in my heart!
- Thaya in the the Morning Star, 10 May
Kumuthini! What a lovely name she bore!
But on that fateful day she had not known,
As she crossed the deep ocean from the Delft
That she would create a history on her own!
The passengers were from all categories
The young, the old, the peasants and the
Scurried and hurried to get into Kumuthini
To reach the mainland early in the morning!
Pregnant with people, the cargo and the
She started to sail elegantly like a woman!
In the deep blue sea, men in deep blue
From nowhere stopped by to check the crew!
"All on board get on to the top board
The identity cards in your hands you hold
Down when you come, yell from your throat
The place that you would like to go!"
The valiant first and the weak went last
Then the ladies the babies and the pregnant
All descended, one by one
Knowing not what awaited in the gloom
They realized the guys were 'butchers' in
Who confused the human beings as animals
They received blows of hammers and axes
Stabs and cuts with swords and knives!
The strong ones opposed and struggled
The women with Deep wound wriggled
The bellies of the babies got dissected
They left, the bodies butchered!
The thirst of the bleeding ones
Was quenched with the blood of others
And the dying embraced the dead
To give company in death itself!
With none to give witness to her 'fate'
But the lamenting and wailing waves
Kumuthini with her 'still born' babes
Drifted painfully towards the shores!
This incident, like other similar ones
That demanded justice to be done
Though become "long forgotten ones"
Is still fresh in the hearts of the affected
Kumuthini is the name of the passenger
ferry between the island of Delft and
Punguduthivu, via Nainathivu. On the 15th
May 1985, Sri Lankan Navy personnel
stopped her at mid-sea, and the
government Navy personnel bludgeoned and
cut to death all her passengers,
including women and children.
Excerpt from Letter from Secretary
General, Amnesty International to Sri Lanka
President J.R.Jayawardene, 7 June
In respect of the allegations that navy
personnel may have been responsible for the
killings of unarmed Tamil passengers
travelling on 15 May on a ferry boat between
Delft and Nainativu, I would like to draw
your attention to the account, which Amnesty
International received after writing to His
Excellency the President, of a survivor who
gave details of how the killings took place
and identified one of those participating in
the killings as belonging to the Nainativu
Island Naval Camp. According to this
"We boarded the government launch
"Kumudini" at about 7.45 a.m. on 15 May
On the said day when the boat had proceeded
towards Nainativu Island for about half an
hour, it was ordered stopped by some men
who came in a fibre glass boat. About six
men boarded "Kumudini" while about two
remained in the fibre glass boat which they
tied on to "Kumudini". The six men who
boarded "Kumudini" had rifles as are
carried by naval and army personnel. All of
them were dressed variously in blue longs
or shorts and T-shirts. However, the blue
longs and shorts worn by them made me
realise that these men were navy
All the passengers and crew were ordered
to enter the forepart of the boat and
ordered below deck there, leaving the aft
section and the driving cabin completely
free. All the pasenqers thus forced into
the aft section were made to repeatedly
shout out their names, status, locality and
where bound to. One man pointing out a gun
shouted out such an order in broken Tamil.
If anybody lowered his voice the man would
threaten to shoot him unless he raised his
voice. As the passengers were made to shout
in this manner, one from the crowd of
passengers was called at a time and led
into the aft section.
I nor the others in the fore section
knew what was happening to each person who
was led away in this manner owing to the
din created by the forced shouting of
passengers. After about 12 persons had been
called into the aft section in this manner
we heard the report of a gun and I saw a
body falling overboard and being washed
alongside the boat. I was able to see this
as I was standing...........
When it came to my turn I went towards
the aft section. On approaching it I saw
blood all over and the cut pieces of human
bodies. At this juncture I shouted and
refused to move. I was then hit on the head
and I fell. I felt that I was dragged and
cut on my head by some kind of a hatchet. I
received further injuries on my stomach and
legs and fell between the boards of the
bottom of the boat. I pretended to be dead
and lay there. I felt further bodies
falling over mine and the cries of distress
of men and women.
About 45 minutes later I heard the fibre
glass boat being started and going
away...... Of the men who were engaged in
this attack I was able to identify one of
them as a navy personnel whom I have seen
in the said area and is from Nainativu
Island Naval Camp."