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Mannar lawyers urge caution over mass grave report

Lawyers representing Tamil families of the disappeared in Mannar have called for “caution in place of plain speculation”, after a report  dated bone fragments from a mass grave unearthed in the town.

“In view of the extensive work that has been carried out so far and much more to be done in the future in this regard, we have to exercise caution in place of plain speculation,” said a statement from the lawyers last week.

Carbon dating of bone fragments taken from the mass graves date the six skeletal samples back to 1499 - 1719 AD. The report, based on the testing of the samples earlier this year,  said it was not possible the determine the time period more accurately.

The remains of over 320 people, including children, have been found at the site so far.

“We also have to take into consideration that there are several more tests, which may also have to be referred to experts for analysis and report”, added the lawyers. “Only on receipt of the reports of all such tests that any meaningful conclusion could be reached as to the age and position of such skeletal remains.”

 The statement went on to conclude,

“We are also mindful of the enormous interest and attention as regards the excavation of the Mannar mass grave and we would like to inform all sections of the public and the media that the report that has been received is only in respect of one aspect of the mass grave and the analysis and report on the layers of the soil and artefacts and materials discovered at the site are still due and that any speculations on the entire process based on the available report alone may be premature and be prejudicial to the process that is being carried out under the directions and supervision of the court of law, namely the Magistrate Court of Mannar”.

The excavations of hundreds of bodies from the mass grave has caused much anguish among the families of the disappeared, who have been protesting continuously, demanding answers from the government as to their disappeared loved ones. 

See the full text of the statement below.