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Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Indictment against Sri Lanka - Introduction & Table of Contents > Rape & Murder of Eelam Tamil Women: Sri Lanka State Terrorism - the Record Speaks.... > Sri Lanka Police rape and murder a young Tamil mother  > Sri Lanka's Genocidal War '95 to '01

Sri Lanka State Terrorism
Rape & Murder of Eelam Tamil Women

Sri Lanka Police rape and murder a young Tamil mother

Amnesty International Urgent Action Appeal,  21 May 1997, 13 June 1997
British Refugee Council Publication, Sri Lanka Monitor, May 1997
Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Sunday Times, 25 May 1997

Amnesty International Urgent Action Appeal,  21 May 1997

Murugesupillai Koneswary, a mother of four children, was killed at her home in 11th Colony village by a grenade being thrown at her genitals on the evening of 17 May. Reportedly only her two-year-old child was present when the attackers entered her house. Her husband and three older children were not at home.

Circumstantial evidence suggests that she may have been raped prior to being killed and that the perpetrators may have been one or more police officers attached to the nearby Central Camp police station, on the border between Batticaloa and Amparai districts.

 Neighbours say they heard screams from the house, and shortly afterwards they heard an explosion. When they tried to go to Murugesupillai Koneswary's home, they heard shooting and rushed back indoors so they did not actually see the perpetrators. However, because this area is under the control of the police, observers claim that it is unlikely that there could have been any other people with arms in the area at that time.

 Local people believe that the perpetrators may have thrown the hand grenade near her genitals in order to cover up the evidence of rape.

 The husband of Murugesupillai Koneswary, who discovered her body, made a complaint at Central Camp police station. Some police officers then took her body to the hospital at Kalmunai. However, no medical examination was carried out. It is not clear why no examination took place. Some reports suggest that the police, who also advised the relatives to dispose of the body, may have pressurized the hospital authorities.


 In the context of the armed conflict between the security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the main armed opposition group fighting for a separate state in the north and east of Sri Lanka, there have been continuing reports of arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, including rape, "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions.

 In September 1996, the rape and death of an 18-year-old student who "disappeared" after she was stopped at a sentry point at Kaithady, Jaffna district, created widespread public protest in Sri Lanka. Her mother, brother and neighbour had gone missing on the same day after they made inquiries at the sentry point. Their bodies were found approximately 6 weeks later. Post-mortem investigations found evidence of rape on the girl's body. Amid public outcry, eleven members of the security forces were arrested in connection with this case and legal action against them is pending.

 However, in less prominent cases reported from other parts of the north and east, such as several cases reported from Batticaloa district in early 1997, initial investigations have not resulted in any effective legal action against the alleged perpetrators. In those exceptional cases where perpetrators have been brought to trial, victims of rape have failed to appear in court because of fear for their lives.

 Although the preliminary judicial inquiry against four soldiers allegedly responsible for the rape of Velan Rasamma and her sister, Velan Vasantha in March 1997 in the same district is proceeding, observers doubt whether they will be brought to justice. The soldiers have been released on bail. (For more information, see Amnesty International UA 82/97, AI Index: ASA 39/09/97 of 21 March 1997 and follow-up UA ASA 37/12/97 of 21 May 1997.)

 Amnesty International is deeply concerned at the reports of the killing and possible rape of Murugesupillai Koneswary at 11th Colony, Batticaloa district, on 17 May 1997, and at reports that the perpetrators are believed to be police officers. Amnesty International urges the Sri Lankan government to hold an independent investigation and to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. Protection should be provided to witnesses to ensure that the alleged perpetrators cannot put pressure on them to influence the outcome of the investigation and the legal process. Adequate compensation should also be provided to the husband and children of Murugesupillai Koneswary.  (Amnesty International AI Index: ASA 37/13/97 UA 147/97 Extrajudicial execution/rape 21 May 1997)

Amnesty International: Further Information on Urgent Action Appeal 147/87 , 13 June 1997

Further information on UA 147/87 (ASA 37/13/97, 21 May 1997) - Extrajudicial execution / Rape and new concern: Fear for safety SRI LANKA Murugesupillai Koneswary (f), aged 35 AI Index: ASA 37/14/9713 June 1997

Witnesses and neighbours

According to media reports, in early June 1997 President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga ordered an inquiry into the alleged extrajudicial execution and rape of Murugesupillai Koneswary on 17 May.The inquiry has been entrusted to the Criminal Investigation Department(CID), a specialist unit of the police.

A team is said to have gone to the area from Colombo to carry out the investigations.Amnesty International is concerned that the local police may threaten the neighbours and other witnesses not to give evidence to the CID or pressurize them to give evidence that would substantiate the police�s version of events.

According to one source, local police are now claiming that Murugesupillai Koneswary was killed by a shell, not a grenade.However, there is no damage to the house, apart from the crater inside theroom. There is also concern that the CID may not be seen to be impartial as they are part of the police, and that witnesses may be reluctant to come forward as a result.

Amnesty International has obtained further information about the possiblecircumstances leading up to the killing of Murugesupillai Koneswary. Apparently, she had been harassed by officers of the Central Camp policestation since March 1997.

Around that time, police officers had stolen timber which Murugesupillai Koneswary had bought to build a more permanent home than the small hut in which she had been living. She had made a complaint to the Officer-in-Charge of the police station, after which the timber had been returned.

On the actual day of her killing, she had had a verbal altercation with police officers at a checkpoint. Witnesses reported that she had spoken back when they had used offensive language with her. The alleged perpetrators of the killing and rape reportedly had put the youngest child, who was with Murugesupillai Koneswary on the night of 17May, outside the house. The child had wandered into a neighbour�s house around 11.30pm. Just around that time, the explosion was heard. It has been confirmed that a post mortem was carried out at Kalmunaihospital, but the results are unknown.

British Refugee Council Publication, Sri Lanka Monitor, May 1997

"Policemen are accused of killing her after gang rape, by exploding a grenade inserted into her vagina. The brutal manner of the murder has shocked residents and human rights workers say rape is increasingly used to terrorise the population. Colombo NGO Women and Media Collective says at least seven rapes by security forces have been reported in the east since 31 December. TULF leader M Sivasithamparam says the police Special Task Force (STF) abducted four women from Sammanthurai and murdered one of them in late May. Fear has been expressed over Army search operations in the nights. People say some security force personnel wear masks during night searches to avoid identification."

Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Sunday Times, 25 May 1997

"The barbaric rape and murder of a young mother (Murugesupillai Koneswary) allegedly by some policemen has  sent shockwaves around Batticaloa with the areas MP appealing to President Kumaratunga to order a full probe. Parliamentarian Joseph Pararajasingham in a letter to the President has said the 35 year old mother of four children had allegedly been raped last Saturday night in her house at the 11th colony village bordering Ampara. He said the policeman who committed this alleged offence had in a dastardly attempt to cover up the act exploded a hand grenade in the private parts of the victim. Police had then told relatives to bury the body without a medical examination."



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