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Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

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Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Indictment against Sri Lanka > Genocide'83 > Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01 > Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils  - in the Shadow of a Ceasefire - 02 todate: Introduction & Index  > Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils in the Shadow of a Ceasefire - 02 todate: the Record Speaks > Disappearances & Extra Judicial Killings > Rape & Murder  > Torture  > Sri Lanka's War Crimes > Censorship, Disinformation & Murder of Journalists > Patterns of  Impunity  > Sri Lanka Accused at United Nations > Rajiv Gandhi's War Crimes

INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils
...in the Shadow of a Ceasefire

  • Sri Lanka Army continues to rape and murder Tamils in Tamil Eelam, this time in Vankalai, Mannar
    TamilNet 9 June 2006

Thousands mourn Vankalai victims, 10 June 2006
International Federation of Tamils calls upon High Commissioner For Human Rights to condemn murder and rape of Tamils in Vankalai, 14 June 2006 
Vicious Violence wipes out family of four in Vankalai, D.B.S. Jeyaraj 13 June 2006,
Mannar Women for Human Rights and Democracy 18 June 2006
Brian Senewiratne on Sri Lanka Bombs its Own People, 27 April 2006 "..I am attaching some photographs mailed from Trincomalee on 26 April 2006. If you find them shocking, I tender no apology. It is time the world was shocked by what is going on behind the closed doors of Sri Lanka..."  ]

 

SLA soldiers armed with bayonets and knives entered the house of a family of four and slaughtered 35-year-old father, 27-year-old mother, 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son Thursday midnight in Vankalai, 12 km southeast of Mannar. Eyewitnesses in the area, Thomaspuri Ward No 10 in Vankalai, have told Mannar Additional Magistrate that they could identify the soldiers involved in the massacre. Villagers alleged the mother was raped before the massacre. Tension prevails in Vankalai. Religious leaders including the Bishop of Mannar, parliamentarians and civil society members in Mannar have rushed to site. Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission officials have visited the massacre site.


 

The victims killed were: Mary Medaline (Chitra), 27, the mother, Moorthy Martin, 35, the father, Ann Nilxon, 7, the son and Ann Luxica, 9, the daughter. Martin was a carpenter by profession.  Soldiers have also used the carpenter tools to kill the victims. Bootprints and a miltary badge with star were found at the massacre site. Bodies were discovered by fellow residents of the area, around 5.30 a.m., Friday morning, police sources said.  The family, once displaced as refugees in India, had returned during the Ceasefire and resettled in the village, the residents said.  Mannar Additional Magistrate T.J. Prabakaran visited the massacre site and ordered the Police to carry out investigations into the massacre. Villagers from Thomaspuri, Sukanthapuri and Bastipuri have started to flee from their villages.


Thousands mourn Vankalai victims
TamilNet, 10 June 2006

More than five thousand people took part in the funeral procession of the four victims in Vankalai who were beaten, stabbed and hanged to death allegedly by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers Thursday night. The funeral Mass was held Saturday morning at St. Anne's Church at 9:00 a.m. by Vicar General A. Xavior Cruz and Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph, sources in Mannar said.

Religious leaders, community leaders, Governmental, Non Governmental officials, Tamil National Alliance TELO, EPRLF (Suresh) members and Vanni district parliamentarian Sivasakthi Anandan attended the burial held at Vankalai burial grounds.

Local residents and eye witnesses told Mannar Additional Magistrate Mr. T. J. Prabakaran who went to the scene of the murders that they had seen three Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers in uniform around 10 a.m. on the day of the killings Thursday 8th June 2006.

The soldiers stated that they were on a routine search operation to ascertain the names and identities of the residents of the household and their occupations, and the details of their period of residence at the current location.

The family had fled Sri Lanka and was living as refugees in India returning only a year and a half ago to Vankalai. Moorthy Martin, 35 years, was a carpenter by trade. His tools had been used to torture and kill him and his family, according to medical sources. The escalation of violence in Vankalai, Naruvilikulam areas, and due to fear from indiscriminate SLA firing during night hours many Vankalai villagers leave their homes around 5 pm to sleep in the church premises or with relatives in villages many kilometers away.

According to the older sister of Chitra, one of the fatalities, she and Chitra’s family did not want sleep in the church that night since Martin was to return home late. She had gone to Chitra’s house and had asked for the children to be sent to her house. Chitra had said the children would go as soon as her husband Moorthy Martin returned from work. Chitra’s sister had waited until 7:30 p.m. and as Martin had not yet returned from work, she left without the children expecting them to follow as soon as Martin arrived.

After the killings, around four thousand restive villagers, angered by the massacre, gathered near the house. The riot police had been called to provide additional security in the area guarding against outbreak of violence by angered villagers.

Rev. Fr. Rayappu Joseph, the Bishop of Mannar, the Vankalai SL Commanding officer and village representatives on Friday met at St. Ann’s church; the SLA Commanding officer denied any involvement of the Sri Lankan military in the massacre.

It is alleged that Mary Madeline (Chitra), 27 years, the mother of the two children, was raped by soldiers before being stabbed in the chest. Her stab wounds were fatal causing death within minutes, medical sources said.The Medical Superintendent has sent the clothes, blood samples and other specimens taken from of the fatalities including swabs from the alleged rape victims to SL government forensic experts for examination.

Both the father and the two children are alleged to have been tortured, and stabbed before being killed by hanging. The father Moorthy Martin had been stabbed in the stomach and chest. Son Ann Nilxon had been stabbed in the stomach causing his intestines to disgorge.Daughter Ann Luxia had stab wounds around her viginal area.

The bodies were returned to relatives 8 pm Friday after postmortem examinations. The bodies were held at the St Anne’s church nursery school until the completion of the funeral Mass.The Additional Magistrate Mr. Prabakaran has asked eye witnesses to register their statements with the police, legal sources said. The commanding officer of the SLA in Vankalai and the chief of the Vankalai police have been instructed by the Magistrate to attend a hearing set for 23rd June 2006. An identification parade has been scheduled and the coroner’s inquest has also been fixed for the same day, legal sources said.


Vicious Violence wipes out family of four in Vankalai, D.B.S. Jeyaraj 13 June 2006

The on going ethnic fratricide in Sri Lanka has seen brutal violence on several occasions. The savagery shown in the slaying of a family of four in the North - Western village of Vankalai last Thursday was perhaps bestiality at its worst. Even the most hardened eyes would have turned moist at the terrible sight of the four victims killed so cruelly by persons who can only be described as barbarians.

Gruesomely graphic photographs of the four victims have been displayed in various sections of the Tamil media. The father, daughter and son were hanging dead in one room while the mother was dead on the floor in another room. The intestines of the seven year old boy are seen protruding. The vaginal area of the twenty - seven year old mother and nine year old daughter were extremely bloody. It appears that the killers have sadistically tortured their victims including the thirty - eight year old father.

The scene of this terrible massacre was in a village called Vankalai in the North - Western district of Mannar. Vankalai is situated north by north - west on the mainland . It is four and a half miles away from Thallaadi military base.. It is about six miles to the South - East of Mannar town.

In recent times the people of Vankalai had been retiring to the St. Annes and other churches during nightfall. Staying at home during night was not safe due to the security situation. The victimised family too used to do that. The family had been absent from Church on Thursday night. When relatives and neighbours checked on the following morning they found the entire family dead. The victims had been hacked, beaten, tortured and hung. The mother and daughter seemed to have been violated sexually.

The brutal massacre has resulted in much tension. Though there are no eyewitnesses to the actual killing or torture the people of Vankalai suspect members of the security forces as being responsible. The state and its media have denied security force responsibilty . There has been a counter charge that the tigers were responsible. Few people in Mannar believe that. The Catholic Bishop of Mannar Joseph Rayappu has stated that those responsible for security were behind the massacre.

It is difficult to understand how people could inflict such sadistic brutality on their fellow human beings particularly little children.Some background details may help in understanding at least the context in which this vicious violence occurred.

Vankalai is a pre- dominantly fishing cum farming village. It lies along the Naanaattan road with the sea to its west. The historic Saivaite shrine Thirukketheeeswaram is further up to its North. Naanaattan is further down to its south. Towards the east the biggest village is Uyilankulam. All these places have security camps.

Vankalai is a Christian village with Roman Catholics being more than 99 % and Protestant groups comprising the remainder. In earlier times the Muslim area of Erukkalampitty was the village with the largest population in Mannar district. With Muslims being driven away by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1990 , Vankalai has become the largest now. Currently its population figure is a little over 8000. Vankalai and Pesalai are inhabited mainly by members of the Bharatha community. [St. Annes Church - Courtesy of 125 Years Anniversary Jubilee Malar, Mannar.com]

Vankalai is a blend of “Neithal” (fishing region) and “Marutham” ( agrarian lands). Apart from fisheries and farming there is also an educational and professional tradition. There are a number of teachers, government officials , clergymen and professionals from the area. Former TULF Parliamentarian of Mannar P. Soosaidasan is from Vankalai. Even now many top bureaucrats of the district hail from Vankalai.

The past years of ethnic strife have seen Vankalai also being affected like many other Tamil villages in the region. In 1985 the Catholic priest Fr. Mary Bastian a native of Vankalai himself and about twenty others were killed by the security forces. In later years a prominent school principal from Vankalai and some others were also killed and dumped in a well by security forces. There have also been many other minor incidents. The climate of terror compelled many residents of Vankalai to relocate to other places in the Island, cross over to India or go abroad to Western Countries.

The ceasefire that came into force from Feb 23rd 2002 gave the people a much needed respite from violence. Vankalai began flourishing . Many refugees from India began to return slowly. Life was blossoming again.

The victims of the Vankalai massacre were members of one such family that returned from India. The husband was 38 year old Sinnaiah Moorthy Martin. The wife was 27 year old Anthony Mary Madeleine. The daughter was 9 year old Anne Lakshika. The son was 7 year old Anne Dilakshan. The family had re - settled in Vankalai about a year and a half ago.

Martin was not a native of Vankalai. He was from Vidathal theevu. He had married Mary Madeleine and settled down in Vankalai. Madeleine also called Chitra was from Vankalai and had many close relatives. Both Children had been named Anne because the St. Annes Church in Vankalai was the family church. Martin was by profession a carpenter.

Several youths from Vankalai had joined the LTTE and other militant movements in the past. Several youths were tiger members even now. The elders of Vankalai had used this “connection” to extract a promise from the LTTE that they should not “camp” in the village or engage in any violent activity there. This was honoured by the LTTE for four years.

With the LTTE not engaging in any hostile action in the vicinity of Vankalai the security personnel also kept the peace. Apart from the Thallady base there was a camp and some security posts in Vankalai too. There was also a Police post. There was very little friction between the people and the security forces in Vankalai. This was the general situation in Mannar district too.

All this began to change after Mahinda Rajapakse became President. Relations between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the LTTE began deteriorating. Soon the tigers commenced a “peoples war” . Members of the security forces were targeted . One consequence of this was the shattering of relative peace in Mannar. The landmining of a naval convoy in Pesalai saw the situation in Mannar changing drastically.

More personnel were deployed in the district and security intensified in Mannar. This tightening of security was felt in Vankalai too with security posts being set up in the junctions and even interior. Friction began increasing between the people and security personnel in Vankalai. The situation got aggravated with the induction of a fresh security personnel batch recently. According to Vankalai residents these security men were an uncouth, indisciplined lot. They reveled in uttering obscenities and engaging in indecent gestures. Their favourite target was the school girl population of Vankalai. One act was to exhibit condoms to the girls.

It was against this backdrop that the LTTE broke its pledge to the village elders and struck in the vicinity. On Thursday June 1st a claymore mine was set off on the border of Vankalai and adjacent Naruvilikkulam. A two wheel tractor was taking food to an army chekpost at Naruvilikkulam from Vankalai camp at about 7. 30 pm when the explosion was triggered. One soldier was killed and two injured.

Upon hearing of the landmine incident soldiers stationed at Vankalai camp began firing indiscriminately for nearly 20 minutes till they were brought under control. 42 year old Arulnesan and his 12 year old daughter Lorenzia were injured seriously and admitted later to the Muringan hospital.

The indiscriminate firing made the Vankalai people panic stricken.nitiallt families fled Vankalai. They began returning in the next few days. Thereafter people began expecting massive military reprisals and started avoiding staying at home during night. They slept in churches during night. The Vankalai camp used to discharge a few rounds of fire regularly in the night.

The situation worsened further when the LTTE threw a grenade on an army patrol near the Eruvittan junction on the Naanaattan - Arippu road on Monday June 5th. There was an exchange of fire for about 10 minutes. One soldier was killed. Later soldiers began assaulting civilians in the area. This caused more insecurity among villages in the region including Vankalai.

The Martin - Madeleine family lived in the 10th ward precincts of Vankalai. Their housing scheme was named “Thomaspuri” or “Thomas township”. It was named after former Catholic Cardinal Thomas Cooray. The adjoining scheme was called “Bastipuri” This was after the slain priest Fr,. Mary Bastian.

The people of Thomaspuri and Bastipuri went to St. Annes Church in the night for security. On Thursday 8th the elder sister of Chitra or Madeleine started out to Church. The younger sibling said that her husband had not returned yet and asked her “akka” to go on . She said she would follow with her family after the husband returned. The family never went to St. Annes.

On the following morning the elder sister returned and tried to find out why Chitras family had not turned up. There was no answer when she called out. Knocking on the door had no response. Fearing the worst people gathered at the house. The door was kicked open. What they saw horrified them.

Mary Madeleine was dead on the floor lying naked in a pool of blood. There were signs of her being sexually assaulted brutally. The bodies of Martin and the children were hanging inside the room. They had been tortured , beaten and hacked to death. Pieces of rope in the house were used to hang the bodies. The intestines of the boy were protruding. The areas around the girl’s vagina were crimson red with blood. It was feared that she too had been violated.

The carpentry tools of Martin like the “uli” or chisel had also been used to prick, cut and torture the victims. In addition heavier and sharper weapons like knives or bayonets too had been used to hack the victims. Some sado - masochistic persons with a bestial nature had been at work in the house. No firearms were used . The cold - blooded barbarity of a brutal nature defied description. Only people crazed with callous hatred or those whose senses had been distorted through narcotics could have inflicted such gruesome cruelty.

As news of the massacre spread people of Vankalai began gathering at Thomaspuri. They were sad and bitter. The youths in particular were in an angry mood. Their mindset reflected the overall agony and frustration of the Tamil people over an uneasy peace where innocent civilians were getting increasingly victimised. The climate of impunity under the Rajapakse regime was resulting in security personnel and their Tamil para- militaries getting away with murder and mayhem easily and effortlessly.

The preponderant opinion among Vankalai residents was that some security personnel were responsible for the massacre. Besides the general obnoxious conduct by the security men in Vankalai there was a more specific reason too for the suspicion. Apparently three soldiers had been in the neighbourhood on the 8th morning.

According to one woman they had shouted out to her at about 10. 30 am. When she came to the door they had asked her whether she knew Sinhala and whether she was living alone. She had replied in the negative and said her parents had gone to the market. They had asked her for her identity card. She went in and returned with her IC. But they had gone. She alleges that they were at the entrance of the Martin home. She had shut the door and waited inside.

It is suspected that the security personnel had “eyed” Mary Madeleine in the morning and returned later in the night. People of the area say they can identify the three. The reality is that even if the three are identified there is no proof to show they were responsible for the massacre.

Despite the lack of concrete evidence or unavailability of reliable eye- witnesses the people on the whole began pointing their finger at the security forces. When the Police and Army arrived an enraged crowd in its hundreds refused to let them proceed. People also began shouting slogans against the Vankalai army camp. Fearing a heavy breach of peace additional troops from Thalladdy and Riot Policemen were deployed in Vankalai.

An ugly situation was averted due to many members of the Catholic clergy and senior Government officials arriving at the scene. The Vicar - General for Mannar Rev, Fr, Xavier Crusz was himself from Vankalai. So too was the Mannar AGA Ms. Stanley de Mel. TNA Parliamentarian from Wanni district Vinothaharajalingam also arrived on the scene. The Mannar Bishop Joseph Rayappu also came to the scene of the massacre.

Thanks to the eforts of these persons the passions of the people were contained. Bishop Rayappu was visibly moved. When questioned by the BBC Tamil Service the Bishop said that people whose duty was to ensure the protection and security of the people were allegedly responsible for this violence.

Mannar additional magistrate TJ Prabakharan arrived on the scene and conducted preliminary inquiries. He ordered an autopsy of the bodies and recorded initial statements of some people. He directed that some pieces of evidence be sent for forensic analysis. Mr. Prabakharan scheduled a judicial inquiry and inquest for June 23rd. He ordered the Police to apprehend suspect sand conduct an identification parade on that day. He also directed the army and Police chief of the area to be present on the 23rd.

The bodies of the victims were released on Friday evening. They were kept at the Vankalai school for the public to pay their respects. On Saturday 10th the bodies were taken in procession to St. Annes Church for funeral mass. About 5000 people were in the funeral procession. The Bishop and Vicar - General of Mannar conducted the service with about 25 priests assisting. The four bodies were then taken to the Vankalai burial grounds and laid to rest in a single grave. One more Tamil family had been wiped out in a vicious campaign of violence.

Defence Ministry Spkesperson Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe when questioned by the media denied that the army was responsible. “The security forces have never done such a thing” he said. He said the tigers were responsible. Some newspapers quoting Police sources also said the LTTE was responsible. According to this version the victims were army informants. The LTTE had taken revenge in a brutal way due to this.

The cycle of violence continues in Sri Lanka. The violence committed by the LTTE is dutifully recorded and branded as terrorism by the authorities, media and International Community. The violence perpetrated by the state and its organs both official and unofficial are not condemned in equal manner. Unless the Sinhala people, responsible media sections and the International community realise that unadulterated state terror is being unleashed on innocent Tamil civilians by the Rajapakse regime no end seems to be in sight .

Meanwhile the wheels of justice would begin to grind slowly on June 23rd in the case of the Vankalai killings. With all due respect to the Mannar judiciary there seems to be absolutely no chance that justice would be done. From the Bindunuwewa massacre to this Vankalai violence the people responsible have got away and will get away. This is the past, present and future as far as the Tamil civilian victims are concerned.

 
International Federation of Tamils calls upon High Commissioner For Human Rights to condemn murder and rape of Tamils in Vankalai by Sri Lanka Army- 14 June 2006 [also in Word Format]

High Commissioner For Human Rights
Ms. Louise ARBOUR
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

14. June 2006

Dear Madam,


For Immediate and Urgent Action Against
EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS BY SRI LANKA ARMED FORCES
In The Village Of Vankalai, In North-East, Sri Lanka

Dear High Commissioner,

The International Federation of Tamils -IFT- wishes to draw your attention to the escalation of violence, extra-judicial killings and atrocities perpetrated on Tamil civilians by the Sri Lanka armed forces in the traditional homeland of the Tamils in the North-East Sri Lanka and appeal to you to draw your resources together to bring stricture on the government of Sri Lanka with a view to prevail on it to end such violence.

To the detriment and horror of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the government's human rights violations are rippling at greater velocity than ever before. More that 300 extra-judicial killings have taken place since Sri Lanka was elected to the UNHRC in February. Involuntary disappearances are multiplying. Incarceration in jail and detention without bail are escalating.

Extra-judicial killing of Tamils by Sri Lanka armed forces has now taken a new form of 'Cluster-killing' since January, 2006. The number killed in each cluster ranged from 5 to 13. We have reported them all, one by one as they were taking place.

However the latest one at Vankalai in the Mannar district was one of the most horrendous, in which a twenty seven year old mother and her nine year-old daughter received blood-curdling desecration of their female organs before they were killed on the night of 8 June 2006.

Vankalai, a large Catholic Tamil village in Mannar, has been subject to continual harassment and intimidation from the Sri Lanka army men, who have a large base in the village. For fear of army atrocities, many families have already moved out of the village. Almost the entire village goes daily to the village church at dusk to stay the night.

A group of Sri Lanka army men had called on the neighbours of Moorthy Martin, the village carpenter, and demanded them to produce their identity cards for checking as the family was leaving for the church. And then the army patrol moved to Martin's house. As Martin was late to return from work, his wife and children waited at home for him, to go together to the church for the night stay.

The following morning the neighbours returning home after their night-out at church, had gone to check on Martin's family for not turning up at the church the previous evening. To their horror, they found the bodies of Martin, 35, his daughter 09, and son, 07, hanging from the roof inside the house, dripping blood. There were numerous stab-wounds on the female organ of the little girl, from which blood was dripping. The little boy's body was dismembered under the ribs. The body of the 29 year-old mother lay sprawled on her bed, with gunshot ripping through her female organ, the army gang-rapists expecting to remove evidence, perhaps.

At the post-mortem inquiries, the neighbours volunteered to identify the army culprits, pointed to a used condom and a button from an army uniform at the scene of crime. Three army uniforms also were discovered subsequently. But the commander of the army base has dismissed all charges and categorically denied involvement of any of his men in the incident, at a meeting he had with the Bishop of Mannar in the evening. As usual for the Armed Forces, he has suggested it could be the work of the LTTE.

In replying a question from the BBC, the Bishop of Mannar had stated how people could be expected to seek protection from the armed forces, when the armed forces themselves were the perpetrators of the crime.

Two weeks ago when the Bishops of Jaffna District as well as the Mannar District met the President of Sri Lanka to complain against the escalation of the excesses of the State armed forces, the Executive of the country had, instead of assuring to appoint Commissions of Inquiry, told them to produce evidence if he were to take action, thus encouraging the state army to enjoy a carte blanche in its crusade of involuntary disappearances and killing with impunity.

More than 5,000 people, including Tamil Parliamentarians and Humanitarian Organisations, had participated at the funeral service conducted on 9 June, with the Bishop of Mannar and the Vicar-General of the diocese presiding. Entire Tamil area is in shock and mourning. Tension is spreading throughout the whole of the Mannar district.

People of Vankalai are in shock, fear and trepidation at the horrendous and heinous killing with impunity. They are urging the International Community to order an immediate inquiry and bring culprits to book. They are also urging for the withdrawal of the State Armed Forces immediately from their traditional land and allow them to sleep peacefully in their own houses at night. They have appealed to the LTTE to provide protection for them.

We refer to the Press Release by the office of the High Commissioner for Human rights dated 23 May 2006, in which you have expressed, "Deep concern about the rising violence in Sri Lanka, in particular the increasing killings of civilians, including children."

The same Press Release goes further to state that, "These violations are not only ceasefire violations, but also breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law."  You have also recommended that, "…the Government of Sri Lanka seek international police and forensic support for investigations into killings to ensure justice and accountability."

The fact that the Executive President of Sri Lanka pays no regard for your recommendations is amply and visibly evident from the comments he made to the Bishops of Jaffna and Mannar two weeks ago, referred to above.

On behalf of the Tamil Diaspora, the IFT requests you, madam, to condemn the latest violence at Vankalai and order international action to bring perpetrators of this heinous crime to book.

Thanking you for your consideration and your efforts, I remain,

Yours sincerely,


Anton PONRAJAH
Secretary General, International Federation of Tamils


Coppy to :

Mr. Philip Alston,
Un Special Rapporteur,
Extra-judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions

Mannar Women for Human Rights and Democracy ( mwfhrd@yahoo.com), 22 June 2006
"When Truth is replaced by Silence, the Silence is a Lie"

Rape and Murder of a Young Mother in Mannar:

Ida Camelita, Kantharasa Jeyamalar, Bahiya Ummah, Ehambaram Nanthakumar Wijakala, Sinnathamby Sivamani and now Mary Madeleine share something awful in common. They were all allegedly raped and tortured (four of them were brutally murdered) in Mannar by the Sri Lankan armed forces. On June 8th 2006, a young mother, Mary Madeline, her husband, Moorthy Martin, son Dilakshan and daughter Lakshika were brutally tortured and murdered in their home in Vankalai, Mannar. Neighbors saw three Sri Lanka military personnel near their house around the time of murder but, while the soldiers have acknowledged that they were there carrying out a routine check up, the Mannar army commanding officer has ruled out any possibility of his men being involved in the murders. This suggests that the military authorities won't help with any investigation of the alleged perpetrators.

 There will, of course, be a protest or two and a few petitions of this nature. The Sri Lanka military, despite the eyewitnesses, will continue to blame it on the LTTE or on paramilitary groups. The LTTE, while denying allegations of its involvement, will continue to point its fingers at the Sri Lanka military. The international community and Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission will issue a statement condemning the evil act. By the end of this month Mary Madeleine's case will rest without peace in some archive.

In this context, we would like to highlight similar previous incidents in Mannar, including the rapes of Ehambaram Nanthakumar Wijakala and Sinnathamby Sivamani, allegedly by members of the Mannar police's Counter-Subversive Unit, on 19 th March 2001. Wijakala was pregnant at the time of the rape and Sivamani, mother of three children, had her younger son witnessing the cruel sexual assault committed on her while she was under police custody. Despite threats to their lives, both these courageous women filed fundamental rights cases for unlawful arrest and detention and custodial rape. They identified three police officers and nine navy personnel as the perpetrators of these crimes.

 The accused, who were transferred from Mannar after the incidents, filed a petition requesting the transfer of their cases to Anuradhapura due to alleged threats against their lives. Since then both victims and their family members underwent continuous harassment at the hand of the military and repeatedly received death threats. The case dragged on for over four years, in the course of which Wijakala has gone missing and Sivamani received many threats to the effect that she will be killed if she comes to Anuradhapura for the court hearings. The case was listed to be heard in Anuradhapura High Court on September 21, 2005 but both the victims did not turn up.

There are many women like Wijakala and Sivamani who suffer and bear the scars of such brutal crimes while their violators enjoy amnesty and continue to commit such malicious war crimes against minority women. We are fully aware of the fact that sexual harassment and assault, torture, mutilation, rape and murder are not mere misfortunes of armed conflict, but strategic weapons of war that have been used against us for the dreadful purpose of spreading terror, destabilizing societies and breaking resistance.

We wish to highlight here that rape is amongst the gravest of all human rights violations and, under international law, has been deemed a crime against humanity and a war crime. It was alleged that Mary Madeleine (27) was raped and stabbed in her chest and her daughter Lakshika (9) was stabbed in her vaginal area. Madeleine and her family had fled Sri Lanka and lived as refugees in India for many years. They returned last year when there was some hope for peace and settled down in Vankalai only to be killed in this despicable manner.

We, Mannar women, are calling on the Sri Lankan government to immediately launch a thorough, independent, and impartial investigation into the killing of Mary Madeleine and her family. We demand that such an investigation be conducted with the participation of members of independent human rights organizations.

We also call upon the President make sure that all reported cases of murder, torture and sexual violence committed by the armed forces against women are investigated properly and prosecuted where necessary.

We further call on international donors to provide special support to help protect survivors of state sponsored sexual violence and increase the victims' access to the justice system locally and, if necessary, internationally as well.

Lastly, while strongly condemning all attacks on civilians Tamils, Muslims or Sinhalese, we call upon all the warring parties in Sri Lanka to immediately stop hostilities and resume peace talks with a genuine commitment to finding a lasting political solution to the conflict.
 

 

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