STF disruptions continue in southeast

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 05 June 2002, 19:28 GMT]
Commandos of the Special Task Force, the elite counter insurgency arm of the Sri Lankan security forces, harassed and tortured a youth who went to get medicine in the Thirukkovil District Hospital in the Amparai district, according to a complaint taken up the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) this week. The STF has been encamped in the premises of the district hospital in Thirukkovil, the large Tamil village on Sri Lankaís southeastern coast, for more than 17 years, despite protests by residents and local human rights activists.

In a complaint taken up for further investigation by the SLMM during its weekly meeting Tuesday, Mr. V. Vimalakumar of Alaiyadi Street in Vinayagapuram, a settlement three kilometres south of Thirukkovil, states that he went to get medicine from the Thirukkovil Hospital located inside the STF camp on 30 May; that while he was waiting there to obtain the medicine a group of STF commandos had harassed and tortured him, accusing him of connections with the Liberation Tigers. Later, they had attempted to drag him inside their quarters. Fearing the worst, Vimalakumar broke free and ran into the Peopleís Bank office nearby for refuge. The STF commandos followed him there too and harassed him again but could not drag him back into their camp as he was pleading for his life inside the bank, according to the complaint.

Thirukkovil STF camp
The entrance of the Thirukkovil STF camp. Sentry post on right. (Please click on the image for larger photo - TamilNet photo)

Another Tamil youth in the same area, Narayanan Arunthavarasa of Kolavil was forced by the STF in Saakamam to climb a tree infested with giant forest ants while he was returning from work in his field on 1 June, according to his complaint to the Amparai SLMM. He said he was threatened by the commandos to stay atop the tree regardless of the ant bites. He was assaulted when he was allowed to climb down a few hours later, he said. Saakamam is 6 kilometres south west of Thirukkovil.

Meanwhile, a member of the cease-fire monitoring committee for the Amparai district said Wednesday said he wont be able to carry out his duties unless the Officer in Charge of the Special Task Force camp in Karaithivu, 48 kilometres south of Batticaloa, is transferred from the area. In letter to the SLMM, the monitor, Mr. Rasaiah Shanmuganathan, charged that it became quite common for the STF to threaten the youth and the public of Karaithivu after the OIC assumed command.

"I was threatened over the telephone on 30 May around 11.30 p.m. to be ready with coffins as the situation would change in a month. My friend Mr. K. Mahalingasivam (former Pradheshiya Sabha member) of Central College Road, Karaithivu -5 was also threatened on 1 June around 1.30 a.m. The telephone number has been recorded. I request you to inform the head of the department, STF, to transfer the present OIC of the STF Karaithivu in order to carry on (sic) the peace process smoothly. Otherwise the threatening and torturing of the youth and public will continued by him (sic) and the innocent civilians will be trouble," Mr. Shanmuganthan said in the letter.

He informed the head of the SLMM for the Amparai district, Mr. Erkkie Platan, during the mission's weekly meeting at its office near Amparai town Tuesday evening that he would not be able to function amid threats by the OIC of the Karaithivu STF commando camp.

The head of the SLMM Wednesday met the senior STF officer for the Amparai region, Mr. R. W. M. C Ranavanna to discuss the incidents in Veeramunai and Karaithivu in which the commandos threatened villagers with death and brutally assaulted youth on false charges. Mr. Ranavanna assured Mr. Palatan that he would investigate the incidents if there were complaints or evidence from the affected parties.

Mr. Palatan expressed shock and dismay that a member of the monitoring mission was threatened with death in the manner described by Mr. Shanmuganathan.

Related Articles:
27.05.02   STF threatens war, tells village to make coffins
25.01.02   Commandos camp in hospital despite peace promise


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