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7th anniversary of 'Trinco 5' killings

Photograph Tamilnet

Seven years ago, five Tamil students were summarily executed by Sri Lanka's Special Task Force, whilst they spent an afternoon on the beach in Trincomalee.

To this day not a single person has been charged with the murders.

Despite the lack of investigation into their executions, the struggle for justice however, has not been given up on.

Photograph: TamilNet

The five slain students, who were all 21-years-old when killed, are:

Manoharan Ragihar (22.09.1985)

Yogarajah Hemachchandra (04.03.1985)

Logitharajah Rohan (07.04.1985)

Thangathurai Sivanantha (06.04.1985)

Shanmugarajah Gajendran (16.09.1985)

Last year, Amnesty International launched a “Write-for-Rights” campaign, highlighting the case of the “Trinco 5” and called for genuine investigations into this and the countless other human rights violations on the island.

See the video below to hear Dr Manoharan, the father of one of the victims, speak about the campaign.

See a report by Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) into the murders, including an affidavit from Dr Manoharan here.

Also see Amnesty International’s film on the murders entitled “Sri Lanka – Tell the Truth” below.

Photograph: TamilNet

Shortly after the murders, journalist Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan was shot dead after publishing photos showing the bodies of the 5 students with point-blank gunshot injuries, disproving government claims that they were killed by a grenade explosion.

In a leaked US Embassy cable from Colombo in Octber 2006, the then US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert O. Blake met with Sri Lankan Presidential Sdvisor Basil Rajapaksa. The cable stated,

"Speaking with surprising candor, Rajapaksa explained the GSL's efforts to prove that members of the Security Task Force (STF) murdered five students in Trincomalee in January: "We know the STF did it, but the bullet and gun evidence shows that they did not.  They must have separate guns when they want to kill some one.  We need forensic experts.  We know who did it, but we can't proceed in prosecuting them."


Meanwhile, in a more recent response to Dr Manohran by government officials, at an event in London in 2012 Excerpts from our article "Presidential advisor accuses panellists of lying at public debate on reconciliation" have been reproduced below.

The father of one of the victims of Trinco-5 massacre, Dr Manoharan, detailed the promise given by Wijesinha on 12th June 2009 that those responsible would be brought to justice and demanded to know why no progress had been made.

Till now nothing” asserted Dr Manoharan.

Wijesinha said that he had pressed the attorney general to prosecute, and when the attorney general said there was not enough evidence to prosecute, Wijesinha said he replied: "I said for gods sake take a leaf from the British. What they do is prosecute ten of them acquit nine.”

Incredulous, Stephen Sackur remarked, "I can't believe you said that thinking it would console him [Dr Manoharan].”

Speaking to Tamil Guardian after the event, Dr Manoharan described Wijesinha's remarks as a  “blank response”.

Dr Manoharan said,

In 2009 he gave a promise to me, but till now, nothing [and] now he says there is no evidence.”

Asked on reflection, whether he thought there was any possibility of reconciliation, Dr Manoharan said,

No. Nothing.”

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