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                                                                           CHAPTER 2


2.1       Pottuvil:

2.2       Tamil Casualties in the East:

Trincomalee District

Amparai and Batticaloa Districts

2.3       Killings of Sinhalese:

2.4       More on the Kattankudy Massascre:

2.5       The Eravur-Chenkaladi Massacres, 12th August:

2.6       Killings and disappearances

N. Mahesan, Batticaloa, 14 th June:

Emmanuel, Mechanic, Batticaloa, mid June:

Sivakadatcham, Governors Office, Trincomalee, July:

Trincomalee, early August:

2.7       Settlement/Reserrlement of Sinhalese in Trincomalee

2.8       Destroying the Basis of Eelam


2.1        Pottuvil:

Following the outbreak of war, all Tamils were rendered refugees,a large number of them fleeing to Thirukkovil.  Towards  the end of June the STF command at Pottuvil sent a message through a senior government official, that it was safe for the people to go back and that they would be protected.  The people did go with hesitation and shortly after their return, the STF did a round up and took all their young men away.  The people had no one to complain to.  The government official who had persuaded them to go had himself remained behind in Thirukkovil.  Stricken with terror, the people fled back to Thirukkovil.  The young men have since not been heard of.

A grieving mother said,”Oh God, why did I go back to pottuvil? I had three sons and lost them, and am back to being a refugee.”  The southern press has hailed the return of tourists to pottuvil as a restoration of normality, and have published of tourists on the beach and of President Premadasa switching on a new electrification scheme.  The Tamils have become the lost and forgotten natives of pottuvil.

2.2        Tamil Casualties in the East:


The following is taken from contributions made in parliament by Tamil MP’s during the debate on the Security Situation in the East,10th August.

Trincomalee District

Mavai S.Senathirajah: More than 2,500 Tamil and Muslims civilians have been killed in the East since the withdrawal of the IPKF.  The  LTTE had left Trincomalee town on 13th June.  But on the 14th and 15th when the army and the police entered town, shops and houses were looted and burnt up to Gopalapuram in Trincomalee town.  These same forces killed and burnt 60 Tamil persons in city.  23 persons at Chelvanayakapuram, 42 at sittur, 25 to 75 at  Thambalakamam and 12 at Chinabay were killed and burnt.  Even children 12 and 13 years old were killed.

The soldiers who entered Trincomalee town took a large number of women and about 58 men to the Muttaveli esplanade, and several of them were murdered.  Women whose blouses were torn and with their eyes tied were led to the army camp.  What became of them is not known.  At kattaiparichchan and Mutur,230 bodies were seen in a burnt state and hundreds of Tamils were missing according to reports.

Mr. K. Premachandran added that persons roaming around Trincomalee in a white Hiace van take more than 2 or 3 persons every day.  All inquiries about them prove fruitless.  

Amparai and Batticaloa Districts

Mavai S.Senathirajah: During July 70 Tamils were killed and burnt at the Nintavur Hindu Temple.  On 4th August (the day following the kattankudy massacre) 49 Tamils including women were killed at Thirakkeni in the Amparai district.

In Akkaraipattu, recently, 37 persons were arrested on the same day and murdered.  They were not terrorists but were community leaders, including elders, government servants, Village Headmen and Post Masters. 

Mr. K. Premachandran:  At Akkaraipattu in Kalmunai, about 7th August, over 12 persons from a community of snake-charmers (Kuravar) were killed.  Their language is neither Tamil nor Sinhalese, but a mixture dominated by Telugu. 

About the 8th, 27 Tamils who were travelling from Chavalakkadai to Kalmunai, were killed by the army at Chavalakkadai junction.

K.Karunakarm:  On 6th August, during an army search operation at Periyakallaru in the Batticaloa district, 29 Tamil were lined up and shot death.  On the same day following the killing of over 40 Tamils at Thiraikkeni, some women had been abducted and over 50 persons are missing.  Of the wounded, 3 women died at the Karaitivu government hospital.  This was done by an armed Muslim gang against harmony between and Muslims.

Following the attack on the community of snake charmers,8 members with serious injuries were admitted to the Thriukkovil Hospital.  The incident where the army cut to death 27 persons at Chavalakkadai in the Amparai district, took place while the Defence Minister Ranjan Wijeratne was visiting Amparai.

These excerpts listed above were published in ‘The Virakesari’, but not in the English press.

2.3        Killings of Sinhalese:


The Island of 9th August carried as its leading item the killings of 57 Sinhalese in two separate incidents.  The victims are said to have been hacked to death and included at least 20 women, an off duty soldier and children.  The report said:

“On the Mahadivulweva-Rotaweva road yesterday ‘Tigers’ bombed a private bus on its way from Morawewa to Horowpatana before dragging people out and shooting them at point blank range and running into the jungle. Twenty five persons including 14 women were killed.  Seven people with serious knife and gunshot injuries were rushed to hospitals by the police who rushed to the scene of the gruesome massacre...People who escaped death said that at least 40 ‘Tigers” were involved in the attacked.

“ With yesterday’s massacre tension was rising in the area.

Transport had come to a standstill with people keeping off the roads fearing more raids in the area.

“Another 32 Sinhalese were hacked to death in the remote jungle village of Bandaraduwa in the Uhana police area, Amparai District on Tuesday (7th) night.  Four others critically injured were admitted to hospitals in Amparai and Colombo.

According to police investigations, terrorists had entered the village clad in uniforms similar to those of the army and attacked the inmates of houses with long handed kathi knives. About one hundred terrorists had taken part in the in human attack the report said.  It is alleged that this attack was by the Tigers from a Tiger camp set in the upper reaches of an ancient tank min Nawagiriya, a few miles from this jungle village”.

The report also added that the scene of the incident was visited by senior police officials including Chandra Fernando, D.I.G.Eastern Province and that 30 of the victims were given a state burial attended by two Ministers, including the Minister for Defence.

Two aspects are worth nothing.  The Sinhalese being killed are some of the most underprivileged in this country with no particular grievance against Tamils.  They are placed in vulnerable situations through the chauvinistic dictates of the state, under political conditions where they and the local Tamils naturally fear each other.  State funerals and visits by top officials are a poor substitute for the raw deal given them by the state.  The other aspect is the contrast with the treatment given to Tamil victims and the reporting of such. 

The Island of 10th August reported the killing of 8 sinhalese living in railway line rooms at Nawagama, a border village 12 miles south of Vauvniya.  Nilmini, a 17 year old girl who was injured had died after admission to Anuradhapura hospital.  Among the dead were one railway labourer and other who had fled vavuniya.

These were about the last major killings of Sinhalese reported in August.  The Island of 28th carried this curious report:

“Four villagers of Dematawewa and Halmillakanda in the Horowapatana police area were abducted by Tigers on Monday (27th) and released the same evening ordering them to evacuate two villages within 24 hours.  A group of 5 armed LTTEers, who had carried out the abduction had also obtained from the captives information regarding police and army deployments in the areas...”police and army deployments were said to have been beefed up after the incident.

While the LTTE leadership views massacres tactically and has a basically chauvinistic line towards Sinhalese, It would be wrong to blame all killings as coming directly from orders from the top.  One must also look into the possibility of there being a strong element of local tensions arising from colonization and traditional fears exacerbated by war and the activities of the army.  There have been periods when the LTTE had co-existed with these villagers.  The last report may be an indication that following bad publicity resulting from massacres, an order may have gone out to handle Sinhalese civilians differently.  Even if that is the case, it is difficult to predict what would happen when there is a qualitative change in the situation.

2.4        More on the Kattankudy Massascre:

In a statement issued by the federation of Kattankudy Mosques and Muslim Institutions, and signed by its secretary        Mr. M.K.M.Aliyar it is stated that 101 Muslims were killed and 80 injured during the attack on the two Mosque on 3rd August.  It also stated that an LTTE member Nagarajah alias Ranjith Appah played a leading role in the attack and that several villagers were eyewitnesses to it.

The statement issued on 5th August was in response to denial made by Karikalan, the LTTE’s political commander for Batticaloa, and broadcast over the BBC’s Tamil service the previous day.  The statement, hand written in Tamil, is the kind indignant response one would expect from villagers angered by the denial. 

The statement further went on to say that on 12th July, a convoy of vehicals with 242 persons and 5 million rupees worth of goods was detained by the LTTE.  The villagers, it said , approached Ranjith Appah who was well known in kattankudy, who in turn promised to release the people.  Instead, the statement went on, the people were massacred and the 6 lorries and 4 vans were burnt.

A Muslim public servant from Kattankudy who was contacted vouched for the second incident and said that the list of persons missing is still being compiled and at present number\s about 170.  Asked whether the victims were home guards as some have alleged, the public servant said emphatically that they were civilians and that his relations had been among the victims.

One aspect of the reporting which puzzled Tamils from the East was that Ranjith Appah was not a military man to lead an incursion into an area under army control, and had the LTTE wished to deny its involvement it would not have used a man well known in kattankudy who had a prominent squint.  Ranjith was chiefly a tax collector.  Sources in neighboring Tamil villages have since said that the LTTE was involved and that Ranjith had been present.

It thus suggests itself that Ranjith was a guide rather than the leader and that no though had been given to concealment.  The denial was an afterthought following the top leadership’s realization of the gravity of the consequences.  It is very likely, as the Defence Minister had stated in parliament quoting intelligence reports, that the top leadership had not been apprised before hand.

The attack can then be attributed to localized anger between Tamils and MUslims which the government had used every opportunity to promote.  A feature which again puzzled many was the fact that the attack on the Mosques co-incided with the Defence Minister’s trip to Middle-East countries, including Iraq and Libya to seek military help in its war with the LTTE.  More than 1000 Tamil boys were missing or had been killed in the neighboring towns of Batticaloa, Kalmunai and Karaitivu due to military action organized in such a way that Muslims would be blamed.

The intervention of the state in 1984 to deepen Tamil-Muslim suspicion for its own ends was such that, to local Tamil minds, the sanctity of a Mosque as a place of worship had been diluted.  There is a history which complicates reporting in the East.  Attacks on Mosques which may come as a shock to an outsider may not sound so extreme to local Tamils.

A Tamil who lived near the Kattankudy, Navatkudah border testified to an experience in 1985.  After night prayers at the Mosque a call made over its hailer said that Muslims were being attacked, and called upon Muslims to lay hands on any weapon at their disposal and come to the Mosque in haste.   After some time the resident saw an armoured car followed by a crowd.  Tamils in the area fled as their homes were attacked.  The person leading in the armoured car was identified as piyasena.  Piyasena and Upul were two policemen in the Special Investigations Unit who became notorious over the disappearance of several Tamil boys.  A senior citizen in Batticaloa who related this incident, said that he had personally gone to the Kattankudy border to retrieve the dead body of a tamil.  The fact that a Mosque was used in such a manner does not cast an aspersion on Islam, but testifies to the degrading character of the state’s intentions, calling for greater alertness from both Tamils and Muslims.  To place matters in context, the manner in which the influence and authority of the Church has been misused during the last decade of our national crisis, is something that should be of great concern to christians.    It has diluted the standing of every Church as a holy place.

2.5        The Eravur-Chenkaladi Massacres, 12th August:

The massacre of Muslims at Eravur was described in the Island of 13th August.  This was the first of its reports during the war with direct reference to killings of Tamils without the normal adjectives.  It is said that about 200 ‘Tigers’ armed with razors and automatics took part in the attack in the villages of Saddam Hussein Village, Pooaikadu and Kalawaichnai in the Muslim division of Eravur electorate.  The attack began at 9.00 pm an the 11th and went on until the early hours of the 12th.  Many of the victims are said to have been decapitated.

The report also quoted a TELO source to the effect that 8 Tamils warded in Eravur hospital were killed by armed men who raided the hospital.  According to other sources, this incident preceded the massacre.  The report added: “At Chenkaladi, close to a rice mill at least 50 Tamils including many women were killed by a gang of armed men, TELO sources further said.  The bodies of victims were reported to have been set on fire by the killers, the sources said: “At Sammanthurai, seven muslims described as peasant were shot by Tigers on the same day while 3 other Muslims were killed at Akkaraipattu where many Tamils and Muslims were killed during the past few weeks of bloody violence.  The Tigers were shot dead by the police.

“At Weeramunai yesterday (12th) morning armed men raided a refugee camp and slaughtered 24 men and women.  At least 40 suffered serious injuries.  The Special Task Force (STF) men were yesterday scheduled to escort about 2000 Tamils at Akkaraipattu....”    

Fr. Selvarajah was among those killed at Weeramunai.  Mr.Alagakoon, brother of the veteran UNP Minister, K.W.Devanayagam was knifed to death at Chenkalady.  Though there was direct reference to Tamils killed for the first time, the reporting was silent or vague on many questions.  The killers involved had to be Tigers on the one hand and unidentified persons on the other.  At the time of writing we have (because of our own limitations) received no independent confirmation that the Tigers were involved in the Eravur massacre.  According to one source from Eravur, the killers went along calling people in Sinhalese and shooting or killing whoever they accosted.  There also some village talk that Ranjith Appah was seen.  It appears that the reason for identifying the killers as Tigers is mainly circumstantial.  Tigers had been identified as killers of Muslims in many other instances.  Even if other parties, such as the state, found it in their interests to kill Muslims directly and blame the LTTE, the risk of being found out and the consequent liabilities were both high.  This country has never had a reputation for keeping secrets, no thanks to the press.  Whether it is the killers of Richard de Zoysa or the perpetrators of the Anuradhapura massacre, within a matter of days or weeks, the most awkward details become subjects of drawing room talk.

Why did the Muslim Congress say in its statement that “the massacre of Eravur Muslims is raising the doubt whether the LTTE is going ahead with its barbaric attacks on the Muslims with the connivance of the government”?  The answer probably lies in what the army was doing.  The report quoted also said:  “Many bodies were recovered by soldiers who arrived in Eravur from Batticaloa and Chenkalady to help people bury their relatives”.  The report had earlier said that the attack went on into the  early hours of the following day.  The massacre which began at 9.00 pm had gone on for more than 3 hours and the army from the Chenkalady-Eravur border area had come the following morning.  The explanation that the army is afraid to get out in the nights is human and plausible.  If one cannot expect more from a professional army, it makes the recruitment of home guards all the more questionable.  The motive has evidently little to do with the protection of the people.  Who had been responsible for the killing of 8 or 9 Tamils at Eravur hospital prior to the massacre?  Muslims living with Tamils have asked home guards not to come any where near.

About this time it became clear that the SLMC leader Mr.Ashraff had begun distancing himself from the government, whose kind intentions towards Muslims, became more doubtful.  The government signalled its annoyance at the SLMS not towing the line by refusing Mr. Ashraff a seat on the flight which flew Muslim dignitaries from Colombo in to Eravur as part of the propaganda exercise.  Ar. Ashraff is a native of Eravur.  We call it a propaganda exercise, because not only was similar consideration not paid to the Tamil dead, but also the matter was officially denied.  About this time SLMC members in Colombo were arrested and harassed. 

In the following days the sun and the Island newspapers claimed that 75 and 89 Tamils had been killed respectively.  The official denial was published in the Daily News.  Minister Wijeratne said that members of the Batticaloa citizens’ committee who had been taken to Chenkalady by the army had failed to find evidence.  This is hardly surprising.  The truth, as far as we have been able to verify, is that a large number of Tamils had been killed and the rest had mostly scattered.  For this reason the compilation of the list of dead persons is still going on slowly, with official hostility rather than help.

On the other hand there is little mystery about the identity of the “armed persons” responsible for killing the Tamils.  This happened in the morning after the army found itself able to leave the camp.  Men in army uniform had gone house by house pulling people out.  One such armed person came into a house and found 15 boys in a bedroom.  He asked them to quickly get into the kitchen.  He then outside and shouted to someone who made an inquiry, “Mehe Kowruth nehe” [”There is nobody here”].  The 15 escaped later.

A postscript to the incident exemplifies the folly of lying through the media and of denying the obvious.  A boy from Chenkalady, now living in Germany, made a frantic call to this country.  In a video shown in Germany of the damaged and looted houses that his parents had fled their home in Chenkalady and were living with relatives in Batticaloa.  On the other hand, concern for the Tamils and balanced reporting by the state, would have largely eliminated the possibility of biased reporting by either side for propaganda and collection of funds.  There is a desultory game being played in the East at great cost to the people by both sides.  Its rule is: If you go into one village with a gun, you them go into the next village with a video camera.

2.6        Killings and disappearances

N. Mahesan, Batticaloa, 14 th June:

Mahesan from puloly regarded by many of his colleagues as being, by far ,the most brilliant amongst the first batch of science graduates from the University of Jaffna, who were admitted in 1974. Mahesan had little interest in politics and life was a sad one.  His family was poor and his father committed suicide when he was to sit for his last paper at the A levels.  His results were otherwise brilliant.  He obtained 1st class honours for his general degree.  His knowledge of the subject matter was so through that he spent most of his time in explanations to his fellow students.  His family’s circumstances made him seek employment in Nigeria from where he proceeded to the USA for doctoral studies in Statistics.  Now, being a families man, he returned home before submitting his doctoral thesis.  He applied for temporary employment in the universities of Jaffna and Batticaloa and was accepted in the latter.  From Batticaloa he was to travel to Jaffna on 16th June to face an interview for a temporary appointment at the University of Jaffna.  The war began on 11th June and a ceasefire was declared on the 13th.  Mahesan travelled from Chenkaladi to Batticaloa to reserve a seat on a coach going to Jaffna.  On his way back, the van was stopped by LTTE cadre who hitched a ride.  This was spotted by an airforce helicopter which followed the van and opened fire.  Obviously, the LTTE cadre had seen the helicopter and not expect to be attacked in view of the ceasefire.  The passengers took shelter under a tree.  Mashesan was killed by a bullet in the abdomen.  Such callousness by the air force towards civilians travelling in vehicles was to become a regular feature of the war.

Emmanuel, Mechanic, Batticaloa, mid June:

Emmanuel was a mechanic, who like all motorcar mechanics did not refuse to serve persons with a gun.  When the LTTE ran Batticaloa up to mid-June, he serviced LTTE vehicles.  Following the army takeover of Batticaloa, soldiers tied Emmanuel, placed a tire over him, doused him with petrol and lit him up.  The victim screamed and walked a few paces, before collapsing into a shapeless mass.

Sivakadatcham, Governors Office, Trincomalee, July:

Sivakadatcham from Batticaloa was in charge of transport at the Governor’s office, Trincomalee.  He was taken for questioning by the army and not seen again.  Strenuous efforts by the Governor himself failed to vield results.  The Governor, Nalin seniviratne, was himself a Brigadier in the Sri Lankan Army and was senior to Lucky Wijeratne, the Brigadier presently in charge a Trincomalee.  The Governor who has reportedly made representations on behalf of missing persons has made little impact on his junior.  Amongst leading army officers in recent times, Nalin Seniviratne had a reputation for being against methods which result in large civilian casualties.  He is said to have been too intelligent and too human to be a successful army officer in his country,s degenerate political context.

Trincomalee, early August:

A young boy was among a group of 4 Tamils abducted by Muslim home guards and taken to the police.  Timely intervention by his relatives who had some influence in Colombo secured his release.  The boy, now in Colombo, is sure that he was going to be shot. His companions have since not been heard of.

The deployment of Muslim home guards, operating under the police in Batticaloa and Trincomalee towns, in totally superfluous roles, is seen by the local Tamil and Muslim populations as a not so subtle means of furthering Tamil-Muslim animosity.

2.7        Settlement/Reserrlement of Sinhalese in Trincomalee  

It will be clear from our reports that Tamils in these parts are living in state of terror, with many killed and most of them refugees.  The pattern suggests that this is a part of deliberate policy.  It come as no surprise that attempts are underway to settle or resettle Sinhalese in these areas, with state aid and promised protection.  In the meantime Tamils continue to disappear or live in the disease and neglect of refugee camps.  The Island of 22nd August carried the following:

“About 250 Sinhalese families who had been almost languishing in refugee camps in Trincomalee town for the past three years, have now been resettled in the villages in the Trincomale District which they deserted due to conditions at that time.  The first batch of refugees to be resettled had come from Sirimapura numbering 140...Each of these families was given Rs.1,000 worth of kitchen utensils, other household items and dry rations at a simple ceremony by K.B.Wijekoon, Government Agent, Trincomalee.  They were also given items like pillows and mats by the Sarvodaya representative in the Trincomalee District, Anne Dissanayake.  Pipeborn water and electricity have been provided to some of the resettlement homes and in the case of others, steps are now being taken to provide them.

“These villagers got aid in the from of cadjans, tiles, cement and other items of building materials from donors in various parts of the island...”

The Daily News of the same day added: 

“Minister of State for Defence Mr.Ranjan Wijeratne during his tour of Trincomalee on the 18th visited those who had been resettled at Sirimapura. Army,Navy,Airforce and Police Officers and GA Trincomalee, K.B.Wijekoon accompanied him...He went round to see the workmen from Kurunegala District renovating damaged house at Sirimapura on a voluntary basis.  They sent here by the Chief Minister of the NW province Mr. Gamini Jayawicrama Perera...”

The blatantly discriminatory manner in which the state machinery is at work shows an instinctive chauvinistic drive towards an objective.  Sarvodaya is of course a well-funded NGO, avowedly Gandhian and careful in its diplomacy, but not well known for a position that could be called principled or courageous.  Its position on Tamil refugees in Trincomalee has not been reported.

There is no accountability where Tamil representatives can check what exactly is going on.  Existing Sinhalese settlements were made under questionable conditions on land encroached with state connivance, often under cover of racial violence.  We do not make distinctions between human beings and we live in a world where the movement of human beings and exposure to other cultures is accepted as being healthy.  Many Tamils too would welcome Sinhalese living in the North-East under conditions where racial politics had been marginalised and where accountability and equality in the functioning of the state can be secured.  At present the conditions are deteriorating very much in the opposite direction.  The political motivation can only be termed diabolical by its effects.

Anyone who cares genuinely for these Sinhalese settlers must ask:

Are they placed in conditions where they can live as healthy human beings?  Are practical conditions being secured where they can live in good neighbourliness?  What are the prospects of their children entering university in a country that boasts of universal free education?

We know that they live in squalor, cynically inducted into a paramilitary culture, hated by their neighbours as much as they hate their neighbours.  Indeed at every bout of anti-Tamil rioting, they were encouraged to attack their neighbours under military protection-a treatment which the Tamil groups returned when the IPKE arrived.  They are victims of decadent uncaring nationalism.  It comes as no surprise that such scheme should be undertaken by the same state that has killed Sinhalese relentlessly in the South-a state and ruling class equally cynical of the Sinhalese poor as of the Tamil people.

2.8        Destroying the Basis of Eelam

The Sunday Times of 26th August published a full page article with the title above, by Malinga Herman Gunaratne, author of “For a Sovereign state”, published by Sarvodaya printers.  the article concerned the subject of his book, of breaking the contiguity of the Tamil region by planting Sinhalese settlements.  The plan of settlements on the Yan Oya and Malwathu Oya was worked out before the 1983 communal riots, by what are described as ‘some of the keenest minds’ in the Mahaveli Ministry, now holding international positions.  The secret operation was scuttled by President J.R.Jayawardena whose son supported these settlements.  Some senior persons in the ministry, including the author lost their jobs and Gamini Dissanayake, the minister concerned, was reprimanded.  The author feels keenly the long hours of incarceration in dark, dank police cells-nothing compared with what his friend Ravi’s paramilitary forces did first to Tamil and then extended Sinhalese boys.  The Sunday Times introduces the article as a first person account of the plan...(and in keeping with its editorial suggestions of using military advantage to settle the land questions), whether such an operation cannot still be mounted, this time with official blessings.

The fact that Jayawardene . no friend of the Tamils, had to act as he did suggests that the plan was blatantly loony as it was racist. The plan was calculated to make Sri Lanka a permanent issue in Indian politics, giving India and Tamil Nadu stronger grounds for legitimate leverage in local affairs, than had the ‘83 riots.  Indeed, the president’s action suggests strong Indian protest.  As past events, as well as today’s, poignantly make explicit, the execution of such a plan requires genocide, at least on a limited scale.  The fact that the July 1983 racial violence proved an appropriate setting for the plan make that clear:

“The riots had set the stage for a tide of nationalism.  Some 45,000 flocked to the Maduru Oya in search of the promised land...Our first proposal was only to place a few settlers as deterrent against illegal encroachments by Tamil separatists.”

The Tamil militancy was weak at that time, and was in no position to help Tamil encroaches.  In fact Tamil victims from the 1977 violence from the South who had settled in Pankulam, were driven away quite simply, by the AGA walking in with a few others and setting  fire their huts, shortly before the 1983 anti-Tamil violence.  Under cover of this violence several Tamil victims from 1977 in these areas were rounded up, taken to the hill country, and dumped amidst the 1983 violence.

The 45,000 were not moving spontaneously into Maduru Oya with nationalist fervor, as the article later admits:

“We conceived and implemented a plan which we though would secure the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka for a long time.  We moved a large group of 45,000 land-hungry peasants into the Batticaloa and Polonnaruwa districts of the Maduru Oya delta.  The second step was to make a similar human settlement in the Yan Oya basin. The third step was going to be a settlement of a number of people, opposed to “Eelam”  on the Malwathu Oya.  He claims that his group was responsible for the Weli-Oya settlement, separating  Mullaitivu and Trincomalee districts. 

The article also presents a colored photograph of Ravi Jayawardene with Moshe Levy, recipient of the Star of David, suggesting Israeli inspiration behind the plan.  It also reminds a person, mischievously perhaps, that Premadasa is the man who threw out the Israelis, much to the chagrin of an section of the ruling party, who looked upon Israelis as good friends.  Behind the propaganda thrust represented by the article, one cannot dismiss the possibility of a power struggle within the ruling party.

The views of the author of this article are not those of an isolated individual of questionable sanity.  The publicity enjoyed by his views suggests that influential persons are helping him to by the author and his own article indicate that his views command considerable influence within the armed forces.  The author is at pains to disclaim originality for the ideas.  It is logical expression of the instinctive chauvinism of the ruling elite. It represents their idea of how a united Sri Lanka can be preserved within their overlordship.  Settlers are pawns to them.  The author is a planter, a respectable alternative to an army career for mission school boys.  An argument offered for these land settlements is land hunger in the South with its vast tea, rubber and coconut plantations.  The declining prices of these products on the international market make their continuance questionable, against pressure for land redistribution.  To make matters worse, the UNP which held power for over 10 years has even taken over peasant lands in the South and given them over to sugar multinationals for questionable returns.  This is how killing disenchanted Sinhalese in the South and setting others in Tamil areas are two sides of the same coin.  The author indirectly appeals for support for his plan to the Minister for Defence, himself an ex-planter.

Variations of the author’s plan have ben in execution for some time without being so explicitly stated.  Senior citizens of Trincomalee who have been watching with concern for several years would tell you that.  Unfortunately, out of the few able spokesmen the Trincomalee Tamils had, some were killed in political rivalry and a drive for influence by  Tamil group within the last two years.  Nearly every ministry and every government corporation operating in Trincomalee has been devoting resources to settling Sinhalese, whether directly or indirectly-Ministry of ports, Ministry of Industries and Scientific Affairs, Ministry of Tourism, Cashew Corporation etc.  Thus the plan represents the instinctive thrust of the whole government machinery, inclusive of the armed forces, to the point of becoming institutionalized.  Official with sober views have ceased to count, and indeed even Tamil officials who share the anxieties of their fellows,  have become integrated into the system. 

Genocide is a logical consequence of this ideological thrust though perhaps in a limited form.  At some point state sponsored induction of Sinhalese in a politically hostile environment would threaten the Tamils and Muslims, first in the milder form of encroaching on their lands.  A ministry by gazette notification designates a piece of land as being taken over either for a tourist resort, to build quarters for employees, for the use of Prima Flour mills or for some such purpose.  The squatter colony of Sirimapura suddenly springs up on a piece of land belonging to the municipality.  One way or the other locals lose land-it may be personal property, temple property or public property used by locals.  Where there were disputes, law courts had long ceased to be of much use, but the Sinhalese had the police, the army and the navy.  The Tamil boys in 1983 assuaged their helpless anger by going for training arms by the hundreds.  Next, the forces behaved as though every Tamil was a terrorist.  At this point we were on the slippery slope towards genocide.  During the current war, a close look at events would reveal both a qualitative as well as a quantitative difference between massacres by the state forces and those by the LTTE.  The latter reveal a strong component of localized anger and insecurity felt by local Tamils, and have the character of spontaneous communal violence.  The former act on orders from Colombo and the manner in which Muslims have been used strongly suggests a powerful element of per-meditation.  Figures complied by local citizens reveal irreplaceable losses to the strengths of tamil communities in vulnerable places- About 200 killed and missing in Karaitivu, 500 in Kalmunai, 400 in Batticaloa, several hundreds in Trincomalee, next to no Tamils remaining in Pottuvil with the young men taken by the STF.  In some places, such as Akkaraipattu, those singled out for killing include leaders of the local community.  Then there is the manner in which the state machinery is setting Sinhalese while the Tamils are totally beaten.  All this suggests a pattern.  It is the only possible logical execution of Herman Gunaratne’s plan.

Where it will lead the country to is not hard to imagine.  We must question not only the saintly of one individual, but of the whole ruling class.          


Batticaloa, 4th September:  Three girls were shot dead near the Batticaloa railway station on the 4th night.  One girl was the sister-in-law of David, member of the TELO.  The girl’s mother was taken off a Colombo bound bus by the LTTE during July.  The dead girl, David’s wife’s elder sister, had reported the mother’s abduction to the ICRC.  The mother is since missing.  According to rumour, the other two girls are said to have ‘misbehaved’ with the many.

Batticaloa, 28th December 1989: 65 members of the Tamil National Army (TNA) are reported to have been buried in one huge pit at Nallathanni Madu, Muhattuvaram.  The victims had surrendered to the LTTE and a were being held prisoners.  Prior to burial, their hands were tied and some were alive while some had been shot.  Vehicles were then run over the grave.  The incident was reported by two independent witnesses and is distinct from the killing of about 75 TNA prisoners shortly after the LTTE took over Batticaloa on 14th December 1989, backed by the Sri Lankan Army.

Casualty figures, 7th September 1990:   Local citizen’s committees have provided the following figures of registered Tamil casualties since the beginning of the war:  Pottuvil - 260 dead; Sankamanakandy (between Pottuvil and Thirukkovil)- 20 dead; Thirukkovil -9 dead; Karaitivu - 190 dead, 60 missing; Kalmunai AGA’S division-240 dead, 30 missing; Weeramunai, Malwattai and Walathapiddy - 210 dead; 45 missing; Thiraikkeni, Attapalam-57 dead; Amparai- 1203 dead, 256 missing.

Kalmunai - 94 shops looted, 18 burnt, Pottuvil-nearly all Tamil shops and house burnt; Amparai - more than 1500 dwellings burnt.

Karaitivu, June:   Following the appearance of 27 headless bodies washed ashore on the Kalmunai beach in June, the STF and the army addressed Karaitivu citizens.  The citizens were told that 2 Muslims who had been responsible for these bodies had been taken in with several identity cards.  Appropriate action was promised.[Top]


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