Chemmani Graves
Sri Lanka Conspires to Suppress Evidence

Sydney, July 22, 1998 (SAMS): Tamil sources accuse the Sri Lankan government of covering up the Chemmani mass graves using a "phony human rights commission."

Recently, Sri Lankan army soldier Corporal Rajapakse revealed the existence of mass graves in Chemmani near Jaffna. Corporal Rajapakse was convicted of raping, torturing and murdering Krishanthi Kumaraswamy, an 18 year old Jaffna school girl along with her mother, brother and their neighbor on September 7, 1996.

Since then, various human rights groups and international organizations have called on the Sri Lankan government to investigate the allegation. A leading Sinhala language paper "Yukthiya" published details of the Chemmani mass graves including a map. In spite of this, the government has not taken any concrete steps and instead relegated the investigation to its "Human Rights Commission". Sri Lankan government top officials are maintaining an eerie silence on this matter. The Sri Lankan government's reluctance to conduct a proper investigation and its opposition to allowing any international observers have alarmed the Tamil expatriate community.

Tamil activists have described the Human Rights Commission as bogus. "This phony Human Rights Commission is located within the Sri Lankan military complex in Jaffna and known to have taken orders from the Generals. During the time that there was intense international pressure on the government about the disappearance of 700 people, the Sri Lanka's human rights commission created a list of people who are alive as if they are the missing people and then showed the international community that they had been located." said Mr.Kandasamy of Human Rights Forum.

"The actions of the government bears all the hallmarks of a yet another systematic cover-up. The strategy of the government is not to respond to the public outcry long enough so that it could trash it at the opportune moment... senior government officials such as the President, Minister [of Constitutional affairs] Mr.G.L.Pieris, Foreign Minister Mr.L.Kadirkamar, Deputy Defense Minister Mr.A.Ratwatte, are maintaining unusual silence while trying to work out a cover-up plan." he added.

The NGO Consortium of Jaffna has urged the Sri Lankan government to excavate the mass graves at Chemmani, but to its dismay, the government's actions mark a cover-up. The Sri Lankan military has arrested and detained two prominent reporters working for the Tamil daily Virakesari and the BBC Tamil Language service. The Sri Lankan government has also expelled International Alert, an NGO for Sri Lanka. This is the second NGO to be forced out of Sri Lanka. Earlier, Peace Brigade International (PBI) also pulled out of Sri Lanka to protest the Sri Lankan government's attempt to censor its reports. Mr. Kandasamy thinks, one by one, Sri Lanka is sealing all the information flow to facilitate cover-up of its secret genocide of the Tamil people. [Courtesy: South Asian Media Services]

Copyright 1998 South Asian Media Services

Amnesty International on Chemmani Graves