9th Anniversary of STF killing of Trincomalee students
Dr Kasippillai Manoharan and four other families will be commemorating the nineth anniversary of the murder of their sons extra-judicially executed by the Special Task force (STF) of the Sri Lanka Government on the 2nd January 2006. The high school students, all then nearly 20-years old, were spending an afternoon at a seafront in Trincomalee when the allegedly planned crime took place. Dr Manoharan told TamilNet that the STF officers Kapila Jayasekera and Vas Perera, part of the STF contingent sent to Trincomalee on the orders of the Defence Secretary and President’s sibling, Gothabaya Rajapakse, and Udawatte Weerakody, a naval officer, were the key players in the planning and execution of the murders.
Another key player in the massacre is alleged to be the Sinhala extremist and former DIG, H. Kotagadeniya, now reported to be residing in the U.S.
As part of the war-crimes investigation being carried out by the UNHCR, Dr Manoharan provided witness statement to the UN investigation committee on his son’s murder.
While the Sri Lanka Government promises to take action in international human rights fora when the the Trincomalee-murder is brought up for discussion, observers note no movement in the investigations related to the massacre, or in the judicial proceeding languishing in Trincomalee courts (DR-11/1-2006).
Speaking March 15, 2013, before the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report on Sri Lanka was adopted, Dr Manoharan demanded justice for his son’s murder. Sri Lankan Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe who spoke later, asked why no one is speaking about the LTTE and instead targeting only the Sri Lankan government. Samarasinghe told the forum that the Colombo is investigating the incident and it needs time and space. Samarasinghe added that following the recommendations of the LLRC, the Attorney-General reviewed the cases relating to the five students and has directed the Police to commence Non-Summary Judicial proceedings.
Dr Manoharan says, Colombo is only interested in deflecting international attention when needed, and has no intention of punishing the culprits. "Culpability goes up the the Presidential sibling, Gothabaya Rajapakse," Dr Manoharan adds.
The STF team was sent to Trincomalee with the approval of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse before Christmas 2005, and Kotagadeniya was acting as an advisor to the Defence Ministry in Police matters. "Judging by events there is hardly any doubt that the attack on the students in a public place was conceived as teaching the Tamils a lesson…If not the details, the general form of the atrocity was planned at the highest level," the Rights organization UTHR concluded in its investigations. (UTHR, 1/2/10, pg. 14)
A commission of inquiry was established in November 2006 to investigate the incident along with 11 other deaths. However, the commission report, delivered directly to the Sri Lanka’s President, was never made public.
No thorough investigation has ever been conducted and no one has been brought to justice for Ragihar’s murder, according to Amnesty’s report.
In a classified memo written by US’s Sri Lanka Ambassador Robert Blake in October 2006 to Washington, ten months after the extra-judicial execution of five students, Basil Rajapakse, another Presidential sibling, had told Ambassador Blake that Special Task Force (STF) was responsible for the killings, according a Wikileaks document.
The names and the dates of birth of the five students killed at the big harbor town are: (i) Manoharan Ragihar, DoB 22.09.1985, (ii) Yogarajah Hemachchandra, DoB 04.03.1985, (iii) Logitharajah Rohan, DoB 07.04.1985, (iv) Thangathurai Sivanantha, DoB 06.04.1985, and (v) Shanmugarajah Gajendran, DoB 16.09.1985.