If there were atrocities, the govt. too must apologize says LLRC Chairman

Retired Attorney General C.R. de Silva, PC, Chairman of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) last week said that if atrocities against the public had been committed by government forces, then the government too must apologize.

The Chairman said so at the conclusion of the testimony of Chief Minister S Chandrakanthan (Santhirakanthan) of the Eastern Province before the LLRC

The chief minister had been asked by the chairman about the massacre of over 600 policemen in the East by the LTTE. Was it not appropriate that at least an apology be tendered to their families by those responsible, de Silva asked.

The following is the text of the exchange:


Q: Mr. Santhirakanthan, you know that over 600 policemen were asked to surrender and they were all lined up and shot and persons who are members of your group were instrumental in that massacre. Now, don’t you think for the purpose of bringing about ethnic reconciliation that your group should make a public apology to the members of the families of those officers who were killed?

A: That is a good question that you have asked. If we are asked to ask for a public pardon for being members of the LTTE....

Q: No. Not pardon, but apology.

A: As I told you in the course of my evidence earlier, on the 11th of June 1990 I was a school boy, I was in school at that time and I know that the LTTE encircled many areas. I went to join the LTTE on the 4th of February 1991, but I remember having been told by the people that all those police officers who were encircled and taken by the LTTE were killed after two or three weeks. I think that if you say that we must make a public apology to those people, I think the most appropriate person would be Mr. Karuna who was the leader at that time.

Mr. M.P. Paranagama:

Q: In fairness to what Chairman asked you, you might think that we are only asking about the wrong done by the LTTE. Can you say of any instance where our forces have done any grave crime like that?

A: I was an eye witness to similar incidents by the forces in the year 1990.

Q: How many incidents?

A: I was an eye witness to an incident where one Seeni Thambi who was an immediate neighbour to me was shot by the forces, and I saw partly burnt bodies scattered on the roads at that time, and there was a special force that was brought to our area at that time and they were called vettu party, that is slaughtering group. I have seen many people taken alive and shot, cut and thrown into the rivers. I saw two of my classmates taken away at midnight and I saw one Rasa who was another neighbour of mine, at midnight the army came took him and he prayed at their feet, worshipped at their feet, but they kicked him and I saw them shooting him on the spot. I was a teenager of 16 years and I got assaulted by the army.

Q: But wasn’t that a part of the war that was at the time?

A: Yes, of course. We must look at the political background for these incidents, and all the political leaders and all the political leaders who worked or who injected these incidents must make a public apology.


Q: Mr. Santhirakanthan, I also concede that if there were excesses the government also must tender an apology.

Now, I must take this opportunity for thanking you for coming over here and expressing your views very candidly, and I think some of the views you expressed were very important and we will take that into consideration in formulating our recommendations. Thank you.


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