UN silence on Mannaar killing fields questioned, legal activists urge Bishops to act

[TamilNet, Sunday, 02 September 2018, 16:31 GMT]
The victims of Mannaar killing fields could be families that were fleeing from Peasaalai and other places to Tamil Nadu in India during the times of Eezham War II which lasted from 1990 to 1995, legal activists working with the enforced disappeared families told TamilNet on Sunday. Since there is a systematic pattern and the massacres seem to have been deliberately committed against unarmed civilians fleeing from the war zone, these are Crime Against Humanity of the first-degree according to any standard of the International Criminal Law, they said. The UN system, particularly the Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), well aware of Colombo's drive to dodge international forensic analyses of the exhumed human skeletons, also keeps mum, they complained.

The legal activists believe that all the civilian victims were Tamils.

So far, one of the two concrete objects, including a biscuit pack, found along with the skeletons, indicated the period of the massacre as the early 1990s, they said.

The legal activists also said those in charge of the exhumation have also excavated other objects, but have refrained from revealing the details.

Since the crime is directed against a target group by an ethnic Sinhala military, there is no doubt that these were genocidal acts, they said. That is why the families of the enforced disappeared are demanding the Magistrate in Mannaar to subject the human skeletons to forensic and DNA analyses by international experts, they said.

“We know for sure that the SL military was the only force in control of the locality between 1990 and 1993 when we believe the massacres have been carried out,” one of the activists said on condition of anonymity. “The area remained inaccessible to others also after that. The access remained blocked through a check-post at the nearby junction.”

The exhumation carried out so far and the hurdles put forward the SL Judiciary should be more than enough for the international human rights regime to interfere and demand impartial excavations and international forensic analyses, they said.

The Catholic Church and the Bishops in the North-East have should take a lead role in making that happen since a considerable number of the victims could be Catholics, the legal activists further opined.

They also cited the appeal made by former Bishop of Mannaar Dr Rayappu Joseph four years ago in 2014.

Conducting a special mass and prayer at St Lourde’s church at Maanthai, just across the spot where human skeletons were exhumed at Thirukkeatheesvaram, Bishop Rayappu Joseph demanded the following on 12 February in 2014: “The government can’t go on with producing lies. We have lost faith in any local mechanism that investigates the killings. Instead, we need an independent international investigation that has no political affiliation, and we should witness the investigation.”


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