The arrest and torture of a member of the Liberation Tigers
by the elite Special Task Force (STF) constituted a deliberate
breach of the permanent ceasefire according to the Sri Lanka
Monitoring Mission (SLMM), as the troops had penetrated over one
kilometre into LTTE-held territory to carry out the attack.
During the incident at Kanchirankudah, Thirukovil last week, STF
troopers arrested Mr. Yogarajah Kanthakumar (Kopan), an LTTE
member ostensibly for riding a motorcycle without a helmet.
He was severely beaten before being taken and handed to
the Police in government controlled Akkaraipatu with his
hands tied behind and a cloth stuffed in the mouth. Mr.
Kanthakumar was later produced released on Rs. 10000 bail.
The SLMM ruled that the STF had violated the ceasefire as
article 1.4 of the agreement stipulates that a zone of
separation of 600 metres must be maintained between the armed
forces of both sides and the troops had an area 1,500 meters
from their defence lines to seize the LTTE cadre.
Furthermore, with traffic duties not coming under the duties of
the counter-insurgency force, the STF had deliberately sought to
violate the agreement, the SLMM felt.
Having investigated a formal complaint by the LTTE, Mr. Erkki
Platan, the head of the SLMM's Batticaloa office, is said to
have informed SLMM headquarters in Colombo and the SLMM office
in Kilinochi about his findings.
“The STF had gone to Veeramunai and threatened the poor
villagers about the hartal they observed last week,” said Mr. S.
Soundaranayakam, the LTTE representative with the Batticaloa
SLMM told journalists. “Protesting through a hartal is a
fundamental democratic right of the people. The STF seems intent
on disrupting the peace process.”
The attack on Mr. Kanthakumar provoked demonstration against the
STF by the public. STF troops fired on protestors, wounding two
people - a 12-year old student, Ranjan Mano (and 24-year-old K
Surenthirakumar - and triggering riots and violent protests.
Protestors burnt tires in Batticaloa town and several places in
the Ampara district. More than ten thousand students from 52
schools in the Thirukkovil education zone, 78 kilometres south
of Batticaloa, marched and demonstrated Thursday against the
Angry protestors who came out in support of the students blocked
traffic on 34 kms of the main road on the island's southeast
coast by burning tires at key junctions between Neelavanai and
Akkaraipattu. The market and shops were closed in Kalmunai, the
main town of the region, 40 kilometres south of Batticaloa.
In one incident, STF troops driving an APC scattered a crowd and
then deliberately ran over thirty bicycles left behind by the
fleeing protestors, Ariyanayagam Chandrenehru, MP, told
journalists, adding he would raise the matter with the SLMM.
Amid a general hartal (shutdown) called by several civil society
groups, including the Eastern University Society (EUS), the
Batticaloa Students' Union and the Ceylon Tamil Teachers' Union
schools, government offices, shops and businesses in the
Batticaloa district and the Tamil region of the Amparai district
were closed Friday.