Vesak Massacre remembered in Batticaloa

[TamilNet, Saturday, 17 May 2003, 18:19 GMT]
In Aayiththiyamalai, a village in the district’s interior, 16 kilometres west of the eastern town, a special service was held Saturday at the local church for ten orphans who were massacred by Sri Lanka army soldiers and Policemen during the Vesak festival in Batticaloa town three years ago on 17 May. Sri Lankan armed forces, however, celebrated Vesak, the annual Buddhist light festival as usual in Batticaloa this week.

Children from the Catholic Church orphanage in Aayiththiyamalai who were on a visit to Batticaloa on 17 May, 2000 to see special Vesak lanterns and other festival decorations by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the eastern town were shot dead by special forces soldiers from the SLA’s 23-3 Brigade HeadquarteArs.

Eleven civilians were also shot dead by the SF soldiers in the ‘Vesak Massacre’.

vesak lanterns in Batti
A Sri Lanka army soldier helping build a giant lantern in Batticaloa town Saturday

Fr. Chandra Fernando, the priest who accompanied the children from the orphanage as a special guardian and guide was seriously wounded in the shooting. The priest, though in a critical condition, was treated in secrecy to avoid blackmail and harassment by the SLA.

“Investigations by Colombo into this gruesome massacre were half hearted from the beginning”, said Mr.Joseph Pararajasingham,Tamil National Alliance MP.

The Batticaloa Vesak Massacre was not fully investigated by the Sri Lanka Police. No perpetrator of the gruesome massacre was ever bought before justice.

vesak celebrations in Batti vihara
Buddhist shrine in Batticaloa where Sri Lankan armed forces hold the festival

Related Articles:
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07.05.01   Armed guards for Vesak lantern
07.05.01   Batticaloa shuts down for massacred children
27.04.01   Vesak should be day of mourning - eastern students


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