3.2.2 Disappearances and the resulting undercurrents in the social fabric.
Official concern over the last 4 months centred around the Presidential Mobile Secretariat scheduled for 23rd July 1993. Its bungling as a public relations exercise exposed the general insensitivity of the authorities. At one point masked informants were deployed at sentry points and security arrangements such as regular nocturnal visits to homes in town ensured that few were left undaunted to attend the PMS. When Minister Munsoor apologised for the non-arrival of the chief guest, another minister contradicted Munsoor in a belittling manner, suggesting the meaning that President Wijetunga had more important things to do than to see the people of the East. The attack on the fellow Easterner went down badly. When Prime Minister Wickremasinghe attended briefly, security was taken so seriously that people got pushed around.
Where diplomacy was concerned all was not lost. A host of village girls in police uniform from places like Polonnaruwa and Moneragala were brought into Batticaloa. The village girls hit it off so well with children around the place where they were staying, that people were afterwards prepared to see them as very loving lot.One mishap occurred which many swear was why the chief guest did not arrive. A child went to a temple festival and brought home a lethal looking toy pistol. Seeing the child play with it, a police woman mistakenly took it to be a real wepon and set off the alarm Kottiya avilla (The Tigers have arrived). The area was surrounded and the cordon slowly closed around a gaping boy holding his toy!
A young Sinhalese policeman went into a house to eat his lunch packet and got into a conversation with the people of the house who offered him extra curries. He explained that he was from Moneragala. Lacking other means of employment his two elder brothers had gone into the army. His parents had made him follow them into the army against his wishes. He later deserted the army and joined the police. He has not told his colleagues that his name was on the army lists as one among several thousand deserters, who were subject to arrest by the police.
It became evident in the relative thaw that prevails now that Muslims, Sinhalese and Tamils can all get on very well as ordinary people. Although no political alternative has presented itself, there is deep disillusionment among ordinary people with ideologies of group exclusivism that are at the root of the conflict.
If the security forces find themselves in a quagmire because of the moral collapse of the state, the Tigers too are paying a heavy price for their past. The Tigers being picked off, often by fellow villagers from groups they violently alienated, are most often young boys who joined the LTTE after June 199O through fear of the army. Recent military successes for the LTTE have drawn attention away from its deep crisis.
A disturbing undercurrent that is widely talked about is the ubiquity of corruption. Compared with widespread extortion by the LTTE two years ago, there is hardly any talk of it now in the town area. The visible face of extortion is now worn by Tamil groups working with government forces and there are many testimonies to this. Farmers for instance bring in rice from the interior and sell it to Muslim traders at Valayiravu bridge. When one farmer came to the bridge, a Tamil militant at a the sentry point asked the Muslim trader to hand over to him the payment due to the farmer. Had the Tamil farmer protested, he would have been invariably arrested as an LTTE sympathiser. The Muslim trader tried unsuccessfully to shield the farmer by saying that he had unsold stocks and would need time to procure the money. In the end the entire price of Rs. 26OOO/- was paid to the militant. An obvious question is why such things are allowed to happen in public view under the very noses of the authorities?
One is hardly surprised when leading citizens allude to a more insidious invisible network of corruption and extortion that uses the draconian powers that are available to the state machinery. Testimonies include large sums of money passed on to leading security officials through intermediaries for the release of detainees and extortion and protection rackets where private gain smoothly intermingles with local UNP politics. The SSP is seen not as a government servant but as a UNP organiser.There is a deep sense of fear among those caught up in this. [Some police transfers had since taken place. But talk of corruption among the forces is still widespread.] [Top]
Early morning on this day army personnel believed to be from the Karadianaru camp rounded up 17 persons comprising an elderly watcher, 15 farmers from Puthukkudiyiruppu and one from Thalankudah. Some sources say that the army had come on information to the effect that these farmers were harvesting fields cultivated for the LTTE. Another source said that the soldiers who had first lain in ambush for the LTTE, were later ambushed by the LTTE and were in a bad mood. The fields concerned were irrigated by the Unnichchai and Rugam tanks and were off the Chenkaladi - Maha Oya Road. The womenfolk who were in the wadis protested. The soldiers promised to release the men after inquiry. The women however followed the prisoners. The soldiers threatened them with the gun and sent them back. Except for the old caretaker who was released, the other detainees have not been accounted for.
The matter had been raised by the MPs and the Batticaloa Peace Committee. But the Brigade Commander in charge of Batticaloa has continued to deny that any such incident took place. A senior member of the Peace Committee told the brigadier, We have always played straight with you. If we say someone was taken, then he or she was taken. Now come on, this incident was witnessed and the men were taken away by army personnel in uniform. This member said that unlike on an earlier occasion when the duty roster was called for by the second in command to check on units moving in a given area at the given time of interest, the brigadier seemed reluctant to do it on this occasion. But he maintained the denial. Another member of the Peace Committee said that the army later said that the roster was checked and there was no relevant record.
A second member of the Peace Committee said that most disappearances reported to them upto about mid-1991 are not accounted for. But that after this date many cases reported to them were later released. Since many of them lived in the rural areas only a small fraction of the releases were reported to them. They now had close to 54OO cards, he said, but are unable to give the exact number of the disappeared. Asked about a large number of disappearances reported in the Tamil press as having taken place in recent months (middle of 1993) towards the Polonnaruwa border, he said that the area was more than 2O miles from Batticaloa. The Peace Committee had contacts in Valaichenai who often sent them people in need of help. Thus relatives of a fraction of persons detained from those parts and even from places like Kallar, Mandur and the Amparai District, regularly lodged complaints with the Batticaloa Peace Committee. He added that while he cannot say anything definite, if the phenomenon was significant, they would normally have got wind of it. [Top]
A queue of persons whose near ones had disappeared was waiting to make representations before the Presidential Mobile Secretariat. The mood among these grey haired emaciated folk was one of sullen defiance. One of them told the others not to expect anything from this exercise adding, Avan engal inaththai Kooru pottu vikkiran (They are dividing our kind like chopped fish in a market and selling us down the drain). Why were then these people there? These lean and hungry folk were determined to go on until the mighty got off their seats and said either a simpleyes or no to whether or not they killed their sons and daughters.
So far the issue has been fudged. There is, as the Peace Committee spokesman pointed out, no absolute accountability. Anyone could disappear today as much as happened three years ago if anyone in authority fancies it. By refusing to face up to it, the government continues to lose legitimacy while something unpleasant is brewing below.
The lack of any word about the disappeared has multiplied the misery in families several fold. Even after more than seven years people wait in hope, minutely examining every rumour of the loved one having been seen somewhere, leading a restless existence. This is true of all cases whether the party responsible was a state force or one of the Tamil groups. In such families education is disrupted and one sees intelligent children stagnating. If the leaders of the party responsible could just come down to saying We are sorry. Your son is no more. Please allow us to help you get over it, it would go long way. If not a volcano may erupt where and when it is least expected.
How complex and tragic the problem is, is close to the surface in every village. The case of the Vyramuththu family with 3 boys and 6 girls is not untypical. The eldest son Dr.Vyramuththu Thayaseelan disappeared after being taken by the STF at Kallady in 1985. The second boy Uthayaseelan then joined the EPRLF and was taken prisoner when the LTTE took on the EPRLF in December 1986. He was among those executed by the LTTE in their Jaffna Kanthan Karunai camp four months later. The third brother Elango was in the conscripted Tamil National Army and was among the many TNA cadre killed by the LTTE in concert with the Sri Lankan forces. One sister was engaged to Jeyadevan taken in by the late Mr. Theophilus, D.I.G., Police, when he came looking for his brother Beto, a member of the TELO. Jeyadevan was killed while escaping. Another sister was registered to Kandasamy, a security guard in the Eastern University. He was one of the 158 who disappeared on 5th September 199O after being taken away by troops under Brigadier P.A. Karunatilleke. Out of the five members of the family who disappeared, no corpse or any other trace was seen by the family. [Top]
How persevering most parents are in trying to trace disappeared sons is reflected in many instances. We give one which also exposes the hollowness of the machinery intended to provide redress. Zacky was an A.Level student and senior prefect at the Jesuit run St. Michaels College Batticaloa. Shortly after the army entered he was taken from his residence in Lake Road in a general round up on 5th July 199O and released. He went home and was talking to a friend at the entrance when he was again picked up by uniformed army personnel. His companions in Batticaloa prison saw him last on 12th July 199O and are aware that two prisoners were taken away in the night. Zackys arrest was witnessed by neighbours including his mother Therese (53) and sister Jennet who is fluent in all three languages and has also taught in Sinhalese schools.
The father, K.Sinthathurai (61), a carpenter, has a file full of documents and letters of acknowledgement from the both governmental and non-governmental bodies witnessing his search. He said apologetically that he has even more letters at home besides those in his file. He accomplished the unusual task of obtaining a police report authenticated by an officer of the CIB, Batticaloa (25th July 199O). The ICRC and the Batticaloa Peace Committee were among the first to be informed. Here are some of the responses received by him.
Joseph Pararajasingham MP: 26/2/91: Copy of letter to Air Chief Marshal Walter Fernando, Secretary/Defence, enclosing affidavit.
Mrs. R.M.Pulendran MP, State Minister for Education: 6/2/92: Copy of letter to General Wanasinghe.
Please await further communication.
Informed Organiser Foreign Peace Committee on circuit in Batticaloa. 11/1O/91.
A.M. Weerakoon, Secretary to Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Involuntary Removal of Persons: 4/9/91: Regret outside terms of reference as published in the Gazatte Extraordinary No. 644/27 of 11/1/91.
S.Wijewardene, Human Rights Task Force: 6/2/92: Will keep a lookout for him in the course of visiting camps to prepare comprehensive register.
Civil Information Officer, Commissioner General of Essential Services: Colombo: 12/3/91: Acknowledged complaint on a cyclostyled letter.
For Secretary/Defence at Presidential Mobile Secretariat in Batticaloa: 1/3/93: Acknowledged complaint by mother, K.S.Jennet.
Civil Affairs,for General Officer Commanding,Joint Operations Command,Colombo 3:
27/5/93, to K.S. Jennet: It is reported that a person by this name was not taken into custody by the security forces.
Some letters contained lines like: If you have further information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Many have taken the whole exercise to mean that while huge resources are being spent, mostly on public relations, the onus for the actual search and conclusions is with the relatives. The mother goes to church every week, lights candles and prays for the restoration of her missing son. Most of these complaints directed through different routes, no doubt end up in what is literally the waste paper basket at the Ministry of Defence. In this case, like in the case of over 17O persons taken from the Eastern University, the government would have had no problem in giving an answer if it wanted to.
There are two significant events in Zackys past possibly connected with his disappearance. During the IPKF presence a member of the TELO was being a bit of a nuisance to a school girl at St. Michaels. Zacky as a prefect pulled him up. Zacky was later taken to a TELO camp and the father summoned. Zacky was then released. He skipped his A.Levels that year because he could not concentrate. When Zacky was missing after his arrest in July 199O, his sister who had taught in Wattala, made contact with the famous Captain Munas at Batticaloa Prison on a morning. Munas called for the prison register and perused the names. He then asked the family to return at 4 oclock in the evening. When they returned they were told that Munas was out. The father dreaded trying again and gave up this line of search. [Top]
Following Zackys disappearance, Jennets husband Colvin went off to Colombo and then to Switzerland. After receiving news about Zacky, his brother Rocky Barnes (26) then in Oman was anxious to see his parents. The father did not want the son to come to Batticaloa, but had intended to meet him in Colombo upon his arrival in December 199O. The arrangements went wrong and Rocky suddely turned up in Batticaloa. His father sent him packing telling him not to remain one day in Batticaloa. Rocky too went to Switzerland. Very little of the fear felt by ordinary Tamils is reflected in the Sri Lankan press which is now (August 1993) in a state of undisguised glee over plans to send back Tamils from Europe. In recent times we have been treated to more features from Europe from where these refugees may be sent back and almost none from Pottuvil, Batticaloa or Trincomalee where they originate, and which are easy of access if the press is in the least interested.
One hopes European governments will not talk of deportation until there is accountability, and not costly public relations, over disappearances, and tangible assurances that they will not happen again. Also people like Mr. & Mrs. Sinthathurai should be told officially what became of their son, so that they could burn their files full of standard English evasion and start life anew. [Top]
Senior citizens of Eravur and Kattankudy speak of a general thaw in relations with Tamils. Tamil workmen are to be found in every nook of Muslim villages, whose loss was greatly felt. The LTTE seems to have been making overtures to Muslims by passing messages through those venturing out. The Muslims would like a public declaration of its intentions. But for the LTTE this may be an admission of culpability for past actions. The result is a certain amount of nervousness, considering that the LTTE had been responsible for four large massacres in the district from December 1987 to August 199O.
The worst hit among the Muslims are the paddy cultivators who have been without an income for more than 3 years. Some started receiving rent for their fields from Tamil cultivators when the army moved into the interior. Muslim traders are also moving into the interior and staying overnight in villages like Kokkadichcholai. Talks are still going on about Muslim farmers returning to their fields in the interior. Tamils in that area expect the outcome to be positive. A Muslim elder remarked, We are people from this area and we have to live with the Tamils. If the government can talk to the LTTE in 5 star hotels, who can tell us not to talk to them in order to protect our livelihood? Only a small fraction of cattle owned by Muslims has been traced.
Some of the current anxieties of the Muslims concern education and administration. Although Tamil doctors and hospital staff have returned to Muslim areas, not so with the teachers. For this reason most Muslim schools are handicapped in the teaching of Science and English. Some Muslim children have returned to big schools in Batticaloa town. Others rich enough have sent theirs to places like Kalmunai, Gampola, Mawanella and Colombo. With regard to administration there is a general feeling that although moves to get rid of administrators from Jaffna in favour of people of local origin was largely successful, Muslims are now more discriminated against. Further the general trend towards homogeneous AGA (DS) divisions, ethnic appointments and the fact that Muslims while living in compact areas have their economic life outside has resulted in Muslims who are 25% of the district population having AGA divisions comprising less than 5% of the land area. Since land alienation for agricultural and residential purposes is now a subject originating with the AGA (Divisional Secretary), the Muslims are now at a disadvantage. Although there was a clamour for new Muslim AGA divisions when there was an intense security threat, there are now considerable reservations. These are similar to Tamil reservations about the Divisional Secretariat system in the Trincomalee District where recently many thinly populated Sinhalese divisions were carved out.
Settlement in Mahaveli System B along the Polonnaruwa District border
A Muslim administrator was questioned about anxieties expressed by Tamil leaders that Tamil applicants have not been called for while moves are going ahead to settle the Muslims as a buffer between Sinhalese and Tamils. This system of placing the Muslims in an unenviable position, which presupposes the permanence of conflict, was one of the contributory factors behind the massacres of April - October 1992. The administrator in Eravur explained that 5O Muslim families from the village were given allotments between 1983 and 199O. A further 5O were given land after December 1991 up to August 1993. These were from MPs quotas. He said that the allottees were not keen on accepting, but did so because they have been mostly unable to cultivate around Eravur since 1985. Even so they were not going to live permanently on the Mahaveli lands, he said, besides the profits have been very low.
It is remarkable that despite a number of organisations being present in the area, the single peace effort bringing unforseen success, without having intended to be one, was marked by the visit of Moulana Abdul Cader [See Report No11]. One reason was that the visit co-incided with a rising practical realisation by both communities of the need to co-exist. Also remarkable is the fact that the thaw came less than a year after the LTTE published a threatening article against the Muslims in its European journal Kalathilin mid 1992 and the Palliyagodelle (Pallithidal) massacre of October 1992. There is perhaps also a realisation that the LTTEs present discomfiture in the district has nothing to do with the Muslims, but rather has much to do with the tragedy within the Tamil community of which it (the LTTE) was the main author. Increasing openness is also to be discerned among the Tamils, many of whom blame the LTTEs actions against the Muslims as being among the chief causes of their own sufferings.
Local reports that the ICRC now acts only in cases where the person detained has not been released for more than 24 hours confirms the general improvement reflected in Report 11. However there is much that remains unchanged. It is still common, if not always the case, for those arrested on the basis of suspicion or false information to be beaten for about 5 days and kept for an indefinite period - sometimes for money. A detainee released after a month said that he was allowed to go only because he had caught an infection. He had been detained on the charge that he took provisions to the Tigers. Conditions under which women taken in for questioning are held could be extremely crude. Recent cases of rape and molestation in police custody are known, against which preventive measures could be weak and mainly at the discretion of the OIC.
Informed sources said that in early August 1993 there were 97 prisoners on the ground floor of Batticaloa prison, being interrogated under suspicion. There were upstairs about 45 prisoners, who were said to have surrendered after deserting the LTTE, many with their weapons. This trend is an indication of the LTTEs troubles in the area. The ex-LTTE prisoners are said to have become obese, eating good food and constantly watching videos. It is said that these could go home if they wished. All these prisoners receive regular visits from the ICRC, about which they are happy. [The trend of surrenders has continued into the spring of 1994 and these are now more widely talked about.]
A particular case which caused some alarm was the detention of about a dozen of women from Batticaloa taken to Kandy and Nuwara Eliya for training by the Womens Development Centre during mid-July 1993. The affair originated with one or more of the questioning of a girl Somawathy from Kallar living in Batticaloa and the detection of a letter to her from one of the girls Meena on the programme, also from Kallar, mentioning the word training. It has also been suggested that one of the three girls being questioned had done a spell in Boosa for alleged militant involvement. The conditions under which the girls, including 3 instructresses, were held by the Kandy police caused alarm. When being transported to Batticaloa, to be held in the Forestry Camp, the girls were held needlessly for a night in the Polonnaruwa jungles, where they felt very frightened. One of those beaten by the police in the affair is said to be a Sinhalese driver in the WDC. All except two of the girls concerned were released after a magistrates inquiry 4 or 5 days later.
A spokesman for the Batticalaoa Peace Committee said that to inquiries made by them, the girls had not complained of ill - treatment. He said that there had been a case of rape at the Forestry Camp un-connected with this affair, in which medical examination proved too late for verification. Orders, he said, had been given to OIC Nethasinghe to place an officer under arrest. The spokesman added that the Peace Committee always advised people taking groups out to contact the SP and obtain formal clearance - something that could save unnecessaryy trouble. [Top]
Hardly anyone on the ground disagrees that the LTTE is in trouble in the Batticaloa District, despite this ongoing attrition to its fortunes being hidden by sensational successes like in Weli Oya(and later in Puneryn). Two years ago extortion by the LTTE in Batticaloa town was much talked about. Well known were suburbs where LTTE cadre could be regularly encountered. At present LTTE movement even in villages just across the lagoon, near the west bank, are severely restricted. LTTE cadre come unarmed in ones and twos by day in civilian dress carrying at most a pistol or a grenade. Thanks to the attitude of the government and the terrible behaviour of groups with its forces, the LTTE does retain some legitimacy. But people feel less inhibited about criticising it. That its agenda has little to do with the well-being of the people is understood. That it set off a mine two years ago in Kokkadichcholai and allowed a handful of soldiers to burn, loot, kill and to rape for several hours without firing even a warning shot, and came the following day to take photographs has not been forgotten. The government too continues to be seen as callous and has done nothing to win back trust. The cry for Eelam remains a strong driving force to a people who have lost so much and think of a separate state as the only means to arrest their steady decline and powerlessness. Why does the LTTE find itself in difficulties?
It has as mentioned nothing to do with the Muslims. It has little directly to do with the Sri Lankan army. The Sri Lankan army is mostly in camps, making an occasional sweep with 3OO-4OO men and, now and then setting up ambushes on receipt of information. One sees little of the competent soldiering and intense foot patrolling of the IPKF. Some villages do not see the army for several weeks at a time.
The answer has much to do with what the LTTE did to Tamil society from 1986 by its attacks on other groups. In the Batticaloa District among other places the resulting deep sense of disillusionment is part of an intense tragedy. They know that their sons are stalking each other and blood is flowing to no purpose. Worst of all there is no force offering a politics of healing. Much of the hunting locally is being done by the TELO and a splinter group of the PLOTE led by (PLOTE) Mohan [see Report 11, Chapter 6]. One source put the strength of these groups operating around Batticaloa at 5OO. Others deem the number possible, but as probably being on the high side. With army camps in strategic locations these groups seem confident enough to move about in small numbers like four.
A man in his early 5Os who is a government servant is known to his colleagues as the father of a Tiger area leader and take that as indicating the main thrust of his loyalties. But talking to him, the basis of his interests and motivations is far from simple. His eldest son was in the Tamil National Army. When the TNA was hunted by the LTTE as the IPKF left in late 1989, the father got the son into the Reserve Police. The son was posted in the North when the June 199O war began and fled to Colombo with his colleagues who escaped. He was jobless for 7 months. The father approached an inspector of police and got him reinstated. Another of his sons was a good student who obtained 3 As for his O Levels and was taking tuition for English and Mathematics which he had failed. When the war of June 199O began, he joined the LTTE out of fear of being killed by the incoming Sri Lankan Forces. The estimates of those who joined different groups from the village conform to the general pattern in the East. From this village about 25 joined the PLOTE before 1987 and about 25 the LTTE after June 199O, of whom about 9 have been killed (August 1993). Thus the son of this man who joined the LTTE may be stalked by his own nephew. His second son is at home afraid to go out and farm. Whenever someone from the LTTE visits the village, information reaches the other groups in a short time. The mans family is regularly harassed. His wishes have little of the colourful rhetoric of the LTTE leadership: I want peace so that I could get my son back home, send him to the Eastern Technical Institute, and train him to repair vehicles.
In Mahiladitivu, once considered an LTTE stronghold, the feelings are mixed. The association is also connected with the LTTE leader Kumarappa marrying there. But the village also has associations which give the people other lines of thought. The village also produced Vasudeva, a prominent PLOTE leader, and Paramadeva, a well known LTTE leader, who were brothers. Paramadeva was killed during an unsuccessful attack on the Kaluwanchikkudy police station in 1985. Vasudeva was killed by the LTTE during the small interlude of peace soon after the IPKF arrived in July 1987. Vasudeva and 11 companions were unarmed and were returning after a swim in Pasikudah by van when they were gunned down. The LTTE had also shown its callousness during the Kokkadichcholai massacre. The number joining the LTTE from the village now is said to be almost nil. Among the surrendered LTTE cadre in the Batticaloa prison, about 15 are said to be from Kokkadichcholai. Surrender, rather than recruitment, appears to be now the more significant trend.
The disillusionment here is therefore born of a very intimate experience of tragedy. The presence of the Sri Lankan army, though as a repressive force, has given people space to think. But the LTTE will hold some ground because there is no political force to offer ideas responsive to their deeper needs - the first being to stop their sons stalking each other. [Top]
The pattern of operations continues the trend described in the Report 11. A typical army sweep through Paduvankarai was as described below:
On 29th July at 6.OO A.M. about 2OO or 3OO soldiers came to the village of Pavatkodichchenai and called out the villagers. All passers by were stopped among whom was a baker. With the army were 3 armed persons in trousers described as either PLOTE or TELO and an unarmed LTTE deserter. The deserter identified the bread man as one who supplied the LTTE. He was then beaten by the Tamil militants. The baker replied that he supplied the army and of course on occasions some young men stopped him and bought bread and it was not his to ask who they were. The captain got Unichchai camp on the wireless and verified the bread mans first claim. The Tiger deserter kept assaulting the bread man telling him, You liar, you sold me bread. The captain was riding around on the bicycle of one of those stopped, nominally telling the militants every time he passed not to beat the wretch, but to little effect. A village elder standing there attributed the behaviour of the non-LTTE groups to virakthi (frustration and alienation). About 7.3O A.M. those going to school, including the principal, were released. All were later released except the poor bread man who could not choose his customers.
We note down some of the other typical incidents.
Pavatkodichchenai: April 1993: A senior LTTE member, Lal, was visiting his wife and family. The army acting on information rounded up the place at 2.OO A.M. Lal was held and his hands tied. The army was waiting for dawn to move out. Lal gathered from the conversation between soldiers that he was to be finished off. When Lals hands were untied in the morning for him to go to the toilet, he hit a soldier on the jaw and escaped. In the resulting firing and confusion it is reported that one soldier was injured and possibly one killed. Lals wife and mother were unhurt. During July, the local school principal was beaten up by Tamil militants for employing Lals wife as a volunteer teacher. The latter now lives in Batticaloa.
Navatkadu 9th June: When the army first arrived in July 199O, 14 were taken away and about 3 were released. Thereafter several youths joined the LTTE from what was earlier a mostly PLOTE village. Among those who joined from the area were three friends Anatus (born 1972), Atputhan and Mathan. At the time above Atputhan came to the village for collection of money and was returning to Karaveddy 5 miles away when he was ambushed by members of a group close to the army. The body was brought in a tractor to Anatus place. The father and brother immediately slipped away. The dead body was brought into the hall, dumped in front of the mother and married sister. A shot was fired into the head and was taken away after the mother was told that this would be the fate of her son too.
Mathan was later ambushed at Mahilavedduwan 9 miles away. The body was brought to Navatkadu by tractor. On finding no one at Anatus place, it was taken to the hospital and burnt under the Tiger news board (The Tigers Roar). Earlier another LTTE member Mano was ambushed. Mano escaped with a leg injury and was taken to Jaffna for treatment. During May 1993, armed persons walked into Anatus home when the mother and sister were at home and walked away with about Rs 8OOO/- worth of items.
During early July members of other groups arrested Karukka (23) a former LTTE supporter and father of two, who is now held in Batticaloa prison.
Mandapathady; early July 1993: The school sports meet was going on and Mahapody was the announcer. (PLOTE) Mohan came with 3 others on 3 motorcycles. One was wearing a red scarf. They grabbed Mahapody, while other villagers tried to grab him back. Mahapody was taken to Batticaloa prison and released a few weeks later. Villagers take it for granted that money was paid - the time being just after the harvest. Mohan had given summons earlier to Mahapody to meet him at Batticaloa Prison. Mahapody had been afraid to travel past sentry points because he had lost his identity card.
Navatkudah: Over a year ago the TELO had shot and killed a lady on hearing that she had visited her son in the LTTE [See Report No9]. On the same night a lady GS who visited her husband in the LTTE was also killed. Her two younger sons, 1O & 5 years of age, were then brought up by an uncle who was a peon in the Fisheries. Their father, a carpenter in Mannar, has not visited Batticaloa for a long while. Recently, the 1O year old boy joined the LTTE, upon hearing which the TELO beat up the uncle. The eldest in the family, a girl, had joined the LTTE in 1989.
Outskirts of Batticaloa; July: Two policemen on picketing duty along the railroad went to a house where they frequently drank water. One policeman who was very friendly with the children of the area was strumming his automatic imagining it to be a guitar. The other warned him against it. When a school boy brought water, the gun went off killing the boy. The policeman tried to shoot himself and was prevented by the people. He then went on knocking his head against the wall until he was taken away.
Kokkadichcholai; Late June: Mahendran (26) who was earlier in the EPRLF and now in the TELO came home for his sons first birthday. The home was near the army camp and the previous night friends and relatives were decorating. His friend, recently arrived from the Middle - East was helping. Two men in civil smoking cigarettes came home and asked for Mahendran. Mahendran sensing something amiss quickly hid in the ceiling. The men called the friend and shot him. Mahendrans wife in a state of advanced pregnancy, ran to the aid of the friend. The intruders fired again, killing her as well. The general talk was that the killers belonged to the LTTE. Other rumours were also being spread to the effect that the incident resulted from a feud among friends. An old lady who attended the funeral said that there was no doubt about the killers and moreover that the LTTE had sent its regrets over the killing of the expectant mother.
Mavady Munmari; 27th June 1993: The LTTE was holding court sessions in the village. LTTE courts are said to be preferred by farmers to the normal courts because disputes were quickly settled. Unknown to those involved, the army on receipt of information had set up an ambush the previous night. The army opened fire killing 3. One source in the area said that all killed were LTTE men. Another said that one was a civilian.
Chenkalady - Pankudaveli Road; Mid-July: Special forces acting on information went to a wadi where 6 LTTE members were hidden and opened fire. 4 died while 2 escaped.
Rugam; 17th September 1993: Narayanapillai Illango (23), a farmer, was taken by the army from Unnichchai and is still missing.
Paduvankarai ; About September 1993: Three young men accused of helping the LTTE, one from Ichchantivu, one from Soruwamunai and Adiyan from Mahilavedduwn were reported killed by the Mohan group. The body of Adiyan a former member of the EROS is said to have been cut into 16 pieces.
Pavatkodichchenai (near Unnichchai, Paduvankarai (West of Lagoon)); 16th October 1993: Area surrounded by army and Albert Master was shot dead and his man Kanapathipillai( aged 7O),married in Koththiavalai was injured. Albert Master was a kind of organiser for the LTTE who did some teaching, facilitated recruitment and arranged supplies. Kanpathipillai was used to carry supplies into the interior and was known locally as Kadaththal Appu (Old Smuggler).On 14th November a shop owned by Maniam, a man of Indian origin, which was next to the nursery run by Albert Master was broken into by the army and the goods removed. The nursery was on premises owned by a Muslim from Eravur now effectively debarred from the area.
Padukadu (Deep Jungle), 2 miles from Pavatkodichchenai; 18th October 1993: 7 persons sleeping in a hut, of whom 4 were LTTE members were apprehended by the army who surrounded the place during the night. Two, including the owner of the hut, were released after a beating during which they sustained fractures. Five, including Susiharan (alias Anatus, the area leader of Navatkadu referred to earlier), were taken to the Commathurai Army Camp . Sooty, one of the five, who had left the LTTE, married, had two children and was expecting the 3rd, was later sent to Batticaloa prison. The remaining 4 are not accounted for. Other sources said that Susiharan was taken to the notorious centre in Batticaloa by (ex-) PLOTE Mohan who personally went to Commathurai and asked for him. There is grave concern over the fate of these four.
Koppalapillai Ravindran who was disabled in both hands was the owner of a shop where some passing LTTE boys had once slept. On this day the army had asked a number of people to report to the Unichchai army camp for a meeting. Ravindran who went was detained.
7 Persons sleeping in a house, some of whom had an LTTE involvement, were apprehended by the army. Two were released. The fate of the rest is unknown.
Uppuryankulam, 8th November 1993: A new army camp was installed using some of the personnel from Unichchai. The army then went into Pavatkkodichchenai and broke down about 13 houses whose occupants had evacuated during the troubles to obtain materials for the camp. The owner of two of the houses being broken protested. The army continued breaking promising to return the materials when the camp is withdrawn.
Pavatkodichchenai, 18th November 1993: The army from Uppurayankulam entered the house of Rasiah Vethanantham during the night, and asked for him. His wife said that she would bring him to the camp in the morning. The soldiers flashed a light, scolded the wife and took Vethanantham away. Previously his cousin-brother Jeyakanthan who was taken in for questioning when asked to come out with names had mentioned Vethananthams. Vethanantham was beaten for 7 days with poles on his chest, back and feet. The camp authorities denied for 5 days his arrest to his wife who kept going to the camp. After ten days, he was transferred to Batticaloa Prison, from where he was released after a further ten days.
After returning home Vethanantham was in no condition to work. 4 acres that he had sown with rice, chlolam (Indian corn) and Payaru( green gram) were lost because he was arbitrarily detained at a time when some crucial operations in cultivation had to be undertaken.In addition to his crop he had also lost 2 houses broken down by the army. Such is the fate of many farmers and their families in the area as we approach 4 years of pacification and the return of democracy. In most cases the reasons why people are picked up and tortured are even sillier and far less explicable.
Vethanantham s cousin Jeyakanthan refered to was a 13 year old who had once for the thrill of it accompanied Albert Master (see 16th October above) on a trip. After he returned, he was arrested by the army on a tip-off.
Thumpalai (Unnichchai area, 1 ½ miles from Pavatkodichchenai); Late November 1993: Sivasambu Podiar (6O), Lingan, Mahrasa(25) and Moothavan (25) were detained by the army. The last two had been released within 2 weeks.
Kalaipottamadu; 27th November 1993: On the 26th night 4 LTTE men organised a celebration of the Leaders birthday. At 4.3O AM two LTTE men escorted the speaker for the occasion out of the village. While returning the two were shot dead by the army waiting in ambush. The other two in the village attempted to escape. The leader who had Rs 23 OOO/- of collections on his person was shot dead. The other escaped.
Sillikkudiaru (Munthiraiyadippallam on Kokkadichcholai Road); 27th November 1993: LTTE men came into the village, gathered the villagers and proceeded to celebrate their leader Prabakarans birthday which fell on the previous day. The army under the officer from the Unnichchai camp which had encircled the village the previous night closed in. On seeing them approach, the villagers mixed with the LTTE and created confusion. The officer restrained his men from opening fire. In the meantime the LTTE escaped through a gap in the cordon. This was one instance of commendable restraint on the part of the army.
Paduvankarai; November 1993: About 2O members of the LTTE, including Podi, a man in the finance section carrying a large sum from tax collections, were moving towards Jaffna by the interior jungle tracts. Somewhere near Unnichchai they reached a rock and 2 of the party were sent to obtain bread. The main party was surrounded by the army which had received a tip off. The LTTEers scattered leaving behind loads of baggage including the money. Subsequently the LTTE relieved Podi of his job. Fearing further punishment, Podi surrendered to the army and is said to have given many names of persons from whom taxes were collected. Many among them, it is reported, were nominated by the army as candidates in its own Independent Groups for the local elections held on 1st March 1994. They were in turn summoned by the LTTE to whom they explained their position. Three businessmen said to have been named by Podi were taken to prison for possible extortion. Mohan reportedly berated them, Neengal Yarlpani! (You all are Jaffnese).
One man so ruined is said to be Jeyapal from Ichchantivu, adjoining Navatkadu. Besides having his head cropped, he is said to have been asked to pay Rs.6 lakhs. He had paid Rs.3 Lakhs after selling much of his property. Another LTTE member who had surrendered took the army to a house near Vantharumoolai where he claimed he was fed.
Unnichchai; 6th December 1993: Three old men, including Pari Podi aged 7O from Munaikkadu had gone about 12 miles into the interior in search of cattle. When they did not return others went in search of them. At one place they found Pari Podis betel leaf vessel (vettilai kinni) and his cloth shawl. Blood stains leading away from the spot suggested that the old men had been shot and dragged away. After another two days, 9th December, the villagers gave up the search for the bodies. The nature of the signs point to the army.
The village whose name literally means 2OO fields had earlier belonged to Muslims and was later bought over by Tamils. This is probably another of those land transactions influenced by security exigencies of the kind remembered with bitterness by whichever community that was affected. On the night in question a cow-herd Pakiarasa, a married man of about 35 years, was out minding his cattle. On the approach of an army patrol he was heard shouting Maadu (cows) to indicate his business. He was later missing and his arrest was denied. His identity card, shirt and bicycle were found. The ICRC was informed.
Siththandy: Christmas Eve 1993 : Soldiers said to be from the Independent Brigade detained at 2.OO p.m. 16 farmers working near Santhanamadu River in Koddaikadu. 11 were released the following day. The remaining 5 are still missing. They are with their ages: Tharmalingam Rajeswaran (18) Kathirkamathamby Karunakaran (2O), Kathiravel Chitravel Sivkumar (16), Konesapillay Sathiarajah (14) and Perian Sivalingam (35). Rajani, the mother of Sivakumar sought advice and was directed to the army camp at Pulipanjakal. She subsequently reported that her son was not there.
The Batticaloa Peace Committee took up the matter with Brigadier Gunawardene during the second week of March. The Brigadier reportedly asked an army officer in the area to obtain statements from those released. The officer, it is said, reported back to the Brigadier that the parties concerned were unwilling to make a statement. The Brigadier is said to have retorted, I ordered you to get a statement, not to request them for one !
Vellavelly; 26th December 1993: David of Vellavelly was killed by the STF and his body was later recovered from Kaluwanchikudy hospital. An affidavit was produced in parliament by Joseph Pararajasingam,MP.
Palugamam; 26th December 1993: The army went to the house of a boy whose name had arisen in connection with an LTTE member who was apprehended. The boy was shot and his body burnt.
Kathiravelly; 1Oth Janurary 1994: Sellathurai Vimalanathan from Ninthavur was staying with his relation who was GS (Village Headman) at Kathiravelly and was working there as a volunteer teacher. He was helping his mother K. Sinnamuththu, an attendant at Ninthavur hospital to look after his 4 siblings. Vimalanathan was taken by the army who raided the house at mid - night and was sent to Batticaloa Prison about a month later after the usual works. He may be another of the hundreds detained for no good reason, possibly disabled and sent to a reformatory for years in place of the miscreant authorities.
Munaikkadu; Early February 1994: An LTTE helper living with a woman estranged from her husband was in a boat with two others at 7.3O A.M plying his trade of lagoon fishing.(Ex-) PLOTE Mohan appeared on the shore and called the man by name. As the boat came ashore Mohan fired with his pistol and hit the man on his thigh. The man pleaded in an attitude of worship. When the boat touched the shore Mohan shot him through the temple. While passing the victims house on his way out, Mohan called the mans companion and asked her to perform the funerary rites.
Chippimadu; Mid February 1994: This is a village from which a number of persons had joined the LTTE. The army went in and took 15 persons including at least one expectant mother to the Unnichchai camp. The harvested paddy stored in some of the houses was also stolen by the army, including from the house of none Jeevaratnam. The persons were later released - the men 15 days later after being beaten.
Kathiravelly; 4th week of February: In this village a few miles south of the Verugal river, the army camp is to the east (sea side) of the main road running south-north.The elementary school is to the west of the road and the jungle further west borders the village. The schools morning session was interrupted by a fire fight between the LTTE and an army patrol in the jungle beyond. Soldiers in the camp rushed from across the road and began assaulting the school children, causing them to scamper. Four children, ages 14 and below, did not get home that day. They arrived home two days later having spent two nights in the jungle without food or water. They had feared to return home earlier because they would have had to pass within view of the army camp while crossing the road.
At least 4 persons are missing from Kathiravelly. The four had gone fishing shortly after the army encamped there in 1992.
Eravur; 24th February: Theivanayagam Chandrakumar and Veerakuty Mathan were taken by the police. When asked by the parents of Chandrakumar, the police promised that they would be released. Mathans relatives were allowed visits. Yuan Fonseka Catherina, the mother of Chandrakumar approached Joseph Pararajasingam, MP, on 4th March. When contacted by him ASP Kudahetty first denied the arrest. The MP then threatened to take up the matter with the Defence Ministry. Kudahetty then came out with a different story. He said that while Chandrakumar was leading the police to an arms cache, there was a confrontation with the LTTE in which Chandrakumar was fatally wounded. The Police had evidently cremated the body without a post mortem. This piece of Police fiction was published in the Island.
Kanjirankuda; About 7th March: The victim, once an LTTE helper, was in the fields with other farmers threshing the newly harvested paddy. A gun man , dressed as farmer, but identified as a member of the TELO, walked up, pulled a revolver from beneath his folded sarong , shot the victim dead and walked away.
Palugamam; About 1Oth March: Balan, a tax man from the finance section of the LTTE surrendered to the army with a quantity of money in Tikkodai. It is talked about that the LTTE wanted to question him about alleged irregularities.
Pavatkodichchenai; 19th March: the story got around that the army had come into the village and apprehended a man close to the LTTE. It was also speculated that the person who had tipped off the army was a neighbour of Indian origin who had recently come to inspect his premises and went away. As more details emerged, people changed their mind.
Nadarajah Karunanidhi (alias Yaman) about 33 years of age was known to be close too the LTTE. He was married and a father. On the 18th night he came home dressed in army fatigues, carrying several knives, a grenade and wearing 4 cyanide capsules around his neck. He consumed a sumptuous meal prepared by his wife with a good dose of liquor, laid aside his weapons and fell fast asleep. His wife attempted to wake him up and send him away, but to no avail.
At 5.OO A.M the army entered the house and a soldier placed his boot on his chest and apprehended him. Whether because of his state or for other reasons, the 4 cyanide capsules did not help him to end his life as the LTTE required of him. Although feeling sorry for Yaman initially, the people subsequently came to believe that the facts suggested a pre-arranged drama to make a surrender look like a capture. Anxiety spread quickly. Every other person as happens in every isolated village, has no alternative but to deal with the LTTE. Passing LTTE men may sit down and chat, ask for water, for a meal or even ask for a nights lodging. People began to believe that Yaman would come out with names which would be used as an excuse to harass, detain, torture and perhaps much more. According to one informant, the ICRC has been notified in advance.
Batticaloa Town; 23 rd March 1994: Two policemen at a sentry point got into a heated quarrel which led to an exchange of fire. A young school boy was hit and succumbed to his injuries. The police hierarchy said that they felt ashamed, and to make amends, it is said, they released the boys father whom they were holding in the Forest Department prison. The irony about the nature of the favour was not lost. There were evidently no charges against the father, giving the police no good reason to keep him.
Palugamam; 23rd March 1994: The LTTE at 5.3O p.m., according to the army, threw a grenade at a passing army vehicle at Palugamam junction, which though failed to explode. Soldiers then arrived and called out people in 1st Divison Veerachcheni and Vanninagar. 8O people were then badly assaulted with weapons for an hour. A number of the injured were admitted to Kaluwanchikudi hospital. Megaran(22) was badly injured was taken to Batticaloa.
Popular belief in the village was that no grenade was thrown but that the Army had cooked up the incident to make a case to remain there rather than be posted to the North.
Murugan Kovilady, Verugal road, north of Valaichchenai; 8th April 1994: About 25 army commandos were injured in an LTTE landmine explosion. Subsequently the army ran amok burning all the 6O houses. Veeran Vairamuthu(5O) was burnt alive in his house. About 1O villagers were seriously injured as a result of assault. [Top]
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