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30th anniversary of Eastern University disappearances and massacre commemorated

A vigil was held in Batticaloa on Saturday, where locals marked 30 years since the enforced disappearance and massacre of 158 Tamils from the Eastern University.

Relatives of those who were forcibly disappeared demonstrated with placards and photos of their missing loved ones at the commemoration organised by the Batticaloa families of the disappeared.  

The remembrance took place in front of the Vantharumoolai campus of Eastern University and marked the events of September 5, 1990, when Sri Lankan soldiers surrounded the campus, rounding-up and arresting 158 Tamils that were sheltering there.

When the LTTE gained a stronghold in the Eastern Province in 1990, this prompted a military operation. It was launched in all directions towards Batticaloa where the Sri Lankan army entered and quickly established bases in the Amma district.

During the military operation, people fled their homes and sought refuge in public places, including places of worship and schools. At that time, refuges were rounded up by the military and intense searches were carried out. Many of those taken from there for interrogation never returned.

The period was marked by repeated bloody massacres of Tamils in the region. Days later Sri Lankan soldiers and Muslim Home Guards rounded up 186 Tamil men, women and children from Sathurukondan and surrounding villages, killing them. Two weeks following this round-up, a further 16 were arrested and forcibly disappeared and their fates remain unknown.

Relatives of the disappeared are hopeful that their loved ones are still alive, despite it being 30 years after the disappearances and have urged for justice and enquiries into their whereabouts.

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