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Chapter X



                                         (MAP OF NORTH CENTRAL PROVINCE)

“We live in the middle of the country, but our areas are described as ‘Border Villages’ for we are the objects of attack in a contest for control of our area which is not of our making”.

Petitioners from war affected areas shown in the sketch above, chorused the sense of being victims of dispute external to themselves over and over again – whether the person lost was a Tamil, Sinhala or Muslim.

They spoke of amicable co-existence, of inter marriages, A woman in a Kandyan Saree, the epitome of Sinhala lady, turned out to be the petitioner mother appearing in respect of her disappeared son who in our file has a Tamil name, for her husband was a Tamil; and a woman draping her self in a Muslim attire appeared on behalf of a son whose file has a Sinhala name, for she was married to the brother of the woman in a Kandyan saree.

"Sinhala demala kiya bedayak ne. Api siyaludena ekata sitiye," says and old grandmother now blind and feeble left to bring up a new generation, the orphaned children of our son, abducted by the police and her second son killed by the LTTE.

“Soruvila is a mixed Tamil/Sinhala village.  We inter marry.  It is conflicts outside our particular world that caused there problems to us” lamented an elderly mother “now there are no men to work in our fields.”

Petitioners lamented the arbitrariness of the “Disappearances” (a word petitioners understood well to be a euphemism for “Death”.)

A mother speaking of the 1990 abduction by army of her son, one Vedenayagam a petitioner employed at the Mahaweli Project Sinhapura, and her elder sister’s son, Dissanayake, on the day after an LTTE attack on the Army Camp, voiced her feeling of injustice thus:

“Just because the participants in the attack on the Army Camp were Tamils, it doesn’t follow that we villagers who are Tamils are LTTEers.  On that logic all who are Sinhala should be killed as JVPers”.

The refrain of abductions/disappearances in retaliation for LTTE attacks on a near by Army Camp was incessant.

“22 including my husband were taken by Army from a ‘coming of age ceremony’ in our village at Kuda Pokuna in retaliation for previous days LTTE attack on Sinhapura Army Camp –

“There were several such incidents, we suffered repeatedly”, the petitioners added

“At the Minneriya Army Camp I was told that the truck which took our 22 person from the village was caught in a cross-fire between the LTTE and the Army and all the 22 have died – but  no soldiers have died.”

Describing as similar abductions/disappearances in November 1991, a Tamil cultivator said –

“When there is a LTTE attack on an Army Camp an Army roundup of villagers follow.”

Speaking of an Incident late in 1993 said a mother from Manampitiya-

“LTTEers infiltrate our colony area at nights. After an LTTE attack on adjoining Army Camp Tamil speaking villagers are rounded up.”

And said a young girl giving evidence of the disappearances following abduction by the Army from the Tank-Bund of her fisherman father in November 1995.

“The Police and Army killed Tamils then”.

The parallel in her mind between the fish her father trapped and her self as Tamil was unmistakable.

The misuse of a concept of informer (traitor) to arrogate to oneself the right to destroy a human being was practiced both by the Army and subversive LTTE. This is well illustrated in the evidence of a mother who said:-

“In July 1991 my cultivator son setout for the Gana Devi Pooja from the harvest Sinhalese and Tamils participated in the Pooja 6 were taken by the Army from the Kovil as LTTE informers.

If they had held a proper inquiry they could have easily realized my son was innocent.  In our area there is amity between Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims.  I myself learnt Sinhala from the Dimbulagala Priest”.

Another mother, speaking of the loss of her son who had gone to cut firewood as late as November 1994 –

“The LTTE suspected Muslims as ‘Informers’ against “Tamils”

And evidencing the never-ending trend of such killings another petitioner stated:

“My husband was taken when he was on his way to the field by the Army after the LTTE killed one Mudiyanse as a ‘Police Informer’.”

The same sad pattern as elsewhere in the country, of persons going to sign at the Army Camp in obedience to conditions of release after an arrest, but disappearing occurred here too.

“My son went to sign at the Manampitiya, Army Camp, did not return.  For 2 ˝ months he had signed there daily, which was a condition of his release after arrest and 7 days detention there.  I went with him on each of these days.  He disappeared on the 1st day of these 2 ˝ months that he went to the Army Camp unaccompanied, six others who were released along with him have also disappeared from time to time on going to the Army Camp to sign as required on various occasions.  The camp says they signed and left but we don’t believe them.”

Again in 1990,

“My son a 19 years old student arrested by the Manampitiya Army Camp was released on condition he signs the books at the Camp daily.  I accompanied daily.  On this particular day I stayed outside the Camp while he went in to sign.  He has disappeared.  Army said he had signed and left.”

There was the fall-out from the JVP insurrection too in these areas:

In 1989 Ananda a bright A/L student and School prefect, was called by name and taken by armed security forces dressed in civil.  His mother is in extreme depression still – 10 years later. She described him three words;

“He helped everyone.”

Several abductions and disappearances by the LTTE occurring through out the period were related in evidence.

“In February 1991 from Kadawatte Maduwa, LTTE abducted my son while he with others was assisting in cultivation in a field near the Maduru Oya.  Related LTTE attacks on our village – kill, chop up, occupants.”

In January 1993, from Namalagama;

“Several incidents of villagers being killed by the LTTE.  Several incidents of abductions for “use as slave labour, and to obtain blood.”

Summing up the prevalent situation in the words of a 50 year old Tamil mother of Sevanapitiya –

“The Army takes, the LTTE takes, my elder sons were shot and killed by the LTTE at Karapola Village.  My younger son was taken by the Army while bathing at the tank.  We can only tell the Gods.”

Another mother of Muthupola stated –

“We were only women and children left, so we abandoned our village and went into a refugee camp.  I am a Sri Lankan Tamil, my husband is a Sri Lankan Tamil.  This is our country. The “Tigers” attack us for not giving our youth to them. The Army attacks us when the LTTE attacks them.  We are poor – We bear the brunt of all.


Posted on 2003-06-15


Cyberspace Graveyard for Disappeared Persons
Asian Human Rights Commission

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