Chandrika Kumaratunga's War Crimes
Chandrika Kumaratunga’s days as the powerful executive President
of Sri Lanka are numbered. In less than 4 weeks she will have to vacate the
Presidential House which she has occupied for over 10 years. As power slips away
many of her close confidants, party faithful and cohorts are jumping ship at
lightening speed leaving her betrayed, isolated and frustrated. Only her sibling
appears to hold fort for her but unfortunately not many take him seriously.
Anura Bandaranaike himself has a sordid history of abandoning ship and joining
sworn enemies of his mother in the past. It is therefore no surprise all roads
now lead to Temple Trees which has become the new gravitational centre of power
Chandrika Kumaratunga these days is blowing hot and cold. She
says one thing in the morning, something different in the afternoon and
something opposite in the night. She said she is quitting politics and retiring
to cooler climes. News report said she is eyeing for a posting with the UNESCO
or some other arm of the UN. Incidentally UNESCO is the very organization that
was chided by her late foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar when he asked that
the UNESCO resident representative should confine himself to catching mosquitoes
and not interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka.
In a recent interview to the Daily Mirror reporter Poorna
Rodrigo Chandrika Kumaratunga expressed the hope that the LTTE leader
Prabhakaran would let her live after retirement. "I hope he would forget me and
let me live a private life without fear” was the exact words she used in her
In an impassioned speech, President Chandrika Kumaratunga had
also said she would be saying goodbye to the country’s highest post and going
home with a clean record.
“I can assure you that I am not going to take back home a
red cent if it doesn’t belong to me and it gives me pride to say that I have
not stained my hands with mud or blood...”
the President said addressing a felicitation ceremony organized
by Uva Chief Minister Gamini Wijith Wijayamuni Soyza in Bibile. (Daily Mirror –
November 01, 2005)...
But what are the facts?....
The horrendous human rights violations, bordering on war crimes
and crimes against humanity, committed against the Thamil people by President
Chandrika Kumaratunga and her Government is only comparable to the suffering of
the Black South Africans under Apartheid white rule. Chandrika Kumaratunga
willfully and brazenly violated the basic democratic rights and freedoms of the
Thamil people by unleashing a
bloody war from 1995 to April 2001.
The Jayasikuru military operation, coupled with economic
strangulation, launched in 1997 with much fanfare wrought nothing but death and
destruction to the people of Vanni for two long years. This military operation
was described as “War for Peace” a cynical slogan one out of 3 propounded by
George Orwell in his novel 1984. A Ministry of Peace was created to concern
itself with War! The other 2 slogans were Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is
It may be recalled that Chandrika Kumaratunga was swept to
power in 1994 (62.28 per cent popular vote) on a peace platform to end the
bloody and destructive war that had festered and bled the country since 1983.
From every public platform she promised to end the rivers of blood and usher in
peace at any cost. She further claimed that she is one leader who has felt every
human pain that is possible having lost her father and husband to violence.
The spontaneous euphoria created by Chandrika Kumaratunga 1994
election victory and the great expectations of the Thamil people soon turned out
to be a grand delusion. Far from emerging as a progressive and innovative
national leader representing all the people of the island of Ceylon, she ended
just like her predecessors as an unashamed Sinhala-Buddhist champion!
Like her father, mother, J.R. Jayawardene and Ranasinghe
Premadasa - Chandrika Kumaratunga also spoke about “One Nation, One People.”
Inaugurating the Sudu Nelum campaign at Sugathadasa stadium in July, 1996 this
is what she said:
“The Sinhalese Buddhist majority should merge with the
Sinhala Christians, Thamil Hindus, Thamil Christians, Muslims and others to
form one Lankan nation. This is the greatest task we are facing today"
Chandrika Kumaratunga sought to buttress her ‘assimilation’
theory to resolve the national conflict by falsifying history. She brazenly
ancestors succeeded in forging one nation. Even those communities who
retained their separate identities lived with the Sinhala Buddhist majority
as one nation. Then we lost our independence as a nation. When we regained
our independence in 1948 we were also saddled with a legacy left behind by
our colonial masters: seeds of communal dissension. ”
No wonder, therefore, the Leader of the LTTE in his
1999 Heroes’ Day
described Kumaratunga’s regime “as the one which has inflicted the worst form of
tyrannical oppression in the diabolical history of racist oppression for the
last half a century.”
an eye witness to the gigantic suffering of his people in the Northeast the LTTE
Leader reserved the harshest barbs for Chandrika Kumaratunga in his speech. He
“The two major Sinhala political parties, who have assumed
political power alternatively in the Sri Lankan political system, are
essentially chauvinistic organizations. Both these political parties have
bred and flourished in the anti-Thamil Sinhala Buddhist racist ideology. For
the last half a century these parties competed with each other in
intensifying the oppression against the Thamil people. In this diabolical
history of racist oppression it is Chandrika's regime which has inflicted
the worst form of tyrannical oppression.
The five-year rule of Chandrika has been a curse on the
Thamil people. The monumental tragedy that our people encountered in the
form of war, violence, death, destruction, displacement, hunger and
starvation was the worst form of tyranny ever suffered by the Thamils.
Chandrika's oppressive rule marks an epoch consisting of blood stained pages
of our history. Her tyrannical rule left a permanent scar on the soul of the
Not only the rule of Chandrika Kumaratunga was a curse and a
monumental tragedy, it was also an unmitigated disaster for the Thamil people.
President Kumaratunga makes the claim that she is retiring without mud or blood
leaving! Is she serious or is she simply joking?
The basic right to life and liberty of every Thamil was denied
under the oppressive rule of President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
etc. became so common that even Amnesty International (AI) was forced to state
in its 1999 annual report that "torture has been among the most common human
rights violations reported in Sri Lanka."
The Thamil people were not only subjected to a
in the Northeast which resulted in death and destruction, but they were also
routinely subjected to indignities of cordon and search operations,
arrests, detentions without trial,
murder under judicial custody by the Sinhala armed forces.
Even during the dying days of her oppressive rule more than 1,000 young men and
women in Batticaloa were herded into common grounds by the Sri Lankan Military
personnel in a cordon and search operation that was launched on October 31,
2005. Masked paramilitary cadres wearing military uniforms assisted the SLA
personnel to round up the Thamil youth and parade them to common grounds for
Since it appears that Chandrika Kumaratunga suffers from selective amnesia let
me take her through the memory lane since she was propelled to power in 1994.
(1) Following Riveresa military operation (1995/96) and
capture of Jaffna peninsula more than 700 Thamil youths disappeared after
arrest by the SLA. AI said “that of the 600-odd people who have
“disappeared” in the last 18 months after their arrest by the security
forces, nearly all have died as a result of torture or been deliberately
killed in detention.”
On July 09, 1995 St. Peter's Church, St. Peter's School and the adjoining
residential houses were bombed by Sri Lankan air-force fighter planes
during operation "Leap Forward". The bombing took place on the very first
day of the military offensive and 3 miles away from the theatre of war. One
hundred and twenty four (124) people were killed in the mindless bombing,
including 65 women and children some less than 6 years of age. The tragedy
is all the more weird when it was the Sri Lankan army that exhorted the
people to take refuge in churches and schools.
Chandrika Kumaratunga did not utter a single word of sympathy or expressed
remorse to the families of the victims even though she shed copious tears
during her (1994) election campaign for those who died during the civil war.
A month after the attack (August 4), Chandrika Kumaratunga not only denied
the attack by the air force, but
temerity to point the accused finger at the LTTE. The Reuters reported-
“Sri Lankan President Kumaratunga said on Friday, the
bombing of a church in the northern rebel-held Jaffna province last
month was probably the work of Thamil Tiger rebels and not the air
force. She also said the number of dead when the St. Peter's Church
welfare centre in Navaly was hit was not as high as some estimate.....”
On 22 September, 1995 Nagarkovil Central School in the Jaffna peninsula was
during school’s lunch break by Pucara planes killing 25 school children and
15 Thamil civilians on the spot. Of the 25 children 12 were between 6-7 year
olds. Nearly 200 others were injured, most of them students of the same
school. Elsewhere in the area, 15 other civilians were also killed in the
course of the bombing raids. The scene of the attack was visited by the
ICRC. Pieces of human flesh were strewn around the area including tree
branches, making identification impossible. The total death toll later
increased to 71.
(4) On October 01, 1995, 8 people were killed and 5 houses destroyed in
Mannar when the SLAF planes bombed the area.
(5) On October 02, 1995 6 people killed and another 55 seriously wounded by
Artillery Shelling at Valkamam when SLA fired artillery shells in the
(6) On October 04, 1995 16 Thamil civilians killed and more than 60 wounded
in the Jaffna district. At least 8 Thamil civilians were killed and 30
seriously wounded by artillery shelling from SLA camp in Thenmaratchi.
Another six killed in Valikamam and other two people killed and more than 30
wounded in Vadamaratchi.
(7) On October 05, 1995 eight Thamil civilians were killed and many houses
destroyed at Thenmaratchi. Many Thamil houses were looted and artillery fire
continued to rain down on the 4th day of Military operation "Thunder" in the
(8) On October 13, 1995 two Thamil civilians were killed by artillery
shelling in Vadamaratchi when the SLA fired artillery shells in the
(9) On October 19, 1995 fifty-four Thamil civilians killed and several
others wounded by aerial bombing and artillery shells fired by the SLA in
the Jaffna district. 20 of those were killed in Valikamam and another 15 in
(10) On October 27, 1995 twemty-five Thamil civilians were killed 23 wounded
at Ariyalai by repeated aerial strikes by Supersonic planes! A couple
married 3 months just 3 months before among those killed.
(11) On September 7, 1996, soldiers and police
and murdered of Krishanthy Kumaraswamy, murdered her mother Rasamma
Kumaraswamy, brother Kumaraswamy Pranavan and neighbour Kirupamoorthi
respectively in Chemmani, Jaffna Although crimes like rape and murder
committed by men in uniform against unarmed and defenseless Thamil civilians
were common during the Northeast war, the rapists and killers of Krishanthy
displayed naked barbarism that surpassed all previous crimes.
(12) On October 03, 1996 Rajani Velayuthapillai, aged 23 years was detained
by the SLA personnel at Kondavil military check-post on her way back from
Maanippaii. She was gang raped by soldiers on duty and her body dumped in a
pit of an abandoned lavatory near the Kondavil military check-post.
(13) On November, 1996
Thenuka Selvarajah, a 5th grade student at Atchuvely Mahavidyalayam, was
abducted and gang raped by army personnel attached to Puttur army camp.
Fortunately, the sexually abused and psychologically tormented child escaped
her abductors to tell her story to the school principal.
(14) On May 17, 1997
Mrs. Murugesapillai Koneswary, mother of 4 children, of Central Camp,
Amparai District was raped and killed by an unknown number of armed men in
uniform at her home. The soldiers exploded a hand grenade placing it on her
private part apparently to destroy all evidence of gang rape.
(15) On March 17, 1997
(38) a widow and her sister Nalliah Dharshini (28) were raped by four
army soldiers at Thannamunai, a village 6 km north of Batticaloa.
(16) On March 22, 1997 the police opened fire at a middle-aged couple in
Batticaloa. Mrs. Mervyn Ockerz (52) who was shot in the head died on the
spot. Her husband Kingsley Ockerz (55) was seriously wounded.
(17) On April 1999, Thambiaiyah Suntheralingam, 23, was arrested and taken
into custody by the army at Navatkuda. The Batticaloa JMO who examined
Suntharalingam on July 12, 1999 said in his report submitted to the court on
August 02, that the youth had been beaten up severely and hung upside down
and that his head had been covered with a plastic bag containing petrol and
chilli powder during his detention at the military intelligence camp located
in the former tooth powder factory building at Lake Road 2 in Batticaloa
town. The DMO also stated in his report that the youth's head had been
banged repeatedly on a wall for ten days while he was held at the camp of
the Counter Subversive Unit (CSU) in Batticaloa town and that as a result
his eardrums had burst and bled severely.
(18) On July 13, 1999 Sithamparapillai Kanakanayakam, 27, of Kokkaddicholai,
16 kilometres southwest of Batticaloa, was arrested by the army while he was
visiting relatives in Kallady, a suburb of Batticaloa town. He too was
detained at the same military intelligence camp and later at the CSU camp.
He was then transferred to Batticaloa and Kalutara prisons.
(19) The Assistant JMO for Colombo Dr.S.Sivasubramaniam who
examined Kanakanayakam on December 15, 1999 states in his report to the
court that the youth had been beaten up severely with wires and plastic
pipes and his head had been covered with a plastic bag containing petrol
fumes and chilli powder and that his head had also been repeatedly submerged
into water and held until he choked.
(20) On December 28, 1999 Sarathamabal, 29, was gang-raped
and murdered in Punguduthivu in Jaffna by Sri Lanka Navy personnel. The CID
last week said that there was no evidence to continue the case.
(21) On 12 July 1999 a young woman,
Kamaleeta, 21, was raped and murdered in Pallimunai, a suburb of Mannar
town by SLA soldiers. Seven soldiers were accused and the case is still
(22) On March 9, 2000 Thirumeni Sunthararajah (24) and
Suntharaligam Subendran (23) were shot dead by the Vellaveli STF lying in
ambush. when they were going to Mandoor to bid farewell to their relatives
before they travelled abroad for employment. The government falsely claimed
that both of them were members of the LTTE.
(23) On May 03, 2000 the day the new emergency regulations
were gazetted 45-year-old Thangaiyah Sivapooranam from Wattala, Colombo was
taken away by three people in civil dress who identified themselves as
officers of the Criminal Investigation Department of the police. Following
day, his body was found at Kadawatha, together with three other bodies,
whose identities remain unknown. There were five gunshot injuries, including
one to his forehead, suggesting he may have been summarily executed.
(24) Between June 21 - 27, 2000 Yogalingam Vijitha a
27-year-old Thamil woman from Kayts, Jaffna was tortured and raped with a
plantain tree flower (hard cone-like, approximately 8-inch long) while in
detention at the Negombo police station.
(25) On June 24, 2000 Velu Arshadevi, a Thamil woman of
Indian origin, who was living in a boarding house in Colombo, was raped by
(26) On July 19, 2000 the Batticaloa High Court released two
Thamil youths who had been tortured by the SLA while in detention under the
Prevention of Terrorism Act. The state counsel said that the Attorney
General is withdrawing the cases against them and another youth as Senior
Superintendent of Police, Bandula Kumara, the chief witness had died.
(27) On May 9, 2000 a 70 year old woman Poomani Saravanai of
Neerveli, Jaffna was raped by soldiers of the SLA in front of her 32 year
old son. The woman wrote a letter to Joseph Pararajasingham, MP narrating
her ordeal at the hands of the thugs in khaki uniform. The MP read out the
letter in Parliament and took the opportunity to inform Parliament that
about 1, 500 Thamils arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act are
still languishing in prisons without trial.
(28) On June 24, 2000 (Saturday), two men from Kalmadhu
refugee camp in Valaichenai, who were on their way to go fishing in Punaanai
lagoon early morning, were killed when Sri Lanka Army soldiers opened fire,
said survivors of the incident. Witnesses said an SLA ambush unit hiding
behind bushes fired at them, killing their two colleagues, Sinnathamby
Selvarajah, 28 and Kanthavanam Mangalan, 30.
(29) On 13th July, 2000 a student named Somasunderam
Sanjeevan schooling at Jaffna Hindu College was shot dead by the armed
forces. Sanjeevan was returning home after playing football at the college
grounds. The armed forces claimed that the deceased was a suspected Tiger
and he was collecting funds for the LTTE. The parents have strongly refuted
these frivolous charges.
(30) On July 14 (Monday), 2000 Palanithamby Sambasivam, 16,
and Thevaraj Gnanaesh, 16, both from Naasevanthivu were returning home from
the annual festival of the Maylankarachchai Mariamman temple. They were shot
dead by soldiers who were lying in ambush at Kaddumurivu, according to
villagers. Kaddumurivu is a hamlet situated between Maylankarachchai and
(31) On July 15, 2000 a female student from Alvai in the
Jaffna peninsula was gang raped by two soldiers attached to the Gajabahu
regiment. She was later admitted to Manthikai hospital.
(32) October 25, 2000 Sinhalese mob stormed the detention
facility at Bindunuwa close to Bandarawela. In spite of the presence of
armed police, the mob killed 27 of the inmates, hacking and clubbing them to
death. Some victims were burned to death. The remaining 14 detainees were
The Bindunuwewa detention facility housed a total of 41
Thamil inmates with suspected links to the LTTE. The youngest inmate in the
camp was 12 years old; the eldest was in his mid-thirties. The detention
facility was set up as a transitional rehabilitation centre, and despite
many problems was regarded by many, including international observers, as a
model center where the inmates had better conditions than at other detention
facilities in Sri Lanka.
Though there were approximately 60 police officers stationed around the
camp, not a single officer arrested any member of the attacking crowd.
Subsequent independent investigations revealed that not only did the police
not do anything to prevent or stop the killings, but some police officers
also participated in the attack.
After years of investigation and prosecution, on May 27,
2005, the Supreme Court acquitted the last of the accused in the case,
citing lack of evidence.
“These acquittals show a shocking failure of the police and
judicial system in Sri Lanka to find justice for the dead and injured from
this horrific incident,” said Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights
Watch. “As the victims were all Tamil, the government needs to move quickly
to start fresh investigations and to prosecute the perpetrators, some of
whom were police officers, or it will only further distance aggrieved
(33) On March 19, 2001 in Mannar 2 Thamil women Wijikala
Nanthakumar ( 22) an expectant mother and Sivamani Arjunan (24) mother of
three children were stripped naked, blind-folded and repeatedly gang raped
by two naval ratings for several hours while the rest of the men in uniform
sadistically relished witnessing the rape through openings in the wall!
(34) Medico-legal reports written by 17 doctors on 184
Thamils, who had been referred to the Medical Foundation for the Care of
Victims of Torture between January, 1997, and December, 1998 supported the
allegations of torture in Sri Lanka. Of the 184 men, 38 (21%) said
they had been sexually abused during their detention. Three (7%) of the 38
said they had been given electric shocks to their genitals, 26 (68%) had
been assaulted on their genitals, and four (9%) had sticks pushed through
the anus, usually with chillies rubbed on the stick first. One said he had
been forced to masturbate a soldier manually, three had been made to
masturbate soldiers orally, and one had been forced with his friends to rape
each other in front of soldiers for their "entertainment".
(35) A Commission of Inquiry, appointed by the National
Human Rights Commission to investigate complaints of "disappearances" in the
Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya districts from 1990 to 1998, published its
findings in October. The commission investigated the cases of 280
"disappeared" people, 245 of whom had been detained by the army. [Source:
AI, Report 2004 (2004) 189.]
These are just random cases, but they faithfully reflect the
magnitude of the dreadful human rights violations committed by the SLA and
Police in the Northeast in a climate of impunity. Seldom or never the
perpetrators of these crimes against humanity were arraigned before courts of
law. Most often they are rewarded for “gallantry” or “bravery” and “decorated”
like Major General Janaka Perera during whose command the Chemmani mass murders
All these murders, rape. torture took place while Chandrika
Kumaratunga was the Commander-Chief of the Sri Lanka armed forces. In the light
of this damning evidence her claim that there is no blood in his hands rings
hollow. In fact her hands are soaked with rivers of blood of innocent Thamil
men, women and children. Now is the time for the Thamil Diaspora and other human
rights organizations to petition the IVJ/ICC to try President Chandrika
Kumaratunga for war crimes and crimes against humanity!
In the recent past, Head of states and army generals who carried
out ethnic cleansing have already been arraigned before the ICJ/ICC/ICT.
The following have been indicted before the International
Criminal Tribunal by virtue of their positions, as follows:
Slobodan Milosevic as President of the FRY, Supreme Commander of
the VJ, President of the Supreme Defence Council and pursuant to his de facto
Milan Milutinovic as President of Serbia, member of the Supreme
Defence Council and pursuant to his de facto authority;
Dragoljub Ojdanic as Chief of General Staff of the VJ;
Nikola Sainovic as Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia;
Vlajko Stojiljkovic as Minister of Internal Affairs of Serbia.
The Indictment charges Slobodan Milosevic, Milan Milutinovic,
Dragoljub Ojdanic, Nikola Sainovic and Vlajko Stojiljkovic on the basis of
individual criminal responsibility (Article 7(1) of the Statute) and superior
criminal responsibility (Article 7(3) thereof) with:
one count of violations of the laws or customs of war
(Article 3 - murder), and
four counts of crimes against humanity (Article 5 –
deportation; murder; persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds;
other inhumane acts)
There should not be double standards or selective morality
in trying war criminals.