MP probes villagers’ ‘disappearances’

[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 October 1999, 10:13 GMT]
(Correction) Three Tamil villagers, who were arrested by Sinhala homeguards, were reported to have been murdered, said sources in the Eastern province. However, earlier reports that their mutilated bodies had been recovered were false.

The villagers who had been displaced from Sinnawaththai were living at Malayarkaddu, a Tamil border village in the Porathivupattru Division.

They were arrested on Friday by the home guards when they went to collect milk, according to a witness who escaped from being abducted by the Sinhala homeguards.

On information given by the witness, Mr. Pararajasingham, M.P. for Batticaloa, brought the disappearance to the notice of the Chairman of the Anti-Harassment Committee Mr. Lakshman Jayakodythe and the Officer-in Charge of the Special Task Force (STF) camp of the area, Rohan Siriwardene.

The MP also met relatives of the missing people. The relatives have also informed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The STF, which is in charge of the security of the village, had informed the MP that they were unaware of such arrests by the homeguards.

However, some residents claim the STF had at one stage agreed to recover the bodies of the missing villagers, but later retracted this, claiming no knowledge of their whereabouts.

The villagers who are missing are Seenithamby Sathasivam (42), Somanathan Panchchadcharam (51) and S. Velautham (56).

The police stationed in the area have not taken any action against the homeguards responsible for the abduction and ‘disappearances’, residents alleged.

Sources in the area say tension prevails in the boarder villages following the abductions. Tamil villagers fear similar ‘disappearances’ by Sinhalese homeguards may continue as revenge for the massacre of Sinhala civilians at Konagala on September 18, the sources added.

Hundreds of cattle belonged to Tamils in the village are also reported to be missing, sources said.

All the Tamil families in Sinnawaththai are displaced and their houses have been destroyed by the Sinhala villagers and home guards, the sources said.

Following the killings of Sinhala villagers in Konagala, the government has armed Sinhala villagers and 1,500 youths have been recruited to the ranks of the Sinhala homeguards.

This has caused fear among Tamils living in the boarder villages of the Ampara district, residents said.


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