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Tamils in Ampara mourn victims of 1990 massacre

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 12 August 2003, 14:47 GMT]
A general shutdown (hartal) was observed by Tamil communities in Ampara on Tuesday to mark the 13th anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of Tamils by the Sri Lankan Special Task Forces, Muslim youths and homeguards in Veeramunai, 38 km southwest of Batticaloa town, in 1990, sources in Ampara said.

Shops were shut down and transport services to Pottuvil and Akkaraipattu came to a standstill. Transport service to Thirukovil was completely paralyzed. The entire Tamil area was deserted and normalcy of life was disrupted, sources said, adding that Government offices did not function and schools did not open.

Flags were seen all over the Tamil areas and more police personnel and commandos of the Special Task Force were deployed at strategic junctions, sources in Ampara said.

Veeramunai is an ancient Tamil village close to Sammanthurai and is surrounded by several Muslim villages.

Following the start of the war between the Sri Lanka Army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on June 11,1990, the village saw three massacres carried by Muslim youths and homeguards, the Sri Lankan government’s Army and the Special Task Force, Human Rights Activists in the village said.

The STF is particularly notorious for encouraging and carrying out several massacres of Tamil villagers during the war and has been implicated in several human rights complaints, the activists said.

On June 20 and 29 in 1990, homeguards and Sri Lanka Army personnel rounded up hundreds of Tamil males regardless of their age, took them to the Security forces camp in Konduvedduvan and later into the jungles and killed them. The forces later burnt down the homes and other property of the dead, sources from the village said.

Early morning on August 12, 1990, STF personnel, Muslim youths from some extremist ('Jihad') groups and homeguards surrounded the villagers of Veeramunai. With the previous two massacres still fresh in their minds, the villagers said, they feared for their lives and sought refuge in the Sinthayathirai Pillaiyar temple, in the belief that the Hindu temple offered them a measure of security from the attackers. But the STF personnel, homeguards and Muslim youths rained down gunfire at the temple and gunned down the people indiscriminately, killing 56 of them instantly, including children, women and elders, the sources said.

Following this third massacre in the village, Tamil villagers could no longer live there. The villagers sought refuge in a refugee camp in Karaitheevu. Some of the villagers returned to the village in 1993 and continue to live there, but some have never returned and are still living in refugee camps, the sources said.

Related Articles:
12.08.03   Eastern Muslims observe hartal, remember dead
04.02.98   Veeramunai's perpetual fear
04.01.98   Veeramunai tense after killings


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