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Remembering Krishanthi Kumaraswamy and the Chemmani massacre 25 years on

Today marks 25 years since the Chemmani massacre of 1996, in which Sri Lankan soldiers raped and murdered Tamil schoolgirl, Krishanthi Kumaraswamy, and three of her family members that had gone looking for her.

Krishanthi Kumaraswamy was an A Level student at Chundikili High School who was kidnapped, gang raped and viciously murdered by Sri Lankan soldiers and police officers on September 7th 1996. Three of her family members who went in search of her were also brutally murdered. 

Krishanthi was forced to stop at Kaithady Army checkpoint in Jaffna for ‘questioning’, when eleven officers kidnapped and gang raped her before killing her and burying her dismembered body in a ditch. Krishanthi’s 16 year old brother, Pranavan, her mother, Rasamma and a family friend, Kirupakaramoorthy who went in search of Krishanthi were also strangled with a rope and buried in a ditch behind the checkpoint.

In 1998, six of the officers involved were sentenced to death and three others sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment. 

Corporal Somaratne Rajapakse, who was found guilty of abducting, raping and killing Krishanthi, her mother, young brother and neighbor, revealed that there were at least 300 to 400 other bodies buried in Chemmani.

“Almost every evening, dead bodies were brought there [to the Ariyalai SLA camp] and the soldiers were asked to bury them,” Rajapakse told courts – he denied taking part in the killings and claimed he only helped bury the victims.

This is the only case that has seen its perpetrators prosecuted in Sri Lanka while countless instances of widespread sexual violence by Sri Lankan forces against Tamils have gone unpunished.


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