The Sunday TimesNews/Comment

03rd, November 1996




Peace Group horrified at Krishanthi's killing

Women for Peace has expressed horror and shock the hideous sexual violence of gang rape and gruesome murder of eighteen year old Krishanthi Kumarasamy at the hands of the armed forces in Kaithady, Jaffna. In a statement, the movement said: "In this collective brutal violence, her mother, a widow and vice principal of Kaithandy Muthukumaraswamy Maha Vidyalaya, brother and neighbor were found buried under crudely dug graves. The highly decomposed bodies were exhumed and flown to Colombo for burial at state expense and the sole survivor, Prashanthi Kumarasamy, (21) was denied the right to mourn over the dead and perform the last rites.

"What is frightening is that the atrocious crimes were not committed in operational areas of heightened military offensives. Kaithady has been 'cleared' by the army and civilian administration and controlled by the military. However people experience terrible fear, insecurity and terror in this battle scarred zone, daily. The stubborn refusal and intransigence of the government in not allowing the relatives of the family to make the funeral arrangements on their own free will, and the indignation and insensitivity displayed so far in instituting an inquiry to punish the perpetrators of these crimes indicate the psychological and physical impasse this bitterest and bloodiest war has reached," the movement said.

"The Kumarasamy massacre has shocked the conscience of people who see this as a crime committed against unarmed defenseless civilians. The government's credibility has been seriously eroded and this has led to a loss of faith and the confidence that people had reposed in this government which claimed itself to be committed towards safeguarding the rights of all people", it added.

The movement has called upon all citizens to join them in a 'vigil' to remember Krishanthi and her family and to protest against this kind of brutality against innocent civilians.

The 'Action' begun on Friday will continue every other week day (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) from 12.30-1.30 p.m. at Hyde Park, Colombo 2.

Death of a photo-journalist

Former Sunday Times photographer Tilak Ratnayake died of heart attack last night.

He began working in 1970 at the now defunct Dawasa Group and later moved onto work for a number of films and other publications. Later he joined The Sunday Times and moved on to The Sunday Leader.

Tilak, 48, is survived by his wife and three children.

Cremation will take place on Wednesday. His residence is at 291, Galle Rd., Thalpitiya South, Wadduwa.

And the blossom died...

By Roshan Peiris

It was an anguished traumatic household with tear stained faces sorrow and a sense of fatality. 'My God how could that dear child have died. Her sweet smile I will not forget till I die' said a very close relative of the dead 18 year old Krishanthi Kumarasamy.

His request was "please don't even mention how I'm related to her only say a close relation" he said with haunted eyes. "I am afraid as to what they might do to us".

It is a sad story. Here was a girl who left her home on Saturday September 7 fasting, since as a Hindu she fasted on Saturdays. She was sitting for her first paper in Chemistry. A clever student having scored eight distinctions in her GEC O Level, she looked forward to a bright future hoping to choose medicine for her career. "She was tan complexioned with a sweet smile and sharp attractive eyes" said the relative.

She was a cheerful child said the relative. She had a young brother Prasanthan 16 years old who also died in the tragic events that followed. Her only sister Prashanthi aged 21 years lives with these relatives at Wellawatte. She escaped since she came to Colombo to sit for her CIMA in June but was too late for the exam. She is currently studying Australian Computer Science She is a dark slim girl with sadness written all over her face. She is today bereft of mother, sister and brother. Her father died 11 years ago. Will she ever smile is a thought that enters one's mind as one sees this pathetic girl.

We doubtless salute the many soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for the country but we cannot condone rape and murder by soldiers who showed brawn and lust rather than patriotism.

Krishanthi completed her paper and went alone to see a sick friend. She was stopped at the check point and three soldiers allegedly raped her until she fell unconscious. When she revived according to the confessions, police officers and six soldiers further raped her. In mute testament was the torn blood stained uniform of the girl from Chundikuli High school.

When Krishanthi was late in returning home, her mother, brother, and a neighbor went to look for her.

The mother was 59 years old and a Vice-Principal of a Maha Vidyalaya in Kaithady. Her journey was not only futile but she, her son and neighbor were strangled, cut into pieces and buried in a little hut within the gates of the army camp according to lawyer Poopalan.

After queries in Parliament and investigations, the bodies were brought in one big box at midnight. The relatives were asked to stay outside the GMO's office in Colombo while Mr. Poopalan and Tamil Congress leader Kumar Ponnambalam went in.

Ponnambalam and Poopalan wanted to know why the four bodies were not kept in four coffins. In the midst of this, an ultimatum was given to the family who did not see the bodies, that within two hours the bodies had to be cremated otherwise they would be buried at state expense with no rites at all.

Village settlement in elephant park-protest

By Shelani de Silva

Environmentalists are protesting against the setting up of a village in an elephant park in the Puttalam District.

The land situated at the 10th milepost on the Anuradhapura- Puttalam road is said to be a haven for wild elephants. However authorities have gone ahead to set up the village.

The Karuwalagaswewa stretch beginning at the 16 km post on the Puttalam-Anuradhapura road is a parkland extending from the Thabbowawewa on the north to the distant jungles of the South. Anytime of the day travelers can see herds of elephants feeding close to the road.

A hundred families are to be settled here, on both sides of the road, each on a one acre block of land. This is done under the "Jana Udana" program. The settlement stretches for more than two miles along the road. It will be in the middle of elephant country straddling the many paths the elephants take to reach the Thabbowawewa.

The Wildlife Protection Society of Ceylon (WLPSC) told The Sunday Times that there is a teak plantation of the Forest Department. However the settlements have been done without following proper procedures and violating environmental laws.

Mr. M. Morahaua, Secretary of WLPSC, the society was first informed by a person who travels in this area. "He had seen people building houses. He had informed the authorities but got no reply. Later he wrote to us wanting us to do something. We too wrote to the Wildlife Department, Puttalam GA and all persons involved but no one seems to take up the responsibility", he said.

According to WLPSC secretary there are about fifty elephants roaming the area. "Constructing a village in a place like this is not only illegal but also a danger to the wildlife of our country. We challenge the officials behind this move to convince us that an Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out. Was the Wildlife Department informed of this project", he asked.

Ananda Wanasinghe, an engineer pointed out that the land is not suitable for cultivation and that the ground water is known to be brackish.

The Sunday Times contacted the Puttalam District MP D.M. Dassanayake who said that they had got government approval though he was not aware of the day it was passed. "The orders were given by the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Forestry. Whatever it is, it is an ideal place. As for the elephants, once people settle down there they would not come to the road", he said.

Land Commissioner A. Kumarasiri said that he was not aware of ministerial approval. However he had asked his officials in Anuradhapura to send him a full report on the matter. "I am yet to receive it but I also told them that if the construction is done illegally they must put a stop to it at once", he said.

H. M. Bandaratillake, Director Forest Department, said that from what he knows the villagers are not encroaching, "As for government approval I am not aware of it. The Puttalam GA had several meetings with a committee and taken this decision," he said.

In the agony of rape, LTTE thrives

By Mudliyar

Bertrand Russell has remarked that throughout history the greatest courage shown by human beings was when civilized men fought with their lives to protect their wives and daughters and their chastity from being raped by marauding barbarians.

When societies became more civilized and docile, history has repeatedly shown that for the conquerors their prized pillage was the women of the vanquished. Even in ancient societies, the most painful dishonor to any family was the rape of its women. So the societies inflicted the most severe punishment on the guilty.

A committee headed by Professor Savithri Goonesekera recommended that a heavy mandatory jail sentence should be imposed on the convicted rapist and this was accepted by the legislature. In countries founded on human liberties, the conviction on a charge of rape entails not only a heavy jail sentence, but also a public outcry which ensures that the convicted rapist is ostracized from his town or village. There have been many instances where the convict's house has been put to the torch so that he could not live in the same town after release from jail.

"Dhanu" the LTTE suicide bomber was selected to kill Rajiv Gandhi as she was said to be one of the victims allegedly raped by the IPKF. A few days ago I happened to meet a medical consultant who happens to be a Tamil. He was almost in tears when he related a story which had appeared in the 'Virakesari' that morning, of how a young girl of 18 had disappeared after returning from an examination, and later her body with the bodies of her mother and some others were found near a cemetery. He asked why the newspapers in Colombo, especially the English papers had not reported these atrocities. "Is there a conspiracy by the majority against the Tamil Community?"

"Thank God my children are abroad," he said. He was one of the kindest doctors I have met. Then for a moment I pondered: my GP is a Tamil, my proctor is a Tamil and even my engineer is a Tamil. If this matter as related by him is true, can we really call ourselves Sinhalese Buddhists. I related this story to a Member of Parliament. He said this was brought to his notice by a Tamil MP and he could not sleep that night. One of my nieces who hated Prabhakaran and the LTTE said, "Uncle this is why they have been fighting for 13 years".

The rape of Premawathi Manamperi, during the 1971 insurgency came to my mind. At that time the Sirima Bandaranaike government took all possible steps to bring to book the suspects and the courts convicted the rapist. UNP's R. Premadasa took advantage of this incident and with his great oratorical skill, read pages from the judgment and described the rape in all its gruesome detail at public rallies, and condemned the government. Then before the last general elections one of the many allegations against the Wijetunga regime was how the Attorney-General was influenced by the Government to discharge a retired Superintendent of Police from an allegation of raping a domestic.

Samaraweera Weerawanni, one time a follower of Mr. Premadasa, was able, like his mentor, to draw tears from the women at public rallies when he went on to describe the plight of this innocent girl who had still not attained puberty.

I do not know what effect these two episodes had on the public when they cast their vote. Both governments against whom these allegations were made lost the elections. Mr. Premadasa after winning the elections built a memorial at the place where Manamperi was shot. These incidents reveal the universal condemnation of rape and rapist, and the political advantage which accrues to the party which alleges that the government had any hand in it directly or indirectly.

Be that as it may, the Virakesari on October 23, 1996 published the latest Jaffna incident.

Krishanthi, an 18 year old girl, was returning home after sitting for the GCE advanced level examination at Chundukuli Girls' College. As she did not return home after the examination, the 59 year old mother of the girl who is the Deputy Principal of a school at Kaithady, and her 16 year old son and 35 year old neighbor went to the nearest army camp in search of any clue or other information about this girl. That was the last time they were seen. Later, a 13 year old boy found the four bodies at a cemetery. A Brigadier contacted relatives of this family in Colombo and offered five Air Tickets to them to fly to Jaffna to participate in the funeral. The relatives refused and wanted the bodies brought to Colombo. After much effort and agitation by them, an investigation into the deaths was initiated by the Kankesanthurai Police. The bodies were brought to Colombo and a Post mortem examination was held by the JMO Colombo. One Corporal, two other soldiers and two police officers had been arrested by the KKS police. Police said there was evidence that the girl had been raped by 11 persons. Two others are to be arrested.

The gruesome details of this horrendous act will shock the conscience of any civilized person. We are being constantly bombarded with information about the acts of barbarism of Prabhakaran. Every one keeps a discreet silence about the atrocities of our own armed forces. During the stay of the IPKF all communities got together and published stories of the Peace Keeping Force committing the most barbaric atrocities against the Jaffna Tamils.

We and the members of the armed forces must realize that the allegation of rape by the forces is the greatest weapon Prabhakaran uses to instill absolute faith in him and his cause in the minds of suicide bombers, a large percentage of whom are females. The process of brainwashing has such an indelible impression on the brainwashed as martyr in the case of the suicide bomber of Gamini Dissanayake, the police found that she lived in Colombo for a number of months and had a number of affairs with Sinhalese men, and could speak Sinhalese so very well that no one ever suspected her. On the appointed day she was taken by others and dressed for the occasion and accomplished her mission with a devastating effect.

If the government keeps these incidents under a cloud of mystery, the Tamils will always entertain a fear that there is an organized movement by the majority to condone such dastardly crimes committed by the forces. The Buddhist priests have a responsibility to openly condemn such brutalities and help the authorities to instill discipline amongst the forces. Prabhakaran revels in situations like this. This not only helps his cause but hordes of others will join his brigade for the cause of Eelam.

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