Yes, Sri Lanka is a tortured nation in which the Tamil community, in the process of its struggle against ethnic oppression, has legitimised and institutionalised torture and killing to such an extent, that the cadres in various groups today are brutalised. It is imperative that these cadres and the community at large need to go through a rehabilitation process. In the late seventies when the youth were protesting against discrimination, large numbers of youths were arbitrarily arrested and tortured by the Sri Lankan security forces. This combined with the 83 July holocaust, had forced many of them to join various militant movements. Each and every group in its name has the term Liberation, but today it is void of content and meaningless. After the 1983 riots the involvement of India led to a massive recruitment drive and various groups became big organisations with thousands of trained cadres. The LTTE which from the beginning articulated a politics of physical annihilation for any one deviating from their own perspective, had taken the cue from the TULF leaderships notion of “ traitor to the cause” to its extreme logical conclusion. This led to internal killings as well as killings of individuals outside the organisation, without any inhibition.
The other groups who criticised the Tiger politics and talked about mass politics had some basic democratic structures in the early stages. But after they had begun to develop as big military units they were confronted with various problems even among their own ranks, since neither organisationally nor politically did they have the ability democratically to handle the problems which cropped up among their cadres. Naturally this led to internal killings and torture based on paranoia and suspicion. The level of this degeneration led PLOTE and TELO into large-scale systematic torture, which was documented to some extent by the cadres who had escaped. Due to internecine strife between the groups and internal repression, for which LTTE, PLOTE, and TELO were famous, a large number of cadres were killed.
The organisations which were trying to maintain some democratic norms were faced with manifold problems and pressures. On the one hand the LTTE, which belittled all forms of mass struggle, concentrated only on a destructive military approach which determined the phases of the struggle, to the disillusion of others. On the other hand their notion of people and the contempt they had for them, allowed LTTE to concentrate on military activities without looking into the dire consequences. It effectively kept its cadres under a blind faith, and by the nature of its tightly- knit organisational structure annihilated all dissent physically from the start. Every member becomes an incendiary matter. The whole personality becomes devoid of any meaning without the organisation. The people who have some potential to sustain their own personalities are being watched and disposed of or assigned roles which can be utilised for the benefit of the organisation without their being a nuisance. [Top]
The following facts about the Green boat came to light after certain top ranking members left the movement, which would explain a lot about the characteristics of the LTTE. During the training period in India the cadres were monitored attentively. The cadres who had the potential to decide what is right and wrong on their own and who had the rebellious tendency to act by themselves, were identified or marked as a potential threat to the movement in the future. After finishing the training all the trained cadres were sent to the North and East of Sri Lanka in several boats. Those who had been identified or marked as “potential threat” were made to travel in the green boat. Thus those who enjoyed the “Green boat ride” never reached the shore. In the middle of the sea their destiny was decided. After killing them, the bodies with their stomachs slit open are thrown in to the water. [Top]
Although the Tigers had banned the other organisations after killing large numbers of the cadres, there were some who were able to escape from them. The process of hunting the remaining cadres is still going on. Those who get caught by the LTTE are being tortured brutally in order to get certain internal information about the movements which they earlier belonged to. After the IPKF withdrawal i.e. with the commencement of peace negotiations with the Sri Lankan government, the arrests have been on the increase. Some boys who sought refuge in Colombo were taken to Jaffna with the connivance of the Sri Lankan security forces, on the basis that they belonged to certain movements which were banned earlier by the LTTE. Similarly the prisoners from Jaffna were taken to the famous camp in Thunnukai, passing the Elephant pass camp which is manned by the Sri Lankan forces. The number of prisoners now in captivity under the Tigers ranges from 2000 to 6000, according to various sources. But reliable estimates put the number in between 3000 to 4000. The brutal manner in which the LTTE torture the prisoners, using young boys who are even below the age of 16 to torture them, in the underground bunkers, and the sadistic nature of the boys who are involved in this dastardly act bring out the true colour of the nature of the struggle.
It is sad enough to note that neither responsible organisations nor religious institutions such as churches have raised these things with the LTTE. Some Church dignitaries who go abroad and speak about justice to the Tamil people, and some leading intellectuals from the expatriate community who are the apologists for the LTTE never ponder why these things are happening in the midst of a liberation struggle. They will pretend that nothing of the sort is happening, or brush these practices aside as minor mistakes. When concerned people do raise these types of issues, they get offended and accuse them of weakening or tarnishing the struggle by exposing these things. But the people who defend the LTTE in this way do not understand that if they say that the truth weakens the struggle, then it by all means is not a healthy one. Indeed it must be a weak struggle!.
Here below we give some excerpts from the affidavits of an escapee to highlight the gruesome reality which prevails in the Tiger prisons:
.......” The following morning they took me to wash my face. Around 8 o‘clock a tall man who came in a white van, having talked to Pon master, ordered me to get into the van and asked me to lie on my chest in a threatening voice. When I got in to the van there was another person already lying like that. After a fifteen-minute drive, the van stopped. They took us into a beautiful house with upstairs. The house was so roomy, that, I could count nearly 10 rooms when I was entering. They locked me in a room where another l5 persons were already detained.
For about two hours no one spoke to me. Then I started the conversation and asked when they all had got arrested?. They gave various dates. It varied from 5 to l0 days. When I asked them about the location of the place where we were staying, they said they also did not know the place but that they hear the sound of a temple bell ringing very often. Since Nallur Temple festival was going on at that time we assumed that we were kept some where near Nallur.....
At about 3.00 PM a boy of nearly fifteen years old came with a gun and asked whether any of us wanted to ease ourselves. He took us two by two and warned us that if any body tried to escape that persons head would be blown up. There were nearly 50 Tiger who cadres were staying in that house at that time.
At about 5clock somebody came and took me to a room where the tall person who had brought me was.
As soon as he saw me, he asked me in an angry voice from whom I had purchased the van and where the driver was, and insisted that I give all the details about him. I did....... After that he started to beat me with a big baton saying, “where the hell were you all hiding without getting into our hands?. Later they put me again in the same room.......
......There were about 10 boys aged l5 to l8. All of them were armed with big batons. After finding out our names and other details they locked us in a room where there were already another 30 prisoners. It is a l0 X l0 sqft room. All of them had been brought in, within the interval of one to two months. They all advised me to tell what ever I knew and warned that if I did not, the Tigers will send me to the ‘butcher’s shop’ from where nobody ever returns.
On the 2nd morning at about 11 o‘clock some one entered the room shouting with rage and asking, “Who the hell is that TELO bastard R!” From the day I entered they have given me a number and they didn’t use my name. But this time they called me by my name and took me to a pillar and tied me to it. I saw the driver lying motionless on the floor nude. I saw injuries all over his body due to severe baton beatings. There were four boys, armed with batons. I am pretty certain that they were less than l5 years old. They told me that the driver was dead, and started to beat me, asking several questions such as, how many people I have killed and where I have kept my arms, how many houses I robbed etc. etc. I pleaded that I never had been involved in any of those activities. But my words fell on deaf years. They continued to beat me until I became unconscious.......
.........On the 3rd morning they took me again and told me that the driver had confessed everything. “Look what happened to the driver. The same thing will happen to you if you dont tell the truth” One of them inserted quite a big piece of wood in to my mouth and the rest laughed at me. They went on torturing me and asked all the details of my family, including the names and addresses of my relatives. They prepared a thirty page statement comprising all other details of the TELO organisation, the role I played, the names of other members and so on. There was a boy by the name of Kauthaman from Trincomale who took the statement.........
In that prison we were allowed to answer the call of nature twice a day both in the morning and in the evening. On and off, 15 year-old boys came and assaulted us with big batons...
On the 10th morning they called all the prisoners from all the rooms, who were not chained. There were 35 people who were not chained up to that time.... They asked us to stand in a line and started to blindfold us. Ten by ten, we were taken to another place. They chained our legs with a chain made out of six heavy metal balls, (normally this type of chain is used for lorry doors) using gas welding. At about 3 oclock they brought us back to the previous place. After they blindfolded us again, they asked us to get into a big van holding the sarong of the person in front of the each one. After nearly two hours of journey, the van stopped at a place. It looks, as if we have travelled about 20 miles from the speed and the time it took.... [Top]
It was inside a big coconut estate in an isolated location. There was a big house. Adjacent to that there was a shed, about 30ft width, 10ft length and 8ft height. That was divided into three portions. The side was covered with a closely knitted fence made of wire mesh. Around that another fence made of curly wire mesh. Then again another fence made of the same wire mesh as that of the first one. There was a steel gate for that shed and it was locked with a padlock. From the rafters around that shed about 10 prisoners were hanging with Nylon ropes tied to their hands. They were all naked. Only the chains around the legs remained. There were about 30 people inside the shed. There was an open toilet and we all had to use it in front of all the others. All 30 prisoners looked like hunters in the jungles with long beards and hair. It was a terrible scene. After I eased my self I went back to the old house.
All the 35 of us were taken to the Shed. At about 5 PM, we were put in to one section which was 10 X 10 sq ft area. After we had some porridge, we were allowed to sleep. All were chained again and there was hardly any space to stretch ourselves.
If any one talks in his sleep, the following day morning they will ask who it was; we may not know who made that noise, as all were fast asleep. If nobody admitted we will all be called out and get beaten. If any body accepts then he will be asked to roll on the ground for hours in the hot sun. If any body had a loose motion in the night he had to sleep until the morning....
Second day of our detention: Around 8 o‘ clock in the morning one of the detainees was asked to bring 20 chairs and a table as well. About 20 people came.... They called the prisoners by name and started the interrogation. Some of the detainees were forced to lie down on the ground, and water was poured on their faces. Some of them got beaten mercilessly. They were pleading with them not to beat them. They were all screaming in pain and called all the gods and started praying for an end to their sufferings. Others were hung on the rafters, their hands were tied together with nylon ropes and their toes were allowed just to touch the ground. Up to 11 am the barbaric tortures went on. After that we were all put back in the cell where we were given porridge without salt and boiled beetroot water. At 5pm we were again chained together.
....There is a bed made of a cement slab which is kept in a slanted position. Its width is 4ft and length is 7ft. There is a chain fixed on to it permanently. Each prisoner is made to sleep with his head downwards and the legs upwards while he is chained. This awkward posture reminds me of Jesus Christ on the cross. The prisoner’s chest is also tightened by a belt. Apart from the head, no other parts of the body can be moved. Then the face is covered with a thick towel. An LTTE boy holds down both sides of the towel with his legs and pours water on the face. At this point the prisoner cant breath and he screams. He is asked to tell the truth, and they insist on confirming their allegations. If any body is adamant, they will keep on pouring water. You can expect more than l0 buckets of water.
Keeping the prisoner in the same position they will roll a wooden roller with an iron bar inserted in it, from top to bottom all over the body. The roller may weigh about 300 lb. When they do that, bones will get cracked and the skin of the body will peel off.
There is a room, very small in size, like a tiny bathroom, even without ventilation holes. They will leave the prisoner in that room and send chilly smoke inside. If they don’t answer, the act will continue. The prisoner, who is fully naked, starts to cough and sometimes he bleeds. In additions to this, common tortures are rampant.
We have spent so many days there, going through this ordeal. On 01-09-90 at about 11am, we heard aerial bombing. Whenever the Tigers hear the sound of planes and helicopters, immediately they close the prison gate. That day also they did the same thing. A few minutes later a bomb fell near our prison building. We cried for help and called them to open our door. But all the guards had gone about 300 meters away. The next bomb fell on the old house and the wall was destroyed. The third bomb fell on our prison. I was thrown away. When this incident happened there were l52 detainees under their custody. During this bombing only 70 escaped. Even among them l7 got seriously wounded. When we started to run in fear of the next bout of bombing, Tigers caught us saying that we were trying to escape and tied us to palmyrah trees about 100 meters away. After some time we heard shooting noises near the prisons. Later only we realised that they had shot all the other prisoners who were badly wounded lying near the prison. At about 11 pm a tractor arrived on the scene. About sixteen of us who had sustained injuries were unconscious due to bleeding. They took them in the tractor. Later at 1am another two tractors came and all the 54 of us were taken to a place about 15 miles away. We were blindfolded again......
.... That was a quadrangular house. There were two big rooms and fourteen small rooms (cells). Each room had a steel gate. The big rooms were about 10x10 sq ft. The small rooms were about 7 x 2 sq ft and in that 2 x2 sq ft allocated for toilet usage. Those were dark rooms. From l0am to 3pm a bit of light will pierce through. They don’t open these rooms for months and the prisoners have long beards and hair with full of lice and they suffer from head ulcers. They dont get any medicine and the place stinks and it is unbearable.
Only a single meal of porridge was provided at 4’o clock everyday. That was our life. ..
.... If any body pleaded for food he would get beaten. After nearly three months of sufferings we were taken to a different place in December. Then they cut the chains, and forced us to do manual work. About 500 prisoners were involved in removing railway girders, sleepers, breaking stones all day and night with only a few hours of sleep. We were given only one cake of soap for a month. They used to give us white rice and dhal curry made of
1 1\2 kg of lentils for 150 people. Those who tried to escape were beaten and their legs have been broken and are permanently crippled. Still, I thought it is better to die or escape rather than go through this ordeal and I decided to escape. After spending four months there I managed to escape.
[This is a personal experience of a prisoner who escaped and who is now in safe hands. For the safety of his family, we have withheld the names and other information.] [Top]
Samaran, an escapee, from the LTTE’s detention camp, has related the horrifying experience he and the other detainees went through in the LTTE’s detention camps, especially in Thunnukai, in a booklet called “Psychos who love weapons”. The UTHR(J) has verified this account independently and through other sources and accepted the version given in that book as a true experience.
Here below we give some excerpts;
“ I was taken into custody by the LTTE for no tangible reason other than that they had received some anonymous petitions against me. I strongly feel that the brutal manner in which we, the detainees, were tortured should be brought to light . It is my duty to show the true colour of the LTTE to the innocent Tamils who still hold the LTTE in high esteem as freedom fighters, martyrs.. fighting for a cause etc...
..... Thus my life started in a very strange terrorised atmosphere. There were about l000 detainees. We were strictly told not talk to each other. Yet, somehow, in the absence of the guard’s watchful eye we used to share our grievances. We came to know later that the place where we were kept as captives, was Ex. M.P. Mr.Navaratnam’s house . More than hundred armed tigers were on sentry . The chains on our ankles were removed here.....
... Mr. Nadesu, a TULF stalwart and ex member of District Council also was with us. The LTTE was accusing him for giving a feast, when a tiger called Thumban,( who was notorious and has killed a number of innocent civilians) got killed by the IPKF, during the operation. . .. But Mr.Nadesu denies the allegation and claims that it is baseless...
There was an A/L school student attached to Skanthavarothaya College also with us. Tigers had found a photograph of him with an AK47 at his place. They were demanding the gun in the photo and accused him of having hidden it somewhere. But the student narrated his sad story in tears. That is this. Once he liked to take a photograph with a gun. So he borrowed a gun from a friend who was in a militant movement from his area and got a photo taken. Unfortunately the photo got into the hands of the LTTE and they arrested him...
...six employees who were working at the mortuary of Jaffna Teaching Hospital were also with us. They were arrested on the basis that, they were not helpful to the LTTE when they were trying to take the six dead bodies of the LTTE men in the mortuary during the IPKF operation....
.. The Tiger who is in charge of Charles detention camp is a “Psycho”. Some times he used to act fanatically. He hardly spoke anything except obscene language. He assaulted me several times. He enjoys beating the detainees. When the detainees scream he sadistically enjoys the scream of the tortured detainees.
He puts about hundreds of prisoners in a tiny room (10’X 12’) and shuts them in. Later he chooses 10 of them and chains them in a strange way, ie: right leg with the left hand and left leg with the right hand and asked them to walk and he enjoys the suffering. While he tortures the prisoners, he mocks at them and laughs. While he assaults us with cables and batons he asked whether we had allowed our mothers to flirt with the IPKF (in obscene language). He keeps on saying that he won‘t get any sleep unless he breaks somebody’s head and then begins to attack the detainees with big batons....
.... when we were in the prison we were totally cut off from the world outside. We had no idea about day and night. In short we were completely in the world of darkness....
.... One of the LTTE cadres, said that we all will be released soon. One night 200 detainees’ names were read out including mine. Two prisoners were chained to each other. My partner was an old man of about sixty years. We were chained together. After chaining us, they asked us to get into three different lorries. In each lorry about 65 detainees were put. The lorries were fully covered and we found hardly any space to let the air come in. As a result of this we felt rather suffocated and thirsty. After about a 45 minute wait the lorries started off. We thought we were taken for our release. Through the conversations we realised that we were going through Elephant Pass army check point and the LTTE did not have any problem as the army was having a cordial relationship with the Tigers at that time. About two hours later we reached a place which was illuminated with powerful bulbs. It was actually a ground with two big buildings. There were hundreds of LTTE cadres moving around without arms.
We were under the impression that we were going to be released. But after we reached that place we felt rather disappointed. We were led into one of the buildings, where lots of detainees were sleeping escorted by hundreds of LTTE’s armed cadres. The whole place was stinking and we could not stand the smell. We were asked to lie down. For us, lying down was impossible as we were chained to each other. My partner, the old man, fainted in the lorry because of suffocation . After we came here, we sprinkled water on his face and brought him to his normal senses. The old man was in tears. The whole atmosphere terrorised us. We felt the fear of death. We could not sleep at all.
.. They allow the detainees l00 by 100 in a row to defecate at a time. Only two minutes are given. If a detainee can’t finish within two minutes he is sure to get beaten up. We were asked to wash with water given in a condensed milk tin and that’s all for the whole day. No one can defecate more than once. If a detainee gets diarrhoea, he is allowed twice. The camp was fenced with barbed wire. A group of 300 armed men were guarding the place. There were 30 Tigers with out arms inside the camp, always keeping an eye on the detainees. The camp was fortified with 8 security posts made of sand bags with heavy arms and two LTTE armed men in each of these. In addition to this there were 12 other security posts surrounding the camp. Guns from these posts are always aimed towards the camp.
Inside the premises we were not allowed to go to a side of the camp. There were tunnel like trenches about 15 -20 deep with heavy logs covered. Prisoners were kept inside these deep trenches. Prisoners were sent inside with the help of ropes.
Since the bunker is closed, there is no ventilation at all. No lights either. Prisoners were given a bottle to use to pass urine. The plight of the detainees who undergo this type of punishment can’t be expressed in words. At night LTTE cadres who are on duty, staying on the logs of the roof urinate on the detainees, sometimes they drop frogs into the trenches. In additions to this they put a huge snake - python into the trench. Then the prisoners scream in fear in the dark not knowing what it is. On hearing the scream the LTTE cadres on duty have a hearty laugh and enjoy it sadistically. When the LTTE cadres torture my fellow human beings my blood boils with anger.
Upto my escape, to my knowledge about five prisoners had become insane due to severe head injuries as well as the trauma they went through during the torture sessions. But they were tortured more cruelly than earlier because it was thought that they were only pretending to be mad...” [Top]
The following information might throw some light on the kind of people who are detained at Thunnukkai as traitors:
A fishmonger from Myliddy, who is a father of five is detained in the LTTE torture chambers for having sold fish to the IPKF.
A Sinhalese who had strayed into the North when he was pursued by the Sri Lankan police, is now being kept in Thunnukai and tortured on the suspicion that he was a JVPer and a Sinhala spy.
Another young man from Gurunagar has been arrested for having purchased a vehicle from the brother of an EPRLF member. The one who sold the vehicle [his own] escaped to the South since he also was searched for by the LTTE.
Babu from Palaly has been taken in for having purchased things once used by the EPRLF. A man who had a shop close to the IPKF camp at Palaly was arrested on the allegation that he had sold things such as radios, TVs etc to IPKF personnel.
Many commodities are scarce in Jaffna today. It has become a common practice among the people to earn their living by purchasing these things in Vavuniya and selling them in Jaffna. People undergo a lot of hardship to do this. When three young boys of hill country origin involved in such activity once came to Jaffna for trading, they were searched by the LTTE and asked as to what they were carrying in their bags. The youngest of the three, a twelve year old replied “Bristol” meaning “Bristol cigarettes”. The Tigers had mistakenly heard this as “pistol”. The other two boys told the Tigers that they were only carrying cigarettes and a few other items and not a pistol. But the Tigers were not convinced. Without checking any further, they hit the little boy and took him into their custody and demanded the pistol. This sounds unbelievable but such is the nature of the cadres who are delivering justice at gunpoint.
A ten year old boy was arrested for having sold the newspaper “Viduthalai” during the period when the North East Provincial council was functioning. This paper was published by the EPRLF when they were in power and was banned by the LTTE. Most of them who sold the paper were doing so for their livelihood and not because of any particular political affinity.
1984 - 85 was the period when all the movements in Jaffna were thriving and running various village level organisations to impress the people. Kanagaratnam of Stanley road, a principal of a college had been the head of a local Board which deals with family disputes at that time. He is being detained on the accusation that the EPRLF had helped in the activities of the above board during that period.
The owner of “Rolex” tea boutique of Jaffna Hospital road, has also been imprisoned. He had once been a supporter of the LTTE. Later when EPRLF was in power he had had links with it as any other businessman would have. Due to his past affiliation with the Tigers he had to play the game to survive. Today he is termed as a “traitor” by the LTTE.
A 70 year old man from Chulipuram who is fluent in English used to assist the villagers when they confront situations such as the need to visit the IPKF camps regarding release of their relatives etc. He visited the camp to translate their conversations as most of the IPKF officers were not Tamil speaking. This old man is also branded as a traitor and kept as a prisoner by the LTTE now.
Three mechanics who had repaired Provincial Council vehicles are also being detained. [Top]
After the war between the Indian army and the LTTE began,once again the people went through a bout of torture, killings and so on. The groups who were with the IPKF, especially EPRLF and ENDLF played a major role in arresting and torturing those suspected to be LTTE supporters. The IPKF was directly involved in torturing these detainees and at certain instances used the EPRLF cadres for that purpose. The Office of the EPRLF which was in the Ashok Hotel became famous for interrogation where torture was used as a means to get information. The ENDLF was notorious for its torture and in one incident they poked a coca cola bottle through the anus of a detainee and the rupture of the muscles led to the whole bottle being drawn into the body. The victim was left in the hospital and he miraculously escaped. The only consolation is that they did not kill him and dispose of the body without bringing him to the hospital. It is also important to note that all these groups were trained by retired Indian Army personnel in various places in India. Part of the training included methods of torture. [Top]
Today the two groups TELO and PLOTE are side by side fighting together with the Sri Lankan forces against the LTTE. We bring out certain features of these cadres and their plight to make their leaders re-evaluate the role they are playing at this juncture. The third group EPDP is also working with the state forces, but we are not dealing with any specific characteristic of their cadres due to lack of information, since their theatre of operation is in the islands in the North, which are inaccessible to us. But general features are the same in almost all the groups.
As we have mentioned in the earlier section, the people in the Eastern province are also harassed by the TELO cadres and people are not clear about the role played by these organisations. Large numbers of cadres have left these organisations with disillusionment and have gone abroad as refugees. Qualitatively there are no policy differences between these groups as none of them have any serious agenda. They are functioning as separate organisations simply because they have had different origins. One common feature among these groups is that most of the cadres are from the Eastern province. This shows that the cadres from the North have had avenues to go abroad. The Eastern province cadres have no avenue to leave as most of them came from poor backgrounds and do not have the means to go abroad. They do not have any clear political vision. They are not certain about their future. They are angry with the Tigers. They can not lead a normal civilian life without being hunted by the LTTE.
All these cadres are being treated by the army with much contempt. They are involved in many killings and robberies and are casual about them. When you talk to them you find that they will innocently come out with their degraded state.
In the Eastern province the LTTE is involved in extracting money from various people at gun point. The TELO boys are also involved in that activity. They have the simple logic that if the people can give it to Tigers because of fear, why can not they give us also? Even in Colombo there were incidents in which the organisations such as the ENDLF were involved in robbery.
These cadres are a frustrated lot without any political guidance and nowhere to go. They think their days are numbered and only want to take revenge.
The political reality is such that in our community nobody can preserve his or her sanity and at the same time try to contribute positively to the betterment of society. Since this will naturally lead him or her to raise questions about the overall politics, s\he will invariably fall into the catagory of dissident which will eventually lead her or him to fall into the group of traitors or ‘antisocial’ elements. The only way you can contribute, is to be subservient to the LTTE, which for any one who has a broader view about society is anathema. There is no room or space for those who are sincerely concerned about the society and who want to contribute politically in an independent manner. To be human is a challenge every one faces in a dehumanised social environment. But the challenge becomes so great in a narrow authoritarian political environment under the hegemony of the politics of destruction. That pressure leads all individuals and organisations, who may have had some broader perspective but did not have enough strength to withstand the onslaught, to a very degenerated level indeed.
Recently a PLOTE cadre who is out of the country described in gruesome detail the way in which they have killed people in Colombo itself. One of their old members who was in the Boosa prison, went and joined the ENDLF, a splinter group of PLOTE, after his release, soon after the INDO- SRI LANKA pact. He was second in command in the Kilinochi area in the heyday of ENDLF. He is alleged to have killed some PLOTE cadres who had refused to join the ENDLF. After the withdrawal of the IPKF he must have moved to Colombo. When the PLOT cadres including himself (the narrator) travelling with their military commander in a van in Colombo, accidentally saw the mentioned person in a shop they immediately took him into their van and on the way started to beat him up. Later when they reached an army check post they told him that they have arrested him by mistake and would release him after they passed the check point. They convinced him that they would release him and asked him to get down and cross the check point and to come to the other side. He had obliged and got into the van after they passed the check point. Later he was taken to the sea side and asked to tie a rock on himself. He queried whether they were going to kill him and without any resistance did as he was told. One of the colleagues chopped his head with a knife and blood splashed every where. They dumped the body into the sea! The next day there was a news item in the paper that an unidentified body had reached the shore!.
The person who was relating the story did not have a qualm about the whole episode. He was cold and calm. More than that the way in which the victim accepted his fate without any resistance shows the frame of mind of these youths. He also related many other killings they had done for personal reasons.
When you talk to these cadres you find the emptiness they have and the frustration they undergo. They know that their days are numbered. They have a serious belief that they have come to the struggle to contribute much to society. They feel angry about every thing. They have severe contempt for the people. But there is no escape for them. Of course the leaders who reside in Colombo will come out with rational statements. But whether they are really concerned about the plight of their cadres, who have been brutalised and used by the army, with much contempt, is doubtful. The powerlessness coupled with lack of dignity has led them to behave as lumpens.
The time has come for all these groups who are claiming that they have now come into the democratic process to rethink their military role and the well-being of their cadres and to dissolve their military structures which have become a burden to them. After all these tragedies our society has gone through, if this leadership can not re-evaluate their past and are unable to come out of it, then history will never pardon them.
It is a sad fact that the segment which does not have any avenue for social mobility is being trapped in this destructive political culture. The politics is not going to give any substantial leverage for them to come out of their poverty trap but can use them by creating illusions which in the end mean nothing to them.
The behaviour of the TELO cadres in the Eastern Province is despicable. It has become a pattern that has led the people even to complain to the army, and they in turn put all the blame on the TELO for any misconduct. Although the ENDLF is not involved in the current operation there are allegations about their involvement in robberies in Colombo as well as abduction of Sri Lankan Tamils in India for ransom collection.
Of course it is futile to analyze the behaviour of the cadres from different organisation without grasping the general malignancy which has enveloped the whole struggle. At a particular stage there were unhealthy tendencies which were reflected in every group. But in the process, instead of the unhealthy tendencies being marginalised the healthy tendencies were marginalised. Only the unhealthier tendency came to hegemony, and will take its course. We need to keep any healthy aspect remaining to recreate a new history. When we look at the wide spectrum from which the cadres joined the various movements and the sizeable number of them who were killed or tortured by the state forces and by the groups themselves, we can see the impact it has had on the community. Today when children are being drawn into the struggle and are even being used to torture others who have joined the struggle earlier, we see the level of degeneration. When large number of parents silently cry for their sons and daughters and have to keep the plight of their loved ones to themselves so that the LTTE will not turn their wrath on the rest of the family, they experience the torture at a different level.
Arbitrary killings, arrests and torture became routine first with the Sri Lankan army and then with the militants who meted out lamp post punishments and killed each other.Especially in the PLOTE,TELO,and LTTE, they tortured their own cadres. Later when the IPKF came the people went through a similar experience and now, the LTTE in the North and the Sri Lankan army in the East are delivering the next bout. Any one who lives near the Sri Lankan Army camps in the Eastern Province will tell you the awful screams they hear at nights (See Section 4.3). Is there any liberation for the people from this trauma? Unless our people begin to realise the worthiness of human life and come out of their shell to assert human dignity we have no hope. If they try to be selective in their condemnation of these dastardly acts and still have the ability to rationalise or ignore the sadistic sides, then we have to go a long way. We hope the religious institutions and other institutions which have a moral duty to give leadership to the people, will first remove their own blinkers in order to bring the people out of their tortured existence. [Top]
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