Photo courtesy of Selvaraja Rajasegar
September 9, 1990, 5.30 pm. Armed men clad in military uniform and civilian clothes instruct people from Sathurukondan, Kokkuvil, Pachchaiyadi and Pillayaradi to come out to the road. They are taken to the Bois Town military camp nearby with the assurance that they will be released after questioning. They were mostly the elderly, women and children. None of them returned to their homes. In total, 184 individuals were massacred.
The outside world gets to know of the Sathurukondan massacre from a survivor, Iraththinaiya, who managed to escape death by hiding among the reeds along the riverbank, a quarter of a mile from the camp.
Dr. Kingsley Swamipillai, who was then the Bishop of Trincomalee and Batticaloa and a member of the Batticaloa Peace Committee, went to the massacre following day, along with the military personnel. “Everything had been set on fire but there were heads and body parts that were not fully burnt.” Bishop Swamipillai told Maatram.
Colonel Percy Fernando, who accompanied the Bishop, had said, “We are very saddened. It is our people who did this. Therefore, I should apologise.”
Iraththinaiya, who could hear the screams of the victims while he was hiding, fearing for his life, shared what he had seen that day with Maatram.
It is 30 years since the Sathurukondan massacre. Witnesses of the massacre who have not received justice continue to speak even today.