We include here further reports received after the earlier section was written and are intended to complement earlier ones. Information from badly affected areas is still scarce.
Kalmunai. About 20th June: Kalmunai was subject to aerial attacks from helicopters after the army made a `tactical' withdrawal on 16th June. A number of persons were killed. When the army re-entered Kalmunai a few days later, foreign journals quoting leading citizens said that 150 Tamils were killed and burnt in Tamil shops. Mr. Kanapathipillai, better known as Pandiyooran, who was head of the Kalmunai citizens' committee and known for his outspokenness, was associated with these reports. He was also outspoken in holding that boundary disputes resulting from encroachment of Tamil lands by Muslims landlords must be resolved. He is said to have had many enemies amongst the latter. Fearing for the safety of his sons,he had sent his two sons to shelter with a muslim friend, shortly before the government forces came in. The government forces, when they came in had with them local members of the Jihad, who had fled to Colombo in 1988. These persons were recognised in military uniform by a number of persons.
Kanapathipillai's two sons fell into the hands of government forces. They were seen being led around Kalmunai, with their hands linked by wires driven through holes made in their palms. They were asked to point out Tiger supporters and hiding places. Not having had much success, one son was shot dead publicly. The other who was badly beaten was taken to the fathers place which was ransacked. The father was taken away and the father with the remaining son have not been seen again. The previous day Kanapathipillai had telephoned a friend in Colombo with a desperate appeal: "They are simply taking our boys and are knifing ahooting and burning them. For God's sake do something!" With the disappearance of Pandiyooran Kanapathipillai, citizens' committees in the area were terror struck. Information virtually dried up.
The government's use of the Jihad created widespread anger against Muslims. Amongst the many Tamil youth assembled to be taken away for questioning in buses were 26 girls. 3 girls were released after some local Muslims protested to Jihad members standing there that the girls were nurses and nothing else. The following weeks were to see LTTE reprisals against Muslim targets.
The government too appeared to have no hesitation in fuelling communal hatred between Tamils and Muslims. The remarks by the Minister of Defence concerning the killing of 15 PLOTE members has been refereed to earlier. Here the minister had focussed attention away from the actual indefensible act of knifing and burning the detainees, to Muslim informants. In Kalmunai Tamil citizens eventually did contact an army official about the killings, the disappearance of the citizens' committee chief and burnings of premises, including a church building. The army official shifted most of the blame onto Muslims.
Trincomalee: We are not certain of the order of events, or how troubles broke out. It appears that the LTTE fired at an army convoy that refused orders to stop on 13th June. The LTTE then collected 10 policemen from Madaththady and 4 from Sirimapura and shot them. People were then asked to flee and were told that they would be given protection beyond the 3rd mile post. Many fled their homes towards Nilaweli. The LTTE too had pulled out of Trincomalee by the following morning. When the army came out of Fort Frederick, they killed and burnt a number of persons in Anna Nagar, adjoining the Fort. With the army came a number of Sinhalese, made refugees from 1987. With the coming of the IPKF Tamils took revenge against Sinhalese settlers who had lorded or over with Sri Lankan army help in earlier years, by burning Sinhalese premises. Now it was the turn of the Sinhalese.
In Trinco town itself there was not much killing. But there was widespread burning and looting by the army and by Sinhalese refugees.
A number of patients from the Trincomalee hospital adjoining Ann Nagar, were also pulled out and killed. Those killed were mostly patients who had sustained injuries or those who had themselves admitted out of fear.
Thought information is scarce the following incidents came to our notice. Mr. Subramaniam, a retired Colombo Municipal Council employee was living in Trincomalee with his expectant daughter. His son-in-law who was in Batticaloa and his daughter were pawn brokers. The daughter wanted to rejoin her husband after the troubles broke out. Subramaniam set out with her in the confidence that his age would guarantee immunity. Soldiers who stopped them asked the pregnant lady to proceed and took away the father. The father has since been missing.
On withdrawing from Trincomalee on 13th June, the LTTE quickly went to Nilaveli where a large number of refugees had gathered. It then pulled out from Nilaveli in the face of the army advance from the north and the south. Because the army advance was barely resisted, there was little damage at Sambaltivu. About 20 civilians including a man in his late 40's were taken away by the army from a refugee camp at Nilaveli. The family of this man had made repeated inquiries and his release, though promised, has not materialised. Nor was contact or verification permitted.
In early July, the army advanced on Thambalakaman which was under the control of the LTTE. Thinking that the advance would be resisted, a number of civilians sheltered in bunkers during the exchange of fire. Unknown to them the LTTE had made a sudden withdrawal and the army was upon them. The soldiers threw grenades into bunkers as they advanced, killing civilians. About 17 young civilian refugees were taken away from Konesar temple and a nearby school and are believed to have been killed.
An unspecified number of refugees, children amongst them, were taken by the army from St.Anthony's church in Mutur and the worst is believed concerning their fate. Some Muslims were reported killed subsequently in an apparent reprisal attack.
The Daily News of 16th June reported that 23 out of the 60 policemen in Kinniya were lined up and shot.
Siyambalanduwe, Moneragala District: Between 16th-20th June, 12 Tamils were burnt to death by thugs. One of them was a Tamil doctor married to a Sinhalese who was stationed at the 17th mile post. During the same period in Amparai, mobs killed 100 Tamil coolies who laboured in fields. They have been persistent and helpless victims of bouts of violence.
Colombo: Hundreds of Tamil boys were arrested shortly after the outbreak of war. Two boys arrested at Wellawatte were taken to Mahara prison, 6 miles north of Colombo and were left with Sinhalese prisoners. Their bodies were later handed over to relatives. The present practice appears to be that any Tamil person brought in on suspicion by the police will be locked up with whoever else is there - drug addicts, assorted maniacs etc. A typical example was that of a father and soon who crossed the road after dinner to buy some Indian sweets. At the best they would be released after someone identifies them, statements are recorded and police records are checked. The minimum time is two days.
In the case of the two boys killed, there was not even an inquiry. There has been no public campaign in Colombo against such blatant, but perhaps unintended, racism by the vast number of organisations concerned in such matters.
The East: See report by James Pringle from the Times of London in Appendix II.
Miscellaneous: About 20th June a van from Trincomalee was stopped at Horawapotana and 12 Tamil passengers were taken away by the army. A women passenger who screamed and refused to get out escaped because one of the three foreigners in the van claimed to be her husband. The following day 4 persons in Muslim attire travelling in a Lancer were stopped and detained, apparently for looking too closely at burning bodies nearby. The car and the van were subsequently seen for days at the police station. This incident was related to a Left party official by local villagers. The same official was told by a police sub-inspector in Anuradhapura that two bodies found burning near the Anuradhapura bus stand were those of Tamil boys found with cyanide capsules. In a number of instances rumours identifying Sinhalese persons killed as being Tigers cauht locally, were associated with the poliece.This happened in Kandy. In the Chilaw area, six bodies burnt were claimed to be those of Tigers caught in the Local Tamil village of Udappu. Two papers reported that six Tigers were killed while crossing the Kelani river boardering colombo. When official sources claimed that the dead were victims of a gang fight, the papers maintained that they had published the police version.
LATE REPORT: Massacre at Kattankudy, 3rd August 1990
The sunday Island of 5th August reported that 8.15 p.m., about 3o LTTE men arrived in Kattankudy in two wagons. They divided into two groups and simultaneously attacked Meera Jumma and Hussainiya mosques, firing automatics and throwing grenades. Over 120 Muslims, men and boys, were killed. Over 75 others were seriously wounded. Many of the victims were praying at the time of the incident. The attackers, some of whom were attired in military fatigues are believed to have escaped by boat. Brigade Commander (Batticaloa) A.N.U. Senviratne said that the army moved into Kattankudy from Araipattai and Kallady camps within fifteen minutes of the receipt of information. Responsibility for the massacre was denied by the LTTE.
We must admit shame that such crimes are a direct consequence of the intolerance, arrogance and hate that have come to characterise the dominant Tamil politics. To understand such phenomena, like the Anuradhapura massacre, this too has a historical process behind it. This in on way exonerated those responsible for killing.
We have noted in this report that there was a great deal of anger in the East against the government for its killing of several hundreds of young Tamils. We also have many instances where senior government functionaries have tried to deflect this anger onto Muslims. Official spokesmen have been quoted a number of times to the effect that Muslim youth had come forward to help government forces. [eg. Speech in Parliament by the Minister of Defence, 7th August]. The Eastern Tamil would have read this as saying that Muslims are aiding the killing of Tamil youth. The government could not have been naive about this. The policy of dividing Tamils and Muslims had been deliberately pursued since 1984. A senior Tamil government official from Batticaloa, a lady, had said a few days before the incident: "There is blatant discrimination here. Our young are being slaughtered. Nearly all the relief supplies that are sent are channelled to Muslims and Sinhalese. There is so much anger against Muslims that it is boiling over. An eruption can hardly be controlled". It is not possible for local Muslim officials by themselves to effect discrimination in the distribution of supplies, without the connivance of Colombo. Many expected something to happen, but the form it took, shocked them. The government's own intelligence could hardly have failed to detect the tense mood. A Muslim public servant from Kattankudy was very angry with the LTTE when he heard of the incident. After pondering the context over the next few days, he said that he was puzzled. He had heard from home that when the firing had started, Muslims ran for help to the army camp on the border of Kattankudy and the Tamil village of Araipattai 1 km away. The army said that the road would be mined and had taken 20-25 mins to get there. Rightly or wrongly Muslim villagers were left with the impression that the army had not acted as if they were on the alert. This led to rumours amongst the Muslim community. The SLMC leader Mr. Ashraff, said soon after the incident, "We are disappointed and disillusioned at the indifference shown by the government regarding the security of the Muslim community in the North-East province." He also urged the Muslims to remain calm and not to be provoked into violence. Ashraff had generally been sensitive to the sentiments of Tamils.
There was the other puzzling feature that in other areas under its control, the LTTE was actually releasing Muslim policemen under its custody. This was admitted officially. The Sinhalese policemen in its custody are not accounted for. The LTTE leadership was at some pains to show that it was not anti-Muslim. An attack on Muslims of a `genocidal' character would appear to be incongruous with this. Mr. Wijeratne, Minister of Defence, quoting in parliament a confidential intelligence report, said that the LTTE's Batticaloa leader Karuna had radioed the Jaffna High Command mid-night, 4th August, that his boys had fired at Sri Lanka-army trained Muslim youth at Kattankudy. He accused the LTTE top leadership of covering up, rather of than having pre-knowledge of the incident. This reminds us of the massacre of policemen who had surrendered in the East, about 11th June. The LTTE spokesman in Jaffna after denying it had later said that he could neither confirm nor deny it. The LTTE's top leadership could not have been blind to the diplomatic consequences of such massacres.
One must admit a strong possibility that the LTTE in the East is responding some what to local feelings and fears, rather than strictly to the aims of the leadership. One would have expected such a leadership crisis in an organisation which has downgraded politics and had treated dissent and opposition with ruthlessness.
Following this massacre there were reports of over 40 Muslim peasants being killed further south over the next two days. The reports added that a note tied to a corpse warned Muslims to vacate the area. This was an area in which reports coming in suggest that an unspecified number of Tamils had been abducted or killed. Together with the Kattankudy massacre, these later reports received much media publicity. Like earlier massacres of Tamils, a report by a TELO MP for the area that 40 Tamils had been killed, found a place only on the BBC's Tamil Service on 7th August. Such calculated partiality only serves to further alienate Tamil from the state and drive them towards dependence on India.
As one observer put it, the whole episode has a murky character reminiscent of the PLOTE invasion of the Maldives in 1988. One can be sure that the bizarre alliances of the Sri Lankan state has much to do with it. Its adoption of the LTTE in April 1989; its glee over the discomfiture of the SLMC when the LTTE attained control of the North-East; its giving its erstwhile ally, Israel, the boot in April 1990; Its wooing of the Muslims and the SLMC to crush the LTTE when relations with the latter broke down; and finally going to Iraq and Libya, Israel's arch enemies, for arms to fight the LTTE. The truth may be long coming, but it will surface. While the Sri Lankan state is tied up in knots, the LTTE has to look to the future with its own regrettable legacy. For the people of the East, there are bleak times ahead. [Top]
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