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Parallel Governments ( Part Two )

: Living between terror and counter terror in northern Lanka (1982-2009)
Hundreds of enforced disappearances committed since 2006 have already placed Sri Lanka among the countries with the highest number of new cases in the world. The victims are primarily young ethnic Tamil men who ‘disappear’ – often after being picked up by government security forces in the country’s embattled north and east, but also in the capital Colombo … Most are feared dead.

by Daya Somasundaram
University of Jaffna

Please click here to read part one of this series of articles

(October 27, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian)  Massacres (see Table 1) of innocent civilians by all the parties to the conflict became relatively common. Apart from individual, targeted political abductions, disappearances and extra-judicial killings (Human Rights Watch, 2008), these mass executions can only be called crimes against humanity that keep the population in abject terror. They easily qualify for persecution under criteria set out for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (2002). The various contending authorities, the state, paramilitaries, LTTE and even the Indian army for short periods, believed, against all the best advice of CI expertise (Kitson, 1971; US Army, 2006), that judicious use of these terror tactics would keep the population under their control and counter the appeal of the opposing party by winning over ‘hearts and minds’ through fear.

Table 1   War Crimes in Lanka -  Civilian Massacres

Date Place killed Description Possible Perpetrator
July 1983 Welikade Prison 53 Tamil Detainees State Officials, prisoners
24 July 1983 Jaffna 60 Tamil civilians Lankan Army
April, 1984 Jaffna 70 Church (Our Lady of Refuge) Lankan Army
20 Nov. 1984 Dollar and Kent Farm, Mullaithivu 62 Sinhala ex-convicts and settlers LTTE
2nd Dec 1984 Iraperiyakulam army camp, Vavuniya 100 Young Tamil men Lankan Army
4th Dec 1984 Mannar 107 Tamil civilians Lankan State forces
May, 1985 Valvetithurai 70 Tamil Civilians and school boys Lankan State forces
14 May 1985 Anuradhapura 146 Bus stand and Vihare LTTE
May 1985 Thambiluvil, Eastern province 60-63 Tamil Youth Lankan State forces
15 May 1985 Northern Seas off  Delft 34 Passengers on Kumuthini (boat) Lankan Navy
3 June 1985 Pankulam 85 Civilian bus passengers
May 3, 1986 Katunayake Airport 16 Passengers with foreign tourists Tamil militants
? May 1986 Central Telegraph Office 14 Civilians Tamil militants
April 1987 Colombo 113 Car bomb, central bus station LTTE
2 June 1987 Aranthalawa 31 Buddhist monks & civilians LTTE
22 Oct. 1987 Jaffna Hospital 70 Patients, doctors, nurses and staff Indian army (IPKF)
August 1987 Trincomalee 100 Sinhala villagers LTTE
April 1989 Trincomalee 51 Car bomb LTTE
2 August 1989 Valvittithurai 63 Tamil Youth and Boys Indian army (IPKF)
1 August 1990 Akraipattu 14 Executions of Muslims LTTE
4 August 1990 Kathankudi Mosque 103 Muslim men and children in Prayer LTTE
18 Aug. 1990 Eravur 121 Muslim men, women and children LTTE
05/09/1990 Vantharumoolai 158 Tamil Civilian refugees Lankan State Forces
10/09/1990      Saththurukkondan 184 Tamil Civilian refugees Lankan State Forces
12/06/1991      Kokkaddicholai 82 Tamil Civilians Lankan State Forces
October, 1991 Palliyagodella 109 Muslim men, women and children LTTE
09/08/1992      Mylanthanai, Batticaloa 32 Lankan State Forces
02/01/1993      Killaly Sea 52 Fleeing refugees State navy
18/04/1995     Nachchikuda 30 Lankan State Forces
25 May 1995 Kallarawa 42 LTTE
October 1995 Border Villages in East 120 Hacked LTTE
January 1996 Colombo 100 truck with explosives , Central Bank LTTE
11/02/1996     Kumarapuram 24 Civilians Lankan State Forces
20/04/1996      Killaly sea 42 Fleeing refugees Lankan State Navy
24 July 1996 Dehiwala 56 Train bombing LTTE
11/08/1997      Mullaitivu,(Manthuvil)               40 Tamil Civilians Lankan State Forces
10/06/1998      Suthanthirapuram, Mullaitivu 32 Tamil Civilians Lankan State Forces
17/9/1999 Gongala 52 Men, women and children hacked LTTE
25/10/2000      Bindunuwewa 31 Surrendered child, youth soldiers ? Lankan Police, officials
15 June 2006 Kebethigollewa, Anuradapura 64 mine attack on a civilian bus LTTE
7 August 2006 Muttur 17 French Action against hunger workers Lankan State Forces
April 2, 2007 Ampara 16 Bombing of civilian bus LTTE
Nov. 28, 2007 Colombo 18 Bombs LTTE
Dec. 5, 2007 Anuradhapura 16 Bombing of civilian bus LTTE
16 Jan. 2008 Buttala 27 Bus passengers LTTE
29 Jan 2008 Palampiddi 20 School children DPU
2 Feb. 2008 Dambulla 20 Bus passengers LTTE
Jan -19 May,2009 Vanni 20000 Tamil Civilians Lankan State Forces & LTTE
 

Table 2   War Crimes in Lanka -  Mass Displacements

Date Place Numbers Description Possible Perpetrator Comments
1956 Gal-Oya spread to other places 3000 widespread anti-Tamil violence Mobs Followed protests to Sinhala only Act
1958 Colombo, Outstations 35000 Mass displacement  of Tamils following widespread anti-Tamil violence Mobs Followed Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam pact and its abrogation.
1977 Hill Country, Colombo 15000 Mass displacement  of Tamils following widespread anti-Tamil violence Mobs Followed UNP winning 1977 elections
1983 Colombo, South West, Central 250000 Mass displacement  of Tamils following widespread anti-Tamil violence Mobs and politicians
Post 1983 Abroad 500000 to 1,000,000 Mostly Tamils Lankan State forces Asylum abroad
August 1987 Sinhala villagers LTTE
October 1987 Jaffna 300,000 Indian army Pawan army operation IPKF
1988 North East 253000 IPKF operations IPKF
October 1990 North 100,000 Muslims ordered to leave LTTE Fear of the 5th Column
October 1995 Jaffna 400,000 Advancing Lankan forces on Jaffna LTTE Engineered by LTTE
1996 North 335000 Lankan forces operations Lankan forces
1997 North 255000 Lankan forces operations Lankan forces
1999 North 51000 Lankan forces operations Lankan forces
2000 North 192000 Lankan forces operations
2001 North 67000 Lankan forces operations Lankan forces
Dec.  2006 North and East 520000 Conflict
April 2007 East 301,000 Conflict
June, 2007 Colombo 376 Tamils Lankan authorities Deportation to Vavuniya
August 2007 Northeast 460,000 Conflict
Jan. to May 2009 Vanni 300,000 Tamils Military operations Internment in camps

Sources: Tamil Centre for Human Rights – TCHRwww.tchr.net) | UNHCR   |                           
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre 

   Table 1 gives a few, illustrative and representatives examples of unambiguous cases of civilian massacres involving more than 15 civilians with a clear, planned intent carried out in a deliberate, organized way to cause terror or as a lesson. Disorganized mob killings or where soldiers have gone ‘berserk’ or where the action could be argued to be accidental, unintentional, or ‘collateral damage’ have been left out. Numbers injured have been left out (not available or reliable in most cases). 
  Sivaram had described ‘levels of terror’ during a lecture on CI at Palmerstone North, New Zealand in 1999 (Trawick, personal communication) as something that can be turned on and off, and increased or reduced as the situation necessitated. It would be like a fine tuning to keep the population under control, like the use of the friendly and ‘bad’ interrogator, where the population will start yearning for periods of less terror and do anything to avoid an increase in terror levels.
  In relation to abductions and disappearances, a recent Human Rights Watch report (2008), gives a very clear description of what is happening: 
Hundreds of enforced disappearances committed since 2006 have already placed Sri Lanka among the countries with the highest number of new cases in the world. The victims are primarily young ethnic Tamil men who ‘disappear’ – often after being picked up by government security forces in the country’s embattled north and east, but also in the capital Colombo … Most are feared dead. Enforced disappearances have again become a salient feature of the conflict. Figures released by various governmental and nongovernmental sources suggest that more than 1,500 people were reported missing from December 2005 through December 2007 … In the great majority of cases documented by Human Rights Watch and Sri Lankan groups, evidence indicates the involvement of government security forces – army, navy, or police. The Sri Lankan military, empowered by the country’s counterterrorism laws, has long relied on extrajudicial means, such as ‘disappearances’ and summary executions – in its operations against Tamil militants and JVP insurgents. The involvement of the security forces in ‘disappearances’ is facilitated by Sri Lanka’s emergency laws, which grant sweeping powers to the army along with broad immunity from prosecution … Also implicated in abductions and ‘disappearances’ are pro-government Tamil armed groups acting either independently or in conjunction with the security forces … The LTTE has been implicated in abductions in conflict areas under the government’s control … the LTTE prefers to openly execute opponents, perhaps to ensure a deterrent effect on the population. LTTE abductions may also be underreported because the family members of the victims and eyewitnesses are often reluctant to report the abuses, fearing LTTE retribution.
  As part of the CI and counter CI, the various authorities vying for the loyalty and subservience of the community have ruthlessly eliminated what they have perceived as obstruction to their power and control. Apart from the abductions, disappearances and extra-judicial killings by the state and its allied paramilitary forces, the internecine warfare among various Tamil militant organizations competing for the loyalty of the community have resulted in the elimination of many of its own ethnic, more able, civilians – a process of self-destruction, auto genocide (Hoole, 2001). Those with leadership qualities, those willing to challenge and argue, the intellectuals, the dissenters and those with social motivation have been weeded out (‘Pullu Kalaithal’ or weeding those eliminated are labelled as ‘anti social elements’ or ‘traitors’). They have either been intimidated into leaving, killed or coerced into silence. At critical nodal shifts in power, recriminations, false accusations, revenge and retribution were very common. It happened in 1987 (IPKF, the Indian intervention); in 1990 (LTTE takeover), in 1996 (SLA control), after 2005 with the collapse of the ceasefire, and is happening from May 2009 with another shift in the power balance. The loss of leadership and the talented, skilful, resourceful persons, the professionals, technocrats and entrepreneurs, from the community has had devastating consequences. Many left over the years due to increasing difficulties, traumatic experiences and social pressure from family and colleagues, the so-called ‘brain drain’. Those who remained have been targeted by those aspiring to rule the community.


To be continued ...

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