Friday, 7 March 2014

Mass Graves in Sri-Lanka

Sri-Lanka has numerous mass graves across the country.

Successive Sri-Lankan governments have been involved in state-sponsored terrorism for many decades.

These graves date back to the 1970s when there was an uprising against the government by the JVP. The group led two uprisings first in 1971 and the second from 1987 to 1989.

The Sooriyakanda mass grave is the mass burial ground of murdered school children from Embilipitiya High School. These school children were killed and buried as part of the counter insurgency during the second JVP uprising.

It was alleged that over 300 bodies were buried in the location. The mass grave was located in 1994.

The Sri Lankan government last reported in 1996 to have conducted a forensic analysis of the burial ground uncovering an unspecified number of bodies. Local media, NGOs and the US state department have claimed that the investigations are not satisfactory.

"The state's army and paramilitaries carried out large-scale killings at that time and we ask the government to do a full investigation," said Anura Dissanayake, a lawmaker from a political party with ties to the former rebels.

In a BBC interview with David Frost on 28 October 2001, Chandrika Kumaratunga - who was the President of Sri Lanka from 1994 to 2005 - stated that at the time that her husband Vijaya Kumaranatunga was murdered, "Sri Lanka had killing fields; there was a lot of terror perpetrated by the government itself, state terrorism.”

Human remains of 200 people were discovered in Matale in December 2012. Politicians belonging to the JVP party allege that the victims were killed having been tortured and that the heads, arms and legs of many of them had been severed.

The then government was widely accused of running torture chambers in the area in the late 1980s and of conducting extra-judicial executions. As many as 60,000 JVP insurgents were reportedly killed. 

According to the Sri Lankan defence ministry website, the military’s coordinating officer and then commanding officer in the area at the time was Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

According to Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch:

“Unless there is real transparency in the forensic investigation, we will never be sure." "But we know they will not want to open a Pandora's Box that would incriminate many senior figures."

More and more mass graves are being found almost monthly!

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who do not do anything about it.” - Albert Einstein

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