Sri Lankan authorities have razed a Tamil Tiger cemetery in the island’s east and built a police station on it, international ceasefire monitors said in a recent report.
The Thandiyaday cemetery, in which large numbers of LTTE cadres, including Mr. E. Kaushalyan, the popular political head of the LTTE in Batticaloa-Amparai district, who was killed by Army-backed paramilitaries whilst traveling through government-controlled territory during the peace process in 2005, has been razed.
The Tharavai war heroes’ cemetery, the largest in the east, was destroyed by the Sri Lankan military in June this year.
The Thandiyadi war heroes’ cemetery, the second largest in the east, located in the middle of civilian settlement, was also bulldozed without any trace.
A camp of the police Special Task Force (STF) has been setup on the grounds of Thaa'ndiyadi war cemetery and the commandos there have instructed the people not to use the traditional village name, Thaa'ndiyadi, which means the locality of Thaan'ri (Terminalia bellerica) trees.
The civilians were told that their village was renamed to "Suniththapura," in Sinhala. Only the letters with the Sinhala name would be allowed to reach them, they were told.
Following operations to capture territory from the LTTE in the island’s east, the Sri Lankan military has bull dozed at least three more cemeteries in each of the three districts there - Kandaly cemetery in Vaharai, Battlicaloa and the Kanchikudichcharu Cemetery in Amparai this year and the Alankernikulam Cemetery in Sampur, Trincomalee last year.
At least one other LTTE cemetery has been razed, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) said.
“The SLMM discovered that desecration of the LTTE cemeteries, located partly on state-owned land, has taken place,” the monitors said in their weekly report.
“A police station has been built where the Thandiyaday cemetery was located, west of Batticaloa.”
“In Pattipala, also west of Batticaloa, an LTTE cemetery has been tampered with, and all markings of the graves removed,” the SLMM also said.
An official at the Secretratiat of Tamileelam War Heroes officials in LTTE-controlled Vanni said they have preserved precise location of every burial site, which would enable them to re-erect the cemeteries in future.
"Throughout the history of the ethnic conflict in this island the LTTE has always respected the symbols of the dead of the enemy. In total disregard to this custom throughout the world, the Sri Lankan military has made the destruction of the war heroes’ cemeteries of the Tamils into one of its tradition," the official told reporters.
Amongst the LTTE officials buried in the Thandiyaday cemetery was Mr. E. Kausalyan, the head of the LTTE’s political division for Batticaloa-Amparai district who was killed in an ambush on their vehicle between the Sri Lanka Army camps at Welikanda and Punanai, northwest of Battialoa in February 2005.
Several other LTTE political cadres and a former Tamil parliamentarian traveling in the van were gunned down, reportedly at point blank range by Army-backed paramilitaries who intercepted the group’s van.
Mr. Kausalyan, then the most senior LTTE official to be killed after the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE signed a cease fire in February 2002, was hailed for his tireless efforts to build harmony between Tamil and Muslim communities in the east.
The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, condemned the killing of Mr. Kausalyan and his colleagues.
The group was traveling back to the east under Sri Lankan police escort after meetings in Vanni to discuss the plans for rehabilitation in the east in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami, two months earlier. None of the policemen were harmed by the attackers.
The Sri Lankan military has regularly desecrated the graves of LTTE fighters when it captures territory.
The Kandaly War Heroes’ Cemetery in Vaharai was bulldozed into the sea in Feb 2007.
The LTTE cemetery in Kanchikudichcharu - Amparai was destroyed earlier in 2007
The LTTE cemetery in Alankernikulam – Sampur - Trincomalee was destroyed 2006
The LTTE cemetery in Ellankulam –Vadamaradchi - Jaffna was destroyed in 1996
The massive LTTE cemetery in Kodigamam - Jaffna was flattened with tractors 1996
Similarly, the Velanai-Chaaddi - Jaffna was destroyed 1995.
The Kopay - Jaffna Maveerar cemetery was also flattened with tractors in 1995.