More than 300 disappeared in 6 months - U.S. Department

Place: Sri Lanka | Courtesy: U.S. Department
| Date: 19960000

"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.