Inquiry call over civilian deaths

[TamilNet, Thursday, 23 November 2000, 17:08 GMT]
The Secretary General of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) Mr.R.Sampanthan has requested the Secretary of the Ministry of Defense to conduct an "expeditious impartial inquiry" into the killing of four Tamil civilians at Gopalapuram in Trincomalee district Wednesday evening by Sri Lanka Navy personnel. Meanwhile, two children were reported killed when shells hit Muttur jetty Thursday.

In a letter faxed to the Defense Secretary Thursday afternoon Sampanthan, former parliamentarian for the Trincomalee district said that 4 civilians, namely Vijeyarajah Jeyakanthan, Jeevananthan Prashanthan, James Jeyaprathap and Sinnathamby Wijekumar, all of Gopalapuram had been shot dead by Naval personnel who are responsible for security in the area.

James Jeyaprathap, one of those killed was a student at the Gopalapuram Tamil Mixed School. Gopalapuram is village in Nilaveli, 12 km. north of Trincomalee on Uppuevli-Kuchchaveli road.

"The four Tamil persons killed in this incident on the evening of Wednesday were proceeding towards the lagoon at Gopalapuram to install and place in position fishing nets, for the purpose of catching fish. The normal practice is to do so in the evening and to collect the fish caught in the morning," Sampanthan wrote.

"These four Tamil civilians have been shot dead by Naval personnel who are responsible for security in the area, either deliberately or recklessly. The people in the village heard the firing, but did not venture out, as they do no do so after dark. It was only in the morning of Thursday that what had happened was discovered," he said.

"An effort will now be made to involve these four persons with some subversive activity to justify the killing. This could only further anger the civilian populace in the area," he warned.

"Due to the prevailing weather conditions, fishing in the sea is not possible, and many people survive by fishing in the lagoon. After this incident, people would be afraid to do so, and would be deprived of their livelihood," he added.

"The situation in the area is very tense with people greatly agitated over the killing of innocent civilians. I request that an expeditious impartial inquiry be conducted and that the offenders be dealt with. Please take steps to pay substantial compensation to the families of the victims," he concluded.

Sampanthan has also requested the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to conduct an independent investigation into the killing of Tamil civilians at Gopalapuram.

Meanwhile, police sources said two Tamil speaking Muslim students were killed and several others wounded when two shells hit Mutur Jetty, about 8 km. south of Trincomalee around 7.45 a.m. Thursday morning.

The wounded were admitted to the Trincomalee hospital. Sources said majority of the victims are students of Al-Minar School in Mutur. All schools in Muttur town were closed down and tension prevailed in the area town following the incident, the sources said.

 

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