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Veeramunai massacre

The Veeramunai massacre saw 55 Tamils including men, women and children by Muslim home guards on 12 August 1990. The home guards forcibly entered the Sinthayaathirai Pillaiyaar Kovil and Ramakrishna Mission Tamil Vithiyaalayam, and attacked Tamils from the villages of Veeramunai, Malvaththu, Mallikaiththeevu, Samaanthurai and Veerachcholai who had sought refuge there.

The massacre was the latest in a spate of killings in the Eastern district, which saw more than 200 people either killed or disappeared from Veeramunai and the adjacent villages as well as more than 2,000 homes destroyed.

The North-East Secretariat On Human Rights (NESOHR) detailed some of the atrocities that took place in the region at the time, as well as survivor testimony and the names of those killed.

Veeramunai is a village in the Amparai district. It is a traditional Tamil village. Sammanthurai is the adjacent Muslim village where the Muslim people who were chased away from the coastal areas by the Portuguese colonizers have settled. The Muslims and Tamils have historically lived side by side and together have built a prosperous and peaceful community.

On the 20.06.1990, Sri Lankan military rounded up the Veeramunai village and ordered the people to go to the Veeramunai Pillaiyar temple. Everyone who stayed at home without going to the temple was shot dead. Later on that day the military arrived at the temple in large numbers. There were more than 1000 people who had gone to the temple on orders from the military. The military selected every male over the age of 15 from the temple. 69 young men, all civilian youths, were arrested in front of their relatives. The arrested men were taken to the Sammanthurai Marjan School where they were tortured. 50 men died and their bodies were taken to the forest nearby and burnt.

The military again took several more people from the temple on 29.06.1990 and all of them have disappeared. Following these two incidents people displaced from the temple to the Karaithivu Mahavidhyalayam School.

On 03.07.1990, the military again rounded up this school and took 11 young men. They too have disappeared.

Again on 05.07.1990, the military took away a further 13 men. All of them were tortured and killed and their bodies were burnet with tires. People who went in search of those who were arrested were attacked by the military. Following this people displaced again to a refugee camp near Veeramunai.

On 10.07.1990, the military arrested another 15 young men from this Veeramunai refugee camp and took them to the military camp. There they were tortured and killed and their bodies were burnt.

On 16.07.1990, eight women who went from the refugee camp to check their homes were arrested at the Malwaththa checkpoint. They were gang raped by more than 30 SLA men and killed. Their bodies were burnt.

On 26.07.1990, the military again arrested 32 young men. 23 of them were school children. All of them have disappeared.

On 29.07.1990, eight school teachers who were travelling with their family were arrested. All of them have disappeared.

On 01.08.1990, 18 civilians who were passing through the Savalakkadai road were arrested by the military and the home guards operated by it. Among them were four women and a baby. They were all killed using sharp weapons and their bodies were put inside the Savalakkadai temple and burnt.

On 12.08.1990, Muslim groups that entered the Veeramunai refugee camp began attacking the people. Ten civilians were killed. Many more were injured. Among the dead are the temple manager Thambimuthu Sinnathurai and two babies. Those injured in the Muslim attack were taken to the Sammanthurai hospital where they were refused treatment. They were then taken to the Amparai hospital. The military came to the hospital and abducted three of the seven victims who were admitted to the hospital. The other four escaped back to Veeramunai.

In Veeramunai 600 houses were set alight. A further 1352 houses were set alight in the villages of Malwaththa, Mallihaithivu, Newtown, Kanapathypuram, Valaththapiddy, and Sammanthurai.

Between 20.06.1990 and 15.08.1990 more than 200 people were either killed or disappeared from Veeramunai and the adjacent villages. More [than] 2000 houses were burnt.