University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna)
The cases below are samples from several government-controlled areas. There is a common thread running through them all. Most killings are wanton and senseless. Those by the Government and its allies target people because of some alleged remote connection with the LTTE. Thus the Karuna and Pillayan groups are targeting people who were sympathetic to the LTTE when they too were part of it. In the case of Uthayakumar, he was killed because his four brothers died fighting for the LTTE in the 1990s, and though he served in an LTTE appointed village committee, he withdrew from contact with the Karuna group and lived a normal civilian. His was a very human dilemma. Parameswari, a mother of three, from the poor village of Komari, was killed because her husband whom the Karuna group came looking for had left home.
It is the security forces and the Defence Ministry that are behind most killings and they often find it convenient to use Tamil proxies. Some are deliberately instigated with a view to fomenting Muslim-Tamil clashes. This Government and its extremist allies have all but destroyed the well-deserved goodwill the security forces earned, by selflessly rescuing civilians during the tsunami of 2004 and in a number of instances losing their lives in doing so.
We also point to the use of armed Muslims raised by the intelligence services to fight the LTTE alongside the Karuna group and are now being manipulated to pursue the State’s agenda and to harass the SLMC.
Child conscription, by both the Karuna and Pillayan groups, continues although relatively few cases come to light as they occur mostly in the very poor areas and people are scared because the Government is party to them. We have three (one aborted) instances in this report. It is again the security forces that are to blame as it is done with their connivance, their knowledge and under their patronage. In two instances the mothers were initially eager to identify the culprits. But within a matter of days they had to give up. What rights could they have when the Government is not only in league with those who conscript and enjoy state sanction for all their crimes, but even worse, the Government sought and obtained a formal electoral alliance with them.
A further source of child recruitment has been the massive displacement and misery the Government inflicted to ‘liberate the East’. A social worker told us that while he was passing Chenkalady Junction, he saw a boy of about 16 selling the EPDP paper. He recognised the boy as from a refugee camp he helped to run for the displaced from Paduvankarai (West side of the Lagoon). When he inquired, the boy said that he had joined the EPDP for an allowance. Selling papers is one of the most lethal jobs in the EPDP as sellers have on several occasions made easy targets for LTTE gunmen.
The LTTE continues targeted killings, presently at a lower rate than state-related actors in the North-East. They did most of the killing they needed to do during the ceasefire and before. We give one instance of three siblings killed in Jaffna. There have been a number of attacks by the LTTE on civilian targets in the South killing scores. The Government has not retaliated in a manner that would make headlines as in July 1983. But the Government has for two years used killer groups the total of whose victims would be of the same order as those of July 1983, but without making a big splash. It has enabled the Government to carry on without major diplomatic repercussions and even get a pat on the back from India for presenting as an original inspiration, the heavily truncated version of a political package with the dust of 20 years.
One instance should caution us. Early in February in the wake of LTTE bombings, a Sinhalese mob in Abhayapura, a Sinhalese suburb of Trincomalee, wanted to attack the Tamil suburb of Anbuvelipuram. Unlike during the violence of April 2006, the Police stopped it. That was good. Almost the next day three persons were abducted from Anbuvelipuram and on the day following two persons were shot dead in a saloon. Around Trincomalee town where any pretext is seized upon to attack Tamils, our sources have recorded 11 disappearances of Tamils around Trincomalee town from 28th January to 8th February 2008. Hardly do papers report them nor are civilians willing to talk about them.
One of the cruelest aspects of this proxy war presided over by the Government and its fractious partners is that the children too are abducted and being made party to it. At 9.30 AM on the morning of 31st December 2007, about a dozen small boys from Karuna’s group, aged 14 to 16 and armed, were moving in a tractor towards Valaichenai. The soldiers at the Welikande checkpoint signalled the tractor to stop and let the regular traffic pass. As the tractor proceeded, the children and the soldiers waved at each other.
2nd December 2007: Mylvaganam Prasath (14) of Kalkudah had just, at noon, been abducted by Jeevarasa and Velavan of the Karuna group, when by chance the Army did a round up and arrested boys, including the Karuna boys and their victim and handed them over to the Police. Prasath’s mother, Mrs. Mylvaganam, came screaming, accusing defiantly the two Karuna boys. The Police asked the court to remand them. At the identification parade on 14th December under Acting Judge Hussain, the CID came with members of the Karuna group. The mother declined to identify the kidnappers.
6th December 2007: Yoganathan Sinthujan (12), Vadichchi Kiramam, Sungankerni, Valaichenai: Members of the Karuna group came home with T56 weapons at 2.30 PM and beat the boy’s mother Kidnapillai Thavarani and his father, pushed them onto the ground and abducted Sinthujan. Their reasoning was that an elder brother of Sinthujan’s was in the Karuna group, and when the group divided he went with Pillayan. To make up for him it was their right to take Sinthujan. Thavarani and her sister reported the matter to the Police and said that Thavarani could identify the culprits. They were due to be present in court on 31st December, but did not turn up.
12th February 2008: Indran Indraraj (14), Thiruchenthoor, Kallady: The schoolboy was missing from this date. The mother suspects that the Pillayan group has taken him. She inquired at the TMVP Pillayan camp in Arasady, Batticaloa and was unconvinced by their denial. Local people in Batticaloa have received reports that a camp where children are trained is in Pulipanjakal near Kudumbimalai (Baron’s Cap). It is a continuation of practices Pillayan and Karuna were famous for when they were comrades in the LTTE. The mother continued to pursue the matter and complained to the Police and UNICEF. A few days later she received an anonymous call saying that her son would be released and not to raise a noise. Unlike the previous two this incident took place near Batticaloa town.
15 January 2008: The STF’s Thai Pongal Bash in Liberated Batticaloa
On the winter harvest holiday as was their wont, the people of Kallady rose up early and began cooking milk rice. Most stayed at home while some of the children preparing for public examinations went for tuition classes. That was when the STF arrived in large numbers to offer their felicitations. They began picking up the young on the roads and then entered houses and took the young boys from about 14 upwards. In several places they sat down uninvited and demanded that milk rice be served. One householder said that their attitude was rude and insulting and having eaten milk rice they told the host that this land belonged to the Sinhalese. The best the people could do was to run to the Roman Catholic parish priest, who contacted Bishop Kingsley Swampillai then on his way to Batticaloa from Colombo. The Bishop asked the father to deal with the matter until he arrived. Fr. Joe called the STF, which apparently functioned only in Sinhalese. The operator told Father that the SSP was on leave. When he asked for the second in command, he too was on leave. Finally, he spoke to the third in Sinhalese who wanted him to explain the difference between Father and Bishop. After some hassle he admitted that the children were at Webber Stadium. The officer maintained that the parents should keep the children at home and not allow them on the roads despite the fact that they went into houses and forced the children out.
In several instances fathers had insisted on going with the sons and they were all there from 7.30 AM. The parents too had meanwhile arrived and were standing at the entrance to the stadium. Some of them decided to go inside, when suddenly the STF closed the gates and did not allow those who went in to come out. Meanwhile the Bishop arrived in Batticaloa and was dealing by phone with the SSP who too was apparently back. The boys were all stripped to the waist and searched. How flimsy an exercise it was is suggested by one instance. A boy’s identity card showed that he was a Fernando. Asked whether he was Sinhalese or Tamil, he said he was Sinhalese, on the grounds that his grandfather was a Sinhalese from Mannampitiya on the border of the district, who had married and lived in Batticaloa among Tamils. He was allowed to go.
The third in command gave a speech (they are all politicians now, as part of Pillayan’s election campaign) telling the parents that they must keep their children at home. No one dared to say that they came into the houses and took the children. The ordeal lasted till 4.30 PM. Not even a drink of water was given the whole day, where the sermon came as bonus torture. The children went home to consume at sunset, the milk rice cooked for an auspicious sunrise.
Elections in Batticaloa: The Travails of Candidature
For those who remember Municipal elections in calmer times when enthusiastic candidates printed notices at their own expense and came home asking for votes, these are most singular elections. One of the early reports said that all the men of standing had changed houses to dodge TMVP (Karuna and Pillayan groups) wanting them to contest on their behalf. These people had an unobjectionable cause – to keep away from all those carrying arms. Their simple question is, “Will the LTTE accept an explanation that we stood for election under duress and refrain from shooting us?” The TMVP’s position is, fine, if you win you could resign and we will put someone in your place. There are numerous reports, funny in a sense but also very scary.
In Mandur, a painter called known as Ravi was forced to stand for election. Two policemen were imposed on him for his security. Ravi said that he cannot stay at home and must earn a living. So when he goes out to work, two policemen go with him, watch him painting the whole day and they all go home. There is a further catch. This man who could barely feed his family has to in addition feed two policemen with healthy appetites.
A unique story concerns a candidate from Kallady. Sankarathas Sivanandathas, known as Kanthan, was an elderly man of 54 forced by the Pillayan group to stand for election. The road where he lived was named after his father Sando Sankarathas, a legendary body builder. The nominations at Batticaloa Kacheri closed at noon on Friday 25th January 2008. Kanthan went back home. That night armed men came to his home in a white van at 9.30 and abducted him. The next day he was released in Mylambaveli outside the town. He had been badly beaten and tortured, but refused to talk about it. No one could make head or tail of this story, although theories abounded.
What happened was this. Kanthan’s was one of the names that had gone to the STF some time ago as a one time LTTE sympathiser. Kanthan went to Colombo and stayed there until things cooled off, returned to Batticaloa and lived quietly. Upon being forced to stand for election he had to file his nomination papers and someone in the STF recognised him. The STF abducted him the same night. It was Pillayan who contacted the STF and got him released.
Local sources say that the vast majority of the TMVP candidates are contesting under duress. The trouble is not just the LTTE. Like the children conscripted by the Karuna and Pillayan factions, the candidates too could at some point fall victim to their feud. At the moment the violence between the two factions is not prominently in the open. According to a story from the Pillayan side, Karuna telephoned his leaders from his British prison and asked them to accept Pillayan’s leadership until he returns. The killing of Karuna’s Sittandy leader Chitravel Kalaichelvan on 31st January is an indication that all is not well.
Pillayan Inspires the First Democratic Defiance in Many Years: The last time Batticaloa witnessed democratic defiance; it was from the mothers, when soon after the 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord the LTTE set about killing members of opposing groups. Pillayan has become the inspiration today. Around early January 2008, Fr. Navaratnam, priest at our Lady of Peace, Thiraimadu, Pannichchaiadi, was returning to Batticaloa after attending to the needs of a tsunami refugee camp. Two persons on a motorbike came from behind and stopped him. One got on to Navaratnam’s bike and ordered him to go along the lonely road, parallel to the Trincomalee Rd., through Kokkuvil. Then the two men took his bike and purse and ordered him to wait for them. It was the kind of lonely place where one could hear crocodiles jumping into the water at night when vehicles go by. Fr. Navaratnam dared not stay there and walked until he came to a village with an STF post close by. An old man welcomed him and seeing his state, made him hot coffee. The priest noticed young men around armed with sticks and other improvised weapons. “Thieves”, the old man explained, “No one stops them. We decided to take matters into our own hands.” They contacted a local pastor, who took the priest to Bishop’s house.
At Navatkudah, about 25 houses had been robbed. Besides, the robbers nearly always came on the same black motorbike. Among the residents were the parents of Fr. Rajivan, who two years out of the seminary is posted in Sorikalmunai. The thieves demanded that the mother give her thali. She protested, ‘Son for 30 years, I have not removed it from my neck’. They abused her and took it. Her daughter was also robbed. The village decided to take matters in hand. On 8th January at nightfall, two thieves arrived on the same motorbike, one with a weapon. The people shouted and rushed them. The man with the weapon ran away. The villagers sent word to the Police before the man who ran away returned with armed reinforcements. The Police apprehended the five intruders – all of them from the Pillayan camp in Kallady, including its leader, Kanagaratnam Athiravan.
22nd June 2007: Anandaraj (49) was a labourer from Ootruchchenai, Vadamunai and had been a refugee in Thamaraikkulam, Peththalai, Valaichchenai from 1996.The LTTE had massacred scores of Sinhalese civilians along the border areas in late 1995. At 9.30 PM in the night, 25 to 30 armed men in military uniform with masks came to their house and took Anandaraj away saying it was for an inquiry. The next morning his body was found with injuries to the forehead and chest near the Tsunami Housing Scheme at Karunkalichcholai. His wife Rukmanidevi said that Anandaraj had once supported the LTTE. From the way the intruders spoke Tamil, it was quite certain that they were from the Karuna group.
24th September 2007: Pathmarajah Ranjan of Pethuchenai, Mandur lost a hand fighting for the LTTE. When the LTTE split, he surrendered to the Karuna group who discharged him with a letter of clemency. He married in Kaluwanchikudy and became the father of two children. On this day he was abducted by the STF when he went to Batticaloa Hospital.
28th November 2007: Sinnathamby Sathananthan (28) of World Vision was abducted on the main road in Navatkuda at 9.00 AM. As in the previous case this abduction was based on suspicion.
30th November 2007: Pakiarajah (48) of Santhiveli, a Railway employee, was abducted by Ranjan and Illankeeran of the Karuna group. The reason was that his son, a conscript in the Karuna group and run away and the father could not produce him.
1st December 2007: Thambimuttu Nadarajah (39) of Vinayagapuram, Valaichenai, had been the manager of the local coop for 17 years. He left home for work on 26th November 2007, Prabhakaran’s birthday, and was not seen alive thereafter by anyone known to the family. On 1st December, an officer from the Kumburumoolai army camp informed the Police that a corpse was lying on the road opposite Hadjiar coconut estate, quite near the army camp. The body was identified by the victim’s wife Jamunarani. The victim had been tortured, strangled and stabbed. This appears to have been done at the Kumburumoolai army camp.
We also received a different image of Kumburumoolai army camp from another observer. Its commander Major Nimal Ratnayake, who is from Down South, took an interest in the children of Kalkudah who were not attending school. The children help their fathers who are fishermen for two hours in the morning and do not go to school thereafter. Often they are seen plucking young coconuts for sale. Major Ratnayake went to the lady who is the zonal director of education and requested her to conduct awareness programmes among the parents. Three such programmes were conducted and school attendance has picked up. The Major has also asked his brother who is a teacher in the South to collect money in his school to help schools in Kalkudah.
1st December 2007: Sivarajah Kaliyagan (20) of Seelan Store St., Ward 4, Pudur, was conscripted by the Pillayan Group. His wife went looking for him to the TMVP (Pillayan) office in Covington Rd., Batticaloa, where she caught sight of him. She went again the next day. Pillayan’s men told her that they will not release him and she cannot see him as he had been sent for training.
4th December 2007: Subramaniam Sothivadivel was a teacher in a school in Vavunathivu. The STF coming in a white van abducted him from a tea boutique in Urani about 3.00 PM.
9th December 2007: Refugee Camp, Kokkuvil, near Pillayarady: State-affiliated killers went into the refugee camp housing displaced persons from Mutur East and shot dead two persons. One was Ahilesapillai Sivapragasam (40) from Vallikerny between Kadakaraichenai and Sampoor. The other was Vijikanthan (19) from Kadatkaraichenai, who is thought to have been a Sea Tiger. They had lived in an LTTE-controlled area where one way or another people were forced to associate with the LTTE. Many LTTE deserters also came along with the displaced. Whether or not they identified themselves and surrendered, their life was in danger given the Government’s bloodthirsty approach. In routinely detaining and torturing people they were bound to get names. The killers also arrested two women, Sivapragasam Lalithadevi (31) and Sethuraja Jeyarani (30) who were waiting for the Colombo bus. They were subsequently released.
11th December 2007: Santhirasegaran Yogarajah (24) of Munaikkadu North (the recently ‘liberated area’) was abducted by the Pillayan group, trained and sent to the Araiampathy office that was ‘captured’ from Karuna a few days earlier. Yogarajah’s wife heard about his presence, went there and screamed, demanding the Pillayan group release him. They refused.
7th January 2008: Parasuraman Nanthakumar (31), president of the volunteer teachers’ union, was in the night shot dead near his house in Morakkottanchenai by the Karuna group. He had been leading protests for permanent appointments for volunteer teachers. Locally he had protested against some activities of the Karuna group such as taxation on collecting sea sand. A week before he was killed, he was caught and kept chained by Karuna leaders Ranjan and Illankeeran and then released. Different sources told us that the same persons had repeatedly demanded that he stand for election as their candidate (TMVP), but he had refused.
10th January 2008: Marimuththu Arumugam (58), Commathurai, Eravur, was a retired laboratory technician from St. Vincent’s Girls’ School, Batticaloa and a father of seven children. He had read out a poem from a Pongu Thamil platform in times before the Karuna group split from the LTTE. Recently the Karuna group wanted him to stand for election on their ticket and he had refused. In the night of this day gunmen went to his house and shot him dead.
12th January 2008: Poopalapillai Uthayakumar (49) of Ganeshapuram, 14th Colony, Mandur, was shot dead in Vilavedduvan while returning home from Batticaloa town, with injuries to the head, face and chest. From the point where he was shot there is an STF camp half a mile away and a police presence quarter mile away. The victim’s wife Viyalathevi Uhayakumar and close relative Samithamby Mylvaganam would not say who the killers were. Other sources said that Uthayakaumar’s four brothers had been in the LTTE and died in action between 1990 and 1997. Uthayakumar was a member of the LTTE-appointed citizens’ committee, but kept out of all public activity after the Karuna split. The Karuna group had a grudge against him because he avoided supporting them in any way.
20th January 2008: Ehambaram Nadesamoorthy (35), with his wife Rajasulojana, of Valaichchenai was in his shop, which is part of their house, after lunch. Two men, who arrived on a motorcycle, came in, placed some money on the table, and asked for something. Suddenly, they pulled out a gun, shot Nadesamoorthy dead, pushed his son and ran away. Nadesamoorthy had earlier been sympathetic to the LTTE. His killers are very likely breakaways from the same group.
31st January 2008: Chitravel Kalaichelvan, was the Sitthandy area leader of the Karuna group, whose wife Sathyaseelan Kalyani is from Mutugal in the Polonnaruwa District. Early in the morning, she received a message from her brother to come urgently to Sitthandy as her husband was ill. She rushed there to find that her husband had been shot dead and his body found on the road. Knowledgeable sources say it is very, very unlikely that the LTTE has the capacity to plan and execute such a killing. They suggest the likelihood that this is a reflection of the Karuna - Pillayan internecine war.
10th February 2008: Illayathamby Thevathas, Vachchikuda, Batticaloa: Armed men coming in a white van abducted Thevathas and his two children. The children were later released. Thevathas’ dead body was recovered with gunshot wounds.
We pointed out in the main section that the Muslim armed groups were raised to fight against the LTTE and they were trained by the Karuna group. A leading figure, Auto Kaleel, as a young boy was in LTTE intelligence, who ran away and surrendered to the Army and worked for them when the LTTE turned on the Muslims in 1990. In 2006 army intelligence used him to recruit scores of Muslims to be trained by Mangalan Master of the Karuna group to assist the Army in ‘liberating the East’. In 2007 they moved away from the Karuna group and Kaleel and his followers took on a veneer of religious zeal. He was named as the leader of the gang responsible for the ritual murder of the 15-year-old girl Hidaya who was abused by a number of people (Special Report No.26). The Police have not touched him.
In due course the Muslim militants divided. The impunity different groups enjoy is directly related to the political backing they command. Their affiliations too vary with their history. The Police have acted against some and others they have not touched. The way these groups fragmented and realigned, like in the case of their Tamil counterparts, has much to do with the work of intelligence outfits that sometimes appear to work at cross purposes. The Karuna group was earlier closest to the JHU and army intelligence. Sometime in 2006, the main interest in the Karuna group seems to have passed on to an intelligence outfit under Gotabhaya Rajapakse where the PNM has a considerable stake, one of whose leading operatives is Kamaldeen of naval intelligence whose task it was to promote Pillayan over Karuna.
Kaleel according to our sources went over to the intelligence outfit aligned to Pillayan. This now we learn had a total of about 35 Muslim agents in Valaichenai, Eravur and Kattankudy. In one instance, members of this group exploded a claymore mine targeting a Karuna group leader. Yet both Karuna and Pillayan function under government patronage and protection. Promoting clashes between groups and communities is part of the game, which would eventually help the cause of Sinhalese hegemony.
Amir Ali, Minister for Disaster Management, who was elected on an SLMC ticket and deserted it for an offer by the Government, has been identified by the local populace as the patron of one section of the armed Muslim militants who enjoy a strong guarantee of impunity. At a meeting to promote communal amity, a Tamil spokesman said that from the day his community gave birth to armed groups, the community has been cursed and he was certain that the same applies to Muslims. A member of the audience, who did not want to identify himself openly, gave the Tamil speaker a signed letter, which said, “Muslim ayuthakkulukkal naam kattiyavai alla. Kattappattavai” (Muslim armed groups were not created by us. They were imposed).
Amir Ali uses his armed men to intimidate the SLMC and reportedly to settle Muslims on land in Karuvakkeni where there is a running dispute with the Tamils in which the Karuna group is also getting involved. Reasons why the Government and Amir Ali need paramilitary help, after supposedly having routed the Tigers, is not far to seek. One is that for the government to survive another election, it must capture the minority votes by hook or by crook. It has made an alliance with Pillayan who has no chance in a genuine election and has placed its security machinery at his disposal.
Similarly the Government needs to corner the SLMC and that is no easy task. That is an important purpose being served by the armed men under Amir Ali. It can be seen that the SLMC is at the receiving end of the armed Muslim groups and Amir Ali has perhaps realised that he cannot survive another election without armed backing. On 12th January SLMC Executive Committee M.L.A.M. Hisbullah’s car was smashed by a gang in Oddamavadi. Early morning on 16th January, a bomb attack at the house of prominent SLMC member A.L.M. Haniffa gutted his car and damaged a portion of his house.
July End: In Special Report No.26 we reported the ritual killing of the 15-year-old girl Hidaya by an armed Muslim group having their separate place of religious ritual near 3rd Mile Post Oddamavady. The leaders of the outrage against the girl were Auto Kaleel, Adambawa Ibrahim, Naufer and Pavadai Mahan. The Police made no arrests. Kaleel was earlier under Mangalan Master of the Karuna group.
11th August 2007: Hayath Mohamed Latif (50), known as Colonel, was a public spirited, popular figure in Valaichenai, who supported the SLMC. After initial sympathy for armed Muslim youths who took up arms in 2006, he became critical of them. Kaleel was one whose illegal activities, possibly without the knowledge of the Army, he was strongly critical of. Every morning at 4.30 he used to go to Baduria Mosque and stay till 5.30. On this morning, eight Muslims from the armed group came on four motorcycles and shot Colonel dead in the mosque premises. The public in Valaichenai pointed the finger at Kaleel. No arrests were made.
Close relatives of Colonel say that there were about 300 such armed militants who throw their weight around and the people hated them. It was subsequently that the armed Muslim group broke up owing to internal quarrels, leading to the killing of Mohamed Bawa Hussain. After the break, the Police started making some arrests for robbery and extortion. On 21st November, the Police arrested Adam Lebbe Mohamed Rizwi and another for attempting to extort at gun point. The break up is also significant in another way as seen below.
30th October 2007: A Muslim trader Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Riyal of Mavadichchenai, Valaichenai, was abducted in the Eravoor Division. The Muslims blamed the Karuna group.
4th November: Seven members of the Karuna group travelling through Oddamavady towards Welikande in a white van were caught in a claymore mine attack in the Muslim area of Navalady (3rd Mile Post) in front of a mosque. Sinnathamby, a senior leader, with two others were seriously injured and a Rajan was killed.
Immediate speculation held that a Muslim group had attacked the Karuna group because of the abduction of the trader. The Police arrested Meera Saib Rambar for the claymore mine attack and remanded Cader Saib Abdul Mujib for being the lookout for the Karuna van. The matter had a further messy twist.
Late-night on 14th November, armed men arriving at a house in Oddamavady 3, abducted five young Muslim men. While the Karuna group was suspected of having a hand, the Police think the abductors were from the Army. The complainants told the Police that they spoke Sinhalese. The Police did not report the matter to the courts until people from the area forced them to do it.
Strangely, those abducted too were linked to the security apparatus. They are: 1.) Issadeen Sabras (21), earlier Military Intelligence and later a Muslim militant under Kaleel above, besides a home guard paid by the Welikanda Police. 2.) Aboobucker Illyas (30), earlier Military Intelligence and then a home guard, who was shot by the Karuna group on 11th July and treated in Colombo 3.) Aboobucker Naufer, brother of Illyas 4.) Mohamed Aliyar Mohamed Riyas (22) and 5.) Illiyas Abdul Cader (18).
Further information from a good source threw some light on the muddle. After the division among armed Muslims, a section under Kaleel joined the same intelligence conglomerate created by the Defence Ministry, part of whose task was to promote Pillayan. The claymore mine was set off by the Kaleel faction. The abductions come in the context of the Army being patrons of the Karuna group. The victims have disappeared. It all adds up to a curious picture.
The Pillayan group is present in the north of the STF controlled area, up to the northern suburbs of Batticaloa town. South of Araiampathy and the Amparai District up to Pottuvil is Karuna’s area, though under the STF. JHU has an aggressive interest in Amparai and has tried to use the Karuna group to constrain the Muslims, the largest group in the District. North of Batticaloa the Karuna group is in all the army-controlled areas up to Mutur. Pillayan is present again in Trincomalee town, which is under navy control.
Kaleel has left his recent intelligence association and the local talk is that he is trying to go abroad. He was not seen for some time and reappeared recently and many including Muslims would like to see him arrested. That has not happened.
11th November 2007, Mavadichchenai, Valaichchenai: Nahur Lebbe Amir though not a militant himself was at the start a supporter of the newly emerging Muslim militants. Later he became critical of them and stopped lending them his vehicle. He was also a supporter of the SLMC. He received several warnings from Muslim militants. On this day two men in army uniform came to the house of Habib Kanganiar with their faces covered and asked for Amir. Those at home told them that Amir was not there. The two men threw a grenade and opened fire, killing Amir’s cousin Mustapha Lebbe Rismiya. Rismiya’s husband Mustapha Lebbe was injured. Also injured seriously was the 1½-year-old infant Siam Sharaf. Amir was in fact at home in hiding and saw what happened. He recognised one assailant as the Muslim militant named Rafai who had been threatening him. The Police took no action on this case.
12th January, Kattankudy: A Tamil shop owner Kanapathipillai Yogarajah (48) was shot dead at close quarters when at the end of day he was returning to his home in Selvanagar, Karabala Rd. at the border of the Muslim and Tamil areas to the south. A rumour took wing that he was killed by Muslims. Soon afterwards Shanthan of the Pillayan group opened fire on Muslim worshippers coming out of a mosque in Karabala nearby, injuring Moulawi Mohamed Fareed (38), Faizer (36), and M. Alavudeen (44).
Following the shooting a Hindu temple in the area was desecrated, according to local sources, by killing a cow and splattering its blood on the walls.
We learnt very reliably that Yogarajah was in fact killed by the intelligence services. Leading persons say that most of these incidents are manipulated by the intelligence services with a view to fomenting violence between Tamils and Muslims.
28th January 2008: Thuraiappah Thayaparan (29), of Komary, between Thirukkovil and Pottuvil. The victim had left the LTTE some time ago and was a family man having a shop near the Karuna group office. At noon on the previous day, two men thought to be from the LTTE followed on a motorcycle two Karuna men Sathees and Gajaruban from the Thirukkovil TMVP office who were returning to Thirukkovil from Pottuvil, and shot them dead at Oorani. On the night of the 28th Thayaparan was shot dead. In their anger it seems the Karuna group thought, mistakenly perhaps, that someone from Komari tipped off the LTTE of the passage of the two Karuna group members to Pottuvil. The road between Komary and Pottuvil is a lonely and desolate stretch, overlooking the LTTE’s jungle sanctuary to the west. It is also not unlikely that the LTTE keeps the road under observation, which requires only a powerful pair of binoculars. There are also other places on the route from which a tip off could have been given.
1st February 2008: Murugesan Parameswary (40), of Komary was the mother of three children. Her husband who was in the LTTE a long time ago was abroad. Karuna men with automatic weapons went to her home at nightfall and asked for her husband. When she told them that he was not there, they wanted her to go with them for an inquiry. A little later they shot her dead. This appears to be a reprisal killing connected to the previous one.
11th February 2007: Singarajah Suhithakumar (14), Kolavil, Alayadivembu, Akkaraipattu: The LTTE lying in ambush opened fire at an STF patrol going through the area about 11.00 AM killing one and injuring another. Witnesses testified that the STF caught hold of Suhithakumar, a student of Sithy Vinayagar School, assaulted him and shot him dead. Later in a round up the STF took away 50 persons including five children who had three days later not been released.
26th December 2007: Preman (21), of Irupalai was shot dead quite near his house in the afternoon. His father brother Kailanathan, an employee of the courts in Mannar and a pastor, said that Preman was not involved in any political activity and the family was at a loss to know why he was killed and whether it was a case of mistaken identity. His twin brother Haman was deeply traumatised. The family felt they could not live there any more and were thinking of moving to Mannar.
11th January 2008: Miss. Kavitha Shanmuganathan (20) of Alvai North, Karaveddy was riding her bicycle when two gunmen on a motorcycle followed her and shot her dead about 1.30 PM. According to local sources this incident is related to the one on 13th December when the Army conducted a cordon and search operation in Viyaparimoolai (Traders’ Corner) towards the sea from Alvai. About dawn on 13th December, two LTTE cadres hiding inside the ceiling of a house committed suicide injuring six others who were below. It is believed that Kavitha’s name transpired during interrogations and she was suspected of helping the youths hiding in the ceiling. Our sources believe the killing to be an intelligence operation where the actual killing was done by the EPDP, but covered by other operatives.
January 2008: EPDP and the Army: Two soldiers were riding their motorcycle on the wrong side of the coast road in Pt Pedro when they crashed into a civilian motorbike on the right side. The soldiers were very angry and confiscated the identity cards of several persons on the scene. These hapless men went to Pt Pedro army camp for the Ids. The Army directed them to the EPDP camp in Nelliady, where a man called Satish confronted them. Most of those going there had taken their wives and children along thinking it safer. Typically, Satish showed them his gun and told them that he had killed several persons with that very gun, but took pity on them because of their wives and children. He was going to spare them. He told them it was not safe for them to stay at home, and they should surrender at the Human Rights Commission in Jaffna and enter remand prison. He warned that this should not come in the papers. The EPDP then checked their homes to see if they had complied. For the men who had done nothing wrong, it made no sense for them to remand themselves while their families starved. This close working relationship between the EPDP and the state intelligence services in Jaffna throws further light on the cases of extortion described in Special Report No.28.
24th January 2008: S. Nadesapillai (61), Navatkadu, Varani, was the former chairman of the Kodikamam Multi Purpose Coop Society. Gunmen who arrived at his house on a motorcycle called out his name and shot him dead. He is the fourth coop chairman to be killed since mid-September 2006. This is in an area known for LTTE infiltration and it is suspected that the deceased may have been forced to help infiltrators. Our sources believe that the death resulted from information passed on. A number of people in that area, which has produced several educated persons, had been killed by the LTTE, including former Central College Principal Mr. Rajadurai, sometimes for dealing with the EPDP on public projects.
31st January and 1st February 2008: Balasundaram Baskaran (30), Dushyanthan Baleswary (21), who had two children, and Balasundaram Parthipan (19) were three siblings living near Cholaiamman Temple in Manthuvil. TamilNet reported: “The [armed men who came to their home at 8.00 PM], alleged to be members of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Field Bike Squad, surrounded the house, ordered the members of the family to go inside a room for inquiry and sprayed bullets on them, killing two, including a mother of two children while the children narrowly escaped from the bullets.” Parthipan succumbed to his injuries, the report said, due to the absence of timely medical attention.
The following, Friday, morning, 1st February, TamilNet reported that around 7:30 AM, a 24-year-old female, Sivarasa Suki, was shot and killed at her house located on Jaffna-Point Pedro-Kachchaay road and a 26-year-old male, Uthayan, was gunned down, ½ mile away, around 10:00 AM on Allarai-Kachchaay road in Kodikaamam. Suki, it said was shot dead by armed intruders in the presence of her mother who fainted and was later hospitalised.
Other sources in the area said that the deaths are as reported, but the actual story is different. Baleswary among the three siblings was married to a man with an LTTE connection. Once the Army started killing suspected civilians, the man fled to the Vanni. The Army came to know something of this and called Baleswary for an inquiry. Baleswary knowing that she was a potential target must have been frightened. In the course of things the Army became friendly with that household, who were besides in a poor area. The LTTE came to suspect that information provided by Baleswary’s household was the cause of certain persons being targeted by army-related death squads. It was LTTE gunmen who killed the three members of the family. The killings of the young man and woman the next morning were the work of an army-related death squad as a kind of reprisal.
All attacks on unarmed civilians are crimes that deserve the strongest condemnation and the LTTE had during the approach of Independence Day staged several attacks on civilian targets in the South. The bus bomb in Dambulla on 2nd February was followed by the suicide bomb at Fort Railway Station the next day, killing more than 30 in all. As much as the LTTE actions were atrocious, the Government has behaved no better. Having made the Tamil people terrified of speaking out, the government forces have been taking reprisals behind the glare of publicity given to LTTE atrocities. Such reactions to LTTE atrocities regularly raise the question, Are these Sri Lankan security forces or Sinhalese forces?
Killings reported to the courts in the Trincomalee Magistrate’s area dropped from 7 and 9 in 2007 August and September respectively to 1 each in December and January. Corresponding abductions dropped from 5 and 9 to 1 and 3. In February, until the 19th the courts have been informed of 8 abductions and 3 killings. All the latter are from Anbuvelipuram and in the first week of February. We see below that several incidents do not come to the courts.
Based on information from another source, the following abductions took place in the precincts of Trincomalee town from 1st to 23rd January:
A new spate of disappearances commenced on 28th January following LTTE attacks on Sinhalese civilians far away in the South and the coming of the 60th anniversary of independence on 4th February. The following took place within the Trincomalee Magistrate’s jurisdiction and there are very likely more. Note the vulnerability of areas like Anbuvelipuram, 6th Mile Post and Kappalthurai, which are close to Sinhalese settlements:
Cases of Missing Persons from outside Trincomalee Town
Govindasamy (55) of Menkamam: In Special Report No. 26 we said that Mr. Govindasamy, who was also the local RDS chairman, was killed on 2nd May 2007 by Tamil speaking paramilitaries. We have since received another version that the victim was actually killed by the LTTE because he had supplied the security forces with a list of people who returned after their displacement through Vakarai the previous year, and also of those who had been involved in the movement. Our new source says that every single family that had someone involved was harassed, and a number of people were killed. The source strongly maintained that the RDS president had supplied a list to the security forces and this was a reason for the source’s family, and for many other families in the area around Menkamam, to remain displaced or (in some cases of families who had returned) to become displaced again after continued harassment.
The new version of the story indicates that what seemed factual at one time may be misleading, and it is necessary to go on checking stories long after publication. Even if Mr. Govindasamy had supplied a list, it is unlikely to be out of simple malice. The security forces were killing remorselessly and it is conceivable that his own life was threatened.
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