IC urged to pressure Colombo to allow ICMP to detect more mass graves in Mannaar

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 26 March 2019, 09:23 GMT]
If the Colombo government wants to establish that there are no war-time mass graves in Mannaar district, it should invite the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) to initiate systematic scanning of all former and present military zones for mass graves, say families of persons subjected to enforced disappearances during the times of genocidal war in the district. More than 800 Tamil people have been subjected to enforced disappearances in Mannaar district alone within 19 years between 1990 and 2009. The families of the victims want to initiate a broader campaign calling for an independent international competent authority to take charge of the entire process. The families suspect there are potential sites of mass graves the Sunny Village in Mannaar island as well as in the notorious SL military base in the mainland.

The families of the victims in the Mannaar island say the prevailing uncertainty regarding the CWE/Sathosa mass grave has made their situation worse.

They want an international authority to seize control of the entire process from detection, exhumation and forensic anthropology.

The families of victims in the island suspect more mass graves, particularly in Sunny Village.

The district witnessed several displacements in the early 1990s.

While Tamil-speaking Muslims displaced to Puththa'lam, the Tamil residents of Naa-naaddaan displaced into Madu which was controlled by the LTTE.

The Tamil families living in Vangkaalai, which is located near the main SL military base at Tha'l'laadi in the mainland, displaced to Sunny Village, which is situated on Mannaar - Thaazhvu-paadu Road on the Mannaar island.

However, the occupying SL Army seized the village in 1994 and set up a base there in six acres of lands belonging to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. The camp became the main command point of the SL Army on Mannaar island. The base was further expanded in 1999 and 2000 seizing more lands that belonged to private owners.

A dreaded commander of the SLA, Captain Wijesinghe, was in charge of the Sunny Village military base.

Hundreds of people were subjected to enforced disappearances under his command, the families say.

In 1999, six houses and a mini cinema hall in the nearby village Keeri were burnt by SLA soldiers. Six houses were burnt and three people were wounded when the SLA ran amok in the village in retaliation to the death of a soldier in the area. A Tamil girl was shot in both legs.

In 2004 SL Navy moved into the base taking it over from the SLA. The SL Navy is still refusing to hand back the lands and the properties to private owners and civil authorities.

The Tamil residents from Thaazhavu-paadu, Keeri and Thoaddak-kaadu villages are demanding the SL Navy to vacate the area. However, the SL Navy is continuing to expand the naval detachment even today dashing all hopes for resettlement.

It is under these circumstances, the families of enforced disappeared persons in the district are demanding an internationally mandated authority to detect hitherto unknown mass graves in the region.

The occupying Colombo was avoiding focus on Thirukkeatheesvaram mass grave while it allowed its judiciary to go ahead with allowing a preliminary test of ‘samples’ at a US laboratory from the Sathosa/CWE mass graves.

The families of the enforced disappeared are not convinced of the carbon dating results and have raised several questions with the process.

Forensic Archaeological Consultant Professor at the University of Kelaniya, Raj Somadeva, a Sinhalese, has also rejected the findings.

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