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Chapter VIII

 

DISAPPEARANCES FROM THE JAFFNA DISTRICT

Complaints before the Commission  

AMONGST the 10,136 complaints left uninquired by the three previous Presidential Commissions on Disappearances, there were 442 complaints in respect of disappearances of persons residing in the Jaffna District. After the elimination of duplicates, the actual number of allegedly missing persons is 373. Of these, 369 fell within the mandated period of this Commission.

A perusal of the data shows that even though Commissions were appointed in 1995, and continued inquiries till September, 1997, complaints in respect of incidents in 1995, and  1996, had not been received by North-Eastern Commission (except one which was forwarded by the Government Agent, Jaffna).

A classification on the basis of the year in which the alleged incidents took place in the Northern Province is given below :-

Year

Total No. of Disappearances Handed for Inquiry by This Commission

Nearest percent

1987

04

1.1

1988

26

7.0

1989

22

5.9

1990

172

46.1

1991

57

15.3

1992

29

7.8

1993

36

9.6

1994

26

7.0

1995

-

-

1996

01

0.2

Total

373

 

It could be seen that 46% of the incidents had been in 1990 when 172 are alleged to have disappeared. There are no reported incidents of removals or disappearances in 1995, On the departure of the Indian Peace keeping Force in the middle of 1990 Jaffna peninsula was under the control of the LTTE up to the middle of 1995.[i] Government Forces took control of Jaffna thereafter. However, during the period after June 1990 to about the beginning if 1997, transport and communication between Jaffna and the rest of the country were erratic and continued to be poor. 

The sittings held by of this Commission in Jaffna in March, 1999 was the first time the Jaffna residents got an opportunity to attend inquiries in person, as the previous Presidential Commission appointed to inquire into disappearances in the North and East did not have sittings in the North.

This Commission’s first task was to find out the present whereabouts of complainants from the North as there have been large-scale displacements of people from the North since 1995. Therefore, before setting out to conduct inquires in Jaffna, this Commission made attempts to verify the present whereabouts of the complainants. The assistance of the ICRC and the Government Agent. Jaffna were enlisted in addition to letters being sent out to the complainants to check their whereabouts, Additionally notices were published in the Newspapers in Tamil, Sinhala and English[ii] requesting the complainants to contact this Commission Radio announcements to the same effect were also made Prior to the Commission’s visit to Jaffna, 144 complainants confirmed their present addresses in Jaffna. While another 38 informed us that they are living In other parts of the country The whereabouts of the remaining complainants were not known at the time we proceeded to Jaffna to inquire into the 144 complaints.

 

This Commission had sittings in Jaffna from 14th March, 1999 to 23rd March, 1999, Sittings were held at the Jaffna Secretariat, Kayst Pradesheeya Sabha office and the Point Pedro Pradesheeya Sabaha office ;  87 complaints were inquired into at Jaffna ;16  at Kayts and 23 at Point Pedro. It should be noted that the Jaffna queries include 16 cases where complainants turned up at the sittings though not summoned because their addresses were not known. There were 16 absentees. Consequently a total 1.36 complaints were inquired into while at Jaffna.

Data on Complaints Inquired in Jaffna

No. Complainants Summoned :-    

    144

No. Complainants Absent :- though summoned    

     16

No. Complainants Cancelled :- (Already heard)    

     08

No. Complainants Not Relevant :- 

     02

No. Complainants Not Within Mandate :-    

     02

No. Complainants present without Summons and inquired :-

     16

No. Complainants Inquired :-      

    136

(*The disappearances outside the North Province and those inquired else where, not included.)

After the Commission left Jaffna 21 from the complainants originally summoned have written to us giving their present addresses, these remain  to be inquired into.

Before the Commission went to Jaffna, the political parties with Members of Parliament representing the District of Jaffna were summoned before the Commission. They gave evidence on the background to the events in Jaffna which led to the incidents complained of. These witnesses also gave evidence regarding the problems faced by the people there at present.

The evidence of 24 Non-Governmental organizations working in the Jaffna District was recorded by this Commission in Jaffna.[iii]

The complaints before this Commission are examples of the changing circumstances in Jaffna over the years. Examples follow – In each of these incidents complainants described the manner in which the disappearances had taken place. They also referred to action taken by them to locate the missing persons and to inform the authorities concerned. This subsequent conduct bears testimony to the truth of their complaints.

(i) Abductions by and Disappearances from Army custody in and around Allipiddy from 25.08.1990 to 23.09.1990

This Commission received 31 complaints of disappearances which took place during the period 25th August, 1990 to 23rd September, 1990 in the areas in the vicinity of Allaipiddy, Of these, 17 were inquired into,

These abductions and disappearances had occurred when the Sri Lanka Army was moving to wards Jaffna in 1990 via Mandativu. On hearing of this Army movement several people had taken refuge at the following places in and around Allaipiddy.

(a) Philip Nery’s Church, Allaipiddy

(b) Shakthi Vinayagar kovil, Allaipiddy

(c) Kanapathipillayar Kovil, Mankumban

(d) Mankumban Maha Vidyalayam

(e) Mankumban Mosque

On its march to Mandativt the army had gone to these places of refuge and taken the able bodied amongst those who had taken refuge “to help the army to erect their camps” and “to show the way” While most of those who were taken for this purpose had returned, 25 of those from the Philip Nery’s Church and 10 others from the other places had disappeared. This is confirmed by the evidence that was led before this Commission.

Witness stated :

“When the army captured Allaipiddy I was staying at the Philip Nery’s Church, Allaipiddy. On the day when the army came to Allaipiddy, people from Mankumban and Chaty moved towards Allaipiddy. They all gathered in the compound of Philip Nery’s Church at Allaipiddy. By 10.00 a.m. the Army came near the Church. The Parish Priest and two Brothers welcomed the Army. At that time, the elders of the group were out side and the younger folks were inside the Church; With the help of the Parish priest the Army asked those who were inside the church to come out. When they came out, they separated them into two, divided without rationale. At that time there was a helicopter circling that place. It appeared that helicopter was there to hasten the work. The Officer asked those who were above 35 to get to one side and others to the other side. I went into the group of those who were over 35. Afterwards the soldiers came to the group of over 35 and picked some people and made them to proceed ahead of the Army to show the way to Mandativu from Allaipiddy. Only about four or 5 were left behind and the rest had been taken away. By afternoon some of those who went with the army returned, and they remained at the Church” 

“On  the following morning some people who were staying in the Mandativu camp were sent to rejoin us.  Now about 23 persons are missing from Mandativu”.

Witness before the Commission had learned from Returned Detainees who are not before the Commission that the persons taken to custody had been asked to do work such as cutting trees and making bunkers for the army at the Mandativu camp and that at the end 24 of them were missing.

A witness stated

“I know that it was the Gajaba Regiment that took this boy and the others from the Philip Nery’s Church.  It was the Gajaba Regiment that stayed in Mandativu.”

The evidence of other witnesses to the disappearances from the Philip Nery’s Church and the other places of refuge in and round Allaipiddy are on the same lines.  While there is some discrepancy as to the total number taken into custody from these places, all confirmed that the bulk of them were released later.  About 25 of those taken from The Philip Nery’s Church and about 10 others taken from the other places of refuge have disappeared.

Witnesses to these incidents who have testified before this Commission provide credible eyewitness evidence of abduction in each of these cases.  Among these witnesses were some who were taken into custody and released, one of them a Grama Niladhari and another a teacher, both taken into custody from the Philip Nery’s Church. As in other parts of the country, these Released Detainees are a valuable source of Information.

There is evidence that the Gajaba Regiment was involved in the operations in Mandativu, moving into Mandativu in the course of their operations to rescue the army personnel trapped in the Jaffna Fort.  These incidents of disappearances had occurred in this context.  This Commission’s attempts to get the names of the army personnel who participated in the said operation were however unsuccessful.[iv]

(ii) Disappearances by Navy

There were 20 complaints to disappearances at the hands of Navy.  Six complaints were made by fisher folk from the fishing villages in the outskirts of Jaffna  and Point Pedro.  The usual pattern was that the corpus is said to have gone to sea for fishing and never returned.  Complainants spoke of other fishermen who came ashore stating that Navy boats were seen shooting at sea and they believed that the Navy may have either shot these persons dead or captured them or that the boats had capsized.  At that time maritime fishing was limited to a specified distance from the coast.

The remaining 14 complaints of disappearances of persons allegedly at Naval hands have occurred while those persons were crossing the Kilaly lagoon  which had been declared a prohibited area by a Gazette notification in 1992.

While there is credible evidence in these cases that the disappearances referred to had taken place at the hands of the Navy,[v] the complainants could not give the names of the personnel involved.

The Sri Lanka Navy was on duty in the Northern seas throughout the period under consideration, with its base at Karainagar.  This Commission’s efforts to obtain the names of the personnel on duty at the time of these incidents was unsuccessful.  The Navy has provided the names of the officers in command of the respective naval establishment/detachment in the Northern waters during the relevant period.

(iii)Disappearances at the Hands of the IPKF

With the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord in 1987 the Indian Peace Keeping Force was in charge of the North and East of Sri Lanka.  In seven of the complaints inquired into at Jaffna allegations have been made against IPKF personnel as being responsible for the abductions and disappearances.

There was evidence in some of these cases that the disappeared person had been sighted in IPKF custody after abduction.  Examples follow:-

On 16.05.88 around 5 a.m. ‘X’ a 29 year old Grama Niladhari and his father had been taken into custody before witnesses from their home at Vethilaikerny, Mulliyan by about 25 uniformed IPKF soldiers.  The father who had been later released related to the Commission how throughout that night the father had heard his son crying in pain.  IN the morning the son was taken out and was never seen thereafter.  Prior to this arrest the LTTE had bombed a van carrying food for the IPKF.  This arrest is alleged to be in retaliation.

In another case there was evidence that on 27.10.89 one “A” was abducted by the IPKF in front of his house.  His sister went looking for him at the IPKF camp at the Parameshwara College Junction at Tirunelvely.  At the camp she had been told that he was in custody.  On the following day he had been taken to the IPKF camp at the Ashok Hotel in Jaffna.  IN November, 1989 the IPKF closed this camp and the man who was in custody had disappeared thereafter.

One MM, a 19 year old tailor was taken into custody along with seven others at a round up by the IPKF on 23.06.88 at Gurunagar.The complainant had spoken to Major General Kalkat at the IPKF camp at the Jaffna Police station on 29.06.88 MM last seen in the IPKF camp has since disappeared.

One N, who used to go from Jaffna to Chavakachcheri on business had set off on 14.08.88 to sell fancy goods at Chavakachcheri but never returned.   The complainant had inquired about him from the IPKF without success.  Complainant presumes that the IPKF who was responsible for a number of abductions and disappearances are responsible in this case too.  He has disappeared since then.

Another complainant stated –

“My 19 year old son who set out from KKS to go to Tellipalai Hospital on 02.01.1990 to get an injection has disappeared.  The hospital told me that my son, obtained the injection.  I fear that he was taken into custody by IPKF or some other armed group working with the IPKF.  A returned detainee from the IPKF camp at Ariyakulam had seen my son in detention at that camp.  I do not know the present whereabouts of this man”.

Thus it could be seen that the disappearance at the IPKF hands fall into three categories.

1.The IPKF begin in full control of Jaffna during the period 1987 to 1990 and as they were manning the check points Jaffna, when any person went missing, there was a common perception that the IPKF had abducted and detained such person.

2.This category if that of persons who after being taken into custody in a rounding up by the IPKF had disappeared thereafter.

3.The third category is disappearances following abduction by an armed group such as the EPRLF which was working in collaboration with the IPKF.  While the perpetrator was the Armed Group, the witnesses’ perception was that the hierarchy of power that led to the arrest/abduction was the power emanating from the collaboration with the IPKF.  For instance a witness stated:

“I went to the IPKF camp at the Ashok Hotel in Jaffna where the EPRLF was also there.  I did not write to anyone else.  IN August 1988 there was no Police Station in Jaffna.  During that period Sri Lanka Army was also not there.  Nor were there any LTTE camps.  The EPORLF armed group was functioning at that time side by side with the IPKF.  There were several checkpoints.  Many persons like my son went missing during that period.”

(iv)Disappearances at LTTE hands

 

This Commission inquired into ten complaints of disappearances at the hands of the LTTE.  All these incidents had taken place in 1989, except one that had taken place in the period 1990-1991.

 

In December 1989 a member of the EPRLF had been detained at the LTTE Camp in Kondavil.  The complainant who was the mother of the disappeared person stated –

“The person in-charge of the Kondavil camp stated that my son was in the camp and that he would be questioned and released”.

Later the EPRLF had informed her that her son had been killed while in LTTE custody.  The EPRLF had given her a calendar with the picture of those EPRLFn Members who had been killed and her son’s picture was also there as one of the martyrs.  She said that her son was a member of the EPRLF and that when the IPKF was in Jaffna he was close to them.  This incident of disappearance had taken place during the IPKF period. 

The remaining nine disappearances at the hands of the LTTE had taken place between January, 1990 to September 1991, a period when the IPKF was not there and the LTTE was engaged in an armed struggle to be in some control.[vi]

There is evidence that the LTTE had maintained detention and torture camps in Jaffna.  The public was aware of the existence of these camps.  For instance a witness in evidence stated to this Commission:

“LTTE armed youth had taken the persons so abducted to the Kondavil Detention Camp”.

There is eye-witness evidwence  to the disappearance of several persons after detention at the LTTE’s Detention Camp at Kondavil.  For Example -

A widowed complainant while giving evidence regarding here disappeared husband who was a manager of a co-operative society, stated as follows, “I followed him up to the LTTE Detention Camp at Kandavil.  They told me that as my husband had worked for the SLFP, they had to question him.  My husband was the SLFP Organizer of……, the SLFP is a legal Political party.  I continued to go to this camp for one year.  Then in March, 1992, some armed youth came in a mini bus and told me that they had given my husband the death penalty.”

Another witness stated that his son (now abroad) was an eyewitness to incidents at the Kondavil camp.

In another case, where a person from Chankanai was abducted in September, 1991 at Chankani, the witness to his detention at the LTTE detention camp at Kondavil stated as follows.  “We were told at the camp that my father was in custody.  That he was being questioned because he participated in SLFP rallies.”

The LTTE camp at Kondavil ceased to exist when the Sri Lanka Army captured Jaffna.

Another witness who gave evidence about the LTTE camp at Kondavil spoke as follows of the closure of this camp:-

“My husband and I went to the Kondavil camp on several occasions.  We were told that my son would be released after inquiry.  The camp was wound up on the LTTE force-marched all residents of the area.  They were asked to leave within one hour for Kaithady in Thenmaratchy.  On 18.04.96 the army advanced to Kaithady and we joined the forced exodus at the LTTE’s command.”

There is evidence of a LTTE torture camp at Vaddukottai Road, Sitthankerny.

The father of an LSSP youth leader who was abducted in September 1991 gave evidence of yet another LTTE torture chamber in Chankanai.

In another case a witness from Chankanai spoke of the LTTE torture chamber in Anaicottrai in 1991.

Another, a father whose son and daughter disappeared after abduction by the LTTE stated that he was himself abducted and detained at the Anaicottai torture chamber where he was tortured and questioned whether his children were connected to the EPRLF, PLOTE or TELO Organisation.  He added that he was photographed with a board depicting his prison number prior to his release from the Anaicottai camp.

With regard to the recording of complaints of disappearances during that period, witnesses stated that there were no police stations functioning in Jaffna, at the time these abductions took place.  The Grama Sevakas were functioning, but all the witnesses had this to say however.

“Grama Sevakas did not record complaints against the LTTE, for if they did so, the LTTE would kill them”.

Presidential Commissions to inquire into disappearances were appointed in November 1994 and became operative in January, 1995.   “When we heard of the appointment of Presidential Commissions to inquire into disappearance we wrote to it on 1st Feburary, 1995.”  In the instant cases the complainants had heard of the appointment of Presidential Commissions and had complained to it.  To what degree others affected knew of this appointment is unclear.

 

There were two complaints of Muslims disappearing after abduction and detention by LTTE in 1990.

One of the persons had been recruited to the Tamil National Army during the IPKF Period and had surrendered to the LTTE at their detention camp in the Housing Scheme at Gurunagar.  He was seen in LTTE custody up to July 1990. The mother who was the complainant said,

“For six months I saw my son in the custody of the LTTE boys.  During that time there were propaganda activities at which he was displayed.”

In October 1990 the Muslims of Jaffna were forcibly displaced. The Petitioner mother stated that prior to this displacement another son of hers, who used to visit the boy in custody, was abducted by the LTTE and detained at the Kondavil camp.  Both had disappeared after the forced exodus of the Muslims from Jaffna.  She had complained to the ICRC on 2nd February, 1994 (Complaint No.LKC 409.624).  This case provided very vivid evidence of the circumstances prior to the forced eviction of the Muslims from Jaffna.  Those who were members of the TNA had been invited by the LTTE to join them and such persons disappeared while under detention by the LTTE.

An LSSP youth leader was abducted by the LTTE in September 1991.

When the father sought to lodge a complaint, he was told by the Grama Sevaka to complain to the LTTE’s area leader’s office in the area Sithankerny.  The Grama Sevaka himself did not write down the complaint. The father went to the LTTE Headquarters at Kondavil.  The LTTE cadres there had said, “Go and report to N.M. Perera.”[vii].  After that the father had complained to the ICRC at Rakka Road, Jaffna.  The person who attended on him there had not written down his complaint. Instead he had said, “Report to the LTTE Police at the Old Park,Jaffna”The witness said he went to the ICRC because a Citizen’s Committee member had advised him to report to the ICRC and to the area leader of the LTTE as the Sri Lanka Police was not functioning in Jaffna then. This witness spoke of the pressures exerted on him to participate in LTTE activities.  He was a well-known LSSPer and a prominent Trade Unionist. In 1991 the LTTE had included his name in the list of speakers at its May Day Rally.  This had been done without his knowledge. This witness had not attended this meeting.  On 05.07.1991 the LTTE ordered all chief occupants of households to pay Rs 10,000 each to the organization before 10.08.1991. He said, “I did not pay”. The abduction of his son had taken place within a month thereafter.

On 30.05.1991 an undergraduate of the Jaffna University was abducted from the campus.  The Vice Chancellor had confirmed this abduction and had stated that an unknown group had abducted some undergraduates.  He had said that the University would conduct an inquiry and inform the complainant.  But nothing had been heard from the Vice Chancellor thereafter.  The body of this undergraduate was found on 15.05.1994. The petitioner father stated:-

“When I opened the door of my house in the morning, I saw the body of my son left in front of my house.  At that time anyone who was against the LTTE was punished in that manner.  There was no army or police in Jaffna at that time.  The LTTE was in full control of Jaffna then and there was nobody else.  There were so many bodies lying on the road during those days.”

The intolerance of dissent by the LTTE even of peaceful unarmed dissent, is clear.

A witness before the Commission stated as follows:

“The Army was not moving inside the civilian area and the Sri Lanka Police was also not functioning.  There was Lot of Militant Groups which were formed in Jaffna.  But in 1991 soon after 2nd Eelam War started in 1990 June 13th all the Militant groups were totally eliminated and the entire Peninsula was controlled by the LTTE.  They have their Military wing and their Police set up and their Intelligence Unit.   They had full authority to go house by house searching, taking people, and they had their own Detention Camps.

Then the LTTE was running the whole administration.  They were abducting people, there were a lot of disappearances, they had their torture camps.”

One prominent feature of the evidence before this commission is a continuing fear of the LTTE displayed by the witnesses.  For instance eyewitnesses to abductions who had contemporaneously informed the relatives of the persons so abducted that the abductors were from the LTTE, professed ignorance of the identity of the abductors when they came before the Presidential Commission in 1999.

Of the 30 disappearances following abduction at the hands of unknown persons inquired into by the Commission, the unwillingness on the part of witnesses to speak of the identity of the group involved, is in fact an indication of the identity of the group to be the LTTE.

(v)Disappearances at the Hands of Armed Groups other than the LTTE

The EPDP, the EPRLF, the PLOTE, and the TELO are some of the armed groups          other than the LTTE that had been operating in Jaffna at different times during the period relevant to this Commission.

Amongst the complaints inquired into in Jaffna were seven disappearances at hands of armed groups other than the LTTE.

In one of these cases inquired into there is credible material indicating that the armed group that abducted the person concerned was the EPRLF.

The corpus had gone on 27.10.1989 to visit his sister at Kudamavady,Thirunelvely.  The complainant had been told by his sister she identified theabductors to be from the EPRLF when the abduction occurred in front of her house.The complainer had gone to the EPRLF camp at the Parameshwara Junction at Thirunelvely.  At this camp she had been told that the corpus was in their custody and she could see him the next day.  However on the following day she was informed that he had been taken to the EPRLF camp at the Ashok Hotel in Jaffna.  This evidence of the complainant was corroborated by the evidence of her mother who stated that she too went to the Parameshwara camp and was told by one Rosa that her son was in custody in the camp.  She repeated the visits to the Ashok Hotel in Jaffna, which was the main camp of the EPRLF, for about 4 or 5 days.  On the last occasion when she went there she was asked to come with the identity card of the corpus issued in respect of his membership of a Boat Owners Association and to bring the six persons who had planned to go to India with the corpus.   When she went with the card and the witnesses, she had been told that her son was a good person and would be released.  However in November, 89 EPRLF camp at Ashok Hotel was closed down on the departure of the IPKF from Sri Lanka and the corpus never came back.

The remaining six cases were removals by unidentified armed groups in 1969/1990 during the IPKF period.

In one such case the corpus had been “Abducted by an armed squad at the Puttur Junction.”

In another, the corpus “had been abducted from her shop by an armed group”.

In yet another case the witness said as follows about the corpus who was an attendant at the Jaffna Hospital.  “On 12.02.1990 he went for work and did not return”. It came to light that “he had been abducted from the hospital by an armed group.”

The EPRLF was a group that was working along with the4 IPKF in Jaffna.  The evidence before the Commission is that the EPRLF operated freely during that period. Since the LTTE was not operating in Jaffna during this period, an inference may reasonably be drawn that the unknown group which is alleged to be responsible for this disappearance was the EPRLF.  Although none of the witnesses in this group of cases, named the EPRLF as the Group responsible for these abductions as there is no evidence that the IPKF did any of their operations incognito it could be inferred in the circumstances that the armed group that was responsible for these abductions and disappearances was the EPRLF.

(vi) Involuntary Disappearances at the hands of Unknown Persons

Amongst the complaints of abductions and disappearances inquired into in the Jaffna District, there were 23 complaints of such incidents at the hands of unknown persons.  A perusal of the complaints show that these disappearances had taken place during the period from 1989 to 1992 as could be seen from the chart below:-

1989

04

1990

11

1991

03

1992

05

Total

23

It is apparent that the largest number of disappearances at the hands of unknown persons had taken place in 1990 which was the period when the IPKF left and the LTTE took over Jaffna.  A study of the circumstances of these disappearances show that most of them had left their residence to go either to their place of work or elsewhere and never returned.  There is no evidence in them either about the exact place at which they had been abducted or by whom they had been taken.  There is no evidence to indicate that the IPKF carried out operations incognito  So it would be reasonable to presume  that this category of disappearances had been perpetrated by some group other than the IPKF.

The witnesses who came before this Commission to give evidence of these disappearances merely stated that the corpus left home either for work or to go to some place and that nothing was heard of such person thereafter. They had then inquired at the detention camps in the area and had not been able to get any information. It is difficult for one to come to a conclusion as to where, how and by whom there disappearances could have been caused.

Of this group of 23 disappearances referred to, only 18 had taken place within the Jaffna Peninsula. They are as follows :-

     

  Nallur 

     01

  Chavakachcheri    

     02

  Nelliady  

     01

  Jaffna Town 

     02

  Anaipanthy   

     01

  Araly      

     01

  Karampan 

     02

  Maruthankerny  

     02

  Saravanai     

     02

  Kollankaladdy 

     01

  Chunnakam 

     01

  Mallakam                                                       

     01

  Thaieddy    

     01

      Total    

     18

                                                    

Among the complaints of this category inquired into at Jaffna, there is one where the complainants had received a telephone message that the corpus had left India by boat to come to Jaffna and that he never arrived.  The complainant was the sister of the corpus whose parents are living in Canada.

In another case the corpus living at Maruthankerny had left for work at Elephant Pass, which is two miles away from his home.  He had never returned home.  There had been fighting between the army and the LTTE at that time and the presumption is that he may have got caught in the crossfire.

The remaining 5 of the 23 disappearances of this category were of permanent residents of Jaffna.  These disappearances had taken place outside Jaffna though the complainants are still residing in Jaffna and were summoned for inquiry during the Jaffna Sessions.

While the fact of involuntary disappearances in these cases have been established there is no evidence of the places of incident or the persons who were responsible for these disappearances.

(viii) Complaints of Disappearance of Jaffna Residents in Other parts of Sri Lanka but Inquired at Jaffna

These cases which also exemplify the prevalent circumstances are analyzed here, while they are reflected in the statistical data of the District of Disappearance.

Representations were made to this Commission regarding the abduction and subsequent disappearance of the under mentioned persons, all natives of Chavakachcheri, Jaffna, from a private boarding house in Kandy on 13th July 1990,by unidentified persons dressed in Army type uniforms, allegedly Army personnel.  A close relative of each of the victims appeared before the Commission and gave evidence.

All these five persons, first year engineering students at the Technical College Kandy were boarded at a house in Aruppala Road, Kandy with the prior approval Principal Technical College.

On 13.07.90  at about 10.30- p.m. three persons dressed in Army type uniform had searched the house with  the owner’s consent, and asked him whether there were any outsiders.  He had replied that there were five boarders and that they were all students.  These students were taken for questioning and they had not returned thereafter.

On the following day too at about 10.30 p.m., four persons dressed in black trousers and Army type shirts called as before and identified themselves as Army personnel.  Two of them were identified by the occupants as those who came on the previous night.  As directed by these two persons all the belongings of the disappeared students including their books, clothing, and 2 gold rings were handed to them.  Those persons had stated that the students had been taken to Colombo and would be thereafter handed over to their parents.

The petitioners had managed to file Habeas Corpus Applications in the Court of Appeal at Colombo with the assistance of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in respect of three of the disappeared persons.  Wherever possible the parents of the victims had informed persons in authority about these abductions.

Their evidence reveals the obstacles they faced –

“We field a Habeas Corpus application in the Court of Appeal.  The Bar Association’s Human Rights Committee helped us to file the case.  The cases were postponed several times up to 1997.  After 1997 we have not heard anything. We have received information that these cases have been transferred to the Chief Magistrate Colombo for hearing.  Due to non-availability of transport I could not travel to Colombo, but Mrs. M. went every month by flight in connection with the case of her son R HCA No.290/94.  Mrs. M has given evidence before the Magistrate in respect of her son, I do not know what has happened in my case.  This is the first time I have has opportunity to give evidence.”

“I wrote to the Presidential Commission on the Involuntary Removal of Persons appointed by President Premadasa.  I stayed for one month in S. Lodge at Bambalapitiya Colombo 4 in order to submit papers to that Commission.  That Commission by its letter of 15.03.99 stated that as the incident of abduction of my son P had taken place prior to 11.01.91, the Commission is unable to take action in the matter, as it does not come within its terms of reference.  I was very frustrated and sad, as the Commission could not look into the matter in 1991. What was the use of appointing a Commission and preventing it looking at an incident which had happened one short year earlier?”

“My Son and other boys has only recently gone to Kandy.  They were freshers at the Technical College.  They were happy in their studies and in their place of residence.  They told us the place was very peaceful.  At that time, President Premadasa and the L.T.T.E. were having talks in Colombo.  In May 1990 as part of the ragging of freshers (freshmen) my son and his friends had been severely ragged. They made no complaint to us, but I heard that some senior students at the Technical College in order to save my son and his friends from further ragging had said that they are Tigers, be careful.  There was no significance in such remarks at that time when the L.T.T.E. and the President were having a good relationship.  But I do not know whether in July 1990, at a time when those talks broken down, such remarks were given a sinister interpretation and led to the arrest of my son and others.”

“We can tolerate an arrest on suspicion but I must say from the bottom of my heart if they held an impartial inquiry and had inquired from their teachers, neighbours, church, pastors and others who knew them well they could have learnt that my boy and others were not involved in any illegal subversive activities.  What I and other mothers find intolerable is the fact that no such inquiry had been made.”


[i] IPKF took over Jaffna under the Indo Lanka Peace Accord of 1987.

[ii] For copies of the Newspaper clipping see Annex XII

[iii] See List of NGO at Annex X and also separate chapter on Evidence of NGO’s and Special

[iv] Vide Annex XIII for the particulars of the correspondence with the Army Commander on this matter.

[v] Vide letter NO. NAHA/SCA/A/602 of 01/06/99 from the Sri Lanka Navy at Annex XIII(a)

[vi] This was the period of the LTTE assassinations of elected representatives.

[vii] Dr. N. M. Perera was the President of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party.

Posted on 2003-06-15



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