Poster taunts SLA for massacre apology

Place: Batticaloa | Courtesy: TamilNet
| Date: 20010225

A poster showing a Sri Lanka army soldier shedding tears over a heap of skulls with the caption "the army repents the Batticaloa massacres for the first time" appeared Sunday morning in the heart of Batticaloa town's high security zone. The anonymous poster refers to a fumbled public apology last month by the Sri Lankan army in the eastern town for some of the mass murders it had committed in this district in which hundreds of innocent civilians, including pregnant women and children, were hacked and shot to death by soldiers.

Meanwhile, four Eastern University undergraduates were assaulted and arrested by the Sri Lanka army at Maavadivembu, 22 kilometers north of Batticaloa Saturday. Students said that the army had interrogated the students at length about the 'Pongu Thamil' rally on 20 February.

The poster was not scraped off the market's wall by the Police or the army until late Sunday morning. Crowds of shoppers at the east coast town's bustling market were seen reading the anonymous poster.

The SLA's qualified apology referred, among other things, to the massacre of 12 children from a Christian orphanage who had come to see a Buddhist religious festival in Batticaloa town on 17 May 2000.

The SLA claimed in a handbill issued in Batticaloa town on 31 January that this massacre was carried out on the orders of a drunken commanding officer.

The Sri Lankan government flatly denied the involvement of the SLA in the massacre.

The Eastern University Undergraduates were released late in the afternoon around 4.30 p.m. after the University administration intervened on their behalf.