15 June, 2024


Mr. President, What Happened To The LTTE Cadres Who Surrendered To The Army At Vadduvakal On May 18, 2009?

By Veluppillai Thangavelu

Veluppillai Thangavelu

Hon.Maithripala Sirisena
Presidential Secretariat
Galle Face,
Colombo 01. 

What Happened to the LTTE Cadres Who Surrendered to the Army at Vadduvakal on May 18, 2009?

Your Excellency,

The UN Human Rights Council had adopted Resolution No.30/1 of October 01, 2015  and co-sponsored by Sri Lanka that called for an international investigation into war crimes with foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators. Clause 6 of Resolution 30/1, inter-alia,  states as follows:

‘Welcomes the recognition by the Government of Sri Lanka that accountability is essential to uphold the rule of law and to build confidence in the people of all communities of Sri Lanka  in the justice system, notes with appreciation the proposal of the Government of Sri Lanka to establish a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations  and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable; affirms that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for their integrity and impartiality; and also affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators.’

Despite the fact that Sri Lanka co-sponsored Resolution 30/1, the President, as well as the Prime Minister, has stated publically that Sri Lanka’s constitution does not permit foreign judges to operate in the country. This raises the question of why Sri Lanka sponsored Resolution 30/1 in the first place?

“I have shown the strength of my backbone, two weeks ago, the UN Human Rights chief had said Sri Lanka must have international judges in the accountability mechanism. The following day, I had the guts to dismiss it,” you said while addressing the Executive Committee meeting of your Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) held here on March 03, 2017.

You have repeatedly claimed on public platforms that you have put an end to the arguments and discussions over the issue of bringing foreign judges for the proposed judicial mechanism to investigate the allegations of war crime and human rights violations by convincing the international authorities and its leaders that such process is not needed in Sri Lanka.

The International Truth and Justice Project is deeply concerned that Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena appears to be rolling back on his commitment in Geneva to include international involvement in a future judicial mechanism. In an interview with the BBC, the President reportedly stated, “I will never agree to international involvement in this matter.”

“We have more than enough specialists, experts and knowledgeable people in our country to solve our internal issues, this investigation should be internal and indigenous, without violating the laws of the country, and I believe in the judicial system and other relevant authorities in this regard.

“The international community need not worry about matters of state interest.  I will never agree to international involvement in this matter. This flies in the face of the recommendation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that Sri Lankan establishes “an ad hoc hybrid special court, integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators”.

High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has been very clear about the “total failure of domestic mechanisms to conduct credible investigations” in Sri Lanka.

Though the President occasionally mentions about accountability and reconciliation between various communities, especially between the Tamils and Sinhalese, such political reconciliation is not possible unless members of the armed forces who committed war crimes are brought to justice.

“If communities that have been torn apart by decades of violence and impunity are to be reconciled, the Sri Lankan government should initiate internal reforms and seek international assistance to prevent ongoing violations and ensure real accountability for past abuses,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director.

There have been numerous massacres of innocent Tamil civilians during the war that lasted for several decades. A senior Sri Lankan army commander and the frontline soldier told Channel 4 News that point-blank executions of Tamils at the end of the Sri Lankan civil war were carried out under orders. One frontline soldier said: “Yes, our commander ordered us to kill everyone. We killed everyone.” And a senior Sri Lankan army commander said: “Definitely, the order would have been to kill everybody and finish them off. I don’t think we wanted to keep any hardcore elements, so they were done away with. It is clear that such orders were, in fact, received from the top.”

The Human Rights Watch in a lengthy Q & A write-up on Human Rights stated as follows:

“Accountability for Violations of International Humanitarian Law in Sri Lanka stated, inter-alia, all parties to an armed conflict -both states and non-state armed groups -are responsible for complying with the requirements of international humanitarian law. That is, each party must respect and ensure respect for the laws of war by its armed forces and other persons or groups acting on its orders or under its direction or control. This obligation does not depend on reciprocity-parties to a conflict must respect the requirements whether or not the opposing side abides by it. It also does not depend on the reason for which the respective parties go to war, whether by a state (“fighting terrorism”) or an armed group (“ethnic homeland”). And all parties to an armed conflict must be held to the same standards, regardless of any disparity in the harm caused by alleged violations.

“A party to an armed conflict is responsible for serious violations of the laws of war committed by its armed forces and persons or entities acting under its authority, direction, or control. That responsibility, whether by a state or non-state actor, entails a requirement to make full reparations for the loss or injury caused; reparations can take the form of restitution (reestablishment of the prior situation), compensation (financial payment), or satisfaction (such as a formal apology or other action) to another state, entity, or individuals. As discussed below, states also have an obligation to hold accountable individuals under their control who are responsible for serious violations of the laws of war.

In this connection, I wish to draw your Excellency’s attention to the surrender of more than 200 LTTE cadres at Vadduvaakal on May 18, 2009 evening in the presence of several witnesses, including spouses, relatives and friends. The surrenders were told that they will be released after a short inquiry by the army. They were taken away in CTB buses including a Catholic priest Francis Joseph who accompanied the surrender. The whereabouts s of these LTTE cadres who surrendered on that fateful day is not known till now. Below is the partial list of LTTE cadres who were taken away on May 18, 2009.

(1)    K.V. Balakumar, journalist and his son Sooriyatheepan. A photograph showed both sitting on a bench in an army camp with a soldier seen walking behind.

(2) V. Ilankumaran (alias Baby Subramanian) Head of the TEED Department. His wife Vettrichchelvi and daughter Arivumathy.

(3) Yogaratnam Yogi in charge of ’Institute for Conflict Research’ in Vanni

(4) Poet Puthuvai Ratnadurai, Coordinator of LTTE Arts and Cultural Department

(5) K. Paappa, Coordinator LTTE Sports Department

(6) Rajah (Chempiyan) Assistant Coordinator LTTE Sports Department and his 3 children

(7) Ilanthirayan, LTTE Military spokesman

(8) Veerathevan, Coordinator LTTE Bank

(9) S.Thangkan, Political Wing Deputy Chief

(10) Aruna, Thamil Eela Education Department

(11) S. Naren, Asst. Executive Head of TRO

(12) Kuddy, Head of the LTTE Transport Department

(12) Piriyan, Head of Administrative Service Department and his family

(13) V. Poovannan, Head of the Administrative Service Division of the LTTE

(14) Thangaiah, Administrative Service Department

(15) Malaravan, Administrative Service Department

(16) Pakirathan, Administrative Service Department

(17) Reha, Head of LTTE Medical Division

(18) Selvarajah, Commander Manal Aru Head Quarters

(19) Bhaskaran, Commander Manal Aru Head Quarters

(20) Major Lawrance

(21) Major Kumaran

(22) Prabha, Batticaloa District Commander

(24) Rupan, Coordinator of Supplies

(25) Babu, Coordinator of Jewellery Business

(26) Ilamparithy, Executive Head of Political Wing

(27) Elilan, Head of Trincomalee Political Wing

(28) Vijitharan, Executive Secretary, Political Wing

(29) Major Veeman

(30) Sakthy, Coordinator Forestry Division and his family

(31) E.Ravi, Charge of Houses

(32) Sanjai, Mulliyavalai Divisional Political Wing Coordinator

(33) Para Ratha, Coordinator Justice Department

(34) Kumaravel, Coordinator Air Force Security

(35) Chithrankan Malathy, Commander Manal Aru District

(36) Suhi, Commander

(37) Arunan, Major Sea Tigers

(38) Manoj – Medical Department

(39) Lawrance, Finance Department

(40) Lawrance Thilakar, Coordinator TRO Planning Department

(41) Karikalan, former Commander, Eastern Province

Needless to remind the President that you were the acting Defence Minister during the last phase of the war that officially ended on May 19, 2009. More than anyone else, the President should know the fate of these LTTE cadres. If they are not in army camps then where are they now? If they are not among the living who gave orders to kill them?

The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Geneva July 27, 1929 was signed in Geneva.  It came into force on June 19, 1931. It is this version of the Geneva Convention which covered the treatment of prisoners of war during World War 11. It is the predecessor of the Third Geneva Convention in 1949.

Sri Lanka, a member of the UNO, is bound to comply with all Conventions, treaties and other sources of international law. Sri Lanka cannot pick and choose at its whims and fancies.

The UN Charter in its Preamble set an objective: “to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained”. Ever since, the development of, and respect for international law has been a key part of the work of the Organization.  This work is carried out in many ways – by courts, tribunals, multilateral treaties and by the Security Council.  These powers are given to it by the UN Charter, which is considered an international treaty.  As such, it is an instrument of international law, and the UN Member States are bound by it.  The UN Charter codifies the major principles of international relations, from sovereign equality of States to the prohibition of the use of force in international relations.

In November 2009, General Fonseka notified the government that America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had sought his testimony in a probe into alleged human-rights violations by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s defence secretary and a naturalised American citizen. General Fonseka was hastily flown back from America on the day the DHS interview was to have taken place.

Mahinda Rajapaksa an adroit manipulator openly admitted that he followed the Bush administration and fought “Bush’s war”.

According to the 68-page report presented by the US state department based on US embassy findings, satellite imagery and aid agencies accounts, painted a bleak picture of civilian life in a war zone under constant bombardment and where the death toll was rising. According to the UN and human rights groups, between 7,000 and 20,000 civilians were killed in the north-east between January and May. The Report also alleged that government forces shelled civilian populations, hospitals and schools in the rebel-controlled territory, often in areas that had been described by the authorities as no-fire zones.

General Sarath Fonseka, the former Sri Lankan army chief claimed that top government officials were responsible for war crimes during the final phases of the country’s 25-year civil war in 2009. Obviously, he was referring to former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. At the height of war, Gotabhaya claimed that hospitals are legitimate military targets.

Fonseka himself accused of commanding troops that committed war crimes and crimes against humanity had admitted that hospitals treating unarmed Tamils during the war had come under Sri Lanka military bombardment.

It is interesting to observe that two ex-army chiefs Sarath Fonseka and Jegath Jayasuriya traded accusations each claiming the other committed war crimes.

So there is mounting evidence that the armed forces fought the war by jettisoning UN conventions and rules governing conduct of wars.

Attempts by the President and the Prime Minister claiming that no war crimes were committed and war heroes will not be put on trial may fool the Sinhalese people, but it will not fool the international community.

Only an investigation into allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian laws with foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators will clear the air.

Yours sincerely

Veluppillai Thangavelu

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Latest comments

  • 2

    Dear nanda,
    You’ve got to decide what you want. Is it Justice?
    If so, stop prioritising. Those calls of ours, first this, then that, are what have ensured that the crooks have been protected for three and a half years.
    Start prosecuting where there is evidence. The 600 policemen? Why, it was Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, aka Colonel Karuna. Go ahead, prosecute. But then it is our own Sinhalese Establishment that will say that his support was crucial in turning the tide against Velu Prabhakaran.
    Ever heard of herrings that were red?

    • 2


      Do you think those who wants the LTTE prosecuted for war crimes are serious about any prosecution at all? They believe they are cleverly defending the Sinhala/Buddhist state from war crimes and crime against humanity by questioning the behaviour of UN, West , LTTE, UNP, ……………… .

      We know UN, West, Hindia …………..are used to double standards and protected by sole strategic objective of their interest in other countries.

      Taraki wants Sri Lanka to remain in UN system of world governance while not adhering to its charter which Dr Mahinda insisted his troops strenuously adhered to during and after the war. Taraki would not insist on prosecuting mass murderers Karuna, Pillayan and KP who are living only a stone’s throw away however wants those living in far away places. Taraki’s behaviour is not unique but consistent with many Sinhala/Buddhist zealot who type in this forum.

      Its hypocrisy of the worst kind.

  • 0

    A very good question. It should be remembered that they were surendees. Those responsible for their
    arrests owe an an answer to their relatives friends and well wishers. Bensen

  • 0

    Thank you, Native Vedda,
    As you say, those wanting the LTTE prosecuted for War Crimes have political agenda so calculatingly hypocritical that their utterances are turning normal decent Sri Lankans in to bitter cynics who expect that all those voicing protests on public affairs will turn out to be rogues. On the International Stage we may be competing with the Maldives for “most-corrupt-and-disgusting-regime”status.
    I’ve been trying to voice my common-sensical reservations on “official stands” on a number of topics, but keep running in to problems created by my comparative ignorance. Your timely interventions help us all to focus on what is most relevant.
    I know that Wikipedia is far from perfect, but for factual information it is a good starting point. I’m amazed to find that Pillayan is still such a young man. This is him, with his “real name” used:
    This is the slightly older Colonel Karuna:
    But the king of them all is KP:
    Such a shadowy figure, with so many alisases, passports, most-wanted status. We had him locked up for years, but still there are few known photographs of him. Wasn’t it our duty by the world to have photographed, finger-printed him, and circulated his DNA profile? Not to torture him, but these are things that should have been routinely done. It is implied that his current whereabouts are unknown; yet he is the man who communicated only with Prabhakaran. So important in the set up, but all seems hushed up. Why?

  • 0

    Sinhala Man is Hlaf Tamil and Half Sinhala and is protestnat. so what else he should say. BathuluOya and Hatton are Tamil.

  • 0

    Continuing . . .

    As you say, bodies like the UN apply double standards of their own, but nevertheless there also are honest concerns felt by many, worldwide, who try to understand the truth. Our Rainbow Revolution of January 2015 was made possible because sizeable numbers of people were moved by idealism. Now at every turn we seem to face further disillusionment.
    This canker, engendered by racism, has now spread to all sections of the body politic. Reports commissioned at great cost are sent to the archives.
    Yet, there are signs of hope.
    Usually, the rich and the powerful have their way in all things; so when the Supreme Court prevents Ceylon Tobacco from bullying a poor widow, we begin to hope that such independence will be carried over to more clearly political issues. .

  • 0

    Veluppillai Thangavelu posed a simple question ~ “……What Happened To The LTTE Cadres………..?”.
    Most commenters take the opportunity to justify what happened.
    Will there ever be a change in this entrenched mindset?

  • 0

    Dear All can I ask what did we all learn from all that was said in the article and the comments that followed. With all due respect to all the souls who have perished since Independence what does this telling us? Where are we going with our journey? Do we really understand what did really take place in our country? do we really understand who is loosing and who is gaining from our nations misery? How come the freedom of expression leading to more divisive politics? is this telling us something of what we have been repeating since independence? What is it can we collectively do to break this cycle of events? is it always someone else responsible for this downwords trends in human rights since Independence? How our reponsibility to our nation building compares to all those places elsewhere who are more successful? Why are we being man managed/man handled by foreign nations in our internal affairs?? Have we asked every single family who lost someone to violence since Independence if they all need retribution/justice and how do they want this delivered? Do we then have enough jails/capacity in the justice system to apply law and order to all of us for being part of treason and treachery of killing each other under various names?

    • 1

      Group Mentality: TV, there is nothing new that I learned from this exchange. But as usual I had a good time commenting.
      All people are generally good at the individual level. I have many Tamils friends. In fact, during my career in SL, the best friend I had was a Jaffna Tamil. But I would not trust any of them further than I can throw them and at my age it is around 1 cm. The problem starts when people start forming groups. The group mentality is generally more dishonest, more selfish, more brutal and so on than those of the individual. That is human nature. We cannot change that.

      However, there are evil individuals who pretend that they are a big group. By barking here, then running over there and barking again and so on they project a false image of a big united group. But, it is just one Ballige Putha doing all the barking. What the Ballige Putha does not realize is that the Bark reveals the dog.

      • 0

        Dear ER Thank you for the kind response. We are all suffereing pain then to see us so divided and carry even more animosity hurts me the most. I want all this wonderful energy to contribute to something more positive than taking as all apart. Out of this “misery” comes the “opportunity” too that is to say we are not the “frogs in the well” in-fact the opposite that is all Lankans have access to the entire world and this should result in “making up the lost time” for us to unit and get our nation on a path to recovery only. This will be inline with all our children misfortune who died for our future so bravely be it from any segment of our society under different causes/flags/historical references etc.This is the lessons learned for us and the best way to pay tribute too all those who were hurt/affected/lost life’s etc. I want to see us all have loving/caring exchange of thoughts/comradeship so the history does not repeat itself in the same way author captured the consequences so well. My Father died just trying to avoid just this scenario for our children be in the armed groups or Armed forces. Thank you

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