The West eyes wide closed:
Revisiting Tamil Tiger massacres in Sri Lanka
The term ‘ethnic cleansing’, incorporated into the English dictionary
in the 1990s, has been extensively used by the international media in
relation to the Yugoslav wars and has become a popular phrase from 1992.
Flashback: LTTE terrorists set off a huge truck bomb outside Sri
Lanka's holiest Buddhist shrine in Kandy, the Temple of the
Tooth, killing 13 people and wounding 23. Two toddlers were
among the dead. The temple, which houses the Sacred Tooth Relic
of the Buddha, suffered serious damage.
There is no formal legal definition of ‘ethnic cleansing’. A broad
generalisation, however, refers to ‘ethnic cleansing’ as forcible
deportation of a population and an act of crime against humanity, under
the statutes of both the International Criminal Court (ICC) and
International Criminal Tribunal.
‘Ethnic cleansing’ is a method which involves terror, associated with
a distasteful misfortune of refugees. It brings about gloom with the
ruins of ravaged homes. Its purpose is to ensure destruction through
threat, humiliation, mass murder, torture, rape and sexual assault,
confinement of the civilian population, use of civilians as human
shields and destruction of cultural property. The UN General Assembly
condemned ‘ethnic cleansing’ and racial hatred in a 1992 resolution and
held that the practices associated with ethnic cleansing “constitute
crimes against humanity and can be assimilated to specific war crimes”.
• A 1971 Census in Sri Lanka indicated a population of 20,514
Sinhalese living in the Jaffna peninsula. By mid-October 1987, they were
completely ethnically cleansed by the LTTE.
• Since 1984, over 400,000 Tamils had moved into ethnically diverse
Colombo, to live in security and harmony among the majority Sinhalese
and other communities.
• As of 2009, the percentage of the ethnic minority population
outside the Northern and Eastern regions is 54 percent.
The expulsion of Muslims from Jaffna was an act of ethnic cleansing
by the LTTE in October 1990. To achieve their goal of creating an
ethnically “pure” Tamil state in the North and East, the LTTE forcibly
expelled the entire Muslim community from the northern Jaffna peninsula,
giving only 48 hours of warning. The Muslims were not even permitted to
take any of their belongings; subsequently, their belongings were looted
by the LTTE.
LTTE sentiments with regard to Muslims were amply manifested in their
actions. From the first week of October 1987, the LTTE proceeded with no
provocation to massacre Sinhalese and Muslims from Trincomalee down to
Batticaloa, two of the three districts in the Eastern Province.
The US State Department Human Rights Report on Sri Lanka for 1995,
published in April 1996, said, “In the northern part of the island, LTTE
insurgents expelled some 46,000 Muslim inhabitants from their homes in
1990...virtually the entire Muslim population...expropriated Muslim
homes, lands and businesses and threatened Muslim families with death if
they attempt to return...In October (1995) over 120 Sinhalese civilians
were massacred by LTTE forces in an attempt to inflame communal
violence...many of the victims were hacked to death with swords and
The atrocities committed on Muslims alone were as follows:
• 62 Muslims hacked to death at Nintavur, Ampara on June 21, 1990
• 140 Muslims murdered and 66 injured while at prayer in the Meera
Jumma and Hussainiya Mosques at Kattankudy, Batticaloa on August 5, 1990
• 40 Muslims murdered at Akkaraipattu, Ampara the following day
• 127 Muslims murdered at the Saddam Hussein village, Poovaikadu and
at Kalavaichanai near Eravur in Batticaloa about four days later
• This trend continued in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and
spread to adjacent villages such as Palliyagodella and Alinchinnapotai
in the North Central Province where families were hacked to death while
going about their day-to-day affairs, or at night when asleep.
• In 1992, the LTTE gave every Muslim in all parts of the Jaffna,
Kilinochchi, Mannar, Vavuniya, and Mullaitivu districts the option of
leaving the Northern Province within 24 hours or being murdered. These
Muslims who had co-existed in the North with Tamils for generations left
their homes and fled to refugee camps
• On August 3, 1990, gun-carrying Tamil Tigers swooped on Muslims at
prayers inside the holy Kattankudy mosque and butchered 103 including
over 25 small children. According to Muslim Peace Secretariat data, in
1981 the total number of Muslims in the North was 50,831. As at end of
2007, the population of Muslims in the North is 20,583.
The eviction of Muslims from the Northern Province commenced early as
1985. Muslims from Mullaitivu were the first victims. In 1990, a pure
form of ethnic cleansing of Muslims took place in an unprecedented
manner. Muslims were ordered to leave within a short time or face dire
consequences. According to a survey conducted by Dr. S.H. Hasbullah,
Muslim families were evicted from about 70 villages in the province.
Scholars have pointed out that the eviction was a calculated attempt at
uprooting an ethno-regional identity of a community from a land of
In 1990, except in certain parts of Mannar and Vavuniya districts of
the Northern Province, an attempt was made to clear the rest of the
North of Muslims. The effort was successful in the Jaffna, Mullaitivu
and Mannar districts. However, in Vavuniya and Mannar, a substantial
number of Muslims continued to remain in spite of threats to life and
property. In Vavuniya, the entire Muslim population remained intact
(statistically) and in Mannar the Muslim population dropped drastically
to less than 6,000 after the expulsion (from 26.81 to 5.14 percent).
The LTTE used mass massacres to evict the Muslims from the North and
the East. At the time of expulsion, a large concentration of Muslims
lived in the Jaffna district. In 1981, there were 13,757 Muslims in
Jaffna. The number was down to 299 in 2007. There was a heavy
concentration of Muslims in the Jaffna town.
Then, the Tigers turned their wrath on the Sinhalese with mass
massacres. On May 14, 1985, the LTTE killed 146 Sinhalese men, women and
children, when they hijacked a bus and drove it to the Sri Maha Bodhi,
and began firing indiscriminately into a crowd that included Bhikkhus
On June 2, 1987, a bus carrying Buddhist monks in Arantalawa in the
North was attacked and 35 Bhikkhus were killed. The LTTE massacred 109
Muslim men, women and children in Palliyagodella on October 15, 1991.
Subsequently, they massacred 42 Sinhalese men, women and children on May
25, 1995 in a fishing village, Kallarawa in Trincomalee.
On September 18, 1999, over 50 men, women and children were hacked to
death in Gonagala, a small village in the Ampara district in the Eastern
The end result was the depopulation of the villages as the last
remaining survivors fled. The wholesale massacres by the LTTE on the two
ethnic groups, Sinhalese and Muslims, in the Northern and Eastern
Provinces were to target a mono-ethnic region in these provinces.
This is what the International Crisis Group said in a report
published on May 29, 2007: “Throughout much of the 25-year Sri Lankan
conflict, attention has focused on the confrontation between the
majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils. The views of the country’s
Muslims, who are eight percent of the population and see themselves as a
separate ethnic group, have largely been ignored. Understanding their
role in the conflict and addressing their political aspirations are
vital if there is to be a lasting peace settlement. Muslims need to be
part of any renewed peace process, but with both the government and LTTE
intent on continuing the conflict, more immediate steps should be taken
to ensure their security and political involvement.
“At least one third of Muslims lives in the conflict-affected North
and East and has a significant interest in the outcome of the war
against terrorism. They have often suffered serious hardship,
particularly at the hands of the LTTE. Since 1990, Muslims have been the
victims of ethnic cleansing, massacres and forced displacement by the
It recommends that the Government “Establish a presidential
commission to investigate the expulsions of the Muslim population from
the Northern Province in 1990 and address both immediate needs and
long-term legal, political and physical obstacles to an eventual
LTTE mass-scale massacres/genocide (1985 - 2009)
Before the long list of genocidal acts of the Tamil Tigers, the
readers need to be reminded again what ‘genocide’, in internationally
accepted terms, constitute. The analysis of the crime of genocide shows
that there are three major elements thereof:
- Victims of the above-mentioned violent acts must belong to
particular national, ethnic, racial or religious groups;
- There must be specific intent (mens rea) to destroy such group in
whole or in part;
- Any of the genocidal acts must be actually committed (actus reus).
Consequently, genocide can be committed only against certain
national, ethnic, racial or religious groups. Similar actions directed
against, ex. political or social group cannot be qualified as genocide.
The concept of genocide requires the existence of a specific intent
regarding general consequences of an illegal deed. As a feature of
genocide, intent includes the following:
- Intent must not to be directed against one or more persons
belonging to certain group, but rather to the group as such. In other
words, the qualifying criteria is not the victims' personalities, but
their being a member of that group;
- Intent must be aimed at a group, as such. Genocide means denial to
accept the right to exist of an entire human group.
To the contrary, killing of a human being (homicide) is characterised
as a denial of the right to exist of an individual being. Consequently,
actus reus (prohibited act) may be committed against even one person,
but mens rea (intent) must be directed against the existence of the
entire human group;
- Intent must contain the desire to destroy a group in whole or in
- Such a group must be national, ethnic, racial or religious. It is
not required that a group be indeed totally or partially destroyed, so
that the responsibility for genocide be inferred. For that, it is
necessary that the acts, constituting the material element of the crime
concerned, be committed with such an intent.
Following are some of the mass-scale massacres targeting an ethnic
group undertaken by the LTTE which fall in to the category of genocide.
All these massacres were executed by the LTTE in the Eastern Province to
achieve its goal of a mono-ethnic combined North-East Provinces that
they claim as the 'Tamil Homeland'. The Tamil Tigers were successful in
ejecting the Sinhalese and Muslims from the Northern Province, using the
weapon of mass massacre.
Nov. 30, 1984 - Kent Farm, Vavuniya - Armed terrorists shot dead 29
Sinhalese settlers and injured several others
Nov. 30, 1984 - Dollar Farm, Vavuniya - Armed terrorists shot dead 33
Sinhalese settlers and injured several others
May 14, 1985 - Anuradhapura - Armed terrorists invaded town and shot
dead 146 Sinhalese and injured 85 others. This included pilgrims who
were at the Sacred Sri Maha Bodhi premises.
Nov. 7, 1985 - Namalwatta, Morawewa, Trincomalee - Armed terrorists
shot dead 10 Sinhalese villagers
May 25, 1986 - Mahadivulwewa, Trincomalee - Armed terrorists shot
dead 20 Sinhalese and set fire to 20 houses
June 4, 1986 - Andankulam, Trincomalee - Armed terrorists shot dead
17 Sinhalese, including Ven. Bakamune Subaddalankara Thera
April 20, 1987 - Jayanthipura, Trincomalee - Armed terrorists shot
dead 15 Sinhalese villagers
May 29, 1987 - Arantalawa, Ampara - Armed terrorists shot dead 30
Bhikkhus and four Sinhalese civilians and injured 15 Bhikkhus
June 2, 1987 - Arantalawa, Ampara - Bloody massacre and brutal
mutilation of 33 young Bhikkhus and their mentor, Chief Priest Ven.
Hegoda Indrasara Thera
Oct. 6, 1987 - Batticaloa - Armed terrorists shot dead 18 Sinhalese
Oct. 6, 1987 - Sagarapura, Kuchchuveli, Trincomalee - Armed
terrorists shot dead 27 Sinhalese villagers
Oct. 6, 1987 - Thalavai, Eravur - Armed terrorists shot dead 10
Dec. 31, 1987 - Mahadivulwewa, Trincomalee - Armed terrorists shot
dead 10 villagers and burnt 15 houses
March 2, 1988 - Morawewa, Trincomalee - Armed terrorists shot dead 14
March 14, 1988 -Gamletiyawa, Kantale, Trincomalee - Armed terrorists
shot dead 13 Sinhalese villagers
March 15, 1988 - Kivulkade, Trincomalee - Two groups of terrorists
entered the village and killed seven Sinhalese villagers
March 22, 1988 - Paudukulam, Vavuniya - Ten to 15 armed terrorists
attacked the Sinhalese village and killed six villagers, three injured
March 22, 1988 - Medawachchikulam, Vavuniya - Armed terrorists shot
dead nine Sinhalese villagers
August 3, 1990 - Kattankudy - Gun-carrying terrorists swooped on
Muslim prayers inside the holy mosque and butchered 103 including over
25 small children
Aug. 7, 1990 - Bandaraduwa Uhana, Ampara - About 40 armed terrorists
went to a Sinhalese village and killed 30 and injured four
Aug. 19, 1991 - Palliyagodella, Polonnaruwa - Terrorists attacked
Muslim village, killing 13 and injuring six
April 29, 1992 - Alinchipotana, Polonnaruwa - Terrorists attacked
village, killing 56 Muslims and injuring 15
Oct. 15, 1992 - Palliyagodella, Ahamedpura, Agbopura, Pamburana and
Polonnaruwa - About 200-300 armed terrorists attacked Muslim villages
and shot and hacked to death 172 civilians (171 of them Muslims), 12
policemen and eight soldiers,;83 others injured.
Sep. 18, 1999 - Kalpengala and Bedirekka, Ampara - Terrorists
massacred 61 Sinhalese villagers including 17 women and seven children
in three villages. The victims were dragged from sleep and hacked and
chopped to death using machetes and swords, some of them still on bed.
May 29, 2006 - Omadiyamadu, Welikanda - Twelve workers killed while
two escape death in alleged Tiger attack. They were engaged in an
irrigation canal construction project for the Mahaweli Authority
undertaken by a contractor.
June 15, 2006 - Kebithigollewa - Sixty four including 15
schoolchildren, several pregnant women, a Bhikkhu and many civilians
Aug. 3, 2006 - Muttur - Three schools in the East were bombarded with
heavy artillery fire. The intention of the LTTE very clearly was to
cause maximum damage to a hapless innocent Muslim community who were
gathered in large numbers at these refugee centres
April 5 and 12, 2007 - Aralaganvila and Paleuruwa, Awaranthulawa,
Vavuniya - LTTE terrorists killed six women and one man and injured a
few others. According to defence sources, an armed group of terrorists
stormed the village around 4:30 pm and executed two families at two
houses. Earlier, LTTE terrorists killed four civilians at Aralaganvila
Dec. 5, 2007 - Abhimanpura, Kebithigollewa - Another massive bomb
targeting a civilian bus, 16 dead, 23 injured
Jan. 16, 2008 - Okkampitiya, Moneragala - Massacre of schoolchildren;
28 killed and 64 wounded
Feb. 21, 2009 -Kirimetiya, Ratmalgaha Ella in Inginiyagala, Ampara -
LTTE cadre stormed the predominantly Sinhalese village, indiscriminately
fired at a farming community, killing 21 and injuring 20 others
To whom does the genocide tag fit, Pirapaharan or Rajapaksa?
Who had "a specific intent (mens rea) to destroy such (ethnic) group
in whole or in part; Pirapaharan or Gotabaya Rajapaksa?
In its exercise countering LTTE terrorism, which is a "Sri Lankan
phenomenon" according to former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Jeffrey
Lunstead, the Government of Sri Lanka has not been battling either the
54 percent ethnic minority Tamils living among the majority ethnic
Sinhalese outside the North and the East or the rest of the Tamils
living in the North and the East, but the vicious fighting cadre of the
LTTE who happened to be ethnic minority Tamils.
In 1988/89, the Government did not battle the Sinhalese during the
Marxist-JVP insurrection/terrorism, but was battling fighting cadre of
the JVP who happened to be Sinhalese.
The LTTE became a 'self-appointed sole representative of the Tamil
people' after successfully assassinating the entire democratic Tamil
leadership in the late eighties and nineties and forced the
international community to recognise them as a 'negotiating partner' to
address Tamil grievances.
Then it became a formidable political and military force when it
controlled a significant percentage of both the Northern and Eastern
Provinces, which earned the recognition of the West, which continuously
forced the Government of Sri Lanka to negotiate with them.
It graduated to the 'negotiating table' by massacring the Sinhalese
and Muslims in the North and the East, with targeted ethnic cleansing
which fits into the international definition of genocide.
The brutal elimination of the entire democratic Tamil leadership
helped it to convince the Western democracies, international rights
groups, INGOs and the UN that it is the 'sole representative of the
The international community was unable to ignore the genocide
practised by the LTTE and its supreme commander Pirapaharan, and this is
an attempt to refresh their memories about the atrocities committed by
them from their inception to early 2009.
The Asian Tribune presents these almost buried historical facts for
the international community to assess at a time the UN Human Rights
Council is meeting in Geneva.
Make no mistake: Annihilation of the Tamil Tigers is not the
annihilation of a race in Sri Lanka. It is the Tamil Tiger outfit who
started the annihilation of two ethnic communities in the Northern and
Eastern regions in Sri Lanka and held the Tamil community captive in
once dominated lands.
The term given to that exercise is "Genocide".
Courtesy: Asian Tribune