International community should arrest the reappearance of mass graves in the Tamil homeland
Statement by the LTTE Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs spokesperson:
On 24 January 2008, in the Kiriketuwewa area in Kebitigollewa in the Anuradhapura district, Sri Lankan Police, following information from locals who said that they can see a human hand sticking out from the ground, dug up two mass graves next to each other and recovered 16 bodies.
The graves were examined in front of the local judge. It was noted that there were vehicle tire marks leading to the graves. The judge ordered the 16 bodies to be removed to the Anuradhapura district hospital for forensic examination. According to the forensic report submitted to the judge, six of the bodies in one grave were buried two weeks prior to the exhumation and the other ten bodies in the other grave were buried ten days prior to the exhumation on 24 January. The forensic report also said that the hands were tied behind the back, some of the bodies had gun shot marks and some of the bodies had torture marks.
Unable to identify the bodies, they were ordered to be buried in the Anuradhapura cemetery for future exhumation, after video recording and photographing the bodies added the hospital report.
Some intriguing questions arise from these facts.
If these are bodies of Sinhalese civilians it should not be difficult to identify them because they would have gone missing very recently and there have not been many reports of disappearance of Sinhalese civilians recently. Indeed, if they were the bodies of Sinhalese civilians, the fact they are yet to be identified makes a mockery of the Sri Lankan State and its law enforcement apparatus in the Sinhala areas.
We therefore have strong reasons believe that these are bodies of young Tamil men who have disappeared recently. More than 1000 young Tamil men and women have gone missing over the last two years after arrest by the Sri Lankan State operated forces. The presence of tire marks leading to the Kiriketuwewa mass graves and the fact that the bodies were buried in the same location on two different times suggest that the State forces were involved in these burials. The families of the more than 1000 missing young Tamil men and women, living in the open prison that is Jaffna and under pervasive fear in the east, are in no position to travel to Anuradhapura to identify their loved ones. Neither will the Sri Lankan State operated forces be interested in assisting the families to identify the bodies of the Tamil men.
We strongly believe that the international community should make this into a test case and force the Sri Lankan State to make an island wide effort to identify the bodies and study the background to them ending up in Kiriketuwewa. We want to warn the international community of the large number of mass graves that are scattered around the island without any resolution despite many commissions of investigations. Urgent action should be taken by the international community to arrest the reappearance of new mass graves in the island.
31 January 2008