Mass Graves, Disappearances, OMP, PTA – Justice for Tamil Victims?

By Kumarathasan Rasingam

The culture of impunity to the security forces under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act [PTA] and their licence to kill, especially the Tamils, caused several disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Sri Lanka.

It is to be noted that the Mass Graves, Disappearances and the Prevention of Terrorism Act [PTA] are all inter-connected. The Office of the Missing Persons is toothless in powers and the clauses in this Act seem to be protecting the criminals and denying justice to the victims. The victims have no confidence in this Office and are reluctant to give evidence due to this flaw.

It is strongly suspected that the Government and the Security forces are afraid of releasing the lands occupied by them and to release the names of those Tamils forcefully arrested/surrendered to the security forces due to the following reasons:

1 – There are several mass graves in the lands occupied by the security forces.

2 – The Tamils who were forcefully arrested or surrendered and killed are buried in these mass graves.

Sri Lanka: Mass graves everywhere, but where are the killers?

(February 4, 2018, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka’s armed conflicts have touched the whole Island, affecting all its ethnicities and faiths. By 2013, Sri Lanka recorded the second highest number of unresolved disappearances in the world. Despite the rhetoric of successive regimes, the people had disappeared not because they had gone abroad or been displaced, rather they had been killed and or executed in order to generate fear and anguish among the population. Their bodies are said to be piled up and buried in mass graves somewhere in the island. Several such mass graves have been discovered in recent years that warrant genuine investigations. Source https://www.slguardian.org/sri-lanka-mass-graves-everywhere-but-where-are-the-killers-part-01/

Although several killings took place and several Tamil civilians went missing, only this brutal murder attracted world media, the exposure forcing the Government to take steps which led to the exposure of several mass graves in Chemmani.

It was in 1998, there was an electrifying break in the Chemmani disappearances. Mrs. Kumaratunga[then President] personally saw to a rare prosecution of soldiers. The defendants were accused of raping and murdering an 18-year-old school girl Krisanthi Kumaraswamy at the checkpoint, then killing the school girl’s mother and 16-year-old brother when they came looking for her.

Just before the soldiers were to be sentenced to death by hanging, one of them, Lance Cpl. Somaratne Rajapakse, declared in open court that he knew the location of mass graves around the checkpoint where more than 400 people killed by the security forces in 1996 were buried.

To test his credibility, Corporal Rajapakse was flown to Jaffna and taken to the Chemmani checkpoint in June 1999. He led investigators to a grave that held two bodies.

In late August, more than three weeks of full-scale exhumations began in the heart of the war zone. The atmosphere was tense. At the checkpoint, the condemned men were palpably scared, observers say. And international observers, worried about rebel attacks, were heavily guarded.

”We’d drive like hell to get to the checkpoint,” said Robert Stair, a forensic archaeologist from Canada who took part in the exhumations. ”We took a different route every day.”

Corporal Rajapakse and the other soldiers eventually led the way to seven more graves, but the remains of only 13 people were found.

Mr. Stair and William D. Haglund, Director of the international forensic program for the Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights, said the Sri Lankan authorities had not moved aggressively enough to seek information about the hundreds of others.

Nor did Sri Lanka, lacking the modern methods used to investigate serial murders in the West, accept advice to get assistance from British, Australian or Canadian police experts, said Ms. Massage of Amnesty International.

”Somewhere within the Ministry of Defense must be blocks against this proceeding,” she said.

Mahinda Gotha the HitlerMass Graves in Mannar

Sixty-six human skeletons, including children and women, have been spotted so far and fifty-six of the skeletal remains have been exhumed, said journalists who accessed the site of mass grave excavations at the premises of the premises of former CWE building in the city of Mannaar on Monday. The excavation had been suspended for a few days due to the annual feast at Madu church.

In the meantime, journalists in Mannaar have secured access to news coverage of the mass grave site.

The SL Magistrates’ Court in Mannaar prohibited media coverage at the request of the SL Police on 07 August. [Source] https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=39165 TamilNet, Monday, 20 August 2018, 23:02 GMT]

Mass Graves in Jaffna

Human skeletons, including that of children, believed to belong to the massacred Eezham Tamils during the times of genocidal war, have been discovered at two separate locations in the city of Jaffna between 15th and 20th of July. At the Jaffna Fort, bones of a child along with a golden ring engraved with the initials ‘SA’ has been recovered. Following this discovery, the officials of Colombo’s Archaeological Department have sent Tamil excavators home while allowing the Sinhala and the British excavators to proceed with the work. On Friday, another alleged mass grave discovered at Naayanmaar-kaddu in Ka’l’liyang-kaadu in Jaffna seems to be an extension of the Chemma’ni killing fields from the times of Chandrika Kumaratunga’s genocidal rule of Jaffna in the mid-1990s.

Source: https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=39135 [TamilNet, Saturday, 21 July 2018, 21:44 GMT]

Another Mass Grave Found in Mannar

The existence of another mass grave has been confirmed after the discovery of human skeletal remains from sands dug from an area previously used as the ‘High-Security Zone’ of the occupying Sinhala military of genocidal Sri Lanka in mainland Mannaar. The latest discovery is from the island of Mannaar where the building of SL state-owned department store network, known as Co-operative Wholesale Establishment (CWE), was situated. The building has been dismantled to put up a new five storey building for the CWE Sathosa. The occupying SL military is still stationed 50 feets close to the site.

The lawyers representing the enforced disappeared Tamils in Mannaar told TamilNet on Wednesday that the latest traces they had witnessed since 28th May, when the excavations started at the site, confirms the fear that the occupying Sinhala military was having institutionalised torture chambers and massacre sites attached to its military base in the site.

[Source] https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=39085 TamilNet, Friday, 01 June 2018, 17:06 GMT]

SL military conceals mass graves at Vara’ni in Thenmaraadchi

The occupying Sri Lankan military relocating its 522 Brigade Headquarters, which was the artillery and command base at the Northern front during the war, has been removing the skeletons including the sand from an alleged mass grave site at the locality of the old base in recent weeks, reliable sources in Thenmaraadchi told TamilNet on Monday. After removing all the traces, the bunkers have been filled with sand brought from elsewhere. Despite the claim that it had moved the camp to a new locality, at Aasaippi’l’lai-yeattam at Mirusuvil, the SL military was present at the old site for several weeks to ensure that all traces have been removed, the sources further said.

The notorious Vara’ni camp was situated at Point Pedro – Kodikaamam Road since 1996 when Jaffna peninsula was captured by the genocidal military of Sri Lanka.

The command base, which was blocking the main road, was situated near Vara’ni MMV School at the private lands belonging to more than 80 families.

It was the main supply camp and the artillery base to the Northern frontline during the war.

Vara’ni camp was a notorious place where the Tamils abducted in Thenmaraadchi region were taken to torture chambers and slain. This includes the 8 youths who were abducted from a temple.

[Source] https://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=37178 TamilNet, Monday, 21 April 2014, 23:21 GMT]

The SL military is in particular concealing mass graves at places where military bases were situated.

The draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act contributed to a climate of impunity and hampered investigations into the massacres and disappearances of civilians.

Powers of the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP)

Sri Lanka’s Office of the Missing Persons [OMP] is toothless and does not have the authority to prosecute/arrest anyone involved in this crime. They have the power to investigate and collect evidence only.

The United Nations, United Nations Security Council, United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Community have the moral responsibility in the name of humanity to implement the following immediately.

1 – Lands occupied by the Security Forces and its surroundings to be tested for any mass graves using latest technology and techniques and soil tests to solve the problem of thousands of Tamils went missing since before and after the end of the war.

2 – Force the Sri Lankan Government to release the list of those arrested by the Security forces/Police and those who surrendered to the security forces and police.

It is agonizing to note that sinister moves of Sri Lanka’s Government to stall suppress and hide the truth and circumstances surrounding these skeletons of Tamil civilians killed violently at some point of time by the Security forces.

This is not surprising as Sri Lanka follows the entrenched policy and culture of impunity for Security forces and denial of accountability and justice to the Tamil victims.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela

Kumarathasan Rasingam

Kumarathasan Rasingam

Kumarathasan Rasingam, a Human Rights activist and former President of the Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Organization, migrated to Canada from Sri Lanka in April 2011.