Police to investigate mass graves

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 July 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The National Human Rights Commission has urged the Sri Lankan Government to protect the areas of Chemmani where the bodies of between 300 and 400 people who disappeared whilst in military custody in Jaffna are alleged to have been buried. Sri Lankan State radio, meanwhile, said that the police had been asked to investigate the allegations.

The Human Rights Commission said that there are indications that some interested parties would try to alter the topography of the location of the mass graves to remove clues or traces, and it urged the government to prohibit unauthorised persons from entering the area.

Meanwhile, the mass graves are to be debated in the Sri Lankan Parliament today, following a request by the Minister of Port Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction M.H.M. Ashraff, for an adjournment debate on the issue.

The speaker of the Parliament has allocated one hour for this adjournment debate.

Sri Lankan State radio said in its afternoon news today that the Ministry of Defence has advised the Sri Lankan Police to launch investigations on the alleged mass graves.

Hundreds of people disappeared in the Jaffna peninsula after the Sri Lankan military moved into the area in early 1996, according to human rights groups.

Amnesty International said last November that it believed that up to 600 of over 700 people who disappeared had been tortured to death or deliberately killed whilst in Sri Lankan military custody.

A Sri Lankan soldier on trial last month for the rape and murder of a Jaffna schoolgirl, Krishanthiv Kumaraswamy said in court that he knew of the location on the peninsula of mass graves of 300 to 400 of people.

There have been widespread calls for the Sri Lankan government to investigate the allegations and excavate any graves found.

 

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