Batticaloa remembers Tamils massacred in 1990

[TamilNet, Friday, 05 September 2003, 11:13 GMT]
The people of Batticaloa district Friday observed the Black September Day, remembering the Tamil civilians, men, women, and children killed by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers and Muslim guards thirteen years ago on September 9 when 158 Tamil civilians who sought refuge in the East University Refugee camp and 184 Tamil villagers from Sathurukondan village disappeared after their arrest by the SLA soldiers, sources in Batticaloa said.

The Batticaloa District Peoples Forum organized the Remembrance Day Friday and Mr.Shanmugam Rasanayakam, father of a youth killed in that incident laid the foundation stone to construct a memorial tomb at the Eastern University grounds from where the SLA soldiers removed 184 Tamil civilians who were later massacred, sources said.

Joseph Pararajasingham, MP
A public meeting was held presided over by Batticaloa district parliamentarian Mr.Jospeh Pararajasingham. Parliamentarians Messrs Chandra Nehru, G.Krishnapillai, N.Raviraj and Selvam Adaikalanathan and EPRLF (Suresh wing) leader Mr.Suresh Premachandran spoke, sources said.

A day of mourning was observed throughout the district without disturbing the normal life of the people. Black flags were seen everywhere. Special poojahs were held in Hindu temples and Christian churches in the district, sources said.

In his speech, Mr. Pararajasingham said, “Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne, the then Sri Lankan Defense Minister, said in parliament that no one was arrested during the round up at the Eastern University refugee camp in 1990. I strongly objected to his statement then."

Selvam Adaikalanathan, MP
"When I told him that 158 people were arrested, he denied it," said Mr. Pararajasingham. "Within a few days of the arrests, when I wanted to visit the place along with parliamentarian Mr. Mangala Moonesinghe, initially the SLA refused permission to visit the area, but later relented because of the presence of the Sinhalese M.P. We met with Dr. Jeyasingham and Professor Mano Sabaratnam who administered the refugee camp. They gave us the details of the 158 people.

“I said in parliament that the people arrested at this refugee camp were taken to Navalady near Valaichenai, then beaten up and hacked to death.

"On October 17, the Defense Ministry sent a letter to the Human Rights office in Batticaloa with a copy to me. In that letter, the Ministry said that 32 people were arrested in Vantharumoolai and they were all released within 24 hours. Several massacres by the SLA in Batticaloa were similarly covered up.

“But the Human Rights Commission investigated the incident and in its report said that 158 people were arrested by the SLA and killed. The report said that the SLA’s Capt. Kaluwarachi, Capt. Dias Richard alias Capt. Mohamed Munas and Maj. Majeed were responsible for the massacre. But no action has been taken against them, and even today the army officers are living freely.”

Kausalyan hoisting the Tamil Eelam flag

Mr. E. Kousalyan, the political head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for the Batticaloa-Ampara district, said, "Successive Sri Lankan governments, their armed forces and their stooges carried out many atrocities and massacres in the Northeast to suppress the struggle of the people for self-determination. They thought their massacres would destroy the struggle. But contrary to their expectations, Tamil people are continuing to express their aspirations through events of this nature, and are holding their heads high."

Mr. Selvam Adaikalanathan, the Vanni district Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian, said, “Whenever massacres by Sri Lankan armed forces took place, the government of the day covered them up, and supported such actions by its forces. Then the governments tried to hoodwink the people by appointing commissions of inquiry."

"When such commissions got close to finding out the truth," he said, "the inquiry would be inordinately delayed, citing several false reasons, and eventually the commission would provide a report without completing its proper inquiry, without holding anyone accountable. This situation allowed the continuation of such massacres of Tamil people as the people behind such actions were allowed to go scot-free.”

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