Massacre victims remembered in Batticaloa

[TamilNet, Friday, 21 September 2001, 13:07 GMT]
Religious observances were held in Puthukudiyiruppu, 10 kilometres south of Batticaloa, Friday in remembrance of 17 men, women and children who were hacked to death allegedly by the Sri Lanka army soldiers on 21 September 1990. The Sri Lankan government has not made any effort so far to investigate the massacre. Several children escaped the massacre with machete and gunshot wounds. Nineteen civilians were killed here again on 5 December 1995, allegedly by the Special Task Force.

The second massacre was in retaliation to an attack on the local STF camp by the Liberation Tigers. Relatives were allowed to recover the bodies of those killed in the December '95 massacre three days after the incident.

R.Varatharajan was a ten years old when the people of his village were, along with his family, taken by a group of SLA soldiers and Muslim home guards to the beach behind the village on the night of 5 September 1990.

"We were ordered to sit by the beach. Then they blindfolded and tied the hands of four persons from among us and took them away. The soldiers told us that they were taking the four aside for questioning. Then they took four more. By now it was obvious to us that something sinister was afoot- and everyone was scared. The soldiers and home guards were hacking to death those who were taken away in the shallow ditch near the beach. Some of the villagers started to run for their lives in the dark. When the soldiers saw them escape, they opened fire on us and attacked with machetes those who could not run fast," said Varatharajan who now ekes out a living as a reporter for a local paper.

A bullet ripped through ten year old Varatharajan's ribs as the soldiers opened fire on the villagers who were seated on the beach. His father was cut deep on his right shoulder and has lost the use of his hand.

Varatharajan's mother and little sister were less fortunate.

They were hacked to death by the machete-wielding soldiers and were dumped in to the ditch by the Puthukudiyiruppu beach.

"The next day people who were bold enough to go to the beach found my mother and little sister gruesomely murdered in the ditch. Appa (father) was seriously wounded. I was writhing in pain. The whole area was gripped by terror. So we could not even give my mother and sister a proper burial," Varatharajan says.

"We stopped believing many years ago that the government would ever bring the murderers to book," said the daughter of one of the victims.

Last year the villagers of Puthukudiyiruppu erected a memorial for those who were massacred on the night of 21 September 1990.

The ditch where the villagers were hacked to death. (Photo: TamilNet)


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