Slippery slope to doom
While Sri Lanka is taking a nose dive on
almost every internationally accepted indicator, ranging from
media freedom to the quality of life, in the ‘Failed Sates
Index’ the country seems to be making steady progress. A ‘failed
state’ is defined as a state that can no longer perform its
basic security and development functions, and that has no
effective control over its territory and borders. Many proud Sri
Lankans may desist the thought that we have reached that dubious
level on par with countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, but there
is little denying that this state is moving fast in the
direction of anarchy, where the arms of the state that are meant
to protect its citizenry are failing in their cause. Here, The
Nation lists some cases of blatant human rights violations where
the culprits remain at large and the relevant authorities seem
to be in a blissful somber. This is to remind the powers that be
that the people of this country are awaiting to see action and
not mere words, while reminding ourselves, the people of Sri
Lanka that we deserve a better deal from those who rule over us.
* January 2, 2006 Trincomalee: Five students were killed
Five young men, all from middle class families in Trincomalee
were killed while they were at the beach. Newspaper reports the
next day claimed that the security forces had killed five
terrorists when they attempted to lodge a grenade at them. A
report by the Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Commission,
the former High Court Judge T. Suntheralingam carried out an
initial investigation, which found inconsistencies with the
security forces’ version of the event. However, his findings
were not officially acknowledged. A special STF team, which was
sent to the eastern town on the advice of a defence advisor and
retired police officer, were accused of the crime.
Status of the investigation: Although a committee was appointed
by the President, no one has been arrested due to the lack of
* April 27, 2006 Avissawella: Headless bodies were found
Five headless male corpses were found in Puwakpitiya and
Dehiowita in Avissawella police division. The estate workers in
the area, who informed the police, spotted the headless bodies.
The bodies were only partially clothed, belonged to males, and
had serious cut injuries to the bodies.
Status of the investigation: Two bodies were identified as
Tamils from Colombo, but the other three bodies were beyond
identification. No one has been arrested up to date. The Civil
Monitoring Commission lead by parliamentarian Mano Ganesan has
demanded DNA testing to identify the victims.
* May 13, 2006 Kytes: Killing of civilians
Thirteen civilians were killed in Allaipiddy in the Kytes Island
in Jaffna. On May 13 gunmen opened fire killing several
civilians, including a four month old baby, a four year old
toddler, and their parents on the spot. Three persons with
serious wounds were rushed to Jaffna hospital. The navy claimed
that they were attacked in Mandaithivu on the night of the
incident with grenades and they opened fire at the attackers.
Sri Lanka Navy troopers from Mandaithivu were accused of
carrying out the crime.
Status of the investigation: Allegations and counter allegations
have been traded but there have been no arrests made and the
investigation has gone cold.
* May 29, 2006 Walikanda: Massacre of farmers
A group of irrigation workers were killed in Omadiyamadu off
Welikanda. The 12 workers who were gunned down had their hands
tied up behind their backs before being lined up for shooting.
Police investigators suggested that that the killings had been
part of LTTE training for their child recruits. Though the LTTE
was the obvious suspect, the breakaway Karuna faction was active
in this area at the time of the massacre.
Status of the investigation: No progress in the investigation
* June 8, 2006 Mannar: Hanging of a family of five
A family of four including two children were massacred in the
village of Vankalai in the island of Mannar by unknown people.
The mother of the children was reportedly raped before being
killed. The bodies of the deceased, including the children, were
hung from the ceiling of their house. The army was accused of
Status of the investigation: There has been no independent
investigation into the deaths. A court case is pending in the
Mannar local court.
* June 17, 2006 Pesalai: Massacre of civilians
Four fishermen were killed on the beach and another person died
when a hand grenade was hauled into a church. Civilians in
Pesalai, Mannar had taken refuge in the Church of Lady of
Victory to avoid a confrontation between the navy and the LTTE.
After the confrontation, navy personnel allegedly went on a
rampage shooting at the civilians who were taking refuge at the
church, and remain accused of the atrocities committed that day.
Status of the investigation: Four of these killed were fishermen
found shot, execution style, still clutching their
identification cards. The government denies the allegations and
accuses the local Roman Catholic Bishop Rayappu Joseph of pro-LTTE
bias, as he has refuted the government version of events. No
arrests have been made so far.
* July 1, 2006: Killing of Lakmal Smapath
A defence correspondent at the Sinhala newspaper Sathdina,
Lakmal Sampath was killed by an unidentified gunman. He was
found dead on Vijaya Road in Dehiwela, 10 km away from his
residence. There was media speculation at the time of the
killing that Sampath was killed by military intelligence because
he was about to reveal sensitive information regarding
disappearances, which had happened earlier in the year,
specially the five headless bodies that were found in
Avissawella. Another twist to the speculation was that Sampath
was a double agent extorting money from the LTTE, as well as the
military. Whatever the truth maybe, his death demands an
explanation. It would rather be from the state than the gossip
mongers. Intelligence unit of the army is one of the parties
accused of the killings.
Status of the investigation: The Dehiwela police detained a
military intelligence officer who was later released after
questioning. The officers have not been named.
* August 4, 2006 Muttur: Killing of 17 aid workers
In the midst of the chaos that prevailed in Muttur from August
2, when the LTTE launched simultaneous attacks on military
installations in Muttur, 17 aid workers were killed, execution
style on August 4. The government military spokesman earlier
claimed that the Muttur town was never overrun by the LTTE
during their attack, but gleefully changed his story latter, to
declare that on the morning of August 4, when the massacre took
place the town was in fact in the hands of the Tigers. Despite
the media spotlight on the case and the continuous international
criticism, the government still has no answers as to who killed
the 16 Tamil and one Muslim aid workers. The Sri Lanka military
was accused by the SLMM of carrying out the massacre, while some
have speculated that Muslim paramilitary units working with the
military was involved.
Status of the investigation: The case has been taken up by the
Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry as one of the 16 high
profile cases. International Committee of Jurists has accused
that evidence had been tampered with. The bullets that had been
kept as evidence been replaced by bullets of another calibre
(size) according to the ICJ. The bullets that were replaced were
the variety used by Special Forces. The government recently
questioned the credibility of the experts who provided this
* August 20, 2006: Fr. Jim Brown disappeared
Fr. Jim Brown, then Roman Catholic parish priest of St. Philip
Church, Allaipiddy, Jaffna has not been sighted since he was
apprehended at a check point on the August 20, 2006. Though a
body found in the island of Punkudathivu in March 2007 was
assumed to be that of the father, forensic DNA tests proved that
it was not the case. Therefore, the priest still remains
missing, while the navy is accused of the abduction.
Status of the investigation: What happened to Fr. Jim Brown and
his assistant Wenceslaus Vincent Vimalan still remains a
* September 11, 2006 Pottuvil: massacre of civilians
A group of Muslim labourers working at an irrigation site in the
jungles off Pottuvil were brutally hacked to death by unknown
assailants. Out of a group of 11 only one survived to tell the
story of the gruesome deed. Tensions have been building up with
the local population and the Officer in Charge of the
Sasthrawela STF camp over an issue of illegal logging. The
resulting mayhem in Pottuvil was quelled when the then IGP
transferred the STF officer in the midst of the controversy – an
action which resulted in the Commadant of the STF threatening to
pull his men out of Pottuvil. The STF stood accused of the
massacre by the local population and until now not proven
Status of the investigation : The government and the LTTE keeps
blaming each other for the killings. Although Minister Rauff
Hakeem demanded an international inquiry to look into the
massacre, the request was denied and there has been little
progress in the investigation.
* December 15, 2006 Colombo: Abduction of Eastern University
The Eastern University Vice-Chancellor was abducted, while
attending a conference of the Sri Lankan Association for the
Advancement of Science on December 15, 2006. Professor
Sivasubramanium Raveendranath, a 55 year old heart patient and a
father of two, was in an area tightly controlled by the
military. Three months previously, on September 20, 2006, his
colleague, Eastern University Arts Faculty Dean Dr. Bala Sugamar
was abducted by gunmen. There were conflicting reports that the
academic was killed by his captors and that he died due to a
heart condition, while in captivity. However, his family is
confident that Prof. Raveendranath is still alive. The Karuna
faction is widely believed to have carried out the abduction.
Status of the investigation: The driver of the Professor was
questioned regarding the incident. The report forwarded to the
President by Justice Mahanama Thilakeratne states that the
incident was not considered for investigation, as the family of
the professor had not made a complaint.
* March 02, 2007 Muthurajawela: Bodies were found
Bodies of five persons were recovered from Muthurajawela marsh
land in Kandana police division, north of Colombo. Some of the
bodies were found blindfolded and were in highly decomposed
state. It was suspected that these bodies had been brought and
dumped in the marsh after being executed in other areas. Their
identities have been established as citizens of Batticaloa.
Karuna faction and the LTTE traded accusations over the
Status of the investigation: Investigation has stalled.
Government claims the atrocity was carried out by the LTTE.
* March 6, 2007 Anuradhapura: Bodies were discovered
Just a few days after bodies were found in the Muthurajawela
mash, five more mutilated corpses were discovered at Thirappane
area in the Anuradhapura District. The upper parts of the bodies
had been burnt in a pyre of tyres, according to Thirappane
Police, who recovered the bodies. All victims were identified as
males. Karuna faction and the LTTE traded accusations over the
Status of the investigation: Investigation has stalled.
Government claims the atrocity was carried out by the LTTE
n June 8, 2007 Dumaladeniya: Nine decomposing bodies
Police found nine highly decomposed bodies in a garbage dump at
Dumaladeniya in Wennappuwa. The bodies were badly charred and in
an unidentifiable condition. The persons were killed in an
execution style with their hands tied behind their backs and
Status of the investigation: Although magisterial inquiries were
carried out no suspect has been apprehended for the time being.