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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Hundreds of Tamils 'disappear' in the Jaffna peninsula during 1996
"An Amnesty International delegation visited Sri Lanka in March 1996 to assess the human rights situation in the country... On 7 March 1996 Kanapathipillai Satheesh Kumar, a young Tamil man originally from Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka, who had recently returned to Sri Lanka from Saudi Arabia, "disappeared" after he was arrested by the army from his home in Colombo. His "disappearance" coincided with an Amnesty International visit to Sri Lanka during which the delegates expressed concern about continuous human rights violations, including torture and "disappearances" taking place in the country. Fortunately, Satheesh Kumar was released two weeks later, on 23 March.
At least 60 others arrested in a similar way since April 1995, however, remain "disappeared" in the custody of the security forces. The evidence gathered during the Amnesty International visit clearly indicates that since April 1995 the security forces have arbitrarily detained thousands of Tamil people and have been responsible for torture as well as dozens of "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions.
Several of the "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions have been attributed to armed Tamil groups opposed to the LTTE, in particular to members of the People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), who seem to be allowed to operate in some areas with almost total impunity. ... ... several of the presidential directives issued in July 1995 are not adhered to by the security forces.. Amnesty International also collected evidence that prisoners continue to be held at unauthorized places of detention..." (Amnesty International Report, AI Index: ASA 37/08/96, August 1996)
"Disappearance at the hands of the security forces increased alarmingly, especially in the east and north, though some occurred in Colombo. In excess of 300 individuals are believed to have disappeared on the Jaffna Peninsula in the second half of the year, and more than 50 elsewhere in the country throughout the year. As with extrajudicial killings, the exact number was impossible to ascertain due to censorship of news about security force operations, and lack of access to the north and east... (U.S. Department of State, Sri Lanka Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1996)
"A Tamil MP has alleged that about 300 persons ``disappeared'' during the last three months while in Army custody in theGovernment-controlled Jaffna peninsula. Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, TULF MP, said in a letter to the President, Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga: ``Disappearances while in Army custody are increasing day by day in the Army-controlled peninsula. I am reliably informed that during the last three months about 300 disappearances while in Army custody are reported to have taken place in Jaffna.''
Mr. Joseph stated in his November 21 letter that six decayed bodies of Tamil civilians had been found on November 18 in the Tenamarachchi portion of the peninsula. ``These are civilians arrested by the Army in the first week of October 1996 and when the relatives inquired from the Armyauthorities immediately after their arrest they were informed that none of them was taken into cus tody by the Army. Thebodies of these unfortunate civilians found in a decomposed state were discovered by the local residents of the area,'' Mr.Joseph alleged in his letter.
According to the MP, four of the six bodies had been identified as Ponnu Alagaretnam (33), Kandiah Thiyagarajah (44),Kandiah Kulendrarajah and Thamu Manickam (43). While the first three named were residents of Eluthumadduval, Manickamhailed from Mirusuvil. Mr. Joseph, who has given a list of 24 ``disappeared'' persons, said unless immediate action was taken against the offenderssuch cases would bring ``discredit to the Government''. Mr. Joseph called upon the President to appoint a commission of inquiry into the disappearances from August 1996 in Jaffna and a judicial inquiry into the killing of the six civilians in Tenamarachchi. (Hindu Report from Amit Baruah, 23 November 1996)
Amnesty Urgent Action Appeal - 9 January 1997
Thamban Paskaran (male), aged 26 Thamban Paskaran, from Kaithady North, Jaffna district, has not been seen since 10 December 1996, when he was asked to report to the Kaithady army camp. He did so but failed to return home. When his wife went to make inquiries the next day, she was told that he had escaped from custody around 9.30pm on 10 December. However, he did not return home nor did the army come to look for him. Fears for Thamban Paskaran's safety are heightened by reports over recent months of the killing of several people who had 'disappeared' in army custody in Jaffna district, including in Kaithady army camp.
Since the security forces regained control over the Jaffna peninsula from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in late 1995 - early 1996, there have been continuing reports of arbitrary arrests and torture, including rape, and 'disappearances' in custody. In particular the number of 'disappearances' reported has been of serious concern. Amnesty International has so far submitted more than 200 cases of people who were seen taken into custody but whose detention was subsequently denied by the security forces to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. It has urged that an independent and impartial investigation be instituted to establish their fate or whereabouts. Local human rights organizations and Tamil members of parliament have also repeatedly brought cases of 'disappearances' to the attention of the President and other authorities.
Over 200 Tamils disappear by August 1996...
"Human rights agencies fear that over 200 Tamil youths have disappeared in the Jaffna peninsula since Operation Sunray in December last year. Many of them may be held in Army interrogation centres which are springing up all over Jaffna. A civilian claims that 4,000 people from several villages in Thenmaratchy were rounded up in mid-July and in a scene reminiscent of the Indian Peace Keeping Force days, paraded before thalayattis or masked informers. Over 200 were detained and assaulted. The Tamil thalayattis themselves may become victims if they failed to identify a required number of "Tigers". GCE student Kirupakaran was arrested along with many others on 22 July at Maravanpulavu. His parents were severely assaulted when they went to the Army camp to make enquiries. Soft drink businessman Lingam and his employees have been detained. His chain of shops in Jaffna town has been sealed. Over 600 people are said to have been rounded up in Kokuvil East on 19 August. LTTE claims that school girls were shot and wounded by the Army during the operation have not been substantiated. The LTTE alleges that several fishermen arrested at sea near Araly a month ago were tortured and killed. After relatives made enquiries at the Army camp, five mutilated bodies appeared on the shores of Araly on 29 August. Tigers also say Tamil students K Thavanesan, Thirunavukarasu and T Suthakaran arrested by the Army at Thanankilapu in Thenmaratchy have disappeared... The bodies of eight youths were found in Thenmaratchy in early August. Krishnapillai Thavarasa and Ponniah Srivalli were shot dead by the Army on 15 August at Ponnalai. " (British Refugee Council Publication , Sri Lanka Monitor, August 1996)
Number increases to over 500 by December 1996
"Diplomatic and NGO sources confirm disappearances and other human rights abuses according to a mid December Reuter Report. The senior government officer in Jaffna, Government Agent S.Pathmanathan says he has received reports of over 500 disappearances. Human rights agencies have raised doubst about the independence of a committee appointed by the Defence Ministry in December to investigate disappearances in the North-East. The bodies of S.Dharmaraja and S.Thanablan arrested by the Army in Themaratchy were found washed ashore in early December." (British Refugee Council Publication , Sri Lanka Monitor, December 1996)