Batticaloa shuts down for massacred children
[TamilNet, Monday, 07 May 2001, 02:43 GMT]
Shops and businesses were closed and few people were on the roads Monday in the Batticaloa district to observe the Buddhist festival if Vesak as a day of mourning for the 10 children from an orphanage who were killed by Sri Lanka army soldiers on 17 May last year. The main road from Kalmunai to Batticaloa was blocked at Ondaachchi Madam, Kaluthavalai and Thalangkudah by villagers. Fourteen persons, including ten children who came to the Batticaloa town from an orphanage in Aayiththiyamalai, were shot dead during the Vesak festival by SLA troops last year.
The SLA sought an apology for the massacre from the people of Batticaloa in January this year, blaming a drunken commanding officer for ordering troops to open fire on civilians.
The students and teachers of the Eastern University in Batticaloa called on the people of Batticaloa to observe the Vesak festival as a day of mourning during a protest on 27 April.
All the main roads in Batticaloa were deserted Monday morning, despite a warning by the local SLA brigade commander that no one should take part in the Hartal (general shut down).