Other mass graves in Jaffna -TCHR

Place: Jaffna | Courtesy: TamilNet
| Date: 19980831

The Tamil Centre for Human Rights said that it believes that there are mass graves of Tamil people murdered by Sri Lankan troops in areas of the Jaffna peninsula other than Chemmani. The TCHR also said it was concerned the evidence at Chemmani was being destroyed.

In a press release, the TCHR said that its sources in Jaffna "reported that the bodies of large numbers of Tamil civilians who 'disappeared' in Sri Lankan military custody may have been buried in the Vasavilan and nearby Punnalaikadduvan areas".

The Vasavilan/Punnalaikadduvan area, located along the Palaly-Jaffna road, three miles from the Sri Lankan military complex at Palaly, has been under Sri Lankan Army control for several years.

"Recently, the skeleton of a Tamil civilian, Ratnasingham, was recovered from the lavatory pit of Vasavilan Mahavidyalayam (school). The skeleton was identified by his wife, Indranee Ratnasingham by a waist chain and ring it was wearing," said the press release.

The TCHR cited an Amnesty International report, published last year, which stated that Amnesty said it "had found reliable evidence suggesting that the bodies of as many as 600 people 'disappeared' in Jaffna may have been disposed of in lavatory pits, disuse wells and shallow graves in the area".

Amnesty also said it believed that these people had been tortured to death or deliberately killed in Sri Lankan military custody.

The TCHR also said "unconfirmed reports from the Jaffna peninsula say that, on occasion, smoke has been seen rising from the direction of Chemmani since the area was sealed off. This has contributed to concern that Sri Lankan soldiers who might have been responsible for 'disappearances' may currently be deployed to protect the evidence at the site."

"Since the claims of mass graves emerged in July this year, the Sri Lankan government has not taken any active steps to investigate them, despite considerable international concern over the issue" said TCHR.

"After numerous calls by several human rights organisations for the Chemmani site to be protected from tampering, the Sri Lankan Army sealed off the area. This took place several weeks ago. Since then, no further action has been taken." Said the press release.

On 23 August, Somaratne Rajapakse, the former Sri Lankan Army soldier who said he could point out the locations of the Chemmani mass graves, was attacked by his prison guards, and hospitalized.

The attack may have linked to an attempt to persuade him to withdraw his claim, according to Amnesty International.