal.
07 Oct. 2003 - A bill to grant citizenship to 168,141 stateless Plantation Tamils in the Upcountry was passed in Sri Lanka Parliament. Hundred and seventy two (172) MPs who were presented out of two hundred and twenty five (225) members in the Parliament voted for the bill to amend the Citizenship Act.
Internal rift in the EPDP
People strongly believe that the recent killings of EPDP members are due to an internal rift in this armed political party. Problems within the EPDP, based on financial dealings, have apparently existed for a long time. Mr. Balanadaraja Iyar, killed on 10 August 2004 in Wellawatta and Mr Thambithurai Sivakumar, killed on 18 September 2004 in Puttalam were believed to have been killed due to these internal conflicts.
In order to gain international sympathy, the EPDP falsely claimed that one its cadres who was recently killed, had been a “Journalist”. According to the wife of this particular victim, he had already applied for political asylum with one of the western embassies in Colombo, in order to escape from the dangers of the EPDP. Unfortunately he was killed before he was about to leave Sri Lanka.
Earlier, Nadarajah Atputharajah alias Ramesh, an EPDP Parliamentarian and Editor of EPDP weekly "Thinamurasu" was killed in Colombo, on 02 November 1999. It is believed that Ramesh was killed by the members of the EPDP, as a result of the internal rift. Ramesh had been writing pro-LTTE articles in "Thinamurasu", justifying the demand for Tamil Eelam.
If one refers to the website of EPDP, a section can be viewed entitled "Heroes". An option directs one to a long "Updated list of EPDP Martyrs". This list includes EPDP members killed from August 1987 to 11 October 2001. It is clearly stated that the list was updated on 25 June 2002. TCHR has a copy of this list printed from the EPDP website. Nadarajah Atputharajah alias Ramesh, was not listed as an EPDP Martyr here. This implies that the EPDP is inadvertently admitting to having carried out this killing.
It is important to analyse the background as to how this armed militant EPDP became a political party in 1994. In fact, the Election Commissioner from Colombo was flown to Palaly by a military plane and the EPDP was registered as a political party at the Palaly airport. This was done with great urgency to manipulate the elections held in 1994.
As it was well manipulated, the armed militant EPDP won the 1994 elections in nine electorates. There were a few MPs who obtained maximum of eight (8) votes and consequently became Members of Parliament.
* * * * *
Fifty years of well planned Sinhala colonisation had been implemented surreptitiously by successive governments that came to power since independence. We have seen substantial evidences that speak eloquently of these undeniable facts during our visit. In the East, Amparai district which comprised Tamil populated areas in 1981 has now become a completely Sinhala district. The same situation prevails in several villages and towns in the Batticaloa district.
Around Trincomalee town and many other villages in the East, there has also been mass settlement of Sinhalese. Buddhist viharas (Temples) are built all over the NorthEast, except in the LTTE administrated areas.
While we were travelling, we noticed that in many Sinhalese and in a few Tamil villages, there are either Buddhist Temples or Saiva (Hindu) Temples. In between we also saw a few Christian churches. However it was striking to notice that Mosques could be seen almost everywhere in the island whether the village was Sinhalese or Tamil.
More than fifty years of discrimination against the Tamils and twenty years of bloody conflict have created hatred between the Tamil and Sinhala communities. There may be a few exceptions. This fact is reflected in every matter pertaining to the two communities.
There is no sign of commencement of peace talks, even though the President repeated assurance that talks will start forth-with. It is believed that her assurance is for the consumption of the international community.
Non fulfilment of the provisions of the MOU by the government, signed between the LTTE and the government of Sri Lanka on 23 February 2002, is one of the root causes of today’s stalemate in the peace negotiations.
Another reason that could be attributed to the deadlock is the non implementation of the outcomes of the six rounds of peace talks which took place between the LTTE and the earlier government of Sri Lanka. The earlier government blames the President for being the stumbling block to the implementation of the MOU.
Dissolution of the earlier UNF government by the President using her executive powers was another reason for today’s stalemate in the peace negotiations.
A Senior parliamentarian from Batticaloa told us that the majority of the Sinhalese including members of the JVP have neither gone through the ISGA nor read it properly.
Generally people island wide are with the opinion that hostilities may outbreak at any moment.
There is a coalition among certain parties in the government working against the peace talks. The JVP and EPDP which form parts of government are against peace talks with the LTTE. Also the JHU, PLOTE and Karuna's group are against the recommencement of any talks. The President herself is against negotiations with the LTTE, even though she declares in public that she is for a negotiated settlement.
The Sri Lanka Army, Special Task Force (STF), Police, Navy, Air force and Home Guards have done maximum damage to the villages and the people of Batticaloa. The military operations in the East are carried out in stages. One group shoots and hacks people to death; the second group loots, sets fire to properties and assaults people; the third group rapes women and girls.
When there is no war, the Sri Lanka security forces are despondent. They cannot loot. They are deprived of their additional war allowance and the bribes they extort from the people. They will be compelled to live only on their salary.
The soldiers in the NorthEast are advising the next of kins of victims to go to Kachcheri (Government Secretariat) and register the deaths declaring that they had been killed by unknown persons. Families of victims of killings by the STF, Sri Lanka Army and Tamil mercenaries are given death certificates attributing the cause of death to “killed in cross-fire", "LTTE killing", "killed by unknown person". If anyone refuses to accept such a death certificate, the government refuses to issue them a death certificate at all.
Without death certificates no compensations are paid to the people who lost their bread winners or heads of the family. In Muttur, many people who lost their beloved ones at the hands of the Sri Lankan forces, have accepted these death certificates to get a compensation of 30,000 to 40,000 SL Rupees.
The accusation of child soldiers has ulterior political motives. This is obvious to anyone visiting Batticaloa. Every house in the Batticaloa district has a tragic tale to narrate. The horrendous massacres, rape, hacking to death, looting, arson etc were wide spread during the twenty years of war in the East. No one cared for those people. But the Child soldier issue is prioritised and put on the agenda with a political motive only to cover up the horrendous violations that took place in the East.
The problems faced by children are many in this world. The social and economic problems faced by the children are equally important to the issue of child soldiers. Child prostitution/pornography and child labour are rife in Sri Lanka and are totally ignored. According to the latest statistics there are about 40,000 child prostitutes in Sri Lanka.
The government of Sri Lanka, and a few local and international NGOs are raising the issue of recruiting child soldiers in Sri Lanka as a major violation of human rights. The international NGOs who are raising this issue say that they under an obligation because Sri Lanka has signed and ratified the CRC "Optional protocol on involvement of children in armed conflict - on Child Soldiers". Sri Lanka ratified this optional protocol within a month of signing the document.
Rights of the children cannot be selectively enforced. Every right mentioned in the CRC has to be considered seriously. In fact, there is a (CRC) "Optional protocol on sale of Children, child prostitution and child pornography". Sri Lanka signed this on the 8th May 2002 but has not ratified it. Why is there a delay in ratifying this optional protocol? Will this affect the tourist industry in Sri Lanka?
The 40,000 Child prostitutes in Sri Lanka has become a serious issue. Poor children in the South are forced to become ensnared in prostitution by the government. This violates all the international norms of conduct and human rights. This outrageous forced prostitution affects the children’s health and sanity.
Here the international NGOs have a great responsibility of lobbying the Sri Lanka government to ratify the Optional protocol of the CRC on the sale of Children, child prostitution and child pornography. This issue is also equally important to that of child soldiers. International NGOs should not be ignorant of this.
To certain politicians and English-Sinhala media, Karuna has become a hero and he is symbolised as an overnight rebellion. The families who support Karuna have become "courageous families", and the under aged children whom Karuna recruited are known to them as combatants. These are the ugly double standards you find in Sri Lanka nowadays.
The media and mainstream politicians always highlight the news of any killings other than the killing of LTTE cadres.
Many of the recent killings in Colombo and Batticaloa were masterminded by the Sri Lankan military intelligence.
Most of the human rights victims in the North East are not aware of the HRCSL and the HRCSL does not appear to want to work for these victims. Their officials only indulge in collecting information which would bring discredit to the LTTE and publishing reports. In the rare cases where the HRCSL dealt with Tamils, the letters sent to the Tamils are written only in the Sinhala language, which are unintelligible to them.
There are few people who had won their cases against the Ministry of Defence on matters concerning their lands and resettlement in the so-called HSZs. The Supreme Court has given these rulings in individual cases. They are not general rulings applicable to all affected persons. It is a well known fact that these HSZs contradict the provisions of the MOU and conveniently omits the embodying spirit of the MOU which speaks of restoration of normalcy.
Most of the cases of the disappearances, killings, massacres and rapes that took place in the East were repeatedly raised in Parliament by the Members of Parliament from the East. Mr Joseph Pararajasingham of Batticaloa, Mr R. Sampanthan of Trincomalee and Mr. Chandra Nehru of Amparai have jointly and severally endeavoured to disclose these happenings.
Members of Parliament from the North also raised the same concerns, in Parliament, about such violations taking place in the North. But the efforts by all these Members of Parliament have brought no positive response.
Ironically, the soldiers, commanders, police and others who are involved in those killings, massacres, etc are promoted and allowed to remain in the same area for a very long time. These are facts which were observed by us during our recent visit. The human rights violations continue in Sri Lanka with impunity.
During the twenty years of bloody war in the NorthEast, more than 70,000 Tamils have been killed, thousands have disappeared, thousands have been raped, billions and billions worth of properties have been destroyed and damaged. In brief, the Economic and Social life of the Tamils in the NorthEast has been completely shattered.
The Sri Lankan Government, especially the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Lakshman Kathirgarmar’s justification to the International Community is that these happenings are inevitable in a theatre of war. Does the international community accept the stand taken by the Minister?
Well, in a theatre of war, does International Humanitarian Law allow anyone to attack public places like Universities, Schools, Libraries, Hospitals, Churches, Temples, Market places, etc?
International Humanitarian Law describes the above attacks as War crimes and Crimes against humanity.
In fact, Sri Lanka has a gross disregard towards IHL and International Human Rights standards.
We, in TCHR express our gratitude to every member of civil society for the contribution made to compile this report.
We thank everyone who voluntarily gave us his or her eye witness account of the massacres in the East knowing the risk that they are undertaking. Almost all of the people who spoke to us wanted to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.
We also thank the people who facilitated our travel in Batticaloa and Trincomalee.
The most important acknowledgements, are to the many Lawyers, Parliamentarians, NGO workers, journalists, school teachers and Principals, religious leaders and others who shared their knowledge and painful personal experiences with us.
We thank the staff whom we met at the LTTE peace secretariat in Kilinochchi and warmly we thank Fr. M.X. Karunaratnam, the Chairperson of NorthEast Secretariat on Human Rights - NESOHR.
We acknowledge Mr Illankumaran for his contribution regarding Education in the LTTE administrated areas.
We owe a very special debt to Mr Nadesan and Mr Para – the Head of Police and Judiciary of Tamil Eelam respectively.
We extend grateful thanks to the staff at the Kurukulam Children’s home, Vettimanai/Victory House, Senthalir Children’ Home, Chencholai Children’s Home, Kandaruban Children’s Home, Lt. Col. Navam Academy and the other centres.
We also warmly thank Mr Kandiah Navarendran, attorney-at-law for his contribution.
If we happen to have inadvertently omitted any names of individuals or organisations, we crave their forbearance and we extend our sincere apologies. We are also very grateful to all those who assisted us in our visit.
List of Abbreviations used in this report
CFA = Cease-fire Agreement
CIC = Ceylon Indian Congress
CRC = Convention on Rights of the Child
CTB = Ceylon Transport Board
CWC = Ceylon Workers Congress
CWDR = Centre for Women’s Development and Rehabilitation
ER = Emergency Regulations
EPDP = Eelam People Democratic Party
GA = Government Agent
HRCSL = Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
HSZ = High Security Zones
ICRC = International Committee of Red Cross
IDP = Internally Displaced People
IPKF = Indian Peace Keeping Force
ISGA = Interim Self Governing Authority
LTTE = Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
MOU = Memorandum of Understanding
MZs = Military Zones
NIE = National Institute of Education
PLOTE = People Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam
NPC = National Police Commission
PTA = Prevention of Terrorism Act
SLFP = Sri Lanka Freedom Party
SLMM = Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
STF = Special Task Force
TCHR = Tamil Centre for Human Rights
TRO = Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation
UNDP = United Nations Development Programme
UNHCR = United Nations High Commission for Refugees
UNICEF = United Nations Children’s Fund
UNP = United National Party
UPF = Up-Country People Front