BATTICALOA & AMPARAI DISTRICTS
2.2.1 The Massacre
2.2.4 Mrs.Yamuna Venudas
2.2.5 Father and Son
2.2.6 Batticaloa : July 1990
2.2.7 Batticaloa : The disappearances
2.2.8 Iruthayapuram killings
2.2.9 Kuthiraivilunthamadu : June
2.2.10 Vantharumoolai: 8th June
2.2.11 Siththandykkudy: June
2.2.12 Hulannuge: 27th June
2.2.13 Pottakkulam: July
2.2.14 Kalmunai: 22nd July
2.3 The People are for beating: Kiran
The major event in this region during the period covered by this report is the massacre at Kokkadichcholai, where ever a hundred civilians, mostly women, children and elderly persons were killed and burnt by troops. There had been many incidents during this war resulting in a large number of disappearances, and several massacres with comparable or greater loss of life. But this has been the first to receive widespread publicity, and a presidential commission has been appointed to go into it.
This situation contrasts with that prevailing particularly in the Amparai District last year, where isolated communities were served by priests travelling long and lonely roads on motor cycles. Not only were such clergymen vulnerable (e.g. Fr.Selvarajah Saverimuttu of Sorikalmunai), but many of the massacres which then took place have not come to light. [See Special Report No.3]. Thus the press in the South was able to pretend that the army had fought a disciplined war, until, and very unfortunately, Kokkadichcholai happened. What we show here and in the next chapter, is that the incident at Kokkadichcholai was part of a pattern of army indiscipline and lawlessness. As a nemesis of its own methods, a feeling of weakness and defeatism has crept upon the army. The general sentiments such as the need for a political solution, that this war is not against the Tamil people etcetera are not being transformed into concrete deeds in every day happenings, by at least introducing an institutional input into the military machinery, to ensure that its conduct is consistent with those political goals.
Because of the importance gained by the Kokkadichcholai incident, we cover it in a separate chapter. The appointment of a commission, despite a great deal of visible obfuscation, does provide an opportunity to bring about some institutional change for the benefit of the people. It is also hoped that this will not be treated as just an isolated incident.
Both the STF and the army which control this area, have become prisoners of the consequences of their own atrocious conduct, particularly last year. They have found themselves fitting into a mould of coercion, casualties and reprisals in an unstable environment.
Because of the ingrained habit among the forces of punishing the Tamils, and of frequent nastiness towards the young, there is a simmering militancy among Tamil youth leading to steady recruitment by the LTTE. For there is no other force to give them creative direction and hope for the future. In many villages, particularly in the interior, there are few young males left. We take one village, Kiran, [Section 2.3] and describe the experiences of the people there. We also give a typical incident in one interior village, Palugamam, of the kind that is bound to have serious repercussions for the Tamils as well as the army. This is one among several which happened after the appointment of the commission.
In the STF controlled areas too there is a great deal of fear among the young. Young persons are regularly picked up from market places and off the roads and are beaten in camps during questioning. In the lanes one does come across young persons asking `Are the commandos on the roads?' before proceeding. During June, in Kallar, an O'Level student left home in a group of 14 LTTE recruits, after telling his mother that he would rather die fighting, than die sitting at home - an understandable sentiment among most recruits. The mother not just lost her son, she is now harassed by the STF and other groups.
There is a particular spot on the outskirts of Batticaloa where persons sent extortion letters are asked to report to the LTTE. Some are taken westwards in the night, across the main road a short distance from the army camp,to where they are held. Soldiers sitting in their camps by night know that the LTTE is out there, moving freely. They become angry and blame the people rather than their methods. Massacres are often the outcome of such anger.
Most members of the middle class in this region are very resentful of extortion by the LTTE. For this impoverished middle class, receiving an extortion letter not just causes fear and anxiety, but leads to so many other problems. For one thing they just cannot afford it - a retired teacher from Thurainilawanai with unsettled daughters, left for Batticaloa after receiving a note of demand for one lakh of rupees. Further, if they go to the particular area to meet the LTTE, the news spreads. They are then harassed by the forces and the other groups would demand from them the same amount paid to the LTTE.
Extortion is an important cause of people in the region being deprived of necessary services. Early this year, the last Tamil doctor in Kalmunai left after receiving an extortion note. In Batticaloa, it is said that the services of many NGOs have suffered because many of their senior Tamil employees have received extortion notes, and are thus not willing to go too far from Batticaloa. Thus after the incident at Kokkadichcholai, only two church organisations took relief into the area. The other NGOs distributed relief from Thalankuda, on the other side of the lagoon.
Most of those who received extortion notes appear to be sitting tight, accumulating grey hairs. To them it must surely be a strong temptation to go abroad and become vocal LTTE supporting expatriates, rather than serve the people at home. Isolated Muslims are being picked off by the LTTE. Notices have appeared to the effect, "Pardon for Kattankudy, Death to Eravur and Inquiry for Oddaimavady". Some Muslims were told by a well-disposed Tamil who went for an extortion interview, that he was promised a bungalow in the Muslim village of Kattankudy in return for paying the LTTE. As for the LTTE's intentions, the Muslims fear the worst. The Muslims have thus been given no choice but to depend on the forces.
Tamils too on the other hand have come to depend on the forces. Tamils travelling from Batticaloa would not pass through Eravur unless there is an army picket on the road. The LTTE also appears to have taken up the position but it would not allow any civil administration to function unless it is given full control. Thus army and police pickets have been needed even to bring food into Batticaloa, after the LTTE burnt 3 food lorries near Kiran last November. Bus services and train services have also needed pickets to function.
Thus early in the morning to late in the evening one finds lines of anxious young men along Trincomalee Road, stepping gingerly on the tarred edges of the road, an automatic in one hand and a rake in the other, to ferret suspicious looking bits of soil for mines. As experience has shown, these are also the times they are most vulnerable. When there are no pickets, the traffic ceases. When a mine explodes, the local people see the other face of the army. [Top]
2.2.1 The massacre at Sathurukondan: 9th September 1990:
The village of Sathurukondan, Kokuvil and Panniyachchiady lie just beyond Iruthayapuram, the northern suburb of Batticaloa. Kokuvil is an ancient village. But much of this area was settled recently as demand for land in Batticaloa increased. During the evening sunset, the view from the huge lotus tank at Kokkuvil is one of astounding beauty, with a large variety of wild birds flitting along undisturbed. It is a refreshing sight for a Jaffna man, coming from a place where the lotus has ceased to bloom and the ponds devoid of life. The tank at Kokuvil was full at this time of the year because the fields in the vicinity lie uncultivated. It is only now that the survivors have began to trickle back, following the tragedy of last September. What follows complements our earlier account of the tragedy. The date given in Report No.7 is also corrected.
At 5.30 p.m. on 9th September 1990, armed men in uniform and in civilian clothes came into the area and ordered everyone to come on to the road. They were then marched to the army camp in the vicinity after being told that they would be questioned and released. Since these were troubled times, many had gone into the town and those remaining were mostly elderly, women and the very young.
What follows is taken from an account recorded on tape, given by the only survivor, Kanthasamy Krishnakumar (21). The recording was made before leading citizens in Batticaloa: "50 commandos walked about 150 of us to the Saturukondan army camp, which we reached about 7.00 or 8.00 p.m. Four were separated from the rest, attacked with swords and kris knives and were pulled away out of the camp. All were then taken to one place, attacked and burnt with tyres..."
Krishnakumar who was injured, managed to roll out of sight in the semi-darkness, crept away to a house and asked for water. He then went to his village and stayed in an empty house, and later found his way to his cousin's in Batticaloa town.
The list of victims totals 184 (Sathurukondan - 38, Kokuvil - 47, Panniachchiady - 37 and Pillayarady - 62). Of this number, there were 47 children below the age of 10 and several women.
2.2.2 Savukkady : 20th September 1990:
31 were taken by the forces from this seaside village between Eravur and Batticaloa, and are since missing.
2.2.3 Siththandy: 21st August 1990:
At 5.00 p.m. army personnel from the Morrakkaddanchenai camp took away 44 persons from the refugee camp at Sri Murugan Temple, Siththandy, who are since missing. These were mostly students, labourers and fishermen.
This and the two preceding items suggest that the taking away of 179 persons from the refugee camp at Vantharumoolai Eastern University, was one publicised instance of a practice widespread in the Batticaloa District about that time. The testimony of the freak survivor at Satturukondan paints a very grim picture of what could have happened to the others as well. The widespread nature of these disappearances, together with the numbers involved, point to connivance at high level.
2.2.4 Mrs.Yamuna Venudas: December 1990:
Venudas was a TULF activist from Batticaloa, nominated by the LTTE to the Interim Council in 1987, later persecuted by the IPKF, and when the current war began, went into the interior with the LTTE. His wife Yamuna of Thambiluvil continued to work as a bank clerk in Batticaloa. Last December, by prior arrangement, she crossed the lagoon and went to Kokkadichcholai with some others to see her husband. According to some sources she was brought back close to the jetty in a vehicle and that this had been seen from a distance by the army. Yamuna never returned home. At the time of her disappearance, one of her little children was with her mother in Thambiluvil, and the other in Batticaloa. Later in April Karikalan's brother Satkunanandan also met a similar fate because of a family connection with the LTTE.
2.2.5 Father and Son: August 1990 & 20th December 1989:
This is one of many stories that illustrate how death has stalked many families from several angles. Aruliah Rajasundaram (65) of Eralakulam, was the father of six. His son Yesurajah (28 in 1989) was in the PLOTE and had left for Colombo when the group was banned in December 1986. He returned after the Accord to run a shop. His neighbour and rival had a brother in the LTTE, and following harassment by the LTTE he joined the ENDLF. By this time he was married and was the father of 3 girls. as the IPKF withdrew to Trincomalee Yesurajah was invited to go with them. Being a familied man, he decided to remain.
Following the LTTE's entry, he was taken from Chenkaladi, for questioning on 20th December 1989 on the promise that he would be released after questioning. Then for 3 days, the family was refused any information regarding his fate. On hearing that the LTTE had killed at least 20 persons and buried them in a particular area, Rajasundaram, Yesurajah's father, went with some help to dig up the graves in the night. One grave contained a bearded man of about 60. His identity card in the shirt pocket described him as a Vattavithanai. He is said to have spoken on EPRLF platforms.
On the LTTE's entry into Batticaloa, 200-300 TNA members were killed in town. Another 100 are known to have been killed in Iralakulam, on the way to Trincomalee. During the period of `peace' which lasted until June 1990, a further 300 are said to have disappeared from around Batticaloa, which was under Suresh.
After the war began, in September, Rajasundaram obtained permission from the army at Commathurai and went with a friend on bicycles to fetch a young person from the Eastern University refugee camp. Rajasundaran was shot dead on the way by soldiers. His friend escaped and brought the news.
2.2.6 Batticaloa: 7th July 1990:
The LTTE had fled Batticaloa abandoning a vehicle in the Teachers' Training College premises. Out of fear, those in the training college pushed this out onto Station Road. On finding out about the vehicle, the army took in 7 youths about the place on 7th July, which was a Poya day, sacred to the Buddhists. As the day ended at mid-night, seven gun shots were heard. Next morning 7 bodies were found on the road.
About this time, a 15 year old nephew of Fr.Ambrose was riding down Boundary Road on his blue bicycle. He was stopped by soldiers who sent him to his parents' shop nearby to buy cigarettes. The soldiers then took him along to the camp. The boy never reappeared. But his blue bicycle continued to be seen regularly, ridden by soldiers. [Top]
2.2.7 Batticaloa: The disappearances of April-May 1991:
These were highlighted in Report No.7. On the morning of 24th April 2 bodies were found near the police post at Iruthayapuram. On the same day, two girls returning from tuition classes were taken in a white van. In the evening, their bodies were found near the new bridge, where there is a police post. Two bodies were found near Lady Manning bridge in Kallady. Their heads had been removed by a v-shaped cut about the neck. One body was found in Mankerni. The two bodies found near the Peththalai V.C. are believed to be the work of a Tamil militant group operating with the forces. Two bodies were found in Kaluwanchikudy. The 3 found in Kaluthavalai are believed to be the work of the LTTE.
The most prominent among those who disappeared was the LTTE leader Karikalan's brother, Satkunanandan, who worked in the Telecommunications department. There are circumstances here that give a pointer to who was behind the outrage in Batticaloa town. One is that about this time (24th April), the A.L. examinations were being conducted in the North-East and the question papers were stored at Hindu College, opposite the Telecom. Being anxious to show that normality prevailed in the East, the government wanted the examinations to go on without interruption. Thus Batticaloa town was under heavy security at this time, and a heavy guard was placed around Hindu College and the Telecom.
Being an essential service, the Telecom personnel, including Sathunanandan, were living in the building with permission from the forces. There were also other factors. Those living at the Telecom had a pet dog. On the night of 22nd April, this dog was poisoned. There were also six watchers who slept in the building. Curiously, on the night in question (23rd), these watchers did not sleep in their usual place. They had gone to another section of the building. Satkunanandan was taken away on this night by hooded men.
In another aspect to this tragedy, on the 23rd, a young man beat his neighbour's cow, which raided his plot of sweet potato. In the ensuing quarrel, the TELO got involved and the young man was taken away accused of an LTTE connection. He was seen with his eyes blind folded near a well known security establishment, by a responsible close relative who did not recognise him immediately. The young man's body was found in the lagoon the next day, in the company of Satkunanandan's.
Our informant when asked how he was certain that the person mentioned belonged to the TELO, said that the PLOTE did not operate in that part of Batticaloa town. He further added that the TELO man was operating with the notorious Captain M, who is widely credited with a number of operations of this kind, and many murders. A senior figure in Batticaloa described Captain M as a man of obscure origins, who was promoted to the rank of an army captain after the commencement of the war, and now operates a special unit based in Batticaloa prison. Other leading security officers, including the Brigadier, had pretended that they knew nothing of these killings. Is Captain M some kind of a scape goat, or is he a captain given so much power and autonomy that even a Brigadier nominally responsible for security in the town cannot call him to account? If the police had really wanted to investigate, they had plenty of leads. They could for instance have started with questioning the Telecom watchers. But their function is evidently not to uphold the law of the land.
According to leading citizens, there is widespread fear even to admit that a close relative or even a son is missing. This is because of an attempt by the forces to obscure and confuse. People complaining of someone taken are asked how they were certain that the person concerned was dead. Dead bodies had been found floating in sacks. One such sack floating in the lagoon was found to have contained the body of a dead dog. People are then made to wonder if other sacks too had contained dogs, and whether their relative may after all be alive. This leads to a hope that the best chance of seeing the person alive is to keep quiet and not make a fuss. [Top]
2.2.8 Developments concerning Iruthayapuram killings:
We earlier reported the repraisal killing of about 12 persons by the police in Iruthayapuram at the end of March. We add some information that turned up subsequently. Following the killing of a policemen, the police took in 15 civilians that morning. This was reported to the Superintendent of Police, Batticlaoa - Mr.Moonesinghe. The SP then proceeded to the Iruthayapuran police station, and returned after ensuring that the 15 or so persons were released.
After the SP went away, the Iruthayapuram police took in another lot of persons. On this being reported, it is said that the SP visited the station twice more, but did not find the people who were hidden away, presumably in bunkers. Next day the bodies appeared.
Officially, the police have maintained that there is no proof of police involvement. But privately, some leading citizens were told that the 70 or so policemen were taken to Amparai and questioned individually without any further light being shed. They are then said to have been transferred to Mannar, where several of them reportedly died in attacks by the LTTE.
Assuming that all this which came from police sources has a bottom of factual content, it points to a situation where some service chiefs at least have serious misgivings, but are afraid or are reluctant to probe too deep. Hiding prisoners during ICRC visits is after all an old ruse. It is likely that the SP took the word of some of the senior officers at Iruthayapuram rather than himself have done a search.
2.2.9 Kuthiraivilunthamadu: 1st week of June:
Kuthiraivilunthamadu is between Kanjirankudah and the Sagamam tank, a mile from the first and two from the latter, lying off the road from Akkaraipattu to Komari, via Konavil and Panamkadu. At 8.00 a.m. on the morning concerned, a land mine was exploded under an STF vehicle and 3 commondos were killed. In reprisals the STF killed six persons, of whom two were working in rice fields, and two others, Suntharamoorthy and Thangarasa from Thambiluvil were travelling in a bullock cart. Several persons were taken from Kannakipuram and were later released. [Top]
2.2.10 Vantharumoolai: 8th June:
There was a landmine attack on an army convoy in which about 3 soldiers were killed. The army unit from Morakkaddanchenai then went on a reprisal raid killing 6 persons in Vantharumoolai. Another 4 were killed and burnt in Palaiadiththottam, Kaluwankerni. Among the latter was Chandran, husband of Saraswathy Malar. Two days earlier one soldier had been killed, and the principal of Mavady Vembu MV was badly assaulted.
Among the six killed at Vantharumoolai was Sritharan, a teacher at St.Michael's Batticaloa, and his brother, the two surviving of three boys in the family. Of the two sisters who are teachers, Sugunamathy is a student at the Batticaloa Training College. The youngest of the boys, an accountancy student from Colombo on holiday, disappeared after being picked up by the army last September from the Eastern University refugee camp. Sritharan's mother died of sorrow on 26th July. On 8th June, she was talking about her youngest son, when she received news of losing the other two.
2.2.11 Siththandykkudy: 4th or 11th June:
This was a Tuesday, one of the two days of the week on which the night mail comes to Batticaloa instead of terminating at Valaichenai. An army picket was out as usual along the railway tracks. Thillainathan, a Plate Layer, was also out examining the tracks. Some soldiers asked for his identity card and threw it into a nearby well. He was then asked to go down and fetch it. As he resurfaced, he was shot in the head, point blank. The incident was witnessed by others nearby. There was no provocation for the killing.
This incident and the previous one which took place just before the Kokkadichcholai massacre, speak of a general climate of indiscipline at a time when normality was being claimed. See also 2.3, which speaks of several people disappearing in Kiran about this time.
2.2.12 Hulannuge: 27th June:
The private bus scheduled to leave Pottuvil for Colombo at 6.30 p.m, left at 7.00. Though there was only seating for 40, there were 60 in the bus. The driver and 4 or 5 persons were Sinhalese. The rest were Muslims. There was also one Dane, Rassmussa Testerto. About 7.30 p.m. at Hulannuge near Lahugala a landmine mised the main body of the bus, but the vehicle stalled. When the passengers got down and started running, they were fired upon with automatics. According to an eye-witness account, the dead were then dragged into the bus, which was set on fire. The dead included the driver, the Dane, 8 ladies and a niece of Dr.Cader, a student of Muslim Girls' College, Colombo. Another lady was the sister of Majeed, SP, Civil Co-ordinator for the Amparai District. About 11 survived with injuries. Ahmed Lebbe, Agriculturl Officer, Akkaraipattu, escaped because he had left the bus and was buying cigarettes when the bus left.
Suspicion for this outrage has tended to fall on LTTE militants from Komary. Tamils in Pottuvil were driven out by the forces last year in the course of which about 200 of them were killed. About 120 of them, mostly young men, literally vanished in smoke after being taken in a round up in late July 1990. The Pottuvil refugees now live mostly in Komary, 10 miles north. A short time earlier, the STF had established a camp at the edge of Rufus Kulam, bordering Kanjikudichcharu, in the jungles of which the LTTE maintains facilities. The attack was also read as an act by the LTTE to signal that they were still around.
2.2.13 Pottakkulam (near Vinayagapuram): Early July:
We have remarked in earlier reports, that some young men who left the LTTE last year, were also in hiding in the jungles west of Thirukkovil, in danger from both the LTTE as well as the STF. It was only natural for them to scrounge food from those who farm in that area. One such group of fugitives was having a meal at the field hut of K.Sinnathurai, whose son was also in the group, when they were surprised by an STF party, who had apparently come on a tip off. Three were killed when the STF opened fire, among whom were Paranirubasingam and Ruben. Paranirubasingam of Thambiluvil is said to have been close to the former area leader Mathan, and was a tractor driver before joining the LTTE in early 1990. The others escaped into the jungle.
K.Sinnathurai was reportedly taken to the Thirukkovil STF camp after being very badly beaten. His fate is unclear. The incident was reported in the press as one where the STF successfully ambushed an LTTE party. Our information is that the party ambushed did not even have arms. The villagers were clear that they were no longer in the LTTE. Still no mechanism exists for those with past LTTE links or those wrongly suspected of such links, to ensure their safety. Such is the state of enlightenment governing this campaign.
2.2.14 Kalmunai: 22nd July:
Tamil refugees, mainly from Central Camp Division 4, were settled in a piece of land bordered by the Telecommunications premises, the Methodist Mission and Carmel Fatima College to the West. Towards the onset of the rainy season at the end of last year, the Red Cross helped them to put up long huts with line rooms for the families, made of coconut thatch. These had further been covered with polythene sheets for rain proofing. With May came the dry `Kachchan' wind. But the danger was not realised.
On the morning of 22nd July, about 10.30 a.m the hut bordering the Methodist Mission wall caught fire by accident - either by sparks from a cooking fire or from an electrical short circuit. At this time most of the adults were out on business. Those inside were mostly elders and infants. Under the given conditions the fire spread rapidly. Those in the surrounding areas saw smoke, heard the crackling of bamboo supports, and assumed that a gun fight was going on. People thus stayed indoors. Some of the refugees who were near enough to take alarm rushed to their huts. The belongings of some were saved. Others lost everything including children.
It was left to the STF to offer any concrete help, which according to reports was promptly and unstintingly offered. STF men rushed into the flames and rescued several elders who were trapped. According to some sources 5 infants and a lady died in the fire. The wife of a senior church figure who visited the scene said that she saw 7 bodies of infants laid out. She had also seen on STF man with burn injuries. The refugees have now been moved elsewhere. [Top]
2.3 The People are for beating - The story of Kiran
In order to get a total picture of how people in rural areas are affected, we take one village. Kiran is 11 miles north of Batticaloa on the Trincomalee road. It is not an interior village because it is on the main trunk road to Batticaloa. Kinniyadi, Koralimadu and Karuwakerni are nearby villages off the main road. But it is a rural area with a very small middle class - mostly government servants and teachers. Because of its position, the army is very much around, with camps in Morakkaddanchenai and in Kiran itself. In recent times the village has had the presence of the IPKF, the LTTE and now the Sri Lankan army. The people complain that every force tends to accumulate the bad habits of the previous forces in addition to its own.
When the IPKF went on the offensive in October 1987, nearly everyone was beaten. When the IPKF began moving towards Batticaloa, the people were made to sit on armoured cars and in trucks as human shields. Included in the shield were the local doctor and the AGA.
Following the onset of the current war, the army started moving towards Batticaloa. On 20th June 1990, several bodies with cut injuries were seen on the northern outskirts of Kiran. One man said that he had counted 13, but cannot say how many were killed by the army, because the bodies were spread over a wide area.
Many refugees then moved into Christa Seva Ashram, under the care of Sevak Sam Alfred, and many of them later moved to the Eastern University. In August 1990 a rumour went around that the LTTE had buried mines in the surrounding area. The army was re-established in the area following the LTTE's withdrawal after failing to overrun the army camp at Kiran.
The army then came to the Ashram refugee camp and took away about 60 persons. These persons were marched in front as mine sweepers, and the army came behind. They were marched along several paths and were finally released at Sungankerni. Some in the mine sweeping party complained that an ICRC vehicle passed them on the main road, but did not stop to ask what this strange scene was about. Instead they say that the foreign ICRC person exchanged hand waves with the army and drove away.
This incident may have other explanations, since the ICRC avoids public confrontations. Unlike in Batticaloa town, the ICRC is generally not understood in the villages. Skepticism about the ICRC in Kiran has remained, and is thought of as being closer to the army.
Also during August 1990, Perinpanayagam, a father of 3, went to Siththandy on business with his 12 year old son. Both were taken in by the army at Morakkaddanchenai. The son was later released. But the father is since missing.
On 26th September 1990, Pathmanathan, who worked for the Government Press in Kiran set off to Colombo with a clearance letter from Captain Wickrematilleke of the Kiran camp (now in Mankerni). He was arrested by the army in Valaichenai and is since missing.
During October 1990, 3 young boys, all aged 12, went to the outskirts to collect palmyrah fruit. They are missing after being allegedly taken by the army.
On 23rd November 1990, the LTTE and the army battled each other at Kiran junction. 4 shells fired by the army fell inside the Ashram refugee camp, which them had 500 refugees under Sevak Philip. A child of 12 was killed and several were injured. The army later provided medical aid.
About this time, 3 food lorries were burnt by the LTTE at Kumburumoolai junction.
On 26th November 1990, Sundar (22), with two other residents of Kiran set off eastward to the interior at nightfall, as the LTTE wanted residents to vacate. They were stopped by the army at 7.00 p.m. and are since missing.
Apart from beatings, the situation was relatively calm until April 1991.
On 1st May 1991 John Selvarajah (35) who was carrying his infant son was taken by the army with two others during a round up. His wife was abused by soldiers in filthy language. When those at home protested, they were assaulted with belts, gun butts and folded knees. The three were taken to the jungle and were beaten and held from 11.00 to 4.00 p.m. One of them, Karuval Krishnapillai died under beating. The other two were released. Selvarajah is partially disabled, and has not worked for 4 months.
On 11th June 1991, the first anniversary of the war, a curfew was declared on the other side of the lagoon, and the army was out. Visuwaratnam, Kanthasamy (24) of Koralimadu and Chandran were taken in by the army and were tortured for several days. They were assaulted, burnt with cigarette buts, creased with knives, boiling water poured over their bodies and were often kept buried up to their necks.
Viswaratnam is believed to have succumbed to torture. Kanthasamy and Chandran were released through the police after 40 days of detention. While in camp, they had seen four bodies of persons who had died under torture. They have all the marks of their treatment, including burise marks down to their legs. Kanthasamy is for all purposes a cripple. All his limbs have been impaired. The use of his hands is limited. He can only move two fingers in his right hand. At the time the three were taken, there was no incident involving hurt to soldiers.
On 13th June 1991 (the day after the Kokkadichcholai incident), Sivaguru (26) teacher at Kiran MV, with his student Thangarajah Anandan, went towards the sea to purchase fish. While returning, they were taken by the army at the Cadju Farm at Sinna Vembu, bordering the railway tracks. After this they were missing. Six days later, their bodies were exposed after being dug up by wild boar.
10th July - Massacre at Kinniyadi. 13 bodies found and about 9 others missing. This is covered in the next chapter. There was no provocation.
The extent of army indiscipline together with continual nastiness is evident. That indiscipline is tolerated is seen in the day to day experience of the people. Almost every adult in the village has been beaten, and many of them cannot work as a result. Army patrols regularly force people to climb coconut trees to bring down young coconuts for drinking. Those who cannot climb trees are afraid to say so because they fear being beaten. Recently, on being asked by soldiers, Gurunathan, who had never climbed a tree before, agreed to pluck some coconuts. He fell down and lost consciousness. On recovering, he found 100 rupees in his pocket. But the soldiers were missing. According to Shanmugam, some times people accosted by the army are tied to trees and left. He had released persons so tied. It is also said that few fishermen go to sea on Tuesdays and Saturdays when army pickets are out along the tracks for the train to go to Batticaloa. Many fishermen had been deprived of their catches on these days without compensation.
There is also grinding poverty in the village, once well off. This is because even those who can work cannot find adequate work. Like in many villages in the area, a large number of the villagers used work in rice fields across the lagoon to the west, which is more an LTTE domain. Hence those going frequently across the lagoon become suspect by the army. Unemployment is found preferable. People in Kiran are conspicuously thin and aged before their time.
About 50 have been killed in Kiran since the beginning of the war and about 150, mostly school boys, have since joined the LTTE, according to the villagers. The biggest reason for this is given as regular beating by the army. As the number of young in the village noticeably dwindled, the army found additional stimulus for beating. "Why are you at home, why did you not join the LTTE?", they would ask while beating. Sometimes it is, "You give us John or we will beat you," John being the local Tiger leader. People say that even when there are Tigers in the village during an army round up, they manage to beat everyone except the Tigers.
People of this village have had the world brought to them. They have seen a great variety of human beings and of human nature. There is no communalism in them. There is little bitterness, much open mindedness and no illusions. Despite all that they have been through, they are ready to laugh. Laugh at what experience has taught them to view as their fate. [Top]
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