Fear said stifling Batticaloa massacre memory

[TamilNet, Sunday, 09 September 2001, 15:51 GMT]
The brutal massacre of 184 Tamil villagers, including 42 children below the age of ten and several pregnant women, on 9 September 1990 in the Sri Lanka army camp in Saththurukondaan, on the outskirts of the Batticaloa town was commemorated Sunday in Valaichenai. A public meeting was organised by the Koralaipattu Human Rights Organisation (KHRO) in Valaichenai town to mark the eleventh anniversary of the massacre.

Addressing the meeting, Mr. A. Rusangan, the editor of Thinakathir, the Tamil daily published in Batticaloa, said, "There are many mass graves of people who were brutally massacred by the Sri Lankan security forces in this district. But most people are scared to investigate them. We cannot live in fear always. We should strive to bring the truth out".

Commenting on the fact that the Sri Lankan government is yet to investigate the brutal massacre by the SLA, Mr. A. Shanmuganathan, the President of the KHRO who presided said: "It is honourable to stand upright and fight for our rights than to beg on our knees".

ěThis is the first time in eleven years that we got the courage to remember our people who were killed so brutally. Fear suppressed their memory to the point of total erasureî, said Mr. R. Jeevaratnam, a local school teacher who addressed the gathering.

Mr. S. Jayanandamoorthy, the secretary of the KHRO, said: "there are more than 80 NGOs in this district. But the consortium of NGOs in Batticaloa was not willing to organise a meeting to mark the massacre. The NGO consortium came with a lame excuse to dissociate itself from this effort. We should be wary of such opportunists who pay only lip service to the welfare of the people. Eleven years have gone by since thousands were mercilessly massacred in the east; and yet intellectuals and NGOs in Batticaloa who claim to represent the interests of the people of this district didnít make any effort to even remember these mass murders. Nowhere in the north and east did the SLA massacre so many people as it did in Batticaloa; yet not a single mass murder of civilians committed by the army here has been investigated so far. This is basically due to the apathy and opportunism of local NGOs and intellectuals".

The SLA rounded up and killed 184 men women and children from the villages of Saththurukkondaan(38), Kokkuvil (47), Panichchiadi(37), Pillaiyaradi (62) on the night of September 1990.

According to the Final report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Involuntary removal or disappearance of persons in the Northeast Province published in 1994 ( P.102 to 106), five infants below one were also killed.

One of them, S. Priya, a three-month-old baby girl was hacked in two by a soldier at the scene of the massacre, according to evidence of a survivor.

Another, infant, N. Venuraj, a three month old baby boy, of Panichchaiadi was hacked to death along with his mother N. Sithrathevi, 22, brother, N. Sivatharsan, 6, and his sister, N. Sivatharsini, 4.

Among those massacred were 85 women, many of who were gang raped before they were hacked to death with machetes. Twenty-eight victims were over 60.

Captain Warnakulasuriya, the Sri Lanka army officer who was in charge of the Saththurukkondaan Boysí Town camp where the 184 were hacked to death according to residents and the sole survivor of the massacre, told the commission in his very brief evidence that no one was arrested by his men from the area on 9 September 1990.

The Sri Lankan government did not investigate the massacre further.

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