MASS GRAVES CHEMMANI: JAFFNA, SRI LANKA
|The U.S. Department of States Sri
Lanka Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997 states in Section 1.
paragraph 3 that,
Amnesty International, on November 27, 1997, speaking about the missing stated that,
The former soldier, first accused, Somaratne Rajapakse convicted on July 3, 1998 for the rape and murder of Krishanthi Kumaraswamy, and the murder of her mother, brother, and neighbor said in open court that,
The third and seventh accused, who were also convicted, confirmed the first accuseds statement.
The AFP news service, on August 23, 1998, reported that prison guards assaulted Rajapakse resulting in him being hospitalized.
Though the allegations were made in court on July 3, 1998, Mr. Rajapakse has not yet been taken to Chemmani to identify the location of the graves nor has any excavation been undertaken.
Neither the Human Rights Commission nor the Government have responded positively to the offers of assistance made by several governments and the UN. The retired Supreme Court Judge who heads the Commission has been very slow to react to these accusations of delays.
The Sinhala weekly "Yukthiya" published a map, during the second week of July 1998, that showed the location of the graves. It also reported that after Operation Riveresa senior commanding officers in Jaffna gave orders for the killing and sending of bodies to the Chemmani checkpoint for burial. The weekly said that the security forces also sent live prisoners to Chemmani to be killed and buried.
The paper mentioned that Jaffna was under the command of Brigadier Sri Lal Weerasuriya under whom Brigadiers Karunatilake and Janaka Perera were handling security in assigned areas.
It added that Brigadier Janaka Perera was in command of Chemmani at the time of the mass murders and burials.
It is important for the United States and the United Kingdom to find out whether any of the above named officers, or any other officers who served in Jaffna during or at the end of the Riveresa Operations, received any training from the U.S. or British military academies.
The Sunday Times of August 16, 1998 reports that, The Sunday Times of August 16, 1998 reports that,
It is alleged that Brigadier Janaka Perera received training in the United States before the Riveresa Operations and had also gone for training in England returning to Sri Lanka before or during the current Jaya Sikuru operations.
He is also now a Major General.
The Washington Post, on Sunday July 12, 1998, in the article "Free of Oversight, U.S. Military Trains Foreign Troops" stated that, The Washington Post, on Sunday July 12, 1998, in the article "Free of Oversight, U.S. Military Trains Foreign Troops" stated that,
The Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disappearances and Extrajudicial Killings, Mr. Barcre Waly Ndiaya, on his visit to Sri Lanka, submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1997/61, comments extensively on the effect of the Emergency Regulation Act (ERA) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in Sri Lanka and how they affect extrajudicial and summary executions and hamper prosecution of the police and armed forces who commit these crimes.
The report added that,
The delays of the investigation by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) may be due to the interference by the State and the Deputy Minister of Defense who is directing the military operations in the North and East.
The investigation has taken a back seat to the military offensive in order not to demoralize the forces and not complicate matters by investigating the commanding officers of the current operations.
The Government now states that the Jaffna Magistrate court is the competent authority to conduct the investigation.
The Government is aware that the courts in Jaffna are not functioning due to the lack of a functioning civilian administration. The government is now playing politics with the mass graves of those killed by its armed forces.
It could, like in the Krishanthi rape and murder trial, hold a trial at bar.
The government has also ordered the coordinator and his associate Messers Senaka Dissanayake and Lohan Chandrasekere of the Human Rights Commission based in Jaffna to cease their activity immediately and return to Colombo. They were collecting information on the 700 disappearance and the mass graves. The NGO groups in Jaffna appealed to the Government to cancel the transfer order, but to no avail.
Considering the proposed bill sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) prohibiting U.S. aid to any unit of a foreign security force that has been implicated in gross human rights violations; recognizing the statement by spokesperson James Rubin, in the Washington Post of Sunday July 12, 1998, indicating the intention of "Secretary of State Madeline K. Albright to require U.S. Ambassadors to use their authority over scheduling of U.S. military activities to ensure foreign troops with whom the U.S. military plans to train are vetted for human rights abuses;" giving credence to the claim by Mr. Rubin that, "Secretary Albright is determined to do all we can at the embassy level to make sure that such assistance does not take place;" accepting the documentation of the human rights abuses by the armed forces of Sri Lanka, as reported by 1) the UN Rapporteur, 2) the 1997 Human Rights Report of the U.S. State Department, 3) the U.S. Committee for Refugees and 4) Amnesty International; it is paramount that the United States stop all training and other assistance to the armed forces of Sri Lanka and not knowingly associate with those who are committing war crimes against the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.
The Tamil community urges the United States to ensure that:
- Sangam Research
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