Killings, Killings, Killings – Arbitrary
killings, Summary executions, Massacres, Gang rapes,
Disappearances, Displacement etc – this is what the people in
the North East have been experiencing since the independence of
the then Ceylon –when the Tamil people in the island of Sri
Lanka began to lose their political rights.
Last night, 7 February 2005, yet another cruel and fatal assault
was afflicted on those working towards humanitarian justice and
a peaceful negotiated settlement in the island, by the
government sponsored paramilitary forces in the East.
Mr. Ariyanayagam Chandra Nehru, founder member of North East
Secretariat on Human Rights (NESOHR), Mr. E Kousalyan, political
head of Batticaloa-Amparai district of the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and four others were shot dead while
travelling in a vehicle near Polonnaruwa.
This incident took place between Sri Lanka army camps at
Welikanda and Punanai, 38 kilometres Northwest of Batticaloa.
According to information received by TCHR, the unarmed victims
were travelling from Kilinochchi in the North to Batticaloa in
the East, after attending a meeting on extending Tsunami relief
and rehabilitation programmes. On their way from Kilinochchi,
they passed an Army check point at Omanthai in the North which
is believed to have provided information about their journey, to
the killers who were hiding and waiting near a Saiva (Hindu)
temple. When the ill-fated vehicle was approaching the temple,
the assassins opened intense and heavy gunfire.
Mr. Kousalyan and three others died on the spot and Mr. Chandra
Nehru, ex-Tamil National Alliance Member of Parliament for
Amparai district was seriously wounded and admitted to a nearby
hospital. He later died in hospital. Mr. Chandra Nehru was a
veteran human rights activist who was at the forefront in
helping to internationalise human rights violations in the East.
His hometown, Thirukkovil in Amparai district, was severely
affected by the gigantic Tsunami waves.
During the recent TCHR visit to Batticaloa and Trincomalee on a
fact finding mission, both Mr. Chandra Nehru and Mr. Kousalyn
helpfully provided valuable information. They shared their
knowledge and experiences of the socio-political realities of
the region with the TCHR representatives. (
After these cold-blooded killings, as is the usual pattern, the
military spokesman, a Brigadier, said that the killings were
carried out by unidentified persons and that the Police are
investigating the incident.Members of civil society from all
over the world have come to know Sri Lanka because of its
“Unknown gunmen” assassinated Mr. Kumar
Ponnambalam, an eminent Human Rights Defender, in the capital
Colombo in broad daylight on 5 January 2000; Mr. Mylvaganam
Nirmalarajan a senior journalist was killed in Jaffna on 20
October 2000 by “unknown gunmen”; a senior University lecturer
Mr. Kumaravel Thambaiah was killed on 24 May 2004 in Batticaloa
by “unknown gunmen”; Mr. Aiyathurai Nadesan another senior
journalist was killed by “unknown gunmen” on 31 May 2004 in
broad daylight in Batticaloa and many others human rights
defenders, journalists, lawyers and parliamentarians have been
also killed by “unknown gunmen” in Sri Lanka.
Is the International community concerned about these killings?
If so, in what way does it express its concerns? By encouraging,
discouraging or ignoring? Many International humanitarian NGOs
working in Sri Lanka have witnessed the discrimination in supply
of relief aid to the areas affected by the tsunami in the North
East. Have any of these INGOs chosen to come out with an open
statement about this discrimination? No, because they are
worried that if they did, they would not be able to continue
with even the work that they are able to do at present.
The Sri Lanka government threatens people, organisations, the
INGOs - and even rejects the request of the VVIPs to visit the
Tsunami affected areas in the North East. What is the reaction
of the International community to all this? Is it happily
watching and waiting for an opportunity to blame the innocent?
There are certain issues in Sri Lanka, when even
without proper investigation, within a few hours of an incident
(or even without an incident), certain G8 Human Rights
Organisations have issued strong criticisms. They have even
published their press releases in English and Tamil. Where did
they go when the Tsunami hit the North East coastal areas? What
have they done to condemn the above-mentioned killings? Can
human rights be selective?
There are G8 Human Rights organisations that have given blank
cheques to some of their naive representatives, who use the
cheques only in favour of those who pay a good sum. Recently we
experienced a report and propaganda meetings organised on such a
basis in London and Toronto.
TCHR and its solidarity organisations in various countries
strongly condemn the assassinations of Mr. Ariyanayagam Chandra
Nehru, Mr. E Kousalyan and three other activists. TCHR notes the
strain on hopes which are currently fragile for a peaceful
negotiated settlement. Our heartfelt condolences to the
families, friends and colleagues of the assassinated victims.
In the mean time we request all members of Civil
Society to send their requests to all G8 Human Rights
Organisations, urging them to act on these killings and to be
impartial regarding the human rights situation in the island of