Grease Devils and Police and Army attacks on civilians in Mannar and Vavuniya

 

Image courtesy Amber

 

Police attacks on civilians in Komarasankulam (Vavuniya district)

11 men were arrested by the Vavuniya Police in Komarasankulam at 10.30 pm on 20th August 2011.  The men were severely beaten before arrest and at least two persons were tortured inside the Vavuniya Police Station. Another man was arrested when he visited the police station on 21st August to recover his vehicle, which had been taken into custody during the incident on the 20th. Two men who were tortured by the Vavuniya police received treatment at the Vavuniya Hospital. The rest were produced before the Vavuniya Magistrate on 23rd August and remanded to the Vavuniya Prison.  All 12 men have since been released on bail. The next hearing is scheduled for 12th October 2011.

Incident in Komarasankulam

At around 9.30 pm on 20th August, two men wearing shorts and t-shirts and carrying a bag were seen opposite St. Mary’s Church in Komarasankulam. People telephoned the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Sithamparapuram Police Station, said that suspected ‘grease men’ had entered the village and asked for protection. The OIC accused the people of fabricating these stories and  put down the phone.  Around 10 minutes later, a Sergeant from the Sidhambarapuram police, came to the church and inquired into the incident. However by this point, the suspicious men had left the scene.

A short while later, people saw the same two men coming back towards the church on a motorbike with the headlights off.  When the men saw the people gathered on the road, they turned and drove away from the village. A witness states that he and another boy from the village chased the bike up to Kalnatinakulam. They saw the men travelling back towards them on the bike. They stopped and questioned the men who said that they were police officers but did not produce any identification. Since the men claimed to be police, the witness and the other boy left them at Kalnatinakulam and returned to the Church. On the way, they saw a police jeep from Sithamparapuram drive into the Komarasankulam school premises. They returned to the Church and told the people what they had seen.

Around 10-11pm people who had gathered at the Church decided to search for the suspicious men and walked towards the Komarasankulam school premises. They found the motorbike used by the two men on the main road near the school. The bike was registered in the Sabaragamuwa Province, around 200km away from Vavuniya. The people began to search for the two men and found them hiding in a bush near the school grounds. The people demanded to know why the men were in the village and asked for proof that they were police officers. The men continued to insist that they were police officers but refused to produce any identification. While they were arguing, the police jeep drove out of the Komarasankulam school premises up to the crowd. The police Sergeant identified the two men as police officers and asked the people to release the men to his custody. The same Sergeant had visited the church earlier that night. The people refused and demanded that the men produce some identification to prove that they were in fact the police. As the argument continued and the men refused to provide any identification or reason for their presence in the village, the people grew agitated and began to beat the men with sticks. The Sergeant was also injured as he tried to protect the two men.

At this point, the Parish Priest in Komarasankulam, arrived at the scene and tried to stop the people from beating the men. The people refused to hand over the men or to allow the Sergeant to be taken to hospital for treatment. They stood in front of the Police vehicle and prevented the jeep from being moved. They also refused to allow the Sergeant to be taken to hospital by motor bike.

Later on, the OIC and 3 or 4 officers from the Sithamparapuram Police arrived at the scene. The people had surrounded the two men and refused to hand them over to the police, or to allow the police vehicles to be moved. At one point, the police tried to take the men away in a three wheeler, but this vehicle was also registered in the Sabaragamuwa province and the people were suspicious and refused to allow the vehicle to pass.

10 minutes later, around 20 officers from the Madukandha Army Camp arrived at the village and surrounded the people. There were around 150 villagers including women and children gathered at the time. The Army was able to negotiate with the people and the two men were released to Army custody.

Later, about 50-60 policemen from the Vavuniya Police Station arrived at the scene. Although the conflict had largely subsided by this time, the police carried riot gear and were armed with tear gas and batons. People saw the police  making sticks and poles out of branches and trees and many fled the scene. Around 75 men and boys who remained were surrounded by the police and ordered to sit on the floor. No one was allowed to leave the place. The Army moved aside when the police arrived and said that this was a matter to be resolved by the police. The Police were in uniform and civilian clothing and some of those present recognized the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of the Vavuniya Police among them.

Two priests from Vavuniya arrived at the scene at the same time as the police. The Parish Priest tried to negotiate with the police and explain that the conflict had been resolved and therefore, not to take the men to the Police Station. The police pushed the priest and threatened to take the priest also to the Police. Two boys from the village who had been translating for the police tried to help the priest. The Police immediately attacked the two boys, pushed them inside the Police vehicle and severely beat them. As the crowd became agitated, the Police began to beat the people with sticks and poles. According to one witness, when he tried to reach the Parish Priest, the police grabbed his head and pushed him into the jeep. When the priest tried to protect him, the police abused him and warned him not to intervene. One boy, who grabbed the priest’s hand as he was being dragged into the jeep, was beaten and fractured his leg.

Arrests

Many were able to escape when the police began to attack the people, but 11 men, including an 18 year old student, were arrested that night (20th August). The police pushed the men inside the jeep and around 15 officers stood at the front of the vehicle so the men could not see out of the vehicle. They were driven around for around an hour and severely beaten inside the jeep before being taken to the Vavuniya Police Station at around 1am (21st August).

At the police station the men were ordered to crawl on their knees for around 30 meters up to the station. The boy whose leg had been broken was also forced to crawl despite his injuries. The men were stripped to their underwear, searched and their personal belongings were taken by the police. The police recorded their details and 10 of them were put into a single overcrowded cell.  Another man whose father was Sinhalese was held separately. Once they were inside the cell they realized that a Catholic brother/seminarian was among the group arrested.

On 21st August, a three wheeler driver from a neighboring village was arrested when he visited the police station to claim his vehicle which had been taken into police custody during the attack in Komarasankulam the previous night.

Torture

At around 2 am on 21st August, two officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) came to the cell and called out two persons including the seminarian. The witness states that the officers appeared to be drunk. Both men were pushed in to the interrogation room and fell to the floor. There were five officers, two in police uniform and others in civilian clothing.

One victim states that: “the officers dragged me up and asked ‘will you hit the police’ when I tried to tell them that I did not hit the police, they asked me to shut up. When the officers began to hit me, I tried to shield my face with my hand. The officer ordered me to put my hand down and hit me with his fist, on my forehead, cheeks, chin and my ears. When he hit my ears I felt an electric shock pass through my body. I saw the seminarian being beaten by other officers in the same room. An officer hit me on the head with a baton. When I fell down, they trampled me and continued to beat me. They put me on a table and two officers held my hands and another beat the soles of my feet and my head with a baton. They pushed me on the floor and trampled and kicked my head. They questioned me about a robbery that took place in the village over three years ago. I said that I did not know anything about the robbery. When I tried to stand up, an officer kicked me in the head and I fell backward. Another officer grabbed me and slammed me against the wall. While I was being tortured, another senior officer in uniform entered the room. I thought that he was the OIC and begged him to release me. The officer picked up a baton and hit me on the head.”

According to the other victim, the seminarian, three Police officers hit him with batons on the head, face, ears hands and legs. He was not able to defend himself since all three were hitting him at once. They hit his left ear very badly and his ear drum burst as a result. For about two weeks he was unable to hear from his left ear. He still suffers pain on his face and head and continues to get medical treatment.

According to the first witness, the Police only stopped beating them, when the OIC entered the station and shouted at them to stop beating the prisoners. The OIC was not at the station when they were brought in. He believes that the OIC heard their screams and had seen the other detainees who were also injured from the beating earlier that night. Once the OIC arrived the police took them back to the cell at around 3 am (21st August).

The seminarian states that they were locked in a small room, which had hardly any room to move about, and the squatting toilet also was inside the cell. They were not given food or water and had to drink from the tap used for the toilet. The detainees were taken to the Vavuniya Hospital at 4 am on 21st August.

Vavuniya Hospital

At the hospital, the detainees were checked by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO). She told one victim, who had been tortured by the police, that he had no visible injuries and did not need to be admitted for treatment. A Tamil male nurse convinced the JMO that the victim was in pain and may have suffered internal injuries, following which he was admitted for treatment. The seminarian was also admitted for treatment.

The JMO asked the victim how he had acquired the injuries and he told her that he had been tortured by the Vavuniya police. The victim saw the JMO speak to a person who he understood to be the OIC of the Vavuniya Police over the phone and ask him in Sinhalese, what she should state in the medical certificate. The JMO report which was given to the witness on 26th August states that his injuries were due to an ‘assault by unknown persons’.

At the hospital, the victim had to lie on a bench and was not given any treatment until around 2 pm when he was given a painkiller. At around 4 pm he was given a bed and his feet were fastened by shackles to the bed. The two men who had been beaten by the villagers and the police Sergeant were also being treated in the same ward. The Sinhalese doctors would speak to the police officer and the two men but did not treat or speak to the witness. He was not given food or water until his mother brought him lunch on 22nd August. He was asked to collect water from a tap outside the ward. Since he could not walk due to his injuries, he borrowed water from another patient to take his tablets.

On 21st August, three intelligence officers from the Criminal Investigation Department visited the witness and took his statement. They made him sign the final statement, but he is not aware of its contents since the statement was written in Sinhalese, a language he doesn’t read.

A jailor from Vavuniya prison was stationed at the accident ward to monitor those visiting the witness and the seminarian. On 22nd August, a friend visited the victim in the hospital but when he tried to speak to the victim he was told that the victim was in Police custody and he must obtain permission before speaking to him. A Catholic nun who visited the seminarian in the hospital was allowed to speak to him, but when the seminarian received a phone call, the jailor scolded them and asked the visitors to leave.

The victim was transferred to Ward 1 on 23rd August. An x-ray was taken of his injuries but he was not given any treatment or checked by the doctors. He believes that the Sinhalese doctors were reluctant to treat him since they believed that he was a criminal who had attacked the police.

The seminarian states that he was admitted to the ENT ward and shackled to the bed. Different jailors were assigned in the ward to monitor his visitors. Some of the jailors tightened the restraints until it was very painful, and also chased away those visiting him and did not allow him to use the phone. Some others were friendlier, inquired what had happened and allowed visitors.

Court Proceedings

On 22nd August around 150, parents, wives, relatives and friends of the 12 men gathered at the Vavuniya Court, believing that the men would be produced in Court that morning. Only one person was produced in Court as two were in Vavuniya hospital and 9 others had been taken to Anuradhapura prison. Relatives were told by the police, that the men had been taken to the Anuradhapura Remand Prison on 21st August and could not be brought as there was no transport to bring them to Court in Vavuniya. The Judge gave permission for the seminarian to be released on bail as soon as he was discharged from the hospital.

On 23rd August, 10 men were produced in the Vavuniya Court. They were represented by about 14 lawyers from the Vavuniya Bar. The police accused the men of beating and injuring a police officer on duty. Lawyers for the men argued that this was not a planned attack against the police and that the men had beaten the ‘grease men’ and the police were injured accidentally. The police objected to the men being released on bail and threatened that if the men were released, the police would not go to Komarasankulam on duty. They also warned that the police would not be responsible if anything should happen to the men once they were released.  Following the objections by the police, the Judge ordered the men to be remanded to the Vavuniya Remand Prison.

The men were produced in Court on 24th and 25th August. On the 24th, the Judge refused bail but the following day he rejected police objections and ordered the men to be released on personal bail. The next hearing of the case is scheduled for 12th October 2011.

Release

The victim had received treatment at the Vavuniya Hospital since 21st August. On 25th August he was discharged from hospital and taken to the Vavuniya Remand Prison where he was held in a cell for around 2 hours, until the jailor obtained a Court Order releasing him on bail. The victim was released at around 5 pm on 25th August and returned home to Komarasankulam. On 26th August, he received his medical certificate, signed by the JMO, which states that his injuries were caused by “unknown persons”, despite his statement on 21st August that the injuries were due to torture by the Vavuniya police.

The Catholic Seminarian, who was tortured by the Vavuniya police, was released on bail on 22nd August. However he continued to receive treatment at the Vavuniya Hospital and was shackled to a hospital bed when a Catholic nun visited him on 23rd August.

Current Situation

The victim states that he lives in fear of a further attack or arrest by the police.  When the police objected to bail, they warned that they would not be responsible if anything were to happen to the men in the next 21 days. The victim is afraid to stay at home and as of 29th August, had not returned to work out of fear for his life. He states that he can be easily recognized by the police since he was kept in the same ward as the injured policemen and the suspected grease men. He still suffers from severe pain, headaches and dizziness as a result of his injuries.

List of those arrested on 20th night (all male)

  1. Saranraj, 18 years, student Komarasankulam Maha Vidhyalaya
  2. Robington, 21 years, Security Guard, Human Rights Commission
  3. Jegetheesan, 25 years, Sales Executive at Browns Company, Vavuniya (Brother of Saranraj)
  4. Vimalraj, 28 years, Mason
  5. Denniston, 28 years, Barbershop owner
  6. Emilraj, 29 years, Demining officer,
  7. Gnanaruben, 32 years, Catholic Seminarian (Brother of Vimalraj)
  8. Chandralal, 35 years, Demining FSD
  9. Pushpaseelan, 38 years, MSF Logistics Assistant
  10. Venthakoon, 38 years, Laborer
  11. Selvam, 45 years, Mason
  12. Local three wheeler driver from neighboring village – arrested the following day.

 

Army attacks against civilians in Josephvaz Nagar, Thottaveli and Pesalai (Mannar district)

On 22nd August night, the military attacked around 800 civilians in Josephvaz Nagar, Thottaveli located in the Mannar District in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. The people had set up a vigilance committee and placed make shift barriers to guard the village against grease devils. The military objected to such measures by the people and following an assault on some vigilantes at around 11.15 pm, where a military jeep was stopped at a barrier, several military jeeps entered the village and hundreds of officers attacked the people with guns and batons. The Parish Priest, Vicar General of the diocese and another priest were also threatened in the attack. At a meeting with the people following the attack, Mannar Commander, Brigadier Maithree Dias threatened to arrest the priests, accused them of instigating the people to attack the military and threatened to shoot any person who attempted to surround a military camp or vehicle in the future.

Vigilance Committee in Thottaveli

On 19th August, the Parish Priest of Thottaveli informed the Erukulampitty Police that villages were scared about grease devils in the village and were planning to organize vigilance committees to prevent attacks in the village. On 21st August, the Head Quarters Inspector (HQI) of Mannar met the villagers and the Parish Priest in Josephvaz Nagar to discuss the grease devil issue. On both occasions, the Police requested that no violence should be used except in self defense. The Police also requested that if anyone was caught as suspected grease devils by villagers, they should be handed over to the police. The Parish Priest and villagers agreed to the conditions and vigilance committees were set up with police permission to guard the village between 6pm and 6 am each day.

Grease Devil Sightings

On 21st and 22nd August, between 6-8pm, two women had each seen a strange man, in different locations (in separate incidents), in Thottaveli, and suspected the person to be a grease devil. In the incident on 22nd August, the woman saw a grease devil enter her house and shouted for help. The woman was in a state of shock and was not able to speak and explain anything to the others.  The villagers chased the man who was able to get away.

Attack on Civilians in Thottaveli

A witness states that on 22nd night, he entered JV Nagar at around 11.00 pm, and passed a small makeshift barrier set up by the vigilance committee at the entrance to the village. The barrier was about 1 foot in height and made of logs and stones. On his way to the village, the witness saw a lorry with a tin roof parked opposite the Our Lady of Martyrs Church in Thottaveli, with its headlights switched off. A short while after the witness passed the barrier he saw the same vehicle try to enter the village with around 10 army officers inside. The villagers refused to allow the vehicle to pass and asked the Army officers why they wanted to enter the village at that late hour. The officers said that the entire area was under their control and that no one could stop them from entering the village at any time. They said that there was no need for a vigilance committee and that they would protect the village. The people said that the vigilance committee had been set up with police permission.

While the villagers were arguing, two officers got down from the vehicle and started beating the people near the barrier with guns and batons. Three villagers were injured in the attack. The others ran towards the Church, which is about 300 meters from the barrier, shouting that the army had entered the village and was attacking the people. They rang the Church bell signaling an emergency and around 300-500 people gathered near the Church. The Parish Priest also rushed to the Church on his motor bike and as he was parking his bike the Army vehicle stopped near the Church and the Army officers began to beat the people who had gathered there.

The Parish Priest spoke to the officers and tried to explain that the people had been given permission by the police to set up the vigilance committee. He told them to check with the police HQI about the arrangement and questioned them as to why they had attacked villagers who had not tried to harm the officers or their vehicle. The army insisted that would provide protection to the village and that they could enter the village at any time. The witness saw an Army officer making several phone calls and asking for reinforcement to be sent to the village to control the situation. Fearing that the situation would worsen, the Parish Priest called the Vicar General (VG) a senior Church leader in Mannar diocese (covering Mannar and Vavuniya districts) and then rushed to Erukalampitty Police Station. He hoped that the police would intervene and resolve the dispute between the military and the people. Another Catholic priest who was visiting his home in Josephvaz Nagar Nagar also arrived at the Church around this time.

When the Parish Priest reached the police station, there were only three officers at the station and they refused to come to the village at that time. The police tried to call the HQI Mannar and since he did not answer, the message was conveyed to another police officer. As the Parish Priest was leaving the police station around 15-20 Army officers came towards him in a threatening manner, with iron rods and sticks, shouting abusive words. The Army went away, and an attack was prevented when the Police intervened.

The Vicar General who then came with two more priests met the Parish Priest in front of the police station and they started to go to Josephvaz Nagar. The priests were stopped by Lt. Col. Sujeewa who refused to let them go towards the church. They proceeded after the intervention of the VG.

According to a witness, the Parish Priest returned to the village on his motorcycle at high speed and shouted to the people to leave the place. Behind him, the witness saw another army vehicle being driven at high speed towards the Church. Around 20 officers got down from the vehicle and started beating the people. Women and children were also in the crowd and were attacked. The people including the witness began to run from the scene. As the witness tried to enter his family compound, he was chased by three officers. One man who crossed in front of the witness was beaten on his back by an officer. The witness saw another injured person fall unconscious near the entrance to his compound. As he was trying to open his gate, the witness was beaten with a gun. The officers tried to chase him into the compound and continued to hit him as he tried to close the gate. A few minutes later, three officers entered the compound and ordered the witness to come with them. The witness’s wife and her parents were inside the house and his wife came out and told the officers repeatedly that he is her husband. The army finally left the compound but warned the witness that they knew how to deal with people like him. The witness stayed inside his house and estimates that around 20 Army vehicles entered the village.

At the Church, the Vicar General and the other priests tried to stop the army from beating the people but were unable to stop the violence. The Vicar General was also pushed by an Army officer but was saved by a senior officer who intervened. The officers did not allow the people near the Army vehicle, and several people had told the witness that they saw a masked man dressed in black sitting inside the vehicle. They believed that this was the grease man who had entered the village earlier that night. By this time several people had gathered near the Church and tried to ring the Church bell to signal that the people were being attacked. The people who rang the bell were severely beaten by the Army. The witness’ father, who lives near the church, saw Army officers deliberately damage the Parish Priest’s motorbike that was parked near the Church.  People estimated that there were between 15 – 23 army trucks in the village with hundreds of officers.

Meeting with Brigadier Dias around 1.30 am, 23rd August

By around 1.30 am on 23rd August, the violence had subsided and the Mannar area commander, Brigadier Maithree Dias, also came to the spot. He addressed around 300 people who had gathered at the church for safety. The Brigadier scolded them and accused the Catholic priests of instigating villagers to attack the military. He threatened to arrest the priests and shoot anyone that tried to come near a military camp or vehicle. He pointed to iron bars nearby that were being used for the construction of a new church, and accused the people of collecting weapons to attack the Army. He threatened to arrest around 8-10 boys who were preparing for their Advanced Level Examination in August and said that he would prevent them from completing the exam. The HQI of Mannar Police had also arrived at the scene based on a call made by Brigadier Dias. The Brigadier asked the police to arrest the priests, and the police said that they would make the arrest if the military would make a complaint.

Finally Brigadier Dias ordered the people to apologize for attacking the military and for breaching the peace. Several community leaders, who wished to prevent a further attack, stood up and apologized for the actions of the people. The military made video recordings of these statements as proof that the people had attacked the army. At around 2.30 am the people were ordered to leave the Church in single file and return to their homes. At least two people including a school teacher were attacked as they left the Church.

Several people were injured in the attack but were too afraid to visit a hospital for treatment. Several people told the witness that the military beat them with poles wrapped with barbed wire which increased the injuries.

Aftermath of the attack – 23rd August 2011

On 23rd August, in the afternoon, a military vehicle came at high speed into the village and parked near the Church. 3-4 officers got down and ran into the Church premises and left several minutes later. The officers went to the house where the Parish Priest was having lunch with another priest. A senior officer entered the house and spoke to the priests and asked about their health and spoke briefly on the previous nights incident. The military went back to the Church before leaving the village. The people believe that this operation was intended to scare or intimidate the villagers. On 23rd August evening the villagers gathered in several groups in family compounds and set up guards around each compound for their safety.

Attacks on Civilians in Pesalai

A similar incident took place in Pesalai on 21st August 2011 when a grease devil was seen inside the village by people who had organized to guard the village. When the man was chased by the people, he was seen running into a Navy checkpoint. The people surrounded the checkpoint and asked the military to produce or release the grease man.  Some villagers had claimed they saw the man changing his clothes inside the checkpoint. Over 700-1000 people were gathered near the checkpoint by this time. The military began to attack the people and 10-15 persons were admitted to the Mannar Hospital with serious injuries. Several more did not visit the hospital out of fear. The people asked the police for protection but were refused.

Meeting with Brigadier Dias on 24th August

On 24th August, a meeting was held at a Church in Pesalai (Mannar District). Brg. Dias, the Navy Commander for Mannar, the Divisional Secretary for Mannar and parish priests of Pesalai and Thottaveli (Josephvaz Nagar) participated with many people from both villages.

Brig Dias repeatedly threatened the people and said that the Army will shoot people if they caused trouble or tried to surround an Army camp or vehicle. He accused the priests of instigating people to violence. The Divisional Secretary asked the Parish Priest at Josephvaz Nagar Nagar to speak and he gave his account of the violence on 22nd night. When he did so, Brigadier Dias threatened the priest and said that “I will talk and deal with you later”.

Following the attack on 22nd August, there is an increased military and police presence in Josephvaz Nagar. The HQI and Army have visited the Parish Priest and taken down his personal details and contact numbers and inquired about the other Churches and villages that he goes to conduct religious services.

  • silva

    In the 50s/60s/70s/80s state-aided pogroms were unleashed on the Tamils outside the Northeast and for a brief period Tamils flocked to the Northeast. In the last three decades, esp. in the last six years, the army of occupation is attacking the residents of the Northeast.
    UN was established to protect the people not protected by their own states. Slightly barbaric people allow ”external interference”. Very barbaric people keep resisting UN interference. The geography of the country as an island increases the barbarity ?

  • veedhur

    One rule in Dompe and another in Vavuniya/Mannar – what is the reason for the difference?

  • Piranha

    Sinhala police brutality that has been the norm in the South has crept into the North and East and is openly supported by the government. TNA protests have fallen on deaf ears and Douglas Devananda and Karuna are keeping their silence for obviously not wishing to displease their sinhala masters.

    Instead of promoting reconciliation the sinhala government through their police and military are sowing the seeds of a further tamil rebellion.

  • sam

    State Terrorism is getting out of hand!!! I hope the countries which helped the state terrorism to kill 40,000 innocent civilians and several thousand people become maimed and become paupers and loose their possessions and loved ones and livelihood will realize their folly now!!

    All these criminals have to be brought to justice!! President and his clan should be tried for crimes against humanity!!!

  • Saro

    It’a obvious that the government is hell bent on getting at Tamils by whatever means available to them. The army and police from the mono-ethnic community will beat, kidnap, torture and extra judicially execute but deny any such crime to the international community. Though it is difficult and dangerous, we must be able to photograph these devils and publish the pictures. We also must catalogue the incidents with available details in a website for all to see. TNA also must produce these information in its website which is outdated. TNA may be short of resources to do these things but help is available from outside the country as well.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Saro,

      You wrote, “The army and police from the mono-ethnic community will beat, kidnap, torture and extra judicially execute but deny any such crime to the international community”

      There was only one Mono Ethnic Community in Sri Lanka. That was after Ethnic Cleansing was practised in the North. You are describing them well.

  • yapa

    Its true that no brutality should prevail whether it is Police or Army or any others’. But here the problem is all the brutalities are being used against the government and as something cropping up from Sinhala ethnicity/Buddhism.

    I think issue should be identifies as it is, not as its interpretations. We know the standard of Police activities is not in an acceptable level, whether it is in Sinhala areas or any other ares. Angulana Police massacre, killing of Dompe youth so many other torture incidents in the south are examples. This is an example that these brutalities are not confined to Tamil majority ares. I think we should object to these injustices in a common voice as a whole, I don’t think giving it an ethnic tint is that right or at least that tint proportionate with the ethnic bias of the brutalities. I think one should not try to catch fish in muddy water.

    Please see the following statement of the writer.

    “A similar incident took place in Pesalai on 21st August 2011 when a grease devil was seen inside the village by people who had organized to guard the village. When the man was chased by the people, he was seen running into a Navy checkpoint. The people surrounded the checkpoint and asked the military to produce or release the grease man.”

    The writer states that the villagers have seen a “GREESE DEVIL”. How does the writer is so confident about they saw a greese devil? No one has ever seen and identified a single greese devil in this country yet despite all the pandemonium struck all over the country. On the other hand “villagers” have killed and tortured some innocent men wrongly identifying them as greese devils. So is the writer asking to give the Law to the hands of villagers? Disciplining government Police and other forces is one thing and demanding to take the Law to the Hand of masses is another thing.

    No in any circumstances, the law should be given to the hands of villages or masses. That should be handled by the proper authority. If that authority is not executing its duties, without any exception law should act and action should be taken against them to take the culprits to book. Other than that no serious matter of any kind is a reason for advocating or demanding or justify taking law into any body’s hand.

    All of us including Tamils have been suffered for about 30 years, very much more severely than by the hands of Police or Army, allowing the law to go to the hands of the others. No powers should be handled by any body other than the institutions,that were created and authorized for the very purposes. However, establishing Rule of Law is an urgent need.

    Thanks!

    • Watchdog

      Response to Yapa

      There is no allegation by writers that the attacks by Police and Army described in this article is based on Sinhalese / Buddhist identity. It is of coz a fact that victims described in these two incidents are Tamils. It is also a fact that the Police and Army in particular, is predominantly Sinhalese and Buddhists, even in the North where most of population is not Sinhalese and Buddhist.

      Nowhere has it been said that police brutality is limited to Tamil majority areas. I wish that others can report on incidents that Yapa mentions happened in Dompe and Angulana as well as many others all over Sri Lanka

      We have described the Pesalai incident based on eye witness accounts and nowhere have we asked or advocated that law should be handed over to villagers hands.

      With regard to villagers setting up a vigilante committee and barrier – we were told this was done to protect themselves, after discussion with Police and agreement of the Police. Yapa appears to conclude that subsequent Army attacks on civilians was due to the Army being provoked – I’m not sure whether Yapa is implying the Army attack on civilians was justified?

      With regard to incident we had described on 22nd August between 6-8pm, the report was based on several eyewitness testimonies we got in Mannar. We have not ruled out any other possibility or version of events that would be different. But from several people we spoke to, no one spoke of a different version

      We are not sure on what basis Yapa questions this testimony? If Yapa has any eyewitness accounts or any other sources from the area who provide alternative information, or specific reasons that make it appear our report is factually wrong, we would be very much appreciate if such information is shared.

      We fully agree with Yapa that “No powers should be handled by any body other than the institutions,that were created and authorized for the very purposes”. In this regard, I believe Yapa will agree that only courts have power to punish offenders and NOT Army and Police, as they appear to have done on these two incidents.

      We definitely agree with Yapa that “no serious matter of any kind is a reason for advocating or demanding or justify taking law into any body’s hand”. This is exactly why we feel villagers nor Army or Police should take the law into their own hands. And this is why we feel that even if Army was provoked by villagers setting up a barrier with Police Permission, such a provocation does not justify the attck on civilians by the Army

      However, I believe there is a tendency of people to try and take the law into their own hands, when they feel those whose duty it is to handle such matters (E.g. Police) do not do that, or far worse, when such authorities appear to be behind breaking of laws.

  • luxmy

    ”All of us including Tamils have been suffered for about 30 years” ?

    Assumption of LTTE only? The previous 30 years of oppression created the LTTE.

    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/08/outline_of_submission_made_to.html
    Jayantha Dhanapala’s written submission to Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation
    Commission(LLRC), August 2010: ‘’The lessons we have to learn go back to the past – certainly from the time that we had responsibility for our own governance on 4 February 1948 . Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality.”

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Luxmy,

      What about the 200 years BEFORE 1948?

      • luxmy

        Man has only a certain capacity – he can just manage to look at how best he can do what he has to do: that’s why many who went and made submissions to LLRC just talked about how we can handle Sri Lanka in the context of post-independence history, that is from the time we have been in control. That’s what many other countries are also juggling with.

        I cannot imagine what the world would look like if we go back 200 years : where will all the Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians and the US people fit in Europe?

        Just imagine the last half a century when millions from the Southern Hemisphere who moved into the Northern Hemisphere and made their homes there go back to the Southern Hemisphere?

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Luxmy,

        The subject is lessons learnt from history.

        Ignoring injustices that still remain even after 200 years and focusing instead, on comparatively recent issues, will not result in moving the country forward towards integration. The older injustices need to be corrected before newer ones are tackled because the newer ones may be a result of the older one.

        Are you interested only in matters that effect the Tamil minority?

        The subject is Sri Lanka not about Canada, Australia etc. We know how they “educated” aborigine children so there is no need for imagination.

    • http://Asyouyourselfproclaimedthatyouareunabletograspwhat“ordinarylankan”says,itcouldbreakdownintothesecondofthosereasonsalone; yapa

      Dear luxmy;

      “Assumption of LTTE only?

      Not at all, the sentence you have referred was just one sentence I used to justify what I was going to reiterate in my argument, that is, unsuitability of letting people to take law into their hands and the urgency of establishing Rule of Law in the country.

      I have never said that we have suffered because of LTTE only, but that we also suffered because of LTTE, due to their taking of the law into their hands.

      I think you understand that an argument does not necessarily imply its inverse.

      “The previous 30 years of oppression created the LTTE.”

      Now you are committing another logical fallacy. Assumption of the previous 30 years of oppression only created the LTTE?

      Only that oppression and nothing else? Was LTTE a cute innocent kitten?

      Can you justify something just by quoting an individual. it could be just his opinion? Do you think “opinion” is synonymous with “fact”?

      Single evidence proof? What a smart way of arriving at conclusions. Any fool can arrive at such conclusions and many of the eelamist propaganda are not different.

      Thanks!

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Yapa,

        Luxmy Prostitutes even the quotes she makes. You cannot be sure that she has honestly reproduced her quotes as she doctors them to suit her agenda. See the following link for an example.
        http://groundviews.org/2011/09/28/cheran/#comment-37340

        I have asked her why she is so dishonest and hell bent in creating trouble in my response to her at this link. http://groundviews.org/2011/09/28/cheran/#comment-37345

      • yapa

        Dear Off the Cuff;

        I saw how luxmy silenced after your posts. She advertised her plea cunningly without any evidence, but on distorted facts. I think that is not her fault. A common fault of all(LTTE) propagandists. They talk baked truths.

        Thanks!

  • http://www.tamilnet.tv Explain

    Why are you bringing up events that happened almost 2 months ago?

    • NVN

      Is there an expiry date for critical reportage? Would you prefer that we simply disregard all articles that report on events, important as they may be, on account of a preference for ‘fresh news’? I suppose the painstaking process of collecting and verifying information, which may take a considerable amount of time depending on ground conditions, should be disregarded as well when considering what articles should be published, eh? And what about the content of this report? Do you not think that citizens should be exposed to this sort of injustice and brutality?

      If you have a problem with ‘old events,’ you’re not obligated to read this report, but I suspect there are some who might be interested because they would not have been privy to this information, and would like to have a conversation/debate about it.

      Perhaps one of the many fine mainstream newspapers would satisfy your standard of enquiry?

  • yapa

    “A witness states that on 22nd night, he entered JV Nagar at around 11.00 pm, and passed a small makeshift barrier set up by the vigilance committee at the entrance to the village. The barrier was about 1 foot in height and made of logs and stones. On his way to the village, the witness saw a lorry with a tin roof parked opposite the Our Lady of Martyrs Church in Thottaveli, with its headlights switched off. A short while after the witness passed the barrier he saw the same vehicle try to enter the village with around 10 army officers inside. The villagers refused to allow the vehicle to pass and asked the Army officers why they wanted to enter the village at that late hour. The officers said that the entire area was under their control and that no one could stop them from entering the village at any time. They said that there was no need for a vigilance committee and that they would protect the village. The people said that the vigilance committee had been set up with police permission.”

    Vigilance committee is there to stop army officials? Isn’t this a high handed act? Why should they do such provocations? Who gave such authority to the vigilance committee? Haven’t they acted beyond their limits?

    I think they have troubled the troubles.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    “On 21st and 22nd August, between 6-8pm, two women had each seen a strange man, in different locations (in separate incidents), in Thottaveli, and suspected the person to be a grease devil. In the incident on 22nd August, the woman saw a grease devil enter her house and shouted for help. The woman was in a state of shock and was not able to speak and explain anything to the others. The villagers chased the man who was able to get away.”

    How did you verify the truth of this incident? Can’t this be a fiction? Even if the incident is true, how anybody be certain the unknown person was a “grease devil”? How does the writer is sure that the villagers were not doing some foul thing? How come the writer eliminated that possibility?

    Credibility of the article is very low. Anybody even without a single such incident can write fictions like this.

    If somebody suspects there is something fishy/ulterior motive behind the article, it is not unreasonable.

    I think this is a good example for irresponsible writing and to show the bad side of “freedom of expression”. Anybody writing anything is media freedom/freedom of expression? I doubt.

    Too much of anything is good for nothing!

    Thanks!

  • Alex Fernando

    Either Sri Lanka will join the civilised world or the international community shall civilize it. One or the other will be happening very shortly.

  • Nihal Perera

    It has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the grease devils were/are none other than Sri Lanka Army soldiers. When 200 villagers see a “grease devil” running into an army camp, there is no room left for doubt. If you or I tried to run into an army camp, we would be shot on sight. Also, it is rather bizzare that with 40,000 soldiers in just Jaffna alone, not a single “grease devil” has been caught and produced in the Courts. Finally, I would point out that certain paramilitary groups, of the likes of TMVP/EPRLF, are known to commit violent crimes and robberies in full collusion with the SLA. So the behavior of the grease devils is nothing now.

    • http://Asyouyourselfproclaimedthatyouareunabletograspwhat“ordinarylankan”says,itcouldbreakdownintothesecondofthosereasonsalone; yapa

      “It has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the grease devils were/are none other than Sri Lanka Army soldiers.”

      Are you sure about what you say?

      I have noticed that their is a general tendency/will among people to express what they really don’t know but they like to believe to others as what they know. I think this must be due to the deviated positioning of the human mind from the reality. Human mind does not over position with the reality. Some conscious effort with the guidance of unbiased/good intention is need to positioning them together in the same place. Finding reality is not fulfilled with the endeavor of cleverness or intelligence. It needs the help of goodness.

      That is why with all the efforts like Channel 4, Darusman Report etc. propagandists cannot convince what they are trying hard as reality to the world. That is why they cannot convince and tag to the world Sinhalese Buddhists as oppressors, killers, barbarians, chauvinists, racists, etc. etc., despite heaps of foreign money is put before the feet of the INGO’s and powerful dignitaries holding the high chairs of the world.

      One can push the minds of the people towards reality with some effort, however, mind always like to perch on its own place, and replace to the original position when the external force is released. So if propagandists want to keep the collective mind of the world with the realities of Sri Lanka for a long time, they will have exert the force for the same period of time.

      Thanks!

      • Nihal Perera

        Of course I am sure about what I say. Only the Sri Lankan State media tries to hide the truth. Yes, Sinhala-Buddhism has acquired a bad reputation, but that is due to Sinhala-Buddhism. The Buddha never said violence is okay, whether to defend land, empire, or one’s own self. If you want to see what true Buddhism is all about, I suggest you undertake a study of the Dalai Lama.

  • justitia

    There is no excuse whatsoever for the police and/or the army to attack and torture unarmed civilians.
    The army had threatened villagers after they had already been attacked by the police.
    The magistrate appears to have at last had the ‘courage’ to release some victims on bail.
    It is the duty of the JMO to record a history of the causation of injuries as related by the victim,and report on the description,location and probable causation of injuries on persons produced to hospital. But it appears that the JMO is anxious to report what the police and army wish to be stated.
    This doctor is contravening the Hippocratic Oath.

    All this amounts to terrorising peaceful villagers purposely merely to instil fear in their minds,of the army and police.

    State Terrorism is slowly being entrenched by the Military Regime.

  • luxmy

    Sinhalese should openly call for justice to the people in the Northeast (without being called LTTE activists):

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2011/10/111003_dompe_police.shtml
    Dompe victim’s parents seek justice, 3 October 2011:
    ”The parents of an alleged police torture victim have called upon Sri Lankan authorities to conduct a proper investigation into the death in order to prevent any such incidents in future.”

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Luxmy,

      A large majority of Sinhalese would stand together with you when you cease to be partisan. When you cease to whitewash the LTTE and when you exhibit a genuine desire to reconcile and integrate.

      As long as you are concerned only with revenge and extracting the pound of flesh that will never happen.

      • luxmy

        1. http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers46%5Cpaper4558.html

        ”‘’The umpteenth Indian delegation (Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, National Security Advisor Shiva Shankar Menon and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar) went back empty handed: President Rajapakse handed them a flat ‘Nyet’ and for once in a lifetime he spoke the truth. “If I make any devolutionary concessions to the Tamils, 13A Plus, Minus, Divided or Subtracted, it will be curtains for me.” The government’s parliamentary group met the evening before the esteemed visitors arrived and decided; ‘Let’s tell them the truth straight from the shoulder and upfront; let’s tell them, if we do it we are dead meat.’

        The Rajapakse regime will not grant substantial devolution to the Tamils nor “solve the national question”. More important, and this is the crucial point, the reason is not because the leadership is plain cussed and chauvinist (it is, but that’s not the point), the basic reason is that it cannot make concessions and continue to survive in power. The Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact on regional councils was torn up in 1958 and the Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanyagam deal buckled in the mid-1960s not because the two premiers were spineless (which they were) but because racist sentiment whipped up on the streets, in society, and in the temple, was too powerful for the government of the day to withstand.”

        2.Nagalingam Ethirveerasingham wrote in these pages some time ago that he was told the following when he met them:
        L. Athulathmudali, 4 Feb 1985: ‘’Proposing a federal constitution will be political suicide.”
        R. Wickremasinghe, 13 May 1997: “We are a political party. Like any other political party, we will not do anything that will not get us into power, nor would we do anything when we are in power to lose power.”

        3. Some Sinhalese, Tamils and Musliams in this country and some others around the world believe that the only way to solve this problem is to appeal to the Buddhist clergy – hope the Tamils start seriously thinking about this.

        4. http://www.lakbimanews.lk/portal/news/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1057:llrc-on-its-final-lap&catid=40:news&Itemid=64
        LLRC on its final lap, 3 April 2011:
        The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) members met the Chief Incumbents of the Malwathu and Asgiri Chapters last week to seek guidance before preparing the final report scheduled to be presented by May 15.

        5. We’re waiting for November to hear from LLRC.

        Pointing out the faults of the Sinhalese is whitewashing the LTTE !!!

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Luxmy,

        You wrote “Pointing out the faults of the Sinhalese is whitewashing the LTTE !!! “

        Of course not.
        Overlooking the Faults of the LTTE is whitewashing the LTTE.

        Luxmy your criticism is one sided (partisan).
        You cannot see the faults of the Tamil Diaspora and the LTTE.
        You claim to be a Sinhalese and yet you cannot see the injustice perpetrated on the Sinhalese whose Lands were dispossessed and forcibly colonised with Foreign Tamils. Hence even your claim about ethnicity rings hollow.

        This injustice has remained without a solution for 200 years and the number of people involved are several millions.

        As I said before, a large majority of Sinhalese would stand together with you when you cease to be partisan. When you cease to whitewash the LTTE and when you exhibit a genuine desire to reconcile and integrate.

        As long as you are concerned only with revenge and extracting the pound of flesh that will never happen.

  • wijayapala

    Dear luxmy/silva

    L. Athulathmudali, 4 Feb 1985: ‘’Proposing a federal constitution will be political suicide.”
    R. Wickremasinghe, 13 May 1997: “We are a political party. Like any other political party, we will not do anything that will not get us into power, nor would we do anything when we are in power to lose power.”

    In other words, people such as yourself have not convinced the country how federalism will make EVERYONE’S lives better. In a democracy, if you want to get anything done you have to get other people to agree with you.

  • Buddhika

    First we must choose to reduce militarisation and to stop killings, torture, etc to let Tamils BREATHE and THINK:

    http://groundviews.org/2010/11/05/prospects-for-post-conflict-reconciliation-and-development-in-sri-lanka-can-singapore-be-used-as-a-model/
    ”Is it beyond the realm of possibility, that President Mahinda Rajapaksa, architect of perhaps the greatest military victory in Sri Lankan history since that of Dutthugamini over Elara, could choose Asoka the righteous as a role model? It is possible that he could commit himself to a vision that was mooted by J.R. Jayewardene in his 1977 campaign but, sadly, became little more than a sound bite, the Dharmista Society? I refuse to dismiss this as impossible. Buddhist traditions and practices offer much in the way of guidance for reconciliation and for humane, sustainable development. As we know, there are countervailing Buddhist traditions and practices that have been influential as well. It is a matter of choosing.”

    • wijayapala

      Dear Buddhika

      First we must choose to reduce militarisation and to stop killings, torture, etc to let Tamils BREATHE and THINK:

      How many killings are taking place now, compared to when the LTTE was around?

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Buddhika,

      Yes Singapore can be used as a model.
      Then you will need to implement their Ethnic Integration Policy as well.

      Any idea what that means?

  • Chandra Goonewardene

    Dear All,

    Please wake up one and all. The grease devil attacks and the violence of the military are not only against the Tamils. Look at those poor people in Panama in a Sinhalese village who were thrown out of their ancestral lands by the military ad by Namal Rajapakse. Look at the Muslim villagers in Pottuvil and Komari who were attacked by the military. I think there was an excellent series of columns on this in the Sunday Times, if I remember right, written by Kishali Pinto Jayawardene who looked at the legal aspects as well.

    When will we learn that the military might of the State is used in varying parts against all communities in Sri lanka who get in the way of the government?