Saththurukondan Massacres: 180 Tamils butchered

Place: Saththurukondan | Date: 19900910

On 10 September 1990, over 180 Tamil civilians were butchered by the Sri Lanka army at the Saththurukondan Army Camp in the Batticaloa District. At an inquiry into the massacre, the Officer-in-Charge of the camp, Captain. Gamini Varnakula Sooriya said "On that day no search or arrest was conducted by us". He also reiterated that none of his men even ventured out of the camp on the day of the massacre. The sole survivor of the massacre, Kanthasamy Krishnakumar aged 27, however recounted the chilling facts:

"On the 10 of September 1990, Tamil civilians from Batticaloa, Saththurukkondan, Panichchaiyady, Kokkuvil, Pillaiyarady were taken to the Army camp for interrogation. I was the only survivor of the185 civilians taken there. We were stabbed with sharp knives including a one and a half year old child, children and women.

" On this day at around five thirty in the evening Army men both in civil and military clothing came and told that the officer in charge of the Camp wanted us to come to the camp for enquiry and so they took us."

" Elderly, Women, children and even babies were taken to the Saththrukkondan Army camp. After that four of us were taken to the back side of the camp and blindfolded and our mouth was stuffed with a cloth as well. Later they laid us on a wood brick and suddenly they started stabbing us with sharp knives. I laid there as if I was dead. I head voices of agony and pain I can't even describe, all around me.

After every thing was all over I slowly opened my eyes and saw butchered bodies all around me. I then crawled my way through the dead bodies and hid myself among small shrubs. It was around three clock in the morning at that time. After exiting from that hell I came to the village and I was admitted to the hospital for treatment. The army was at this point in time was in search of me after having heard of my escape. I was handed over to the Rev. Miller for protection by the Batticaloa Peace Committee. I lost my whole family in this incident. I am the only survivor."

Some of the other witnesses to the events of that day have recounted the horrifying details of the massacre:

" I am the principal at the Kathaiyakkan Thivu school. On that day at around 11 in the morning a man wearing a red half sleeved T- shirt was going in a bicycle. He was new to the village and had a knife on the handle of the cycle. I immediately sensed that something was wrong and took my wife and children in a cycle to the Saththurukkondan colony. At that time, I saw Armed personnel both in civil and military clothing taking many civilians including women, children and elderly. We stayed the day at the Saththurukkondan colony. The army camp was situated a thousand meters from my house. I heard cries of distress, shouts for help of women and children trough out the night. We also heard gun shots being fired and also saw a huge fire as well... Next day morning I went to my uncle's house. I couldn't see my uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or any of the children. All I saw was some splattered small shoes of the children. In this massacre one and a half year old Subhosini, three year old Thulasi, seven years old Sulochana were lost. I heard that all of them were taken to the Army camp and were butchered. Even the bodies have been burnt. Some kids who had gone near the camp later for rearing the cattle have said that they had seen many skulls and bones." (Kanthiah Sivakkolunthu 37)

" On that day I had taken shelter in the jungle fearing the military. Since I thought that the Army won't harm children I had left my siblings, Sothivadivel (7), Sharmila (9) at our house. They are also missing since the day of the massacre.I heard a lot of cries for help and mercy and a lot of shots being fired all through out the night on that day. (Vairamuththu Ariyavadivel 22)

" My two son-in-laws were killed by the army only two months before the Saththurukkondan massacre. After that in the Saththurukkondan massacre I lost my wife, three daughters and seven grand children including a one year old one. I lost my whole family, eleven members all together to the army." (Ganapathippillai Arunachalam 73)

"'Our grandson, Vijayakumar (8) was staying with us and had gone to play outside on that day. As he was missing for some time we went in search of him and we saw many people being taken by the Army and among them was my grandson. Sensing the situation me and my wife hid ourselves... Among the crowd, 19 of my own close relatives were there. After coming to know those who were taken had not returned I along with my wife went near the camp searching them. It was around seven in the evening. We heard the women crying, pleading for mercy and children shouting and crying in distress and pain. We could not hear those voices after that and so we came back... (The ICRC) were not allowed to see. Later the Bishop talked to the Brigadier and went there with the members of the Citizen's committee, Sebamalai Geevaratnam and Singarasa to see what happened. Sivarasa later told that he saw his wife's slippers and that of many children's and babies'. (Retired Electricity Foreman Augustinepillai Phillippillai 73)

" 16 of my family members were taken on that day to the camp by the Army. On that day when the Army came, only women and children were mostly at home. The men had taken refuge in the forest. At around 5.30 Army took all those who were at home. After some time a lot of voices of distress and pain were heard from the Army camp.(Kanthasamy Nagaratnam 39)

" My wife told me that if the Army came they will only take the men therefore you hide your self. I will stay in the house, they won't take women. But I lost my wife who had saved me as they had taken her to the camp. After the Army left I went near the camp in search of her but I only heard people crying." (E.Vairamuththu 62)

"On the day of the massacre about 60 Army personnel came at around 5.30 armed with guns and butcher knives. I took refuge in a small palmarah plant. The Army then took my mother, father and three children. I was thinking that they would be released after interrogation but even after eight they were not and so I went in search of them near the camp. I heard a lot of people crying in pain and agony that I got scared and returned home.(Rasaiyah Ratnaiya 45, of Panichchaiyadi)

"After coming to know of this incident we recorded the testimony of the sole survivor KANDASAMY KRISHNAKUMAR. We still have the audio recording. Later we brought this atrocity to the attention of the Batticaloa Brigadier SENAVIRATNA. But he refused even to see us. Rest of the higher ranking Army officers also refused to talk to us about this incident." (Batticaloa's Peace committee President and retired Government Agent S. Arunagirinathan)