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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Military torture chamber near Matale mass grave

154 skeletons of extrajudicial killings 

Ranga Jayasuriya
 In a damning disclosure, the survivors of a military-run detention centre that existed during the southern counter-insurgency campaign have alleged the army had operated a torture chamber in a government school in the vicinity of the mass grave of Matale in 1989-90, and that the skeletons of the mass grave belong to the victims of that torture chamber.

The shocking disclosures come in the wake of Carbon C 14 Dating findings that have revealed the skeletal remains of over 150 bodies, unearthed from the mass grave, were buried in the period of 1986-90. Pubudu Jayakody, Political Secretary of the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP), who insisted the remains that were unearthed from the mass grave were of his former comrades of the JVP, said the inmates of the torture chamber, which was operated from Vijaya Vidyalaya in the 1989-90, would soon come out to narrate their ordeal in the torture chamber.

Concern for their security is keeping them away for the moment, he said.
“A torture chamber was operated by a unit of the Gajaba Regiment of the Army in the Vijaya Vidyalaya, which was located in the vicinity of the Matale Hospital,” he said.

 “There are survivors of that torture chamber. And some of them are active members of our party to date and they will soon come out to reveal their experiences in the camp,” he said.
On Thursday, Jayakody lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka demanding an inquiry into the mass grave.

Two specialist reports, which were submitted to the Matale Magistrate, have revealed the skeletal remains belong to the period of the Southern uprising, during which the security forces and the State-backed death squads were accused of carrying out large-scale extra-judicial killings and mass disappearances.

A report of the Judicial Medical Officer of Matale, which was submitted to the Matale Magistrate early this week, has explained in gory detail the torture the victims had been subjected to.
The report detailed that heads had been severed from the bodies of the victims using an electric saw and some skulls bore evidence that nails had been inserted into the heads of the victims. The report has also revealed the skeletons bore marks of being attacked using blunt weapons and subjected to extreme torture.

Prof. Raj Somadeva, professor of forensic archaeology at the University of Kelaniya in an earlier report confirmed the grave cannot be older than 1986 and newer than 1990.
Prof. Somadeva was commissioned by the Magistrate to prepare a report on the mass grave



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