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Remembering the Kumarapuram massacre 28 years on

This week marks 28 years since the Kumarapuram Massacre took place in Trincomalee, where the Sri Lankan military killed 26 Tamil civilians and gang-raped a 15-year-old girl. 

On the evening of February 11, 1996, a group of soldiers, some of them under the influence of alcohol, charged into the village of Kumarapuram and indiscriminately beat up Tamil civilians in the locality.

They subsequently killed 26 people, gang-raped a teenage girl and caused injuries to 24 others. Survivors of the carnage recalled that the soldiers shouted “death to Tamils” as they rampaged through the hamlet. 

Six Sri Lankan soldiers who were standing trial for their involvement in the killings in 2016, were all acquitted of the 101 indictments they each faced. The High Court judge overseeing the case decided the soldiers could not be prosecuted despite survivors identifying the perpetrators of the massacre. 

In 2017, PEARL, a US-based advocacy group, released a report examining the failure of successive Sri Lankan governments to ensure accountability and justice for the massacre. 

The names of the victims are: 

1. Subbayya Sethurasa
2. Alaguthurai Parameswari
3.Arumathurai Vallipillai
4. Kidnan Kovinthan
5. Arunasalam Thangavel
6. Sellathurai Packiyarasa
7. Vadivel Nadarasa
8. Rajenthiram Karunakaran
9. Sanmuganathan Nithanthan
10. Ramajeyam Kamaleswaran
11. Kanthapodi Kamalathevi
12. Sivakolunthu Sinnathurai
13. Sivapackiyam Nisanthan
14. Packiyarasa Vasanthini
15. Amirthalingam Rajanikanthi
16. Thangavel Kalathevi
17. Stephen Pathuma
18. Suntharalingam Prabhakaran
19. Suntharalingam Subajini
20. Kanagarasa Suvathirasa
21. Subramaniyam Packiyam
22. Vinayagamoorthy Suthaharan
23. Ananthan Annamma
24. Vijayakanth Luxmi
25. Arumathurai Thanaluxmi 

* There were 26 victims but one victim was not identified. 

"In a case with overwhelming evidence, including 40 eyewitnesses at trial, the acquittals of all six alleged perpetrators are an accurate reflection of the Sri Lankan criminal justice system's lack of competence and commitment to prosecute atrocity crimes," the report noted. 

"The killing that has become engrained in the minds of all villagers is that of 15-year-old Arumathurai Thanaluxmi. Villagers recounted how the soldiers found her hiding in a roadside tea shop with two others, including a 16-year-old boy, Vinayagamoorthy Suthaharan. Soldiers immediately killed the people hiding with Thanaluxmi, then proceeded to drag her into an empty building nearby and gang rape her. At least two villagers remember hearing her screams from where they were hiding. Eventually one soldier, NM Ajith Sisira Kumara, allegedly shot and killed Thanaluxmi." 

 -  PEARL report: 'Impunity Reigns in Sri Lanka: The Kumarapuram Massacre and Acquittals'


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