Mirusuvil massacre

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Mirusuvil massacre
Location Mirusuvil, Jaffna district, Sri Lanka
Date December 20, 2000
Target Sri Lankan Tamil civilians
Attack type
Stabbing
Weapons Knife
Deaths 8
Perpetrators Sri Lankan Army

Mirusuvil massacre [1] refers to the massacre and subsequent mass burial of eight Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, including children,[2] on 20 December 2000.[1][3][4]

The Incident[edit]

Mirusuvil massacre happened on 20 December, 2000 [5] when eight internally displacedInternally displaced[›] refugees returning to inspect their property were arrested on 19 December 2000 in a village named Mirusuvil close to Jaffna. They were subsequently murdered allegedly by Sri Lankan Army soldiers and buried in a mass grave, about 16 miles east of Jaffna town.[1][3](see location here)

The refugees had returned from Udupiddy, further north. They returned to Mirusuvil on 19 December to inspect their houses and to collect firewood, when they were seized by allegedly by the Army. The refugess had obtained permission from local authorities before visiting their former properties. According to the evidence of District Medical Officer, Dr. C. Kathirvetpillai, their throats had been slashed. The dead included three teenagers and five-year-old Vilvarajah Prasath [1][3] The murders came to light because one of the arrested, Ponnuthurai Maheswaran allegedly escaped from Army custody with serious injuries and informed relatives.[3] Eventually the Sri Lankan government charged five Sri Lankan Army soldiers with illegal arrests, torture, murder and burial of their dead bodies in a mass grave.[6] The case was still pending in 2007.

Reactions[edit]

In a letter to the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the local member of parliament Mavai Senathirajah said that a woman’s body was seen partially buried in the area, leading to suspicions that there are other mass gravesDisappearances[›]. He urged the president to order further excavations in Mirusuvil.[3]

Human rights groups such as Center for Human Rights Development (CHRD) along with other civilian groups initiated a campaign and demanded the government to arrest the murderers and as a result 14 Sri Lanka Army Soldiers were taken into custody. They were produced before the Magistrate in Chavakachcheri, located in Jaffna district and remanded. CHRD lawyer Mr. M. Remadious was instrumental in participating in legal proceedings against the suspects and also met and interviewed the relatives of the victims to collect more information.

The case was then transferred to the Magistrate Court in Anuradhapura and was taken up on 20 May 2002. Attorney General then nominated three Judges to hear the case at Trial at Bar, High court, Colombo on 27 November 2002. Group of volunteer lawyers took care of the interests of the victim’s families and key witnesses.[4]

Case follow up[edit]

A typical Kris knife

The government in 2002 agreed to try the arrested army officers without a jury.[7] During the proceedings of the court case the main witness in the court case was quoted as saying that:

[H]e was caught by some army personnel armed with weapons while he was collecting firewood with other villagers. He said the army men ordered them to put down the knives and started to assault them. Later he was blindfolded with his own sarong and taken near a toilet pit where another soldier was waiting with a kris knife. He described that there were blood stains at the place. While the army men were talking, the main witness Ponnadurai Maheshwaran had managed to escape by running away from the place....[8]

Although the case was still being heard in 2005,[9] Human rights agencies have complained of delays in hearing of this and other human rights related cases.[5]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • ^ Internally displaced: Sri Lanka has many people who are internally displaced due to the effect of the Sri Lankan civil war since 1983 and the 2004 Tsunami. They live in refugee camps and resettlement villages unable to go back to their original place of residence due to security concerns and lack of infrastructure. Most are looked after by a combination of help from the local communities, the government, NGO's and international aid agencies such as UNHCR.[10]
  • ^ Disappearances: More than 700 people disappeared in Jaffna in 1996 to 1997. The Sri Lankan government has said that 765 complaints of disappearance had been received. Sixteen people were ascertained as killed in custody and 201 were said to be in prisons. The fate of 548 remains unknown. The UN Working Group on Disappearances urged the government in March, to abolish the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency regulations which facilitate disappearances.[1][11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Mirusuvil massacre case". BBC.com. 2007-05-09. 
  2. ^ "Child soldiers:Understanding the context" (PDF). BMJ.com. 2007-05-06. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Mirusuvil mass graves". British Refugee Council: Sri Lanka Monitor. 2007-05-09. 
  4. ^ a b "Activities of Center for Human Rights Development". chrdsrilanka.org. 2007-05-09. 
  5. ^ a b "HRW Country Report – Sri Lanka". HRW.com. 2007-05-09. 
  6. ^ "New panel to probe Mirusuvil massacre". BBC.com. 2007-05-09. 
  7. ^ "No jury in Mirusuvil case". Tamilnet. 2002. 
  8. ^ "Main witness in the Mirusuvil massacre case testifies". Dailymirror.lk. 2007-05-10. 
  9. ^ "Mirusuvil case". AHRC.com. 2006. 
  10. ^ "Amnesty International report on internally displaced in Sri Lanka". Amnesty International.org. Retrieved 2007-04-22. 
  11. ^ "Façade of accountability: Disappearances in Sri Lanka" (PDF). Third World Law Journal: Boston College Vo l23:115. 15 February 2006. 

External links[edit]