Commission held its sittings at Ampara from 01.03.97 to 07.03.97 at the Ampara
Kachcheri and from 20.04.97 to 22.04.97 at the Divisional Secretary’s Office
(Tamil Division) Kalmunai.
the Sittings in Ampara between 01.03.97 and 07.03.97 there was comparative
peace in the area but it was brought to our notice that a large number of
persons were still harbouring fears of earlier abductions and killings in
Ampara and it was suggested that sittings be held in Kalmunai as well.
The final sittings were held at the divisional Secretary’s Office at
Kalmunai from 20.04.97 to 22.04.97.
were also held in the Conference room of the Ministry of Justice in Colombo to
enable people who were able to come to Colombo from these districts to set out
their complaints of disappeared persons.
These persons were summoned at their request and reimbursed for their
expenses of travelling and incurred expenses.
On more than one occasion scheduled sittings were postponed because of
serious security concerns on the advice of the police authorities.
But our hearings proved to be very effective from the point of view of
public interest, co-operation and response.
the Kalmunai area, which included Pandiruppu, Naipattimunai, Karativu,
Nintavur, Veeeramunai, Sammanthurai and Malawatle, several complaints were
recorded. The figures are shown in the Annexure S.
was revealed at the sittings that in Akkaraipattu, which included
Addalaichenai, Irakkamam, Thandiyadi, Thirukkovil, Habiluvil and Ambilanthurai,,
a large number of disappearances were alleged to have been caused by the
Special Task Force stationed at Akkaraipattu.
Pottuvil, which included Arugam Bay, Panama Lahugala and Komari, several
persons testified to disappearances in these areas.
The details and dates of such occurrences are contained in the Annexure
T. The Special Task Force
stationed at Arugam Bay and the Pottuvil Police and Home Guards (mainly
Muslim) have been alleged to be responsible for the arrests.
Amparai complaints reached back to the year 1988 to which our mandate related
to as the commencement date. Amparai
included Damana, Hingurana, Central Camp Kondawattuwan, Padiyatalawa, Uhana,
Inginiyagala, Ambagahawatta, Dehiyattakandiya, Maha Oya and Girandurukotte.
is significant that in the years 1988 and 1989 the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna
insurgency was rampant in this district and a large number of killings and
persons found dead have been spoken about by the aggrieved parties.
The arrests and disappearances have been attributed to the Police,
unknown persons and persons described as Green Tigers. The details are
contained in the Annexure U.
large number of disappearances are attributed to the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam. The complaints have
been made mainly by aggrieved persons from the Muslim Community.
The major incident is to have taken
place in Kurukkalmadam, a village midway between Kalmunai and Batticaloa where
on the fateful day in May, 1992 a large number of Muslim businessmen returning
from Kalmunai to Batticaloa were waylaid, robbed and abducted.
It is observed that none of these persons have returned to their homes
although the International Red Cross Organisation too had intervened to secure
their release or locate their whereabouts.
L.T.T.E. has been responsible for the disappearance of many Police personnel
from Akkaraipattu and Pottuvil Police Stations. The police officers on duty
have been subject to surprise attacks in both Akkaraipattu and Pottuvil.
21 cases of missing Police
Personnel were reported to us. The
International Red Cross was contacted by us to locate the whereabouts of these
persons. But we have not met with
any helpful response from this organisation which is normally in communication
with the L.T.T.E. The witnesses
who gave evidence before us were resigned to the view that they are no more
alive. We are compelled to accept
that view. It is very consoling
to note that in most instances compensation has already been paid at the
Police Departmental level and their salaries too are being paid to the legal
next of kin. On an overview of
the victims it is observed that an equal number of Muslims and Sinhalese
persons have disappeared in these attacks.
A few Tamil members of the Police force and supporting staff have also
disappeared. There has been a
marked reluctance on the part of the Police authorities to pay compensation to
some of the Tamil persons. This
seems to have stemmed from the notion that some of them may have voluntarily
disappeared during these attacks. However,
we did not find any positive evidence to support that view.
We have suggested to the authorities to pay the compensation for all
the disappeared persons whose claims are pending and placed before us at the
hearings by us.
the Kalmunai area during the year 1990 in the months of June and July a very
large number of persons have disappeared involuntarily.
is a district wherein an equal number of Muslims and Tamils live in areas side
by side. Muruthamunaimb, Ninthavur and Sainthamaruthu are villages
which are predominantly occupied by Muslims.
In the Kalmunai town itself Muslims and Tamils live in divisions where
there is a distinct predominance of one community or other.
Pandiruppu, Natpattimunai and Karativu there is a majority of Tamil persons
living in these areas. A sizeable number of Sinhalese too live in the town area.
Mandur, which is closer to Samanthurai on the Amparai road, is entirely
populated by Tamil people. The
involuntary removals in Kalmunai area were spoken about by aggrieved parents,
wives and sometimes children of the victims.
It is clear that Special Task Force men of the Police force, Security
personnel from the Army, regular Police Officers and Home Guards have
conducted cordon and arrest operations described as round ups of areas and
removed persons from their homes at all hours of the day and night.
going on the roads to places of work and to purchase provisions and foodstuffs
have been arrested within public view never to be seen again. Persons who were
then taken into custody were followed by hopeful parents, wives and children
to the very camp where they were taken to.
Their sorrowful and anguished pleas for release were met with assaults,
threats and even shots fired above their heads to drive them away.
The more persistent of these kinsfolk, mothers in particular, have
waited for days keeping vigil in the fervent hope that the detainees would be
released. Some were told by the
security men that they would be released after inquiry, but such releases were
not effected. The persons who
were taken into custody were seen at the camp of detention by wailing
relatives outside. They were seen
doing manual work or in state of distress and dismay at their enforced
detention. In several instances they ceased to appear in their places of
detention. Anxious inquiries
would elicit cursory answers that they were removed to different locations
where their captors themselves had moved.
But the stark reality of the disappearance without trace was not told
to the distraught mothers, wives and brothers and sisters, that they were not
in the land of the living any more.
was seen by the views expressed by the complainants before us that they were
living with unshakable faith that their loved persons in detention were still
living somewhere and would someday return.
A vast majority of them expressed the hope that they had pinned their
faith on our commission that we would secure their release.
this stage it would be appropriate to mention that the responses of the
Security Authorities have been most unhelpful.
A total denial of any arrest has been the rule, no record of any arrest
has been the frustrating refrain.
is a village to the north of the Kalmunai town.
It is a predominantly Tamil Hindu Village.
The sacred Thraupadi, Amman Temple famed for its fire-walking ritual at
the annual high festival is surrounded by the houses of its devoted
worshippers. The months of June
and July 1990 was turbulent periods for the inhabitants of this village.
Its ethnic homogeneity seems to have attracted the Security Forces and
the Police in their search for insurgent elements harbouring in that area.
This resulted in a large number of arrests and disappearances from this
is a redeeming feature that persons of public-spirited concern had initiated
and moved to obtain relief by way of compensation to the persons who have lost
their bread-winners in the main and close members of the family in general in
this area. It is strongly recommended that relief in this manner should
be given to all afflicted persons to relieve them of their suffering and
pattern of removal of the suspects seems to be a very abrupt entry into the
house of the suspect and physical removal of the person or persons in front of
and in full view of all the other members of the household.
The time the hour of the day seems to be of no concern.
Young students hard at work with their books have been forced away by
the security personnel. Persons
from sick beds have been marched away. The
helpless occupants could only look on barely being able to identify the
captors. All they could say was that it was the Army. Very often they said
that it was persons dressed in army uniform.
The chief unit identified by consensus perhaps was the Special Task
Force. They could not identify any individual as these security personnel keep
moving from camp to camp. However,
some persons who seem to have gained some notoriety have been named in
specific cases. We shall advert
to them later in this report. A detailed list of persons arrested and the date
of arrest is shown in the Annexure V of this report.
area encompasses a lagoon that is a part of the Batticoloa lagoon.
In this area the main occupation of the community living there is
fishing and prawn fishing. Between August and December 1990, persons variously
described as Army and S.T.F. have conducted several arrests of persons who
were fishing in the lagoon. The
victims were not only fishermen, but also cattle grazers and firewood
gatherers who were summarily marched away or taken away in trucks.
village in close proximity to Chavalakadai and Kalmunai town is also a place
whose inhabitants engage in paddy cultivation, lagoon fishing and cattle
grazing. Persons in this area have also been arrested by security
personnel from the Special Task Force and the Police.
practices of entering refugee camps by security personnel and the removal of
persons who have sought refuge with the families have been fairly rampant.
In disturbed circumstances, to avoid violence and escape from cross
fire, it was common for the inhabitants of whole villages to go to places of
worship like temples and
for refuge in the hope that they would be save from death and injury.
Veeramunai Pillaiyar temple
such place was the Weeramunai Pillaiyar Temple, a place dedicated to the
worship of Lord Ganesha by the Hindus. It
is to be noted that the worship of Lord Ganesha is common to both Tamils and
Sinhalese who profess the Hindu and Buddhist religion respectively. The 29th
of June, 1990 seems to have been a fateful day at the Pillaiyar Temple.
described as armed groups and the Special Task Force have been cited by the
complainants as persons who arrested the people who had taken refugee in the
Temple Camp. On the 4th July, 1990, and 8th August,
1990 further arrests were made. They
all lament in anguish that the protection they would have expected in the
refugee camp was denied and the persons arrested have still not returned to
their houses. The names and dates of arrest are set out in the Annexure W of
the Pottuvil area, which includes Lahugalla, Komari and extends south to
Panama, which is the furthest habitation adjoining the Yala reserve on the
South Eastern coast, in the month of July, 1990, a large number of arrests
were made by the Special Task Force stationed in Pottuvil, Arugam Bay and
Komali. One sees in these
widespread arrests of persons, a vengefulness and vindictiveness consequent to
the Police Station attack in June, 1990.
The arrests have been made in paddy fields and places where cattle
grazed. The people in this area
are mainly agricultural labourers. The vast majority of them are breadwinners
and young men on whom aged parents have been dependent.
place called Inspector Hill seems to have been the location where many arrests
have taken place. The apparent
reason seems to be the proximal location of the Komari and Arugam Bay S.T.F.
camps. In the Pottuvil town itself the Police and the Home Guards,
composed of Muslim volunteers, have arrested many persons who have come to the
town in the normal course of business activity.
details and dates of the arrests have been shown in the Annexure X of this
is a town which lies between Kalmunai and Pottuvil.
It includes Thirukkovil to the South and Thambuluvil, which is also a
village adjoining Akkaraipattu. The people here are mainly agriculturists
doing paddy cultivation around tanks and channels fed by the Gal Oya Scheme. In the latter part of June and the month of July and August
1990 a large number of arrests were made by the S.T.F This can be related to the Tiger attack on the Police Station
in early June 1990. In August and
September 1990 several Tamil persons were arrested from their houses, paddy
fields and grazing grounds in the area.
Here too arrests have been made in refugee camps at Kolavil,
Akkaraipatu and the Methodist Church refugee Camp
In troubled times the tendency of persons to draw strength from
grouping together in schools, temples and other refugee centres is very great.
They seek thereby to get protection from the security forces and pool
the relief resources for survival. If
into this group the security forces see a happy hunting ground to arrest
persons gathered there, there is very little left to the public by way of hope
for greater protection or security from the Sale.
the year 1988 there has been a fallout of the insurgency in the south of Sri
Lanka. Many persons were arrested and their bodies found murdered.
Several cases of that nature were reported to us by complainants who
said that armed groups which could not be identified by them had arrested the
victims from their homes and from public places.
The Amparai bus stand has been a noted place where travellers passing
through the town to distant destinations were removed by the Police or Army.
Amparai on the Colombo road lies the sprawling Kondaiwattuwan Army Camp.
According to the evidence given by several witnesses the Kondaiwattuwan
Army Camp has been the ultimate destination of the victims of arrest in
Amparai, Kalmunai, Veramunai and Inginiyagala.
Relatives had followed the victims right up to the camp only to be
chased away by the sentries. The
camp in effect has been a one way route, a point of no return for many. The
long absence after the arrest over a period of nearly six to seven years makes
the despondent relatives lose all hope of their survival or return. Apart from
the fact that no records of arrest were made, there has been no communication
with the relatives after their arrests. Communication by letters
in custody would have gone a long way to reassure the relatives of their being
alive and strengthened the hope of their return someday. We have not been able
to record a single instance where any letters were received by the relatives
from the victims after their arrest. This serious lapse undermined all hopes
in the minds of relatives and dependants in the survival of persons arrested.
A list of the persons arrested is shown in Annexure Y of this report.
points were set up by the Army at strategic places on the highways to have a
greater supervision of the ingress and egress of travellers to and from the
areas under security survey.
these points travellers along with their baggage are subject to careful
scrutiny to detect any subversive material including explosives and arms.
Although it is highly unlikely that a seasoned subversive would hazard himself
to be checked at these places it may be possible that a die-hard may slip
through ingeniously under the cloak of innocence.
security checks have had unfortunate consequences as well. The Malwatte Check
Point on the Amparai Kalmunai road has
been the venue of many a disappearances. Travellers to distant places like
Colombo have been stopped and arrested never to be seen again. Whole families
travelling together for social gatherings like weddings with children and
young girls have totally disappeared after being stopped at these checkpoints.
These horrendous accounts have been very revolting to the mind. These cases
have been highlighted in the Annexure Z of this Report.