The incident referred to as Trincomalee massacre in 2006 happened when five minority Sri Lankan Tamil high school students playing by the beach were briefly detained and then shot dead by Special Task Force
These five Tamil students were shot and killed at point blank range by the STF whilst they spent an afternoon on the beach in Trincomalee.
The spot where the students had gathered was a popular location on Trincomalee’s Dutch Bay beachfront, where a statue of Mahatma Gandhi sits amidst a backdrop of the ocean. Ragihar had left home that evening to pray at the nearby temple, and on his way back had met with some friends from his high school, the Koneswara Hindu College. Whilst the group sat and talked on the concrete seats facing the waves, at approximately 7:35pm a green auto rickshaw rode towards the group.
“Suddenly a grenade was thrown and fell near my feet,” said Yoganathan Poongulalon, a survivor of the massacre. “I ran about 10 meters south and fell down injured.” At least four others had also been hurt. “The auto rickshaw from which the grenade was thrown went towards the Fort,” he added, referring to Fort Frederick, where the Sri Lankan Army Headquarters was based. After passing both the Pansala army and police checkpoints, witnesses state that the rickshaw drove into the base.
The five slain students, who were all 20-years-old when killed, are:
Manoharan Ragihar (22.09.1985)
Yogarajah Hemachchandra (04.03.1985)
Logitharajah Rohan (07.04.1985)
Thangathurai Sivanantha (06.04.1985)
Shanmugarajah Gajendran (16.09.1985)
The case ‘Trinco 5′ – remains one of the highest-profile killings in Sri Lanka to receive international attention, listed in 2014 by the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on the island as one of four ‘emblematic cases’ of the government’s failure to ensure accountability and having been raised repeatedly in international forums.
The killings came a month after then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed office and the island began to slide towards all-out war. As tensions escalated in the North-East, a special Defence Ministry advisor and JHU senior member H.N.G.B. Kotakadeniya, reportedly allocated a squadron of STF commandos to Trincomalee, with an order to crack down on dissenting activity. The move was approved by the president’s brother and infamous Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
In February 2018, then High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council that the killings were among several on the island that demonstrate ongoing impunity. His report said,
Kumarathasan Rasingam – Secretary, Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Org.