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INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA
The Charge is Ethnic Cleansing
Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils
...in the Shadow of the Ceasefire: 2002 - 2007
|The Facts... [TamilNet, May 13, 2006 16:10 GMT]|
Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) troopers from Mandaithivu Sri Lanka Navy camp surrounded a civilian house in Allaipiddy in Mandaithivu islet, west of Jaffna, around 8:30 p.m. Saturday 13 May and opened fire killing 8 civilians, including a four months baby and a four year old son, and their parents on the spot. Three persons with serious wounds were rushed to Jaffna hospital after Jaffna district magistrate ordered the Police to provide security to an ambulance from Jaffna hospital, medical sources said. One of the wounded succumbed to his wounds at Jaffna hospital. 13 civilians were killed in Jaffna islets on Saturday alone.
Palachamy Ketheeswaran, 25, his wife, Ketheeswaran Anex Ester, 23, four-years old Ketheeswaran Thanushkanth and the baby at four months, Ketheeswaran Yathursan, were the victims of a family in the massacre.
Abraham Robinson, 28, father of three, Sellathurai
Amalathas, 28, father of one, Kanesh Navaratnam, 50, father of four,
and Joseph Anthonymuttu, 64, father of five, were the other victims
killed on the spot.
|Additional Reporting by LTTE Peace Secretariat, 14 May 2006|
Only a week ago, in Allaipiddy, a 74 year old man was shot, point
blank, by Sri Lankan Navy while he begged not to shoot him. His
daughter gave evidence to the judge. Terrorized civilians have
started to sleep in numbers, vainly hoping that it will give them
some protection. The two story home of Sellathurai Amalathas close
to the Allaipiddi PhilipNeri’s church was one of these homes where
people gathered at night for protection.
Sri Lankan Navy gunmen entered the home of Sellathurai Amalathas
and began their preplanned executions. The bullets had no difficulty
in finding targets in the crowded home where people thought they
could find safety in numbers. 11 people were hit by bullets. Eight
died on the spot including a four month old baby and a four year old
child sleeping between their parents. Three more lay bleeding.
|MP saddened by UNICEF, UNHCR's silence on Children's killing|
[TamilNet, May 15, 2006 02:35 GMT]
am deeply concerned and saddened by the silence of the
premier world organizations that advocate rights of
children, the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and
the UNHCR, on the escalating number of children being
killed in the NorthEast in Sri Lanka by the State's
security forces," said Pathmini Sithamparanathan, Tamil
National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian for Jaffna,
speaking to the press Monday.
|SLMM's delay in publicizing evidence aids killing spree- Ilamparithi|
[TamilNet, May 14, 2006 17:01 GMT]
"Though the injured victims, the relatives of the killed and our Political office have submitted concrete evidence to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in Jaffna proving the killings of innocent civilians in the Jaffna peninsula after the Geneva talks by security forces and paramilitaries, the evidence has not been made public by the SLMM. Unfortunately, this delay has resulted in marked escalation in killings," said Ilamparithi, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Jaffna district political wing head, giving particulars of his urgent complaint to the Chief of SLMM, Jaffna district, Sunday.
"Withholding this evidence pertaining to numerous killings of
innocent civilians has in fact encouraged the killers to continue
the murders unchecked," added Ilamparuthi in the complaint.
"Two pickup vehicles loaded with inebrieted EPDP cadres from
their Sridar theatre camp in Jaffna town on Saturday around 6.30 p.m
left to Allaipity where they joined the SLN and entered Selathurai
Amalan's home firing and lobbing hand grenades killing 8 people on
the spot including two small children. Three civilians injured in
the attack were rushed to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital where one of
|Sri Lanka Navy - EPDP kill thirteen civilians in Allaipiddy-Velanai, D.B.S.Jeyaraj, 16 May 2006|
Thirteen Tamil civilians including two women and two children were killed in three incidents of violence on the night of Saturday May Thirteenth in the Allaipiddy and Velanai islets off Northern province’s Jaffna peninsula . Another man and woman were seriously injured while at least eleven businesses including a telecommunication centre were destroyed through deliberate arson. Personnel in civils from the Sri Lankan Navy and cadres of the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) were suspected of being responsible.
Those of us who read English poetry of an earlier vintage may recall "The Cottar’s Saturday Night” by Robert Burns. Scotland’s national bard had written a masterpiece about the calm, serene life of a humble cottar as he settled down for the night peacefully with his family in his cottage. It was however a different night of deadly violence that lay in store for the victims of an extended family in Allaipiddy on Saturday May 13th.
The northern archipelago off the Jaffna peninsula coast comprises many Islands and islets. Only thirteen of these are populated. Allaipiddy is one such islet. Situated along the Oorkavalthurai (Kayts ) road that branches off from the Pannai causeway it is adjacent to Mankumban. People of the Islands are renowned for their business acumen and entrepreneurial skills. At one stage they dominated much of the retail trade and eateries in Sri Lanka.
The escalation of the ethnic conflict has taken many of them to Western Countries where they are doing well as professionals as well as in commerce. The two - storied house in ward two of Allaipiddy that witnessed violence on Saturday night also belonged to Tamil expatriates. With the owners living abroad some of their relatives were living there. They in turn had brought in some other relatives to stay. It was one big extended “family” living in a big, comfortable house that was the envy of many.
Most of the Islands are under the control of the Navy. The Islands have been under Government control from 1990.Earlier the navy was assisted by EPDP cadres in maintaining security. After the ceasefire EPDP influence had waned considerably. There was a big navy camp in Allaipiddy about 500 metres away from the house. There were also sentry posts and bunkers in the area. Security had been intensified after a landmine attack that injured two navy men.
The nominal caretakers of the house were T. Sellathurai and his son Amala Dhas also called Amalan. Another small house in the same compound was used as a small shop. It was managed by Sellathurai with the aid of a couple from ward one in Allaipiddy. Amuthadhas was engaged in business trading mainly in sea food products.
On May 13th at about 8. 30 pm four men wearing shorts and tee - shirts had gone to the shop and bought biscuits and mineral waters. They ate and drank a little and began sauntering out. They seemed to be navy men in civils. Even before these men were in the shop “trouble” had started brewing in the vicinity.
Uniformed navy men on duty in the neighbourhood asked the drivers of the few vehicles passing through to “off” their lights. At the same time some EPDP cadres on motor cycles went up to houses in the area and asked them to turn all lights off. The lights near sentry posts were also turned off.
It was pitch dark when the four men emerged from the shop but they according to residents had “petromax” lanterns. After getting out of the shop casually the men started moving fast. They entered the big house where the inmates had kept doors open as they had no danger to fear. The men had firearms.
Entering forcibly the men began firing at the people inside. It appears that the men went upstairs and downstairs shooting away at their targets. One person seated down near the doorway listening to the radio was shot dead. So too were a sleeping family of four. The parents and two children were killed in sleeping position. Three men staying on the upper storey were also shot dead. Eight people staying in the house were killed.
The men then went outside to the shop. After firing a few shots they threw a grenade inside. Three people were seriously injured. With Naval and EPDP personnel ordering “lights out” earlier and hearing reports of gunfire and explosions the people were terrified and stayed indoors. Allaipiddy was not densely populated even in earlier times. Now the population was quite sparse.
It was left to Fr. Amalathas the Catholic priest at nearby St. Philip Neri church to collect some people and visit the scene of violence. They were horrified by what they saw. Eight dead people were lying dead. What was most appalling was the brutal killing of two children including an infant..
The dead victims at the Allaipiddy house and their ages,
Fr.Amalathas and Allaipiddy people then ran to the shop. They found three persons inside who were injured but alive. They then tried to take them to the Jaffna hospital via the Pannai causeway. The navy men on security duty refused to let them proceed. Finally Fr. Amalathas had to telephone the Jaffna district judge of their plight who in turn contacted the navy top brass and obtained necessary “permission”.
The three injured people were rushed to Jaffna hospital. But Sinnathurai Sivanesan (46) succumbed to his injuries. He may have lived if the navy had allowed him to be brought to the Hospital without delay. Sivanesan’s wife S Mohanambikai (46) and T Sellathurai (61) though seriously wounded are alive still and receiving treatment.
The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission was duly informed. To their credit the monitors arrived at Allaipiddy at about 1.00 pm and inspected the scene. The frightened people gathered around them like a drowning man clutching at straws. With old men, women, middle - aged men, young men, child and infant killed people from all ages were afraid and insecure
They requested the monitors to stay with them that night for protection. Some even fell at their feet and begged. But the SLMM could not help. Their mandate and regulations did not permit it. Besides there was the question of security. The monitors left for Jaffna. Thereafter about petrified people both Hindus and Christians gathered at the St. Philips Neri church for safety and spent the night there under the watchful eye of Fr. Amalathas.
If this was the situation in Allaipiddy where nine were killed and two injured the night of violence had not ended for the people living in the Northern Islands. A road forking off from the Allaipiddy - Mankumban - Kayts road goes through the Vangalavaadi junction in Velanai west. A tea boutique - closed for the day - in Vangalavadi was attacked between 10 to 10.30 pm..Ratnam Senthuran (38) the owner was dragged out and shot dead. The assailants also set fire to the place.
Further up on the same same road is Puliyankoodal junction in Velanai from where three roads go to Naranthanai, Suruvil and Kayts respectively. There is a row of shops and businesses at Puliyankoodal. Among these is a telecommunication centre which is open 24 hours of the day. A gang of armed youths speaking in both Tamil and Sinhala arrived at the spot between 10. 30 to 11. 00 pm. They wore dark blue balaclavas to hide their faces. Some also had red bands tied around their heads.
The main target of the gang seemed to be the telecommunication centre. Three members of the same family running it were shot dead. The victims were the father . Murugesu Shanmugalingam (72), mother Shanmugalingam Parameswari (65) and son S Kantharoopan (29) . Another son managed to run away and hide down a well to escape the assailants. Some people from the other businesses also ran out and escaped.
The marauders exploded grenades inside the telecommunication centre. They also took fuel from a nearby depot and set fire to the place. They also set fire to the other businesses in the area. The fuel depot was also burnt down. The commercial establishments including the telecom centre burnt down at Puliyankoodal numbered ten.
The navy was very harsh on the people the following Sunday 14th. They were not allowed to travel outside the Islands. With an unofficial curfew in force most people kept indoors through fear. One consequence of this action was that the outside world could not know much about the previous night’s massacre, violence and arson. But the clamp down was relaxed to some extent the following day. With people being able to travel to Jaffna town and Kayts more details emerged.
It appears that there were a few eye - witnesses to the violence and killings. The prime suspects were the Navy and EPDP. It appeared that the Allaipiddy massacre was done by one group and the Velanai violence by another. In Allaipiddy the actual violence was done by navy men in civils with EPDP men aiding and abetting. In the case of Velanai violence EPDP men were suspected of being in the forefront with navy men also participating.
There are many theories about the targets of violence but a brief account of recent history in the area is necessary to understand the context. The Navy - EPDP nexus had the Islands in an ironclad security grip for many years. The situation changed after the ceasefire when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) entered the area to do “politics” and made their presence felt.
EPDP power dwindled considerably. This was illustrated clearly through the Parliamentary elections of 2004 and Presidential elections of 2005. Earlier the EPDP had much “influence” through the captive vote bank.
With the LTTE political cadres “officially” withdrawing from Govt controlled areas last year the situation began reversing itself. But violence erupted sporadically again this April. On April 11th Thambu Gopalasingham (26)a mini - bus driver from Kayts was beaten to death by the EPDP. He was a strong tiger supporter.
On 23rd April former deputy - chairman of Kayts Pradeshiya Sabha Nagamuthu Thiruchelvam (71) was shot dead by the LTTE.He was an EPDP member. On April 27th an auto - rickshaw driver from Kayts Suresh Fernando (38) was shot dead and his four year old daughter injured. The EPDP was suspected of being responsible.
On April 29th a woman named Bhothini Ratnasingham (30)was shot at Velanai near the old bus stand. The single mother of one was killed by the LTTE. The tigers suspected her of being an army informant. The incident took place at 6 pm. There was a delay in taking her to Jaffna hospital due to stringent navy procedures and the woman died after undergoing belated surgery.
On the following Sunday April 30th the relative calm of Allaipiddy was shattered when a tiger claymore mine went off at the junction. Two navy men were injured. They were airlifted to Palaly and then Colombo. The incident took place at 6. 40 pm. Some sailors at Allaipiddy ran amok. They entered houses in the area and assaulted people. A 74 year old man Ramasamy Sangarapillai was shot to death despite his pleading not to shoot him.
Relations between the navy and people in Allaipiddy began to sour after the April 30th. The navy felt people in the area were harbouring tigers. Their suspicion fell on the big house occupied by S, Amaladhas and others. The prime suspect was Ganeshan Navaratnam who was also staying there. Navaratnam was a business associate of Amaladhas. He was from Kottadi in Jaffna and a father of five children. Three of them were in the Wanni and believed to be closely linked to the tigers.
The navy and EPDP from the area regarded the house as a tiger den. They suspected perhaps all inmates including the 4 month infant to be “kotiyas” and “kotipatau”. On may 3rd some navy men went to the house, inspected it casually and then asked the residents in a friendly way to give them the house to set up camp. This was refused.
It is not known whether the decision to attack the house and kill inmates was taken officially or unofficially. It is also not known when it was taken or who made the decision. The tension however was simmering from May 1st. The flashpoint may have come after the LTTE attack on the “Pearl Cruise II” and other Dvoras on May 11th. The navy was seething.
Some of the naval personnel who came on the passenger ferry resumed duties in the Islands on the morning of May 13th. It was also the day after Vesak. There is reason to believe that some navy men angered by the earlier incidents had attacked the house and killed the occupants. It also could be an “officially sanctioned unofficial execution”. These executions are part of the State’s retaliation strategy being implemented as part of unauthorised Mahinda Chinthana. The killing of an infant was a new low.
As far as the Velanai violence was concerned the Navy was angry with the business people for shutting down during hartals. Despite the navy insisting they remain open the businesses had closed defiantly. This was seen as part of tiger designs. The tea boutique owner and the family running the telecom centre were perceived as active tiger supporters. Both had refused to pay “kappam” money to the EPDP. There has also been some tensions with navy personnel demanding “free” telephone calls and free cigarettes, food and tea.
Many cadres of the EPDP in the area came from Thambatty in Naranthanai. It is an EPDP stronghold. It was here that an EPDP mob attacked the TULF and injured people like Senathirajah, Raviraj and Sivajilingam some years ago during election campaign in 2000. Most people from Thambatty belonged to the so called oppressed castes. The businesspeople of Velanai belonged to the so called high castes. Thus there was much friction between the two groups that were political and socio- cultural. This too may have played a part in all this.
With some action happening in Allaipiddy the green light may have been given in Velanai too. So an action plan unfolded there too. In Allaipiddy the navy took the lead role with EPDP playing second fiddle. In Velanai the EPDP seems to have played the major role with the navy playing sidekick.
The LTTE’s Jaffna political commissar Ilamparithy has lodged a complaint to the SLMM. “Unprovoked and preplanned killings of innocent civilians including children in the islets of Jaffna are being carried out by the paramilitary Eelam People Democratic Party (EPDP) along with the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) soldiers. ” he has stated.
The monitors - God bless them all - are investigating! Let us all hope that the SLMM comes out forcefully and fast with a statement!! Whatever the political affiliations of the victims may or may not have been there is no justification that a massacre of this nature could be perpetrated. What is happening now in parts of the North - East is unadulterated state terror. Why is it that the international community which is quick to condemn LTTE “terror” harshly is by contrast painfully slow and soft in condemning state “terror”? Is there any justification for killing sleeping infant and child? Why are those media sections who beat their breasts about the life of the unborn child in the suspected pregnant woman’s womb being eloquently silent now about the life of a living infant being cruelly snuffed out?
The Allaipiddy massacre and Velanai violence has sent shock waves down all decent people who came to know of it.. It was committed the day after Vesak. Mahinda Rajapakse has once again promised a full investigation. The world is keen to know the fate of his earlier full investigations like the murder of five Tamil youths in Trincomalee.
Keheliya Rambukwella the cabinet spokesperson on Defence matters is “spinning” away. He is even better than Murali. Keheliya now says that the massacre may have been done to bring discredit to the Government. How true! But who ? The Tigers are trying to distract international action is another googly. Anura Priyadharshana must be thanking his stars that Rambukwella and not he is in the hot seat.
Keheliya is ably assisted by DKP Dassanayake the navy spokesman. His Doosra was “at night we are confined to our camp in the islets, as a precautionary measure, to avoid clashes with the Tigers”. How nice!. How considerate of the navy. So the tigers are on top nocturnally. But then Dassa says “that night also we were inside the camp, but we had to help some civilians control a fire, which broke out twice in some shops near our camp. Who lit the match then?
Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe is cautious. Being a good soldier he may not want to defend the sailors or the half - democrats. When the BBC quizzed him he did not commit either way but said something like justice will be done.
IGP Chandra Fernando is hilarious. He has sent a special team to investigate. Its priority? Find out whether it was done to bring disrepute to the Government. So its not a sense of justice but a yearning to whitewash the Government that motivates our top cop. By the way it was this IGP who came out with the theory that the headless corpses were a result of gang violence.
The EPDP now issues emotional statements mourning the tragedy and lamenting the fact that they are being blamed for it. The EPDP reminds the Island Tamils of the services they rendered in the past. Now the EPDP’s beloved soil is soaked with blood and the tigers are blaming them for it they complain.
Thus goes the charade while the cycle of violence goes on. Life for Tamils is “Nasty, brutish and short”. From infant to old man all Tamils seem to be fair game. From headless corpses in Avissawela to bodies lying in Allaipiddy they get killed nowadays. It is no longer the exception or aberration. Rather it is the norm or rule.
It is customary to end articles of
this type with the appeal that justice should be done and the
culprits be punished. In the Sri Lanka of Mahinda and Gothabhaya
Rajapakse that is not likely to happen. My appeal is only to the
silent or silenced majority of Sri Lanka and those sections of the
International Community that are genuinely concerned about justice
and peace. Let these crimes not go unpunished.
|Amnesty International condemns killings, 16 May 2006|
AI Index: ASA 37/014/2006 (Public), News Service No: 125
Amnesty International is alarmed by the increasing number of civilians killed as a low-intensity armed conflict appears to be escalating, despite a 2002 ceasefire agreement between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). More than 200 people have been killed over the past month alone, the majority of them civilians, and more than 20,000 others have been displaced from their homes. Amnesty International fears that a collapse of the ceasefire agreement and return to full-scale armed conflict would have further devastating consequences for civilians.
In separate incidents over the past weekend, 13-14 May, at least 18 civilians were reportedly killed in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Thirteen Tamil civilians were reportedly killed in a spate of incidents on Kayts Island, a small islet off the northwestern coast of the Jaffna Peninsula that is strictly controlled by the Sri Lanka Navy, which has a major base there. On 13 May, at about 8.30 p.m., unidentified gunmen reportedly entered the home of Sellathurai Amalathas in Allaipiddy and opened fire. Eight people were killed on the spot, including a four-month-old baby and four-year-old boy, and one other person died later in hospital. In another incident, at around 10:30 p.m. the same night, unidentified gunmen reportedly entered the home of 72-year-old Murugesu Shanmugalingam in Puliyankoodal, also on Kayts Island, and shot him and two other members of his family dead. Ten shops in Puliyankoodal were reportedly burnt down. In Vangalady, gunmen reportedly entered the home of Ratnam Senthuran, a tea shop owner, and shot him dead. Other members of his family also were shot and injured, but managed to escape.
The government has condemned the Kayts Island killings and announced that a police investigation is underway. Amnesty International welcomes these initial steps but notes that there is a disturbing pattern of incomplete or ineffective investigations by the government, with the result that perpetrators of such violence generally operate with impunity. In accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Sri Lanka has ratified, the government must carry out independent, impartial and effective investigations into all killings; the results of these investigations should be made public, and those found responsible for the attacks must be brought to justice. Without effective investigations and prosecutions, the cycle of retaliatory violence that so endangers the lives of civilians is likely to escalate.
Regardless of who is responsible for the attacks, the Sri Lankan
government has obligations under international law to take steps to
prevent such killings, to ensure that those who commit them are
brought to justice, and that the families of those killed are able
to obtain redress.
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