Why are western envoys & Indian NGOs worried about the Mannar grave excavations?
Construction work at the CWE location in Mannar in March 2018 resulted in the discovery of skeletons which triggered the involvement of a plethora of players & opened a pandora’s box of opportunities for many lying in wait for some story to justify their interference in Sri Lanka’s affairs. For everyone making something out of nothing is now part of the game. Without leaving the experts and giving them breathing space to determine the 3 types of skeletons that belong to 3 different time periods, many have already written the script to claim war crimes had been committed by Sri Lanka’s Army. The 323 skeletons belong to the 5th/6th century AD, the Dutch period and modern times. We don’t know how the skeletons are divided by the 3 periods but there is no requirement for any speculation as the experts are busy doing their job and we should let them complete their job. What good is the investigations going to do when every western envoy & foreign NGOs descend disturbing their work with their one-track questions?
Mannar Magistrate T G Prabakaran issued orders to investigate CWE premises owned by the Marketing Department following a complaint to the Mannar Police on 25 March 2018 after human bones were discovered while carrying out construction work. Excavation of site commenced on 16 May 2018 under a team comprising Chief Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) Mannar hospital Dr. Saminda Rajapaksa, Prof. Raj Somadeva (forensic archaeologist), officers of the Govt Analysts Dept, police, staff of Survey Dept and staff from Mannar Municipal Council. Police crime officers undertook photographic recording.
The skeletons belong to 3 different time zones.
- dating to 5th/6th century AD
- belonging to Dutch era
- belonging to modern period.
What can be ruled out is that it was no ritualistic burial.
Lets’ go a bit back in time about the history of this site.
- From 1944 to 1970 it was a cemetery.
- From 1970 to 1971 it was used by fishermen & carters as a place to relax
- From 1971 a shop called “Marketing Department” started. The shop closed in 1991.
- In 1991 People’s Bank in Sinnakadai area was shifted to present CWE location in Uppukulam in Mannar
- In 2011 CWE old building was renovated & re-established as SATHOSA in same location.
- On 25 March 2018 construction work for a new CWE building began when skeletons were found during construction.
Construction work at CWE site for new building
present CWE building
323 human skeletons were found of which 314 were removed (of which some were children, adolescents) & handed to the Mannar Court. Porcelain, ceramic & metal objects, jewellery probably worn by victims were also excavated. 6 bone fragments (including remains of femurs & teeth) were handed to the Beta Analytics in Florida, USA on 25 January 2019 for a carbon test.
Carbon dating to determine when the corpses were in fact buried will be followed by DNA of bones with families of missing in the North says OMP Chairman Saliya Pieris.
Let’s not forget that from the time of burial, a human body to reach skeleton stage it takes upto 12 years.
Taking part in this other than JMO Dr. Saminda Rajapakse was the Commissioner General of the Office of Missing Persons Mirak Raheem (one time head researcher of Pakiasothy Saravanamuthu’s Centre for Policy Alternatives & Board of Trustee of Neelam Tiruchelvan Trust) and strangely 2 lawyers V Niranjan (is this the same author of The Broken Covenant?) & Raneetha Mayuran were present on behalf of relatives of missing persons!
What is bizarre & puzzling is the reason for a stampede of international presence to Mannar by foreigners outside of their accepted protocol. The British political & human rights representative Grate Cruz, Germany envoy to Sri Lanka John Rohde, British High Commissioner’s Secretary Ravel Green, British Religious Affairs Officer Mohamed Shiyam, ICRC & UN officials, Jaffna University Medical Students, Canadian High Commissioner David McKinnon with head of the political affairs Mrs. Johns Mary. Sen Rood of the US embassy with translator Glanzis Cruz, representatives of “People’s Watch” in India (what business does an Indian NGO have here) and how could we not include the BBC’s C4 media team headed by Jonathan Miller! They must be all history & archaeological enthusiasts!
Canadian High commissioner to Sri Lanka David McKinnon (photo 1)
German Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mr. John Rohde. (photo 2)
Are the OMP present in whose interests?
If the OMP are so concerned about the missing and the families of missing it would be really nice to see them enthusiastically looking for the 5000 missing Sri Lankan Armed Forces personnel who all have names as well as the many missing people during JVP-UNP terror reign from mid 1980s to early 1990s.
To add to the excitement, the International LTTE network of terror sympathizers are claiming the recovered skeletons are of missing persons during the final phase of the conflict and their chorus comes just before an international human rights forum like the UNHRC sessions in Geneva.
Though the experts are not able to determine when the dead were buried the experts are able to determine that none of them were SHOT DEAD or even who the victims are!
While the victims were NOT SHOT – how they died has not been determined as yet.
Quite a lot of hanky panky has been happening too. Without leaving to the experts to carry out their investigations & deliberations quite a number of interferences have been taking place.
The diplomatic interference being one while all sorts of quacks have entered the scene. According to Daily News (22 Feb 2019) a group has been secretly collecting saliva & blood samples from 40 family members of missing in Mannar at the Mannar District Women’s Organization Office in Elutur assisted by its President Maha Lakshmi and sent to USA. As per the Daily News article those collecting the samples had been given special training in Guatemala. The unanswered question is – how legal is this & did they obtain legal permission for this and given that it has been reported in a state newspaper what are the authorities going to do about this Mannar District Women’s Organization & its President?
The Beta Analytic Institute, Florida USA carbon dating report for 5 samples out of 6 were handed over to the Mannar Magistrate’s Court by Specialist JMP Dr. Saminda Rajapakse. was to present its findings to the Mannar Court o 20th February 2019. However, Mannar Magistrate T Saravanarajah claims the court has not officially received the report.
Looks like we will have to wait a few more days to find out what the US carbon dating reports say & our only hope is that these reports will be revealed in its original state as sent and no politicization of the report would occur.
Shenali D Waduge