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CHAPTER 3: BATTICALOA DISTRICT

Total number of complaints of arrests and disappearances in the Batticaloa District, inquired by this  Commission is 1219.  The Ethnicity pattern of the arrested and disappeared persons is shown in Table I.

 

Table I

Ethnicity of Arrested and Disappeared Persons

Year                           Tamils                    Muslims                 Sinhalese                               Burghers

 

1988                             10                            12                                              -                                               -

1989                             19                            04                                              -                                               -

1990                           677                            59                                            15                                            05

1991                           219                            05                                            01                                              -

1992                             96                            09                                            02                                              -

1993                             47                              -                                               -                                             01

1994                             17                            03                                              -                                               -

1995                             13                            02                                              -                                               -

1996                             02                            01                                              -                                               -

 

Total                          1,100                         95                                            18                                            06

 

According to Table I, 90% of the disappeared persons are Tamils, 8% Muslims, and 2% Sinhalese.

 

Table II

Age groups – Disappeared persons

Below                                                                                                                        above

10 years     10-19       20-29       30-39       40-49       50-59       60-69       70-79       80 years

23               309         523         231         87           30           10           05           01

 

 

70% of the disappeared persons fall into the age group of 29 years or less, while 30% are over the age of 29 years.

 

3.1            Social background of the Disappeared persons.

 

Table III

Civil Status – Disappeared persons

Tamils                                         Sinhalese                                     Muslims                                Burghers

Single       Married                    Single    Married         Single    Married                  Single    Married

648                444                             20              11                             46           45             03             02

 

 

As a whole, 58% of the disappeared persons are not married while the remaining 42% are married.

 

 

According to the monthly income of the disappeared persons declared to the Commission, 90% of those arrested were earning an income of less than Rs.1,500/ per month and most of them were employed as Agricultural Labourers, or engaged themselves in self employment viz: small-scale cultivation, fishing etc.  Less than 5% were engaged in small-scale business while less than 0.5% were Government servants.

 

The following characteristics were identified from the relationship between the Complainants and the disappeared persons:

 

a. 50% of the reported disappearances had been filed by parents of the victims.

b. 40% of the reported disappearances had been submitted by wives of the victims and

c. the balance 10% represents the others such as grand-parents, brothers, sisters

and neighbours.

 

3.2            Year of Disappearances

 

Table IV show the frequency of arrests and disappearances during 1988 - 1996 in the Batticaloa District.

 

Table IV

Disappearances during 1988 – 1996

1988           1989        1990        1991        1992        1993        9994        1995        1996

 

22                 23          756           225          107          48            20             15            03

 

 

According to table IV, 801 of the disappearances had taken place during 1988 – 1990 and 418 of the disappearances occurred after 1990.  90% of the disappeared persons are Tamils and the rest (10%) belong to other ethnic groups.  The majority of these disappearances (62%) occurred during the year 1990.

 

3.3            Distribution of the Disappeared persons

 

The distribution of the disappeared persons in the Baticaloa District is shown in Table V.

 

Table V

 

Divisions                                  Percentage Values of Disappeared

 

Manmunai Pattu                                                                                      2.2

Manmunai South                                                                                     6.5

Porativu Pattu                                                                                          5.8

Manmunai North                                                                                     18.3

Koralai Pattu West                                                                                  3.8

Koralai Pattu                                                                                            21.9

Manmunai South West                                                                          0.3

Kattankudy                                                                                              0.6

Manmunai West                                                                                      1.2

Eravaru Pattu                                                                                           39.4

 

 

3.4.            Agencies and Groups identified as Responsible for Arrests

 

The following agencies and group were identified as responsible for the arrests :

 

Army                                                         64%

Unknown Persons                                   10%

S.T.F                                                          05%

L.T.T.E.                                                     02%

Others                                                       19%

 

(PLOTE, TELO EPRLF, GREEN TIGERS, SRIL LANKA POLICE and HOME

GUARDS, come under the “Others” mentioned above.)

 

 

3.5          Patterns of arrests and Disappearances

 

The arrests and disappearances in this District could be conveniently grouped under five major categories viz.:

 

1. Arrests made under Cordon and Search operation;

2. Arrests made from the Refugee Camps;

3. Arrest made in the High seas;

4. Other arrests;

5. Disappearances.

 

 

The following group arrests and subsequent disappearances in  this District have been inquired by the Commission:

 

A. Arrests and subsequent disappearances from the Vandaramoolai Eastern University Refugee Camp; (Annexure F)

B. Arrests and subsequent disappearances from the Village of Sathurukondan And other Villages; (Annexure G)

C. Arrests and subsequent disappearances from Sittandy Murugan Temple; (Annexure H)

D. Arrests and subsequent disappearaces from the Kommathulrai Army Check Point; (Annexure I)

E. Arrests and subsequent disappearances from Batticaloa Town and adjoining

Areas;

F. Arrests and subsequent disappearances from the Town of Chenkalady;

G. Arrests and subsequent disappearances from the Town of Eravur;

H. Arrests and subsequent disappearances from the Town of Valachcnenai;

I. Abduction by L.T.T.E. Unknown Persons and subsequent disappearances;

J. Disappearances from ~ the Police stations;

K. Arrests made by Special Task Force personnel and subsequent disappear-

ances.

 

3.6              Arrest and subsequent disappearances from the Vantharamoolai Eastern University Refugee camp;

 

The arrests from the Vantnlaramoolai Eastern University refugee camp was the biggest group arrest of this District. The arrests of took place on 5th September and 23rd September, 1990.  158 persons were arrested on the first day, while 16 were taken into custody on the second day.  A list containing the names of 158 who were reported to have disappeared was produced before this Commission and 83 witnesses testified to the disappearances of 92 persons, out of the 158 reported above. Also evidence was given regarding 10 of the 16 persons who disappeared on the subsequent arrest.

 

According to the evidence, nearly 45,000 people had taken refuge since July 1990, following the outbreak of violence in the vicinity of the said University.  The refugee camp was administered by Professor Mano Sabaratnam, Dr Thangamuthu Jayasinghan And Mr Velupody Sivalingam and supported by the Non-Governmental organisations during this period.

 

On 5th September 1990, by about 9 o’clock in the morning, army men from Kommathurai army camp along with personnel from some other army camps as well came in a SLTB bus and entered the premises of the eastern University.  This was followed by an announcement by an amplifier fitted to a white coloured Van asking the refugees to form into three different queues; person of the age group of 12 to 25 in the first row, persons of the age group of 26 to 40 in the second row and persons over 40 years of age in the third row.  People in the three queues were asked to pass through a point where five persons in masks clad in army uniform were seated in chairs along with seven Muslims, standing behind those in masks.

 

Whenever the persons in the masks gave a signal, the people who were in the queues were taken away from the queue to a side.  When this operation was completed, 158 persons who were pulled out from the queues were taken away by the Army despite the protests by their kith and kin.  There was evidence to show that the arrests were done by the Kommathurai Army camp with the assistance of personnel from other army camps as well and that the following Army officers were directing the operations:

 

Capt. Munas

Capt. Palitha,

Capt. Gunarathna,

Major. Majeed, and

Major. Monan

 

There was also evidence to show that Gerry de Silva had visited the refugee camp on  8th September. 1990 and had told the Officers responsible for the administration of the refugee camp that all 158 persons who were taken into custody on 5th September, 1990 were found guilty.  However he had declined to say what had

happened to them after they were found guilty.

 

There was further evidence to say that one of the officers who were in charge of the refugee camp made a request to the army personnel in charge of the operations, to give a list of persons arrested for which there was no response.

 

It also transpired in evidence that Mr Thalayasingam, the Chairman of the Peace Committee had received a letter in October 1990 from Mr A.W. Fernando, Air Chief Marshall, who was then the Secretary to the Hon. Minister of State for Defence wherein it was stated that on 5th September, 1990 only 32 persons were taken into custody from the Eastern University Refugee camp and that all had been released within 24 hours of arrest.  The letter contained a list of 32 names who were alleged to have been released.  However the Commission was informed that none of those who were arrested had returned either to the said refugee camp or to their homes but still remain missing.

 

3.7.             Arrests and subsequent disappearances from the village of Sathurukondan and other Villages

 

The group arrest that took place at the Sathurukondan village on 9th Septembber,1990 needs special mention here. On this day 184 persons had been taken into custody in this village. Several important documents were submitted to the Commission during inquiry and among these documents was one submitted by Patricia Lawrence of Denver Law school USA. It has been included in Annexure J of this

report.

 

Regarding the above group arrest the Commission listened to the testimony of 63 complaints relating to the disappearances of 72 persons. Most of the persons who disappeared during the incident were from the villages of Saturukondan, Pillaiyarady, Panichchaiady  and Kokuvil.

 

According to the evidence given by the complaints. Army personnel attached to the Sathurukondan Boys Town army camp entered the villages of Saturukondan, Pillaiyarady, Panichchaiady and Kokuvil by about 6 p.m. on 9th. September, 1990,  and ordered the people to come to the army camp for an inquiry that was to be held by the Chief of the army camp. The male of the members of the households fearing arrest hid local themselves leaving the children and the females in their houses thinking that the army will not harass them. I – however the army ordered all those who were in their houses irrespective of the fact whether they were infants children, females aged or disabled to come out of their houses and when they had assembled outside their houses marched them along the road into the army camp.

 

Out of those taken into the camp, four persons namely Kandasamy Krishnakumar, Jeeva, Sinnathamby and one Kumar were taken to the backyard of that Army Camp. They were ordered to lie down on a cadju tree log and were assaulted. Among the said four persons, Kandasamy Krishanakumar had managed toescape from the camp with stab injuries and the fate of all others was not known.

 

The only surviving witness Kandasamy Krishnakumar came forward to testify before the Commission and his evidence is reproduced below:

 

“Kandasamy Krishnakumar, Hindu, 27  years, Ceylon Tamil, Washerman, Pillayaradi, Koluvil . Affirmed. In September 1990 during the time of disturbances I was residing in a place called Kokuvil. Pillayaradi. I am not married. On 09.09.90 at about 6 p.m. army men in uniform brought many people and said that the chief of army would come there and an inquiry would be held. All these people were taken to, Sathurukondan Boys Camp. There were about 1,000 people in the camp with me Four people including me were taken out of the crowd. All four of were brought to the back side of the camp. After we had been brought to the camp our hands were tied and eyes were also covered. The other three are Kumar, Sinnathamby and Jeeva. Those three persons are missing. All four of us were assaulted, and we were ordered to sleep on the cashew log and we were ordered to keep silence. We did not open out mouths. I was stabbed in the chest. (He shows the injuries ) I was stabbed twice. I ran out at about 3 a.m in the night and until then it was bleeding. I went to the hospital on the following day and I was in the hospital for three days only.

 

The army men started coming in search of me to the hospital and I was allowed to stay in the hospital. Peace Committee men discharged me from the hospital and kept me at St. Michel’s College, Batticaloa. From there I went to Valayeravu and stayed with my aunt. All the people were cut and heaped. After I was stabbed I fell unconscious and regained consciousness after sometime. I saw about 10 people lying stabbed. I do not know their names. Signed”

 

Several others who appeared before the Commission testified to the fact that they heard gunshots and noise caused by branches of trees, children falling down crying out in agony and women crying in pain This was followed by smoke coming out from the camp.

 

We reproduce below the evidence of Mr Kandiah Sivakolunthu and Mr Augustine Pillai, recorded on 01.05. 95. This evidence was more revealing and shows in better light the incidents which happened in that village on that fateful day.

 

Kandiah Sivakolunthu, Hindu, 37 years old, Ceylon Tamil, Principal of Ganesh Vidyalayam Karaiyakkan Theevu, residing at Sathurukondan affirmed:

 

“On 09.09.90 my wife, children and I were living in a rented out house in Batticaloa town. At that time my father-in-law, brothers-in-law and children were residing at Sathurukondan. I was in the habit of going to Sathurukondan every day or on every other day to bring provisions. On the date of the incident I went to Satllurukondan at about 11 a.m. While I was there after lunch I was able to observe a person wearing shorts and a red coloured short sleeved shirt riding on a bicycle in that area. There was a Kris knife placed on the handle of the bicycle. He was a person new to the village and not from the village. At that time, as I was a young person my father-in-law and people asked me not to stay and go away. It was then after 4 p.m. Thereafter my wife and my children and I went on a bicycle to my house at Sathurukondan colony. While I was there, it was 5 p.m., I saw some people in army uniform and some in civil and armed taking away some people along with them. We were inside the house and saw through the window. While I was there I heard the cries of children, women and men crying in pain and also conflagration and gun shots. All this I heard from the Sathurukondan Boys Town army camp. The distance from my house to the camp is about 1,000 metres.

 

The following morning I came to the place where my father-in-law lived and I found them missing and I saw his Bata slippers were there. I contacted a police officer that worked in Batticaloa. He told me that there was a person who was in charge of this camp by the name of Warnakulasooriya. This Police officer told that person had not done anything at all. I said that 10 members of my family are missing. My father-in-law, 77 years old named Sulosana, Thulasi, aged 3, and a child Suboshini, 1 ½ years old. On inquiries I have been told that all of our members were taken to the camp.  Persons who go to trace cattle have told me that there are still skulls and bones of men.  I have informed the Police ICRC Peace Committee, I have not gone in to see the bones as the army camp is still there.”

 

Augustinpillai Philip, Christian, 53 years old, retired Electrical Superintendent. 24, Panichayadi, Pillayaradi N.P. Batticaloa.  Affirmed:

 

“My step-son Thangavelu Jayakumar has disappeared.  He was 8 years old at that time. On 09.09.90 he had gone towards Kokuvil for games.  He did not return.  I saw some people passing my house.  I saw some Army men moving with people who have been arrested. I went and hid myself in a bush.  It was 5.30 p.m. at that time.  I saw these 19 people being taken away by the Army men.  These people were from Panichlayadi.  My step-son was one of them.  I saw these people being taken through Kokuvil and towards Pillayaradi.  When I came home with another lady, I went with my wife to the compound adjoining Sarvodaya office and waited there.

 

I heard children crying and grown up people saying “I don’t know, I don’t know”. Thereafter I heard shots.  I stayed at that spot for about half an hour.  I do not know what happened thereafter.  These cries and other screams were heard from the direction of Boy’s town Army camp.

 

Through fear I ran to Muhathuwaram with my wife.  Thereafter on the following morning I complained to the ICRC.  They said they had no permission to go and see there.  I went to the Bishop’s house to meet his Lordship, one Mr Sebamalai, a member of the Citizens Committee and I spoke to him.  Mr Sebamalai telephoned the Brigadier, Batticaloa.  Brigadier said to have two witnesses ready to go and see what happened at Boys’ Town Camp.  Those witnesses, Brigadier, the Captain of the Army and his men went to the Boy’s Town.  Mr Sebamalai also accompanied the Brigadier.  These two persons were asked to see the place.  Singarajah had picked up one of the slippers of his wife and there were also pairs of slippers”.

 

3.8                         Adverse effect of the incident and the persons responsible for the Incident:

 

Patricial Lawrence in her letter stated that in May, 1994 the people living in Thannamunai had observed that soldiers were seen removing bones from the main ditch at the site of the massacre and burning these bones for the second time.

 

Col. Percy Fernando, the first officer in charge of 5th Wijayaba Regiment under whose purview the said four villages came during the period material to the inquiry, and Capt. Gamini Tissa Warnakulasooriya who was OIC of the army camp at Sathurukondan, Cited by the Commission also gave evidence.

 

Col. Percy Fernando, in the course of his evidence, said that on the instructions of  Brig. A.M.U. Seneviratne who was then in charge of Batticaloa District, he went to the said Camp on the 10th of September 1990 with two civilians, namely Sebamalai of the Peace Committee and one Singaraja, and went around the camp for one and a half to two hours.  He further said that he did not notice any struggle, any signs of bloodstains or any dead bodies, slippers or clothes.  He also said that nobody was detained there and that they do not keep any detainees at the said camp.  He further said in evidence that he is an officer specially trained in checking top-signs and middle-signs and that the member of the Peace Committee had expressed his satisfaction with the manner in which he had conducted the search.

 

Capt. Tissa Wanakulasooriya in the course of his evidence said that he was the officer in charge of the said camp on the date material to the inquiry. On that date he had three officers under him and one was on leave.  The names are (I) Capt. Wijenayake, (2) Mr Herath, now Captain, and Mr Dissanayake, now Captain.

 

His evidence was a complete denial of any arrest or detention or search operation. According to him nothing happened on the said day in these villages.

 

3.9              Arrest and subsequent disappearances from Sittandy Murugan Temnple:

 

The arrests from the Sittandy Murugan temple refugee camp was yet another group arrest which took place in the Batticaloa District, on 02.08.1990, 21.08.1990 and 24.12.1993 and the total number of persons arrested these three days was 52.

 

15 persons gave evidence regarding the arrests made on 2nd August 1990, 30 persons gave evidence about the arrests made on 21st August, 1990 and two person testified regarding arrests made on 24th December 1993.  The refugees in the Sittandy Murugan Temple were mainly from the village of Sittandy, Morakotanchchenai, Chenkalady and Kiran.

 

Evidence revealed that the victims of these arrests pleaded with the army personnel about their innocence but their pleas fell on deaf ears.  Even the relations of these unfortunate victims, who appealed for their release, were assaulted and chased away by shots being fired in the air.  Among the victims, were students and youths, who were the sole breadwinners of their families.  None of the arrested 52 persons returned to their houses, nor could their whereabouts be traced.

 

The agents of this massacre were identified as the personnel from the army camp at Morakottanchenai.

 

3.10.           Disappearances from Kommanthurai Army check point

 

Kommathurai Army check point is located in Kommathurai village on the Colombo Batticaloa road.  This is controlled by the Kommathurai Army camp.

 

Complaints were received regarding arrests of 20 persons by members of the armed forces at the Kommathurai check point and their subsequent disappearance, during the period August to December, 1990.  It would appear, from evidence, that all those who were arrested were passing along this point, on legitimate business.  Those arrested are categorised below:

 

A. Persons who were travelling to Batticaloa from Colombo to see members of their families or returning to Colombo.

B. Labourers and fishermen who had to pass through this check point in their daily travel within Kommathurai village.

C. Those who crossed the check point to reach the hospital for treatment

D. Students who passed the check point.

 

According to evidence, none of those arrested there was released and their whereabouts are also not known to date.

 

3.11            Disappearances from the Town of Chnkalady:

 

From 1990 to 1994, Chenkalady was the scene of several search and arrest operations. 43 persons were arrested during these operations and taken away and that was the last that was heard of them.  Annexure K shows the names of these 43 persons. The following agencies and groups were reported to have been responsible for the arrests made in the town and the percentage of such arrests made by each group is given below:

 

Sri Lankan Army                      86%

TELO                                         6%

PLOTE                                       4%

Sri Lanka Police                       2%

 

The Sri Lanka Army was responsible for the majority of the arrests.  These arrests were reportedly conducted by security personnel of the following camps:

 

(1) Kondawttuwan, (2) Ampalathady, (3) Urani, (4) Chenkalady, (5) Vandaramoolai, (6) Kommathurai, (7) Kumburumoolai, (8) Morakotanchenei, (9) Eravur, and (10) Unnichchai.  These arrests have taken place while the persons were at home or were going to their workplaces to attend to their daily needs or when they were grazing their cattle. As mentioned earlier, the Commission could observe a uniform trend in the frequency of these arrests, 1990 being the peak year of arrests.

 

3.12.           Arrests and disappearances from the Town of Earvur:

 

Several disappearances occurred in Eravur too.  During 1990-1996, 25 persons were arrested at several places in this town and Army personnel were responsible for these arrests.

 

Most of these arrests had taken place when these villagers left their residence to attend to their daily work.  In addition, round-ups conducted at this town also contributed to some of the disappearances.

 

1990 was the peak year of the arrests and subsequent disappearances of the villagers in Eravur.  And none of these arrested people were released and their whereabouts are not known to date.

 

3.13            Abducton by L.T.T.E..  Unknown Persons and Subsequent Disappearances:

 

3.13.1         Abduction by the L.T.T.E.

 

14 complaints were received by the Commission regarding abduction of family members of the complainants by the L.T.T.E. cadres and all the disappeared persons were Muslims.

 

Most of he disappeared persons were from the age group of 20-35 years and all these persons were abducted from the Kattankudy village.

 

Most of these disappeared persons were engaged in business and they were abducted either on their way to business in Kalmune or while returning from Kalmunai. (see Annexure L).

 

3.13.2. Abduction made by Unknown persons

 

This category of complaints was made by family members of the disappeared persons, regarding abduction by unknown  persons.  Total number of 120 complaints were submitted; 73% of the victims were Tamils, 24%  were Muslims, while the rest (3%) were Sinhalese.  (Annexure L)

 

Complaint regarding abduction by unknown persons were received from persons of the villages of Kattandudy, Periyaporativ, Valachchenai, Kokoddicholail, Kallady, Meeravodai, Mandur, Kaluwanchikudy, Chenkalady and Odamavadi.

 

These incidents occurred during the period 1988-1993. It was observed that 1990 was the peak year, when 50% of the incidents had taken place.  Most of the victims were abducted from their houses while some were taken away on their way to work.  It was stated in evidence that 10 % of these abducted had been killed and the bodies were found, while the remaining number is still not known.

 

3.14.           Disappearances from the Police stations in the district

 

On 11.06.1990, the following police stations were attacked by the L.T.T.E. cadres: (1) Batticaloa, (2) Valachchenai, (3), Kalkudai, and (4) Eravur.

 

As a result of these attacks, several Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim Police personnel attached to the above Police stations were killed and some had disappeared.  Most of the disappeared constables were Sinhalese and they hailed from Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Kalutara and Matara districts.  The list of the disappeared Police personnel is shown in Anexure M.

 

3.15.           Arrests made by Special Task Force Personnel and subsequent disappearances

 

The Commission found, from the evidence given by affected parties that the STF officials were also responsible for some arrests and subsequent disappearances which occurred in this district.  48 persons had disappeared after having been taken into custody by STF personnel.  These 48 victims were from the following 15 villages: Kalwanchikudy, Eruvil, Kallar, Thuraneelavanai, Koddaikallar, Batticaloa Town, Kokkaddisolai, Kathankudi, Periyakallar, Periyaporathivul, Mandur, Bakkiella, Nellikadu and Ariyampathy.

 

The arrests were made during 1990-1994.  1990 was the peak year, with 54% of the total arrests being made during the above period while 17% were arrested in 1991.

 

Most of the victims were in the age group of 19-35 years and they were mainly labourers, fisherman, woodcutters etc.  There were some students as well among the victims.  Some of them were arrested under cordon and search operations while the rest were taken into custody either on their way to their working places and schools or on their return.

 

The following STF camps played a major role in those round-ups and subsequent Arrest:

(1)Periyanelavannai, (2) Maruthamunai, (3) Thettathivu, (4) thuraineelavanai, (5) Kalmunai, (6) Karativu (7) Mandur, (8) Kalawanchikudy, (9) Chenkalady, (10) Eravur, (11)Valachchenai.

 

The names of the following security personnel were mentioned by the complainants when, the Commission conducted inquiries:

 

1. Soysa

2. Davulagala

3. Weerasekara

4. Capt. G. L. Perera

 

On several occasions, parents of the victims visited the S.T.F. camps where their children were taken to make inquiries.  It was revealed in evidence that they had met with no response from the security personnel.

 

Annexure N gives the names of such persons arrested by the S.T.F.

 

3.16            The Batticaloa Town and Townships on the Kalmunai Road

 

With the increasing incidence of terrorist activity, Batticaloa town has become a security fortress.  The police station area in the heart of the town is surrounded with checkpoints.  The Kallady Bridge, famed for the strains of the singing fish, is the main approach to Puliyantheevu from the South.  There are strong checkpoints on either side of the bridge.  The Kachcheri and Residency areas are military encampments, which includes the Weber stadium.  The airport area is heavily guarded with checkpoints.

 

Terrorists create violent disturbances by shooting at security personnel or flinging grenades at checkpoints.  The security forces in turn undertake roundup operations and resort to mass arrests to identify the culprits.  This has led to the disappearances of many persons.  The evidence shows that security personnel have entered homes besides apprehending persons on the road at all times of the day.  In this bustling town many shops and market stalls exist and people mill around attending to their daily chores buying provisions, getting to their places of work.  Many Government officers are situated in various locations in the town.  People are constantly on the move to get to the offices.  In this situation of busy civilian traffic there erupts sporadically violent incidents with gunfire and explosions resulting in death and injury to many an unfortunate passer by.

 

Kattankudy and Arayampathy lie on the outskirts of Batticaloa on the Kalmunai Road.  Kattankdy is a totally Muslim settlement.  Sociologists have noted that it is the most densely populated township in the whole country.  There has been friction in the southern border of this town and the Tamils of Arayampathy.  As a result persons have been arrested and many have disappeared.

 

There is much movement of people from Kattankudy for business purposes to Kalmunai in the South and Batticaloa, Valachchenai and Kadurawela near Polnnaruwa. When disturbances break out the unfortunate travellers on the road fall unwitting victims to the trouble makers and the security forces.

 

On 12.07.90, unknown persons suspected to be Tigers had waylaid a large number of Muslims returning from Kalmunai to Kttankudy and Batticaloa at a place called Kurukkalmadam.  It appears to be a planned robbery and abduction.  Apart from the money they were carrying the persons themselves were abducted and disappeared without trace.  The dependants of these victims requested the Commission to trace them.  Our inquiries from the I.C.R.C. evoked only negative responses.  They had no information of the abduction from any insurgent group.  The details of the victims are shown in the appendix Annexured as persons arrested by Tigers at Kurukkalmadam. (Annexure O).

 

Chettipalayam and Kaluwanchikudy are two adjoining Tamil townships on the Kalmunai Road.  There have been security camps and check points in these places. Complaints have been made by the public that there have been arrests.  There has been no instance reported of release of any of the persons arrested by the security personnel. The security personnel are mainly from Special Task Force stationed in these areas. The witnesses have referred to personnel from specific camps.  Certain names have transpired as being persons in charge of the camps.

 

Mandur is an ancient settlement with a famous Murugan Temple situated there.  The people are mainly agriculturists. They are predominantly Tamil and have nurtured Saivaite culture for a long time.  Camps have been sighted in the vicinity by security forces and there have been raids by the Kondawattuvan Army into this village.  Several arrests and disappearances have been reported.

 

Kaluthavalai near Kaluwanchikudy with a Tamil population has been an agricultural area with a Pillaiyrar Temple as a nucleus of their religious activity.  Arrests by the Special Task Force have been reported from this area.

 

There had been a renowned church of St Judges where treatment for psychiatric problems is done at a spiritual level.  Arrests from the refugee camp near the Church by the S.T.F. have been reported.  We hereby list them in the Annexure P of this report.

 

3.17          Valaichenai:

 

Valachenai is a town which lies on the Batticaloa, Polonnaruwa road.  There is a slight predominance of Muslim population over the Tamil people in the town itself.  In the surrounding regions of Sittandy,  Chenkalady, Kiran, Morakottanchenai and Vantharamoolai, the Tamil population is predominant.  Towards the Eastern sea coast lie the village of Mankerny, Vakarai, Pannichankerny and Kathiraveli.

 

The army is located in Kommaturai where there is a checkpoint and other army camps are located in Valaichenai itself and other strategic places down the road. Between Batticaloa and Valaichenai is located the town of Eravur where there is an equal distribution of Muslim and Tamil population.

 

There have been constant outbreaks of disturbances in these areas because the terrorists have their camps in the surrounding jungles.  Pulipanchakal on the Chenkalady-Badulla road has been a Tiger camp from where most attacks have originated.

 

The incidents reported from Valaichenai and the other areas set out above have been the outcome of frequent attacks and clashes between the insurgent elements and the security forces and the Police.  There have been major attacks on both the police stations at Valaichenai and Eravur. Smaller police posts strategically located have also come under attack.

 

Owing to these frequent clashes, a large number of civilians have disappeared or got killed.  Many deaths have occurred in the crossfire.  Many have been arrested and disappeared thereafter.  The Muslim home guards, formed to help the security forces, have arrested and handed over persons to the army camps. In turn they have been the victims of isolated attacks.

 

The Valaichenai Petrol Shed camp has been constantly referred to by the complainants, where ordinary people, who go about the Valaichenai Market in their ordinary daily pursuits, were arrested and detained never to be released.  This camp had indeed gained some notoriety in this regard.  Annexure Q would show the persons arrested and not released in this camp.

 

Kiran, which has been the scene of a major attack on an army camp, has been a place where numerous cases of disappearances have been reported.  It is an area where there is a large agricultural community.  A good number of people do fishing too. Moraktotanchenai is an adjoining village where too a large number of arrests and disappearances have been reported after security round ups.

 

Chenkalady, which includes the ancient village of Sittandy, is an agricultural township.  The road from Badulla through Maha-Oya  meets the Colombo – Batticaloa road at this point.  The people are mainly Tamils.  The Sittandy Murugan Temple is situated near Chenkalady.  In this temple a large number of Tamils have sought refuge. There was evidence led before us that the Army had entered the premises and picked up members of families huddled as refugees and taken them away.  The anguished pleas and wailing of mothers, wives and relatives were met with assaults, threats, and pronouncements that they will be released after inquiry.  Such assurances have been in the main hollow and eroded seriously the credibility of the Security Personnel.

 

In Vakarai, Mankerny and Kayankerni the largely fishing community have been subjected to security round up and a large number of persons have been arrested and caused to disappear.  The terrorists in turn have been frequently attacking security posts causing death and injury among the troops.  Kalkudah has a large fishing community where Sinhalese settlers have intermarried and lived for long periods among the predominantly Tamil people.  A number of people have been arrested in this area and have disappeared since.  There have been instances where even Sinhalese people have been arrested and not released.

 

Kokadicholai and Palugamam are two adjoining villages near Batticaloa.  Both these villages ae agricultural villages with a predominantly  Tamil population.  Arrests and disappearances in these areas have been reported.

 

A list of such arrests is found in Annexure R of this report.

 

Posted on 2002-08-30



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