Saththrukondan Massacre

On September 9, 1990, the men, women and children from Saththurukondan and surrounding villages, on the outskirts of Batticaloa, were taken to an army camp by Sri Lankan soldiers, where 185 Tamil men, women and children from Sathurukondan and surrounding villages were slaughtered by Sri Lankan soldiers.

The mass killings, which were carried out during the presidency of the UNP’s Ranasinghe Premadasa, were investigated in a probe established by then-president Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1997. The probe identified three captains in the Sri Lankan army as being responsible for the killings. The retired judge who led the inquiry, K Palakidnar said that there was strong evidence for the massacre and urged Ms Kumaratunga to hold the perpetrators to account, however no action was taken by the government.

There, the women were raped, and their breasts were cut off. 68 children, among them five babies were also tortured and murdered.

Only one man, 21 year old Kanthasamy Krishnakumar escaped being killed and informed the others about what had happened.

At an inquiry into the massacre, the Officer in Charge of the camp, Captain Gamini Varnakula Sooriya said “On that day no search or arrest was conducted by us.” He also reiterated that none of his men even ventured out of the camp on the day of the massacre. The military also threatened and forced the President of Citizens Committee, Arunakirinathan, to sign an affidavit saying no such incident took place. Arunakirinathan resigned from his post following this forced affidavit.

The Army brought everyone near Pillayarady. There were about 185 people. They took everyone to a covered area in Vincent Depot. Then we couldn’t see anything. But we heard people shouting and screaming with firing in between. After a few minutes we saw the flames blazing. Bodies were burning till the morning. They had shot and hacked 184 people to death. Those who were taken on a pretext that they would be released after an inquiry were in flames.

For a few days, no-one was allowed to go near the depot. After a week, the people went to the army camp and enquired about the whereabouts of the members of their family. They said that they never came to that village and they never took anyone. There is no guarantee that this will not happen again.

There is only one survivor – Kanthasamy Krishnakumar. He saw everyone being cut with big knives and thrown into the fire. When he was cut with a knife by a soldier, he fell down and pretended to have died. But before he was thrown into the fire, he got up and ran away. They couldn’t catch him.”

In the 30 years, Tamils have seen five regime changes, and Sinhala leaders came to power. But none of them ever gave justice for the Tamil genocide.

 Kumarathasan Rasingam,  Secretary, Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Org.


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