25 killed in detention centre massacre

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 October 2000, 08:46 GMT]
Twenty-five Tamil detainees were massacred and sixteen others were seriously wounded Wednesday when hundreds of villagers attacked the Bindunuwewa detention centre, in the Bandarawela district, about 65 km. south of Kandy, police said.

Villagers, numbering more than one thousand, armed with knives, clubs and sticks stormed Bindunuwewa detention centre in the early hours of Wednesday and attacked the inmates. The mobs later set fire to the centre, which houses people arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and held for rehabilitation, police sources said.

The inmates of the center who had gone through a three-month rehabilitation programme had been demanding their release few days ago. On Tuesday they had told the authorities that they would go on a hunger strike if their release was further delayed.

The Rehabilitation Center is maintained by Ministry of Defence and a retired Army Officer operating from Colombo is in charge of the center.

Officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed shock and deep concern regarding the situation at this rahabilitation centre to house the detainees of the PTA.

Harsha Gunawardene spokesman for the (ICRC) in Colombo said that in accordance with international humanitarian law, the detaining authorities have the sole responsibility for the safety and security of the detainees under all times and all circumstances.

He said the delegates of the ICRC are now in Bindunuwewa and had visited the 12 wounded detainees admitted at Bandarawela hospital. The ICRC delegates were unable to access the Bindunuwewa detainees rehabilitation camp due to the tense situation prevailing there, he added.

In the meantime, human rights organisations and lawyers have appealed to the authorities to provide special security measures to all detention centers throughout the country to prevent similar incidents.


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