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Mass Graves Raise Mass Suspicions

2014 Mar 14

By Camelia Nathaniel

During the recent past there have been numerous occasions where several human skeletal remains have been discovered during excavations and clearing of lands in the North and East, and also the much talked about mass grave in Matale where remains of 154 persons were discovered. The special three-member Presidential Commission appointed to probe the mass grave discovered at Matale expects to submit its report by mid-year. The police claim that bone samples of three skeletons have been sent to China for examination and the report is expected soon. While the remains were initially expected to be sent to the US for examination, it had been later decided to send these skeletal samples to China for testing, raising much suspicion among many.

The Commission appointed to investigate the discovery, it seems, is keen on getting the time period of the skeletal remains proven scientifically, and the Commission has already recorded statements from witnesses and family members who believe the skeletal remains belong to their loved ones.

The mass grave was uncovered in November 2012 during excavation for construction at the Matale Hospital premises. Skeletal remains of 154 people were found during excavations carried out from November 26, 2012 until March 12, 2013.
It is believed that the skeletal remains unearthed from the mass grave were of insurgents from the Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) killed during the 1988-89 violence.

While several other human skeletal remains have also surfaced in many other parts in the North, numerous theories have emerged regarding the period of the deaths and the circumstances and cause of death.

When The Sunday Leader spoke with the Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana regarding the temporary halt of the excavations of the mass grave site in Mannar, he said that, despite numerous allegations, the reason that the excavations were halted was to facilitate an investigation process to  figure out if there had been a cemetery in that location previously.

The Police Spokeman said that the excavation at the Mannar mass grave site had been temporarily halted until a report was received from the Commissioner of the Archaeology Department on the archaeological value of the site.

The decision to receive a report from the Archaeology Department was made following some statements that the mass grave was in fact an archaeological site. An ancient cemetery has reportedly been found beneath the mass grave.

The Police earlier announced that skeletal remains of 81 people were unearthed from the mass grave at Thiruketheeswaram in Mannar during the excavation work carried out.

The mass grave was unearthed by a group of workers last year when they were laying pipes on the access road to the Thiruketheeswaram kovil.

Authorities have decided to send the skeletal remains found so far for laboratory tests.

Several Tamil parties and in particular the Bishop of Mannar Rayappah Joseph have raised suspicion regarding the discovery of the skeletal remains and allege that the military was always present in that area and nothing could have escaped the watchful eye of the security forces.a

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