Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils
...in the Shadow of the Ceasefire: 2002 - 2007
The Tamil Centre for Human Rights is the
first and the only human rights organisation which has
visited the conflict villages in the NorthEast where there
had been severe human rights violations - massacres,
disappearances, rape, looting, arson arrest, torture 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.
"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 worth of properties have been destroyed and
damaged...The Sri Lankan Government's justification is that
these happenings are inevitable in a theatre of war. Does
the international community accept the stand taken by Sri
Lanka? In a theatre of war, does International Humanitarian
Law allow attack on public places like Universities,
Schools, Libraries, Hospitals, Churches, Temples, Market
places, etc? International Humanitarian Law describes such
attacks as War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity..."
Fact-finding / Study Mission
Situation in Colombo
Constitutions & Mandates
of Terrorism Act (PTA)
Police Commission (NPC)
Commission of Sri Lanka – HRCSL
International news agencies
Visit to East
People recall some incidents after the CFA
The Tamil Muslim problem-a new phenomena
disabled cadres killed
LTTE political office closed in Batticaloa
Special Task Force
operandi of the STF
A Retired Principal relates his experience
Survivors’ eye witness accounts of Massacres in Batticaloa
Survivor of Prawn breeding farm massacre
Survivors of Mahiladythivu, Kokadicholai massacres
Sathurukoddan Depot Massacre
soldiers in Batticaloa
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
Defunct Saiva (Hindu) temples in Trincomalee
massacre in Thampalakamam
massacre in Thampalakamam
Some massacres in the Trincomalee district
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
Visit to Vanni
Meeting with Mr Ilankumaran – Education Council
State and Private schools in the North East
Meeting with Mr Nadesan - Head of Tamil Eelam Police
Mr. Nadesan's concerns
Discovered un-identified skeletons
Discovered identified skeletons
Kandaruban Arevucholai - Children’s Home
Lt. Col. Navam Arivukkoodam
Chencholai Children’s Home
Vettimanai – Victory home
Kurukulam Children’s home
Recollections from an artist’s memory about a massacre
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
Muslims in Jaffna
Journalist Nirmalarajan Mylvaganam
Nirmalarajan's family went quietly – BBC
Free and fair election
Meeting with Editor of Namathu Eelanadu
Trade Unionist Mr O. A. Ramiah
Leader of Up-Country People Front (UPF)
Nutshell - Plantation workers in Ceylon/Sri Lanka
Internal rift in the EPDP
TCHR Contact Address
Fact-finding / Study Mission
The Tamil Centre for Human Rights is the first and the only human
rights organisation which has visited the conflict villages in the
NorthEast where there had been severe human rights violations -
massacres, disappearances, rape, looting, arson arrest, torture
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
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.
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
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 were 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 were 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". They
were silent during the UNP regime, now they have got an opportunity
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 immense executive powers to the President.
In Sri Lanka, every political party claims to have a madate.
However only a few mandates are endorsed by the people.
Unfortunately the mandates do not go 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 assert
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) though a 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
* The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) says that it has the mandate
to play a part in any negotiations on political matters in the
* 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
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
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
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.
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
"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
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
"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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
Our visit to Batticaloa was a frightening and risky one. We visited
both areas – the government controlled areas as well as the LTTE
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
A Retired Principal relates his experience
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
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.
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
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
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
"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
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
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
“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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 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,
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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. 26/07/1990
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.08/08/1990 08
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. 11/08/1990 18
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. 12/08/1990 30
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
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
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.
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 -
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
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.
under age youth by the LTTE (2004)
Voluntarily sent home
"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
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".
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
Since 1827 - Tamil and Sinhala populations
in the Eastern province
(Table is shown on a language basis)
| (Until 1962, Batticaloa
District included Amparai) (After 1981 no census was taken
in the NorthEast)
A few noteworthy massacres of Tamils in the Amparai district
Place of incident
paddy in field
Abducted - killed
Fancy House Kalmunai
51 men and 60
Karathivu Refugee camps
youths arrested in
a round-up and
Viramunai & Sammanthurai Temple
youths killed in
youths arrested in
a round-up and
Akkaraipattu Methodist Church
Alayadivempu Thirunavukkarasu Vidyalam > 104
rounded-up in a
rounded-up in a
home after work
while attending a
out of 54, 3
raped and killed
raped and killed
in the night
raped and killed
in the field
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
Welikade 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
According to an unconfirmed NGO report nearly forty thousand Tamil
houses have been damaged in the Trincomalee district.
Defunct Saiva (Hindu) temples in Trincomalee
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
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
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
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
Peruveli Manatchenai Refugee Camp
Disappearances during Col. Thenekoon’s tenure
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
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
Geysers in Kanniya
At a distance from Trincomalee in Kanniya, the famous geysers are
found. These are historically connected to Tamils and Saivaism
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
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
Meeting with Mr Ilankumaran, Head of the Education Council of Tamil
Eelam 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
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)
to the available statistics of the National Education :
Sinhala medium - Teachers
- approved 47,636
Island wide - approved
- available 37,848
- shortage - 9,788
- approved 26,128
- available 20,311
- shortage - 5,817
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
In conclusion – there are four main problems in Education :
No administrative staff at the regional level.
Shortages of teachers.
Lack of resources, text books etc. in Tamil.
School buildings are mostly destroyed or not repaired
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 by
subterfuge, 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
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.
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
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
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 concerns
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
“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
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
Ampal kulam, Kilinochchi
28/08/2001 - Human Skelton and
leg and clothes found. Suspected
to be the
skeleton of K. Surenthiran
Next to Hero's Cemetery
17/08/2000 - Human skull was found
5th Canal, Uruthirapuram
24/03/2000 - Parts of human bones,
In a toilet pit in Rathynapuram
20/03/2000 - Parts of human bones
In a water well at 3rd Canal,
05/05/2000 - Parts of human bones
In a compound at Uthyanagar,
18/08/2000 - Parts of human bones
In a toilet pit at 3rd Canal,Paranthan 09/05/2000
- Parts of human bones found
In a toilet pit, Vivekananthanagar
16/09/2000 - Parts of human bones,
In a compound at Kathannagar
03/01/2000 - Two skulls and
In a toilet pit, Thirunagar
29/05/2001 -Three skulls and
Next to Hero's Cemetery
11/03/2000 - Parts of human bones
In a water well at 3rd Canal,
17/06/2001 - Parts of human bones,
Identified skeletons discovered in Kilinochchi
Name of victim
Place of recovery
In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
Amirthanathan Nageshkumar 29/07/1997
06/03/2000 In a toilet pit,
In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
Subash Colony, Akarayan
In a toilet pit, Uthayanagar
Kanthiah Balasubramaniam 10/03/1998*
06/03/2000 In a toilet pit,
Seenivasagam Pannirselvam 05/07/1998
22/06/2000 In a toilet pit, D3
Union kulam, Akarayan
In a water well at
252/3 Mullai-Paranthan Road
In a water well at
252/3 Mullai-Paranthan Road
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
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 -
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 :
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
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.
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
Arevucholai - Children’s Home
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.
Chencholai Children’s Home
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 – Victory home
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
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
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.
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 -
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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 - BBC's former Colombo correspondent
“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
“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.
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
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
Meeting with Editor of Namathu Eelanadu
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
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”.
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.
Unionist Mr O. A. Ramiah
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:
Ceylon Tamils – in the NorthEast
Tamils of Indian origin - upcountry
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
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,
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
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
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
1965 - The UNP government too nominated Mr. S. Thondaman to
Parliament in return for the support he extended to defeat the SLFP
1974 - A further bartering was agreed upon under the Sirimavo-Indira
Gandhi agreement, to equally share the remaining people between the
1977 – CWC Leader Mr S. Thondaman contested the Nuwara Eliya –
Maskeliya multi member seat and was elected to Parliament as the
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 Kadirgarmar’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
In a theatre of war, does International Humanitarian Law allow
attack on public places like Universities, Schools, Libraries,
Hospitals, Churches, Temples, Market places, etc? International
Humanitarian Law describes such attacks as War crimes and Crimes
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
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
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.
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
Tamil Centre for
Human Rights - TCHR
Centre Tamoul pour les droits de l'Homme - CTDH
Centro Tamil para los Derechos Humanos
(Established in 1990)
9, rue des Peupliers
95140 - Garges les Gonesse
Fax : + 33 - 1 - 40 38 28 74