Chemmani graves to be exhumed

[TamilNet, Thursday, 11 February 1999, 10:13 GMT]
The alleged mass graves at Chemmani in the northern Jaffna peninsula, where the bodies of hundreds of people who 'disappeared' in Sri Lankan military custody are said to be buried, is to be excavated, announced the Military spokesman Brigadier Sunil Tennekoon at the cabinet press briefing held today in the Parliament committee room. Excavation will commence on March 5, he said.

The press could be present if they wished, he said, adding that they would be provided with transport facilities by the Information Department.

Forensic experts and senior officials from some UN agencies and NGOs would also be allowed to witness the event, the military spokesman added.

A foreign ministry communiqué yesterday afternoon said that the Sri Lankan government has "agreed to permit interested non governmental organisations, whether local or foreign, to engage the service of independent forensic experts to observe the excavation (at Chemmani).

Similarly, interested local and foreign media can arrange to cover the exhumation work".

The revelations of the mass graves were made by Sri Lanka Army troops last July whilst they were on trial for the rape and murder of Jaffna schoolgirl Krishanthi Kumaraswamy, her mother, brother and neighbour.

The soldiers said that they had helped bury the bodies of civilians murdered by Sri Lankan troops in the Chemmani area. The soldiers claimed that up to 400 people were buried at the site.

Soon after the soldiers claims became public, the SLA sealed off the Chemmani area. The government has been accused by Tamil MPs and international human rights groups of dragging its feet over

investigating the mass graves

Local residents have since reported intense activity in the area, including the movement of Army vehicles at night. The residents have also reported columns of smoke rising from the area.

Some human rights claim that the SLA was destroying the evidence of the mass graves in the latter part of 1998.

They say that the heavy monsoon rains over the past few months would have further damaged or destroyed evidence at the site.

The government has denied deliberately delaying the investigations and said that SLA troops had been deployed to protect the evidence at the site.

Amnesty International says that up to 600 people who disappeared after the SLA captured the Jaffna peninsula in 1996, were either tortured to death or deliberately killed in Sri Lankan military custody.


Related Articles:
08.01.99   Chemmani cover up suspected
23.07.98   SLFP, UNP exchange rights accusations
06.07.98   Accused rapist alleges mass graves in Jaffna

 

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