Sri Lankan parliamentarian Jayantha Samaraweera called for the pardon of a Sri Lankan soldier convicted for massacring 8 Tamils 16 years ago.
The Kalutara district MP said Sgt Sunil Ratnayake, who is currently on death row over the infamous Mirusuvil massacre, is a “war hero” who deserves to be released.
The soldier was convicted of the killings last year. The massacre occurred on the 10th of December 2000, the day after 8 internally displaced Tamil civilians were arrested by the Sri Lankan military in Mirusuvil, Jaffna.
The following day their bodies were found in a mass grave with their throats slashed, according to the District Medical Officer’s post-mortem report. All but two of the bodies had been stripped naked. The youngest to have been murdered was a 5 year old child.
Ponnathurai Maheswaran, who managed to survive and escape from the army, testified in court and identified at least five of the soldiers responsible. After a lengthy court process only Sgt Ratnayake, a member the military’s elite Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP), had been sentenced. The other men were cleared of all charges.
Mr Samaraweera though was adamant in calling for his release, stating had rendered a “service to the country” in fighting the LTTE. The lawmaker is not alone, with a Facebook that was opened up to save the Sinhala soldier from the death sentence, garnering thousands of likes within a day of being set up. See more from the CPA here.
At the time Together Against Genocide released a statement welcoming the sentencing, but added “much more” needed to be done to end impunity on the island.
“Even though the war has ended, the racial hatred is far from resolved,” TAG said.
“The open support for the convicted soldier as a ‘War Hero’ clearly shows that racial tensions are still extremely high. This racial hatred prevents justice for the Tamil victims of this and other massacres. There is a clear reluctance among the majority ethnic Sinhala population to hold SLA forces responsible for their war crimes.”
The names of those killed in the massacre are listed below.
Kathiran Gnanachandran (35)
Baskar Gnanabasakaran (19)
Sellamuttu Theivakulasingham (31)
Vilvarajah Pratheepan (15)
Sinniah Vilvarajah (41)
Nadesu Jeyachandran (21)
Vilvarajah Prasath (5)