What follows is far from being an exhaustive study of refugees in the district. It is based on interviews done in several parts of the district and would give a picture of the general problem and what people have been through from 1985 onwards. Because the Tamils were deliberately and consciously displaced, the overwhelming majority of refugees in the district are Tamil. During the course of the war and through reprisals, Sinhalese too were displaced and many more suffered economic hardship. These persons are mainly in the Gomarankadawela, Morawewa and Kantatalai AGA's divisions.
The Muslims were caught in a tricky situation and reasons
for their displacement depended on where they were. In Muthur and Kinniya where
the Muslims were strong and self-assertion was therefore greater, so was friction
with Tamil militant groups since the mid-80s. In such places Muslims withdrew
from exposed places owing to fear of the LTTE. In isolated places of
Muslim habitation such as Jinnahpuram, Kuchchaveli and Pudawaikaddu, the Muslims
have taken great care to avoid friction with Tamil groups, and they fled along
with their Tamil neighbours. The Sri Lankan forces too made little distinction
between them and the Tamils. Those from Jinnahpuram (near Kilivetti) went to
Muthur town as refugees, while those from Kuchchaveli and Pudawaikaddu went
to Horawapotana and are now returning. The reader interested in individual
cases could look up the Appendix. [Top]
The road to Thiriyai
Thiriyai is an ancient Tamil village about 25 miles north of Trincomalee through Nilaveli. The scenes of desruction are ameliorated by signs of life - of some purposeful activity by people trying to rebuild their lives. But north of Nilaveli one cannot but feel a sense of desolation. The deserted roadsides punctuated by shells of ruined houses and piles of rubble, against neglected cocoanut groves or advancing jungle, cannot but bring in a sense of sadness. Patches of purple or orange bougainvillae growing wild are reminders of well tended gardens left unwatered by owners fleeing for their lives. This is the kind of scenery that would have moved bards and chroniclers pondering the transience of human endeavour over the ruins of Rome or Vijayanagar.
From Irrakkandi bridge onwards the presence of the army becomes prominent. One gets into a narrow pathway through jungle which is more potholes than road - something that must be making army drivers very anxious about land mines. Near Salapai Aru one encounters the womenfolk of migrant Sinhalese fishermen washing their clothes and bathing in a shallow tank to the left of the road. Their smile, betraying a note of anxiety, is not one coming as though from the masters of the land. They are among the wretched of the country, driven by circumstances to earn a living dangerously. Another sixty yards north and one finds a small army post near the fishermen's temporary huts. This tradition of migrant Sinhalese fishermen from Negombo coming with the south - west monsoon is a very old one. It has received mention in Sir Ponnampalam Arunachalam's Ceylon Census of 1901. There is another migrant Sinhalese fishing colony at Kallara north of Thiriyai.
Further down the road is Kuchaveli, another village in ruins, save the Roman Catholic Church, which is now within the perimeter of a large armed forces camp. Just past it, to the right, between the road and the sea are temporary huts of Muslim refugees who have begun coming back, and awaiting the coming of Tamil refugees before making the next move. (This was early May 1993).
A few miles down the road just before the Pudawaikaddu ferry crossing, one sees a patch of ruins, including those of a church. The ferry man Abdul Wahab informed us that the ruins were of the village of Sagarapura where migrant Sinhalese fishermen were settled in the 70s. These ruins were not part of the Sri Lankan army's contribution to development. With the onset of troubles in 1985, while the Sri Lankan army was busy knocking down Tamil villages to the south, Tamil militants knocked down Sagarapura. The Sinhalese fled and returned in 1987 after the peace accord signed with India. They were driven out again in October 1987 when Tamils killed 19 of their number.
At the end of the ferry crossing is the Muslim village of Pudawaikkaddu with 140 families. It too has a camp of the army and navy. The Muslims had fled to Horowapotana at the onset of the June 1990 war and returned recently. The forces are not taking chances with them. They have all got to leave their identity cards at the sentry point, collect them when leaving the village, and surrender them on coming back.
Another 4 miles along the uninhabited coastal road, a left turn, a little over a mile, past the army camp, and one is in Thiriyai.
The remnants of Thiriyai
Thiriyai is among the ancient Tamil villages of the district and had over 700 families. Tradition closely links the village to Koneswaram temple at Fort Frederick, whose fame was sung by the religious poet Thirugnanasambandar circa 7th to 9th century A.D. The name of the village is linked with `thiri' (`wick'). Lotus stems were sent from the village, which were dried and used for making wicks for use at Koneswaram. The villagers are conscious of this tradition and are very conservative Hindus. All of them are said to be vegetarian. There are several pointers to the size and prosperity of this village. It has a large Pillayar Kovil which had 4 officiating Brahmin priests. There were 40 tractors to plough their fields and 4 rice mills. Neelapanikkan Kulam which irrigates most of their fields has the capacity to irrigate 1140 acres. They have in addition Thiriyai Kulam, a much smaller tank. Several farmers were able to earn over Rs 1 lakh a year and the village owned much cattle.
Now the village has only 16 families - all elderly except one family which has children - 9 of them who have now left off schooling. Subbyah Iyer(72), the senior priest, could hardly hold back his tears upon reflecting on the humbling of this village. "All I could do", he said, "is to daily entreat the deity". The remaining villagers said that if they had the choice again, they would have left. Because they stayed, the inertia has kept them there. The rest of those in the village fled in June 1990 to Mullaitivu, Jaffna and India. Those remining have next to no news of even their close relatives. The villagers do not get any milk from the cattle since they are not allowed to move out. What is left of the proud herd of cattle are about a hundred sorry animals limping around after treading mines laid by the army. The only visitors who care to acknowledge the existence of the village are wild hogs, monkeys and elephants, who now in control of the surroundings, mock their human overlords.
The troubles of Thiriyai
The war did not much affect life in Thiriyai until early 1987. While all militant groups were active the Sri Lankan forces mostly remained south of Nilaveli. The LTTE knocked the TELO out of action in May 1986 and then in December the EPRLF and the PLOTE. Soon after, in early 1987, the Sri Lankan forces entered Thiriyai. Thiriyai itself did not witness internecine killings between militant groups. The PLOTE was the strongest group there. Its cadre went off peacefully when the LTTE banned them in December 1986, as did the LTTE subsequently when the Sri Lankan army came. As for militant killings when they were in control during 85/86, the people recalled a particular incident where a few civilians were killed over charges of taking oil, then in short supply, and selling at Pudawaikaddu.
When the army came to Thiriyai in early 1987 it was not so peaceful. Around 25 from Thiriyai are said to have been killed by the army during that period.
When the troubles began in mid-June 1990, a stream of Tamils fleeing northwards left their vehicles and bicycles in Thiriyai and proceeded to board boats further along the coast. Many houses in Thiriyai were full of bicycles deposited for safekeeping - several houses having tens. Farmers in Thiriyai whose main capital was in tractors tried to get them out of the area. Several of them had to abandon their tractors in the jungle when a huge sum such as
Rs 15 000/= was demanded by operators to haul the machines across river crosssings. Of 40 tractors only 6 were saved.
When the army came in it was the usual story. People were brutally beaten and herded into a refugee camp. Subbyah Iyer was chased with a stick. Then the army proceeded to loot anything that was left - bicycles, vehicles, tractors (several of which were found abandoned over a period) and rice. Rice from the last harvest was stacked in houses - on the average of about 60 moodais per farmer. The balance of goods were burnt with the houses.
About 30 people and a number of bulls were said to be among those killed by the army. In one incident ten were taken in a bus by the army from the local refugee camp. They are said to have been shot at Illanthaikkulam. Among others killed were Selvarasa Vijayakumar, Rajavarothayam and Shanmugam. The beating of even the elderly continued for 2 months. The 72 year old priest was beaten. Several old men had their hands placed on cement floors which were then rammed. A 77 year old man showed his wrists which were then broken. The only relief they had was from the local government dispensary. For a long while the villagers lived on palmyrah yam and spinach. Those who had not alrady left steadily began leaving.
Whether for security reasons or ideological reasons, the army gave no encouragement for Tamils to remain in the area. From the beginning of the war the LTTE too had done everything to screw up things for the Tamils. Unless by sea, the government would then (in 1990) have faced considerable difficulty in supplying large refugee camps in the area.
One old man said in confidence that an important reason for the staggering decline of the village was that in the early days of the June 1990 war, a number of women were raped by soldiers. This is plausible in the light of similar reports from around Trincomalee town at that time, the utter powerlessness of the villagers and the general behaviour of troops there. This charge was however firmly dismissed by the women, led by Subbyah Iyer's wife.
A recent incident was one where several men were summonned to Pudawaikkaddu by the forces for a meeting in September 1992. Seven were detained. Sellathurai Selvarajah(17) was later released and is staying in Nilaveli. He had to go to Trincomalee and sign once a week. When he went to sign on 18th April 1993 he was again remanded for unspecified reasons. These are symptoms of a system where corruption, security concerns, clumsiness and lethargy are all comfortably mixed up. Little wonder that, in the main, only the old remain in Thiriyai.[See 3.3.5 which gives the experience of a Sinhalese community, isolated geographically in the company of the army]
Present conditions in Thiriyai
To say the least conditions apart from the restictions are pre-colonial. Earning money is extremely hard. Sivalingam, the only man with children does some vegetable cultivation without insecticides or fertiliser. To transport his brinjals to Pudawaikkaddu for sale, he needs a permit from the army. By the time the permit is given, the brinjals may be unsaleable.
Given that there is not a single young man in the village and those left are mostly into their 60s and 70s, there is an absurd system of permits even to go to Trincomalee. This people have to do even in order to get medical treatment. With the permit, old men and women set off to Pudawaikkaddu on foot about 8 or 9 A.M covering 5 or so miles. Then they wait at the ferry point for the one bus from Trinco that gets in just after 1.00 p.m. If it arrives they cross the ferry, get to Trinco in the evening, attend to their business the following day and get back the 3rd day. If the bus does not arrive, the Thiriyai folk are not allowed to remain in Puddawaikkaddu. They must walk back to Thiriyai and return the following day. There are also severe restrictions on bringing back goods from Trinco such as 1 litre of kerosene per family.
The government rations on which the refugees survive,
are brought in once in 3 months and deposited at the army camp. The villagers
allege that things are brought in short supply. Any complaint would be dismissed
with the usual `Do not look a gift horse in the teeth'. The villagers have to
collect their rations once in 15 days. Sometimes sacks of food they say, go
missing or are eaten by white ants. [Top]
At present (early May 1993) over 150 Muslim families have returned to Kuchaveli from Horowapotana, whither they fled in June 1990. On 13th June 1990 the LTTE surrounded the camp of the police and navy. Tamil refugees were streaming north at this time. Four Muslim civilians were injured during the exchange of fire. The Muslims fled willy-nilly to Horowapotana, westwards. The injured were treated there and one of them, Kuthus, died.
Once the LTTE left, the forces as usual looted and burnt the place. That the boats and fishing equipment left behind by Tamil and Muslim fishermen were also stolen by the forces was confirmed by the Muslims.
The Muslims there had returned on 10th July 1992. Loans for the purchase of boats and fishing equipment promised to them on 4th 0ctober 1992 had not materialised so far, they said.
Unlike the Tamils, several of the Muslims in Kuchaveli were also rice cultivators. Their spokesman A.C.Jainulabdeen said that they had 176 plots of 2 acres or more. Some he said did chena cultivation on as much as 48 acres or so during the October rains. These lands were about 6 miles to the interior. They have not cultivated since troubles broke out between Muslim and Tamil groups in the 80s, especially in Muthur. Their tanks too, he said, are in a state of disrepair. They have no problems with rations, he added, because these are obtainable at the local MPCS. The school is functioning -the teachers being often `Janasaviya teachers' rather than regular teachers.
A further 600 Muslim refugee families are still in Horawapotana. Among the drawbacks the Muslim refugees face are the lack of a regular doctor - especially for the children, the lack of a regular bus service to Trincomalee and building materials. During December 1992 a heavy storm, with flooding, had brought down their temporary huts. The Muslims said that they never had trouble with the militant groups. But they would be reluctant to go back to their former premises until a return of the Tamil refugees and the remainder of Muslims from Horowapotana.
The refugees said that all their houses destroyed by the forces (leave alone property) were each worth more than Rs 1 lakh and that the Rs 15 000/= for a house being offered by the government was an insult.
Other NGO sources said that the problem of a regular doctor was soon being put right. The refugees are also being given equipment to begin by planting vegetables. [Top]
We recorded in earlier reports how from 13th June 1990 many Tamils from the district trekked as far as Nilaweli and Thiriyai, went by boat to Mullaitivu or Pt Pedro, then trekked again to Vavuniya and Mannar through jungles and finally by boat to India. Several perished on the way through starvation and disease-particularly children and the elderly. Those bound for India had to run the gauntlet of the often tolerant, but somtimes unpredictable, Sri Lankan Navy, as well as the sea made rough by the south-west monsoon.
Nadesan (late 40s), a farmer from Pankulam, is now a community leader at the UNHCR transit camp for India returnees at Alles Thottam(Gardens). In the wake of June 1990, having completed the first part of his odessey, his family boarded a boat in Mannar which commenced its journey to India by night. His boat capsized in rough sea and in the dark he lost sight of his wife Sushiladevi who was holding a child and his other 9 year old son.
Nadesan was picked up by another boat and was taken back to Mannar. Ten days later he discovered that his 9 year old son too had been picked up and was in Mannar. With his son he took another boat to India. Of Sushiladevi and the other child, nothing more was heard.[Top]
Tamils in Kuchaveli are almost exclusively fishermen by profession, who lived in small bunched up huts by the sea. Many are Roman Catholic Christians and have connections with India through marriage with migrant Indian fishermen. Social workers who in the past had tried to coax them into agriculture through offer of land and other amenities found them singularly resistant, despite the prospect of higher incomes. Their life was therefore confined to a narrow patch of the coast and the wide sea. Some are now learning to farm as agricultural labourers in Nilaweli.
They said they fled their village after airforce men from the local camp shot dead six of their number, many going to India. Those who went to India said they were well looked after. A family receiving Indian Rs 390/ 2 weeks they said could manage well because things were sold to them cheap (57 cents per Kilo of rice, Indian Rs.5 per Kilo of sugar and Rs 3/10 per litre of kerosene). In Sri Lanka, they said, that a family of 5 or more are allocated Rs 1200/- per month with the goods supplied by a private trader nominated by the authorities. They claim that they are systematically short supplied and estimate that the Rs 1200/- would therefore be worth about Rs. 800/- in real terms. When they complain about supplies being under weight, the trader they say, tells them not to look a gift horse in the mouth. The Grama Sevaka, they claim, supports them, but the AGA is with the trader. They have been demanding that the goods should be supplied through the local MPCS.
Asked why they returned from India, they gave two reasons. One was that they could not look the people of India in the eye after Rajiv Ghandhi was murdered. The second was that many of them were falling ill because of the climate. They denied harassment by Indian authorities.[Top]
These interviews were conducted in March 1993 when the authorities in Trincomalee were urging them to return to Kuchaveli. But the refugees themselves raised many questions. As for security they said, that they had little anxiety on account of the army, but feared homeguards. Their questions were mainly to do with livelihood. In Nilaveli itself there was some work for agricultural labour. The women could earn Rs 50/- a day harvesting onions. They themselves did not do any planting, they said, because the army may suddenly force them to abandon their crops and go to Kuchaveli.
Their problem was one common to Tamil fisherfolk in the district. When they were forced to flee in June 1990, a large number of their fishing boats and equipment were stolen with the complicity of the armed forces, and were either sold to Sinhalese fishermen or were removed from the district. Some, like Neminathan, who identified their boats in the Trinco harbour have no means of getting them back.
As for buying new boats and equipment, they say that no loans have been given to them since 1985, nor have they been told how to obtain loans. Some who tried were first told that they must form a society, which is difficult as all are destitute. They claim that while the Ministry of Fisheries is going all out to help Sinhalese fishermen, almost nothing has been done to help them for two years since the outbreak of war. Some in town, they say, have given names in Kuchaveli and have paid bribes of the order of Rs. 5000/- to get loans passed.
In addition, nearly all their houses have been destroyed
by the armed forces. Rajeswary Thurairasa said that her house was destroyed
in 1985, which was rebuilt with assistance from a church organisation when the
IPKF was here, only to have it destroyed once more by the Sri Lankan
forces in June 1990.[See appendix for cases] [Top]
4.5. Kadatkaraichenai, Chenaiyoor, Sambur & Kattaiparichchan (near Muthur)
Kadatkaraichenai GS's division has a total of 366 families, all of whom were made refugees in July 1990. Several families fled the area. The others lived in the nearby jungles until February 1991. Their houses were destroyed by the forces. Most refugees have returned except 30 families who are said to live in Trincomalee or Jaffna. It took nearly two years for each family to receive its settling-in-allowance of Rs. 2000/- which helped them to put up a shed. The people themselves trace their origins to places as diverse as Kottai-Kallar and Pt Pedro and are both fishermen and farmers. In this GS's division about 19 people were killed or are missing as the result of the action of the Sri Lankan forces between July 1990 and August 1992. There have been no disappearances since then. In Sampur (600 families), Chenaiyoor and Kattaiparichchan (800 families), a total of about 34 persons are said to have been shot dead by the army between 7th and 10th July 1990. In Sambur 6 fishermen were shot dead during the second half of 1992.
Some of the worst incidents remembered by the villagers is one in 1985 when the army shot dead 4 persons in Chenaiyoor including an LDO. In late 1985 there was one incident where the army rounded up 27 persons, took them to Sambur and massacred them. At the same time 5 others were killed at sea. More than 50 are said to have been killed in Sambur during that period.
The worst incident during the IPKF presence took place about the middle of 1988 when 11 persons were shot dead in a school room in Kattaiparichchan.
From Kadatkaraichenai alone 64 persons were detained in Boosa after being badly tortured (see cases in the appendix) between 1985 and 87. Those known to have been detained after June 1990 are said to number 16.
As for recruitment into militant groups, the young from these villages joined mainly the PLOTE and the LTTE in the mid 80s. About 25 from Kadatkaraichenai joined the PLOTE and are now said to be in its splinter group, the ENDLF. Those surviving are believed to be in India. Those from Senaiyoor and Kattaiparichchan joined mainly the LTTE. They said that the TELO had a large camp in Sambur during the clash with the LTTE in mid-1986, but very few from those areas had joined the TELO. They confirmed that the women had then come out to prevent a fratricidal clash, and as a result deaths in that area during the clash were neglegible.
Maheswary and Amaravathy from Kadatkaraichenai lost a daughter each during the Muthur ferry disaster of January 1993. N. Vasanthy (23), the daughter of the first, was about to enter university. Seven from Senaiyoor died during the same incident.
Livelihood: The people living in these villages, one time reasonably prosperous, are now desperately poor, surviving mainly on food rations. The fisherfolk get some cash through coastal fishing. Those involved in rice cultivation are not allowed to stay in their fields and keep away elephants during nights. Hence this activity, if undertaken, has to be done at considerable peril. NGOs are involved in providing some assistance - such as supplying coconut seedlings. At Kattaiparichchan, the situation is reportedly worse. To obtain cash people go into the nearby jungles to collect firewood. These are then loaded on bicycles and rolled into Muthur for sale. When they return, the goods they can carry back are severely limited - e.g not more than one box of matches and a litre of kerosene per person.
At Kattaiparichchan, Kadatkaraichenai, Chenaiyoor, Sampur, Koonithivu and Illakanthai, their rations have to be collected at the MPCS in Muthur three times week, so that no one will have food for more than about two days at a time. This procedure consumes a very valuable part of 3 days of one's life every week. People have to queue up and later be checked at the army camp. This procedure could last from morning into the afternoon. This is apparently a move to starve the Tigers and is part of life in a `cleared area'. The productive life of many an adult is divided between standing in front of the army camp and rolling firewood into Muthur.
Although the young from these villages joined different groups, owing to the conduct of the Sri Lankan army in recent years, people tend to feel that they are able to continue living there because the LTTE is about, whence the army's mobility is limited. What they experienced was that the army came in July 1990, destroyed their houses and killed a few. But the rest survived in the jungle where the army was loath to go. It is the gut reasoning of a desperate people rendered totally powerless.[Top]
A note on events in Muthur:
Troubles between Tamils and Muslims began during 1985. A Muslim cowherd was accused of cattle stealing and also of giving information to the army. A Tamil militant group sent a letter to the local mosque asking the authorities to inquire into the alleged offences. This was refused - in part owing to fear of repercussions from the security forces. Tamil militants then took the cowherd, tied him to a lamp post and shot him dead. When the Muslim community showed its displeasure, the Tamil militant groups, especially the TELO, went on a rampage assaulting Muslims and looting their property. The EPRLF took part in certain places. The PLOTE local leadership refused to join in such activity. But failed to restrain their cadre who joined in. Similar stories emerged from other parts of the East, like Eravur, about that time. Those militant leaders with some political vision tried up to a point, to deal with the Muslims sensitively. But they failed to sustain it when prejudices started to be given a free reign. This event also ended Muthur being a safe haven for Tamil militants. The PLOTE leader Uma Maheswaran's companion, who in mid 1982 was injured during the Pondichchery Bazaar shoot-out with the LTTE leader Prabakaran and his companion, recuperated in a safe house in Muthur. This obviously involved good-will on the part of the local Muslims. The events of 1985 also expain why the LTTE, a late - comer to the East, was able to mobilise considerable Muslim support, which it too could not sustain for somewhat different reasons. [See chapter 6 of Report No 11].
When the forces went into action from 1984 there were terrible massacres of Tamils. On 27th November 1985, 21 Tamils from Kadatkarachenai, Koonithivu, and Chenaiyoor were killed by the army. According to the citizens' committe 30 fro Koonithivu and 56 form Sambur were missing. During mid 1986, in an early morning round up in Manalchenai 67 were massacreed by troops in black shirts. About 7 women were raped. The refugees were from Manalchenai, Pachchainoor, Peruveli and Mallikaithivu.32 bodies were recovered including 15 of women and children. Magistrate Kathiravetpillai delivered a forthright verdict following the inquest and left the district. He later became well known for his equally forthright verdicts over incidents in Jaffna. During 1984, one witness said that he saw the burning by the forces of 18 bodies in Kattaiparichchan.
By the time the IPKF arrived in August `87, relations between the LTTE and the Muslims had soured. In early September 1987, Habib Mohamed, AGA/Muthur was shot dead. Muslim civilians stoned the local LTTE office. On 12th October 1987, a Muslim police constable was murdered. The police and homeguards started shooting Tamils. The LTTE then retaliated against Muslims. Mr. A.L.A. Majid, SLFP, MP for Kinniya, was then very active trying to bring about a settlement. The LTTE invited him to Vavuniya for talks. During the IPKF presence the Muslims generally had it rough. Majid was assasinated just after the commencement of war between the IPKF and the LTTE on 10th October 1987. Those who attribute the murder to the LTTE cite his closeness to the IPKF. Others who are skeptical about the LTTE wanting to murder him suspect the Cassim group within the Sri Lankan army. This group had been credited with a mission to bring about a breach between Tamils and Muslims - a mission later taken over by the LTTE.
Contrary to popular belief, the Muslims are far from having it good following the war of June 1990. On 11th June 1990 the army and police in Muthur town were besieged. Although there were a little over 10 members of the LTTE, the forces thought there were many more. One 5th July the forces attempted to relieve Muthur. Sighting a member of the LTTE under a big tree, the airforce commenced bombing with their accustomed skill. The bombs hit a big building and damaged a nearby mosque killing 4 Muslim civilians injuring over 10.
Muslims in isolated villages who could not afford to alienate the LTTE have faced punishment from the forces - e.g Jinnahpuram. During 1992 the LTTE ordered Muslim farmers in the fields at Periyapalam to sit down, then waited in ambush and killed 13 soldiers. Such events placed Muslims too in an awkward position with the army.
When the army came into Muthur just after 5th July 1990, the Tamil houses were looted by the forces and to put the blame on the Muslims, the police ordered Muslims to set fire to Tamil houses. These goods were taken out of Muthur. The goods looted from Muslim civilians in Jinnahpuram were sold in Muthur.
Just after the Kattankudy masssacre, the police and army deployed sentries and prevented an outbreak of violence in Muthur. The Tamil GS, Kurugnanalingam, looking after the refugee camp at Pachchanoor dissapeared after being taken by the army at Periayapalam sentry point while travelling with his wife. Occasional killings had continued - such as shooting of Muslim fishermen or an occasional Tamil disappearing. Muslims have also been hit economically by losing access to their rice fields in Mallikaitivu, Menkamam, Kanguveli and Peruveli.
Pattithidal (Village near Muthur, 300 families): Villagers said that about 20 civilians were killed by the Sri Lankan forces during 1985 & 86, including several members of over two families. About 10 were killed by Indian forces during their presence. They added that about 20 were killed by the Sri Lankan forces after mid June 1990.
In one incident at Mannampadivattai, they said, the
army opened fire killing six - Lingaraja(16), Thayaparan(15), S.Kandiah(36),
Sivasambu Uthayakumar(15), C.Rosa and one other. S. Paskaran(16) was injured.
Others killed included K.Thamayanthi, Mahalingam and Veerappa(90). [Top]
By March 1993 of the 13 sub villages in Thampalakamam 6 were resettled. Others were refugees in the Hindu temple. Most of those in Thampalakamam fled in June 1990 and most of them are said to be in Mullaithivu. Those in the North with children are said to be finding it difficult to return. Many other Tamils now reside in Trincomalee. Hence the village is considerably depopulated. It earlier had more than 6000 Tamil inhabitants.
When the army moved in soon after June 1990, one witness said that he saw at least 10 bodies along the Kinniya Road near Kovilady. On one occasion the army reportedly took about 35 including elderly and girls near Illankesan mill. Incidently a similar incident took place during June 1986. 34 bodies were discovered in the jungles near Thampalakamam on 28th June 1986. Among those killed were a mill owner, his wife and several employees. The killers are believed to be Sinhalese home guards. The officer in charge of the first detachment that came to Thampalakamam after June 1990 is said to have been very nasty. A railway works supervisor named Vithana from Kekirawa (known locally as Aalkolli (Manslayer)) used to lead a mob of Sinhalese hoodlums responsible for several disappearances. Sometimes people who passed the army camp, were checked and allowed to proceed, were kidnapped a short distance away by this gang.
The next officer, Captain Thalagoda, who was in charge about July to September 1990 was said to have been very protective towards the Tamils, often going to great lengths to release those who were kidnapped. The total killed or disappeared from Thampalakamam after June 1990 is put at 80 or more (rough estimate).[Top]
Alankerni, a Tamil village adjecent to Kinniya has 384 families of whom 25 are Muslim. The Muslim quarter continues into Kinniya. The relations between Tamils and Muslims were traditionally good. During the 1985-87 troubles the Tamils used to go into the Muslim area for protection from the forces. Ichchantivu, next to Alankerni away from Kinniya, has 225 families - all Tamil.
During the aftermath of the war of June 1990 all Tamil houses were destroyed. Those well to do have moved to Trincomalee, Colombo and Canada. Thus Tamils there are effectively without leadership. The number killed by the forces in the two villages after June 1990 is said to be over 25. The number killed by the Sri Lankan forces during 1985-86 is said to be much higher. There were no casualties during the IPKF presence. The number killed in internecine quarrels between Tamil militant groups or killed by Tamil groups is placed at about 20.
Of the notable incidents, one occurred on 28th July 1990. The army asked all the villagers to come to the local school for a meeting. Nine were taken away by the army including 2 children (a girl(12) and a boy(9)) all of whom disappeared. There was then a panic and the villagers decided they could not stay there. The army arranged to move them to the famous World War II aircraft hanger at Clappenburg. The villagers assembled at the school again on 6th August 1990. After one lot was taken to Clappenburg, the army and homeguards again took away 14 persons. 10 were later released and 4 are missing.
Upon the outbreak of war in June 1990 many of the villagers had taken to the jungles and had lived around Kandankuda and Upparu before returing to the refugee camp at the local school over the next two months. After a year at Clappenburg, overlooking China Bay, some of the refugees had come off and on crossing the Kinniya ferry to look for missing cattle and such like - nothing being left of their homes. From April 1993 security clearance had been given for a return of refugees and many of them have been coming daily to clear their compound. The next step was for each family to receive Rs. 500/- worth of cadjan from the rehabilitation ministry to put up temporary shelter. According to local representatives of the ERRP the payment though promised had not come through by early May. Not unnaturally the refugees expect more from NGOs than from the government machinery. A police post had been set up recently and the OIC appeared to be well-meaning.
At present a once reasonably contented people have no means of livelihood. Though an impression, there seemed to be in Alankeni a higher incidence of women who were either widows or whose husbands were in some way disabled. A number of local women had gone to the Middle East as house-maids through agents in Kinniya, having taken passports under assumed Muslim names. This has happened from before the mid 80s, suggesting that economic pressures were being felt before the Tamil insurgency or the 1983 violence. Some of these impressions received confirmation from a political activist who said that a number of these women are kept as mistresses by non - Tamil men through causes of poverty, lack of security or both.[Cases are given in the appendix][Top]
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