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Chapter IX

 

DISAPPEARANCES FROM THE EASTERN PROVINCE

This commission inquired into 49 complaints of disappearances of persons from the Eastern Province.  46 of these incidents had occurred outside the province. These complete the inquiries into complaints from this Province which had been handed to this Commission for inquiry.

 Particulars of complaints from Eastern Province

Disappearance At

No. Summoned

No. Absent

No. Inquired

Anuradhapura

9

1

8

Polonnaruwa

19

8

11

Colombo

6

-

6

Kurunegala

1

1

-

Kandy

11

6

5

Batticaloa

3

0

3

Total

49

16

33*

A further analysis of the 33 complaints inquired into show that the number of disappearances in the Eastern Province had reached its peak in 1990 (see chart below.) 

CHRONOLOGY OF DISAPPEARANCES IN THE EASTERN PROVINCE

(Based on the 33 cases inquired into)

Year

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

Total

No. Disapp.

4

5

17

3

-

1

2

1

33

 

Month

No.Disapp.

June

12

August

2

September

1

October

2

Total 17*
   

*One of these was already inquired by the earlier Commission. 

 

Break up of the 33 complaints to the Disappearance of Persons from the Easter Province

(When, How many, By whom and Where)

*Already heard by the earlier Commission

The Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE had entered into peace talks in 1990, the break down of the talks in June, 1990 was followed by the LTTE attacks on the Police Stations in the Eastern Province, Killing a large number of policemen and abducting 600 who had disappeared since.  Twelve of the 17 disappearances during 1990 had taken place in June 1990.  From this the link between the failure of peace the talks between the Government and the LTTE and these disappearances is evident. 

Another feature of the cases inquired into from the Eastern Province was that these disappearances had taken place at check points, of persons detained or of those who had gone for work outside the Province.

A classification of the persons allegedly responsible for the disappearances in this area is set out below:

ALLEDGED PERSONS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DISAPPEARANCES IN THE EASTERN PROVINCE
(of the 33 inquired)

*Already inquired by the earlier Commission

The Citizen’s committee of Batticaloa brought to the notice of the Commission a large number of civilians who have disappeared from the Batticaloa District about whom no complaints have been lodged to any Commission yet.  The witness added that of the time there had been no institution in Batticaloa to which people could complain except the Citizen’s Committee.  He said the Citizen’s Committee meets the army regularly and was able to trace some missing persons in army custody after which persons were safe from disappearance.

Disappearances at the Hands of the Police

With the departure of the IPKF in June, 1990 the Sri Lankan forces attempted to re-assert its authority in the Eastern Province.  Of the thirteen incidents of disappearances which took place in June, 1990, ten had been at Horowpothana, Nine of these complaints were inquired into by this Commission.  They occurred at the time of the transition of authority.

Disappearances in June, 1990

The ten disappearances at Horowpothana had occurred in the context of the detention by the Horowpothana Police of persons who were on their way out of this Province in a bus from Trincomalee.

At that time there was a deterioration of the security situation in Trincomalee.

According to one witness.

“……there was a fear in Trincomalee that young boys are being taken by the army because on 20th June (1990) three policemen were shot dead by unknown gunmen at Madathady Junction, Trincomalee.”

Another witness stated as follows:

“My brother worked as a Restaurant Supervisor at Nilavely Beach Hotel.  My elder brother…..had received a letter through a tourist said to have been written by my brother at Horowpothana Police Station in June 1990.  It states “In Trinco problems started.  Day after day it increased.  I thought it will be over in a day or two but it was going from bad to worse.  So I decided to leave Nilaveli Beach Hotel and come to Colombo.  I waited for a chance all these days.  On 21st all the Tourists who were staying at our Hotel planned to leave for Colombo by bus.  I too joined them.  When we reached Horowpothana we were stopped by the Sri Lanka Army and taken to their custody.  After proper checking we were handed over to the Horowpothana Police Station.  Since 21st we were all staying at the Police Station.  But the tourists were asked to take another bus and they left immediately.  For the last 3 days I am at the above station.  Life is riskful.  I am scared.  Please help me Yours, Brother in Christ.”

This complainant brother of the restaurant supervisor had contacted the Kotahena Police who had checked with the OIC of the Horowpothana Police who had confirmed the detention of the passengers in the said bus but had stated that they had been released on 29.06.90.  since the corpus had not reached Colombo, an application for Habeas corpus had been filed in Colombo and the army field answer in Courts stating that they had handed over the passengers of the bus concerned to the Horowpothana Police.

Posted on 2003-06-15



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