Government Forces Kill Eight Civilians--Justice Needed
The report that eight Tamil civilians, including three
teenagers, were deliberately shot at close range by police and
home guards at Tampalakamam on 1 February is deplorable.
We are calling on the Sri Lankan authorities to take all
necessary action to ensure those responsible are brought to
This incident is reminiscent of the killing by army and home
guards of 24 civilians, including 13 children, two years ago in
the same area and still the suspects have not been punished. It
is important that the alleged perpetrators are taken into custody
as quickly as possible so they are not able to intimidate
Among those killed in the latest incident were six people
attending a house warming party in a house near the police post
at Pokkuruni, a hamlet of Tampalakamam in Trincomalee District.
At about 6:30 a.m., around 20 police and home guards who appeared
drunk reportedly took the victims, including two brothers as
young as 13 and 17, inside the police post and shot them in the
compound. They later went from house to house and beat up
villagers. Soon after, two other villagers were killed near the
church at Puddukudiruppu, another hamlet of Tampalakamam.
Initially, the Kantalai police were apparently pressuring
families to sign statements claiming that those killed were
members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or that
they were killed by the LTTE, an armed opposition group fighting
for an independent state in the north and east of the country.
A report on national television news also stated that six
members of the LTTE were killed during a
"confrontation" at Tampalakamam. After an intervention
by high-ranking officials, however, the bodies were taken to
Trincomalee hospital where post-mortem examinations revealed that
all victims died as a result of shooting at close range.
The officer-in-charge of Kantalai police station reportedly
confirmed at a magisterial inquiry that police and home guards
were responsible for the killings. However, to Amnesty
International's knowledge, none of those alleged to be
responsible have been arrested. According to some reports, they
have been transferred to Kantalai police station where they
continue to be on active duty.
The inquest was scheduled to continue on 6 February. The
magistrate had reportedly indicated that an identification parade
would be held. Several witnesses claimed they could identify some
of those responsible.
Amnesty International is urging the authorities to ensure that
adequate compensation be granted to the relatives of the victims.
(Source: E-mail from Jim McDonald, Sri Lanka coordinator of
Amnesty International U.S.A., on 3 February 1998. For more
information on Amnesty's concerns in Sri Lanka, please visit http://www.amnesty.org
Posted on 1999-01-01