Remembrance day for University Refugee Camp disappeared

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 September 2001, 06:39 GMT]
Memorial functions were held Wednesday in Vantharumoolai and Valaichenai to mark the 11th anniversary of disappearance of 158 Tamils who were arrested by the Sri Lanka security forces from the Eastern University refugee camp on September 5, 1990. Posters condemning the security forces for the murdering the refugees were seen in several parts of these towns, sources said.

Special prayers were performed in Hindu temples. White flags were flown in Chenkaladi, Kommathurai, Sithaandy and Vantharumoolai areas, said sources. Relatives said that preparations are underway to build a memorial for the disappeared.

About 45 thousand refugees were living in the Eastern University campus in Vantharumoolai when the peace talks between the Premadasa Government and the Liberation Tigers collapsed on June 10, 1990.

The report of the Presidential Commission established to investigate the disappearance, said in its report that early morning 6 am on September 5, Sri Lankan army soldiers stationed in Kommathurai army camp and soldiers who arrived from Batticaloa town surrounded the refugee camp and ordered the inmates to the athletic ground of the campus. 158 of those assembled were then hand-cuffed and were taken in busses towards Valaichenai., the report further said.

Relatives of the disappeared said that they received reliable information that the busses were taken to Naavalady where all the 158 refugees were murdered. Residents of Naavalady say that Muslim Homeguards worked with the Sri Lanka security forces in the alleged killings.

Sources say that a key member of the group that participated in the alleged killing is currently serving as the chief body-guard to a Muslim minister.

The Commission report says that a further 16 people were arrested from this camp on September 23, 1990. The report adds that during the same period 43 more Tamils from Chenkalady, 66 from Valaichenai, 33 from Sithaandy Murugan Temple refugee camp and 16 from Kommathurai were arrested by the security forces and disappeared.

Sources point out that several army officers who were implicated in the disappearances and alleged murders by eyewitness accounts, and whose names were listed as such in the Presidential Commission's report, have received career promotions.


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