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Former Provincial Councillor raises concerns over Kokkuthoduvai mass grave investigation

In a press conference held during the ongoing excavation at the Kokkuthoduvai mass grave site on September 6th, T. Raviharan voiced his scepticism regarding the credibility of the excavation and exhumation process. He emphasised the need for oversight by international entities, including the United Nations, to ensure that the investigation into the origins of this mass grave follows established protocols.

Raviharan, a former Northern Provincial Councillor, expressed his lack of confidence in the ongoing proceedings. He cited the multiple postponements of the excavation, as well as a discussion organised by the Mullaitivu Magistrate court on August 31st, where it was suggested that the Department of Archaeology, along with the University of Jaffna's Archaeological department, be included in the investigative team. However, the Jaffna university is yet to be included in the excavation process as a meaningful stakeholder. 

He highlighted that families of the disappeared, Tamil civil society, and political leaders have called for the inclusion of international expertise due to doubts about the Sri Lankan state's capacity to handle such matters effectively. Past failed investigations into mass grave sites have only added to these concerns.

Furthermore, Raviharan pointed out that recent incidents of Buddhist colonisation in the North-East, especially the ongoing issues related to the Kurunthurmalai temple, have eroded the trust of Tamil people in the Archaeological Department. 

Raviharan emphasised that while any political action regarding the Kokkuthoduvai mass grave site will respect the decisions of the judges, JMOs, and the court the presence of the police and military at the site has raised doubts, despite the lack of alternatives to ensure the security of the mass grave.

After the press conference, as if to confirm the Former Provincial Councilor’s scepticism, reports from the media present during the excavation process indicated the presence of intelligence officers in the area. The unauthorised intelligence officers were observed entering and photographing the site and those involved in the excavation before exiting. Notably, the police did not intervene, deepening concerns about the political will of the state to conduct an impartial investigation without interference from various state entities.

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