Veeramunai massacres

Veeramunai, being situated on the boundary of Tamileelam, which occupied by the STF and the army was unfortunate in that both forces came and searched and took people away from the refugee camp. Sometimes persons released by one party may be taken by the other. In addition to this police and home guards of Sammanthurai conducted their own operations. According to the people it may be worthwhile inquiring after people taken in by the army or the STF, however, it would be utterly useless to bother about persons taken in by the Muslim home guards or the police. Living in Veeramunai under these circumstances became impossible.

Since 1954 this village has been subjected to continual attacks by Sinhala settlers with the backing of the Sinhala politicians. The Eelamtamils of this village have being chased out by the Sinhala settlers. The Eelamtamils who moved away from this village, are living in Veeracholai, Valathapiddy, Mallkaithivu and Malwathai for nearly thirty-six years.

During the period of 1985-1990, the Muslim home guards and the military have become notorious for killing and abducting the hapless people of Veeramunai and the surrounding Tamil villages.

The genocide in these villages however began intensifying in 1990. T Sabanayagam, a local school teacher remembers 1990 massacres very well. The first victims were Tamils displaced from nearby villages who had come to Veeramunai seeking refuge when the SLA, moving into the east soon after Eelam War II against the genocide on Eelamtamils, broke out in June 1990, went on a rampage in Tamil areas near the Sinhala border in the Ampara district.

When the army arrived into the village on about 18th June, there was no resistance. 13 persons found on the roads were taken, never to be seen again. They were mainly people who had gone to work or had gone to buy things. Amongst those who had gone to work were an electrician and a labourer employed by town authorities.

During the succeeding weeks, the forces surrounded the camp on 5 occasions. 4 times they came in and took persons away. According to senior persons who kept records, a total of 253 persons had been taken away by the forces and there is no information as to what became of them. Inquiries only elicited some vague suggestion that they had been taken to the Kondavedduvan forces camp.

Among those injured was the village’s Pillaiyar temple manager (vannakkar) Sindhathurai, who was also the community leader of Veeramunai village. They were all admitted to Amparai hospital for medical attention. But as if adding insult to injury, ten more persons, including Mr. Sindhathurai, were abducted from the hospital next day. Temple manager Mr. Sindhathurai was a fearless man who defied the Muslim home guards who were causing problems to the Tamils at Veeramunai.

On 28 June 1990, thirty seven (37) men were shot and burned in Samanthurai (Malaikaddu).


The army came to the camp on 29th June, 56 boys were picked up with the help of Muslim home guards. They were taken first to Karavaddukallu (Almarichchan) school, 5 are said to have been handed over to the Muslim home guards who requested them. Distraught parents of the boys taken away, made inquiries about their sons in army camps as far afield as Kondavaddayr arid Aranthalawa, but to no avail. Such incidents kept happening.

School at Karathivu                          

There was another operation of. rounding up in the Veeramunai camp on the 4th July. The army came again on 8th July. An officer called the people and delivered a speech. He told them that they finished of the JYP with burning tires, and said that they would do it again. He also said that in Mankulam and in another village there are no males left living between the ages of 15 and 50. He then proceeded to pick up mostly young boys. They were scrawny looking and sickly. One was an orphan. These were the 8 taken away by the army, one reason attributed to this was that 8 boys who were previously in custody had escaped.                 

For a month following July, 12 1990, the military clearing party surrounded the camp on five occasions and arrested 280 youngsters. “No one still knows whether these boys and girls are alive or dead. No one knows what happened to them,

On 16/07/1990 Army from Malwathai camp Raped and killed 08 women.

On 26 July 1990, the army which came from Vedduvan army camp arrested eight 08 men from Malwathai, Veramunai, Kalathipuram and Puthunagar. Until today none knows what happened to them

On 08 August 1990, the army soldiers along with Sinhala and Muslims home guards hacked to death eight 08 Tamils and dumped their bodies in a well.

On 11 August 1990, the people in Veeracholai, Valathapiddy and Mallkaithivu vacated their villages and moved to Mandoor. On their way to Mandoor, people were stopped by soldiers at Savalkaddai Army camp eighteen 18 people were hacked to death.

On 12 August 1990, The succession of these terrifying incidents reached a climax. Around 9:15 a.m. that day five militiamen of the Sammanthurai home guard unit, entered the camp and began shooting indiscriminately. “They continued firing for about 40 minutes. When the shooting stopped, 21 men, women and children lay dead and 140 were wounded,”

Many people who were injured in this incident were admitted to Amparai general hospital. The soldiers removed all those people from the hospital and killed them.

“There were 17,500 refugees from Valaththaapuddy, Malvatthai, Veerachcholai, Mallihaiththeevu, Puthunagaram and Kandapuram who had fled to the Sinthayaathirai Pilliyar Kovil in Veeramunai. Because of a lack of space, the Ramakrishna Vithiyalayam, nearby, had to be taken over to house the refugees.”

The refugees were ordered to pack their belongings by local government officials and were taken to Thambiluvil, a large Tamil village on the Southeastern coast of the Amparai district.

On April 15, 1992, after two years in refugee camps, the villagers were resettled in Veeramunai. But hardly a year lapsed before a youth called Mehanathan disappeared when he went to buy provisions in a nearby shop. The following week Mehanathan’s shirt and sarong were found in a pit in the Alavaakarai banana plantation which is in the Muslim quarter of the village. No one knows what happened to him. We assume that he has been murdered.

Despite intimating influential persons about these massacres there was no relief forthcoming for the villagers. Today, with a series of bad experiences that has made them wise, the Eelamtamil of Veeramunai are as vulnerable as before. “If we are to live in peace, the home guard camp stationed on the Veeramunai – Sammanthurai border has to be removed,” said Mr. Moothathamby.

(Sources: Eelanatham, Tamilnet and the Genocide Chronicle)


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