Colombo twists facts, stops excavation of Mannaar mass grave

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 March 2014, 23:32 GMT]
A person of social leadership living at Maanthai in Mannaar for more than 50 years categorically told TamilNet on Saturday that there was never a burial site at the locality near the historic Thirukkeatheesvaram temple as being claimed by the Sri Lankan Archaeological Department. The Colombo government abruptly ended the exhumation of human skeletons from a mass grave where more than 80 human skeletons have been recovered since December 20, 2013. The latest move by Colombo to dismiss the claim of mass grave comes as the issue gained the attention of UN Hight Commissioner for Human Rights Ms Navi Pillay in her recommendations urged the SL government to undertake an independent and credible criminal and forensic investigations with international assistance into all alleged violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including recently discovered mass graves.

Reuters filed a story on Friday citing Sri Lanka’s director general of Archaeological Department Senerath Dissanayake as claiming that the site of the alleged mass grave was a graveyard and that the excavation was therefore being cancelled. Dissanayake was justifying his claim as the bodies had been "buried systematically".

Living in the locality since 1964 and having led the Rural Development Society, the person of social leadership, who didn’t wish to be named due to security concerns, also denied another claim by a Sri Lankan Police spokesman in Colombo that the victims could be those who had succumbed to a Malaria epidemic in 1936-38.

He also said that the area where the mass grave is located was a so-called High Security Zone of the occupying Sri Lankan military between 1990 and 2002. All the people were uprooted from the area and no body was allowed to enter the area. The only exception was that the SL military escorted transport for those who wanted to visit the temple during the annual religious rituals observed at Thirukkeatheesvaram temple. The SL military used vehicles with tinted glass to transport the few civilians who were allowed to visit the temple.

In the meantime, Subramaniam Sivakaran, the Youth Front General Secretary of the Ilankai Tamil Arasuk Kadchi (ITAK) said there were gunshot wounds in the skulls and the fractions in the skeletons had indicated signs of torture. He asked how could the skeletons exhumed in standing position be part of a ‘systematic’ burial.

The mass grave is located close to the temple road where a Catholic church, PWD hostel and a MPCS building were situated.


Chronology:

 

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