JVP says Matale mass grave has remains of 200 torture victims

JVP says Matale mass grave has remains of 200 torture victims

The JVP yesterday charged that those responsible for the Matale killings during 1987-89 period, directly or indirectly, were now holding high ranking posts in President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government.

Addressing a media conference at the party head office, in Pelawatte yesterday, JVP parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that they could not expect from the government justice for the victims buried in the Matale mass grave, which contained 140 skulls as well as skeletal remains.

“Experts involved in the excavation believe there are remains of at least 200 people” MP Dissanayake said, adding that it was the largest mass grave in Sri Lanka’s history and it belonged to 1987-89 period, according to experts.

The experts engaged in probing the Matale mass grave had now confirmed that the victims had been that victims were killed after being tortured, Dissanayake said.

According to them the deaths were not due to natural causes. The heads of some bodies had been severed, he said, adding that hands and legs had also been severed.

“It is clearly evident that body parts were severed,” Dissanayake said.

Some people try to dismiss the find claiming that the remains belong to the people who died in an epidemic. If so their deaths should have been recorded in courts and hospitals before burial, Dissanayake said.

The JVP MP said that the then UNP government sponsored death squads were responsible for killing 60,000 JVP members after torturing them.

The then government ran torture chambers countrywide and a massive one at Matale as well as at Koskele in Kurunegala, Eliyakanda in Matara, Suriyakanda in Embilipitiya and Batalanda in Kelaniya, he said.

The MP accused most of the then ministers of having run mini torture chambers in their residences in the Galle, Matara, Puttalam and Gampaha districts during the 1987-89 period.

Dissanayake said that although the then UNP government killed lawyer Wijedasa Liyanarachchi, he had been betrayed to the authorities by a person who was now a top man in the present government. “Not only that, the person who led then UNP government’s killing squad, called PRRA between 1987 and 1989, is now a minister in the Rajapaksa government.”

“That is the reason why we say that those responsible for the 1987 – 89 killings, directly or indirectly, are now with the Rajapaksa government,” Dissanayake said.

MP Dissanayake said that people in the Wilgamuwa and Rattota areas were ready to give evidence regarding torture chambers in the Matale area.

The JVP also demanded a comprehensive probe into the Matale mass grave and that those responsible for the mass killings be brought to justice, even at this late stage.

Answering a query by The Island, what the JVP had got to say about the many killings carried out by it in the late 1980s, Dissanayake said his party was ready to face any inquiry for the killings during the 1987 – 89 period.

Senior analysts involved in the process of exhuming the remains from the mass grave confirmed the allegations brought up by the JVPers and said that the bones carried the tell tale marks of torture.

One senior analyst told The Island, on condition of anonymity, that the coin found from the grave had been introduced into it by some police personnel with the intention of misleading the investigators. The coin had been minted in 1969 and those who introduced it to the grave wanted to tamper with evidence hoping that the date of killings would be dated to 1971 period but that efforts would not serve the purpose as the legal experts involved in the investigations had evidence that the police had introduced the coin, he said. (Courtesy: The Island)