Appeal to the Commission on Investigation to probe the rape and murder of a young mother in Mannar
Attn: Mr. S.D Piyadasa - Secretary to the Commission on Investigation (appointed to probe the incidents of grave human rights violations)
Appeal to the Commission on Investigation
On June 08th 2006, Mary Madeleine (age 27), her husband Moorthy Martin (age 38), son Dilakshan (age 7) and daughter Lakshika (age 9) were brutally tortured and murdered in their home in Vankalai- Mannar. Mary Madeleine and her daughter were raped and stabbed in their chests and vaginal area. Madeleine and her family had fled Sri Lanka and lived as refugees in India for many years. They returned in 2004 when there was some hope for peace and settled down in Vankalai only to be killed in this despicable manner.
Neighbors saw three Sri Lanka military personnel near their house around the time of murder but, while the soldiers have acknowledged that they were there carrying out a routine check up, the then Mannar army commanding officer ruled out any possibility of his men being involved in these murders. The family members of Mary Madeleine who came forward to testify at the court were summoned often to the police station and retained for long hours without any explanation. Journalists and civilians who took photographs of the scene have been arrested and detained till they produced the film rolls. Military also continuously visited Vankalai village after this incident and humiliated Mary Madeleine’s neighbours and relatives and inquired about witnesses’ whereabouts and details. At the end, when an identification parade was held on 23rd of June 2006 none of the witnesses who previously testified were present at the court hearing (ref: Case no. MC Mannar 203/06).
In this context, we would like to highlight similar previous incidents in Mannar, including the rapes of Ehambaram Nanthakumar Wijakala and Sinnathamby Sivamani, by members of the Mannar police’s Counter-Subversive Unit, on 19th March 2001. Wijakala was pregnant at the time of the rape and Sivamani, mother of three children, had her younger son witnessing the cruel sexual assault committed on her while she was under police custody. Despite threats to their lives, both these courageous women filed fundamental rights cases for unlawful arrest and detention and custodial rape. They identified three police officers and nine navy personnel as the perpetrators of these crimes. The accused, who were transferred from Mannar after the incidents, filed a petition requesting the transfer of their cases to Anuradhapura due to alleged threats against their lives. Since then both victims and their family members underwent continuous harassment at the hand of the military and repeatedly received death threats. The case dragged on for over four years, in the course of which Wijakala has gone missing and Sivamani received many threats to the effect that she will be killed if she comes to Anuradhapura for the court hearings. The case was listed to be heard in Anuradhapura High Court on September 21, 2005 but both the victims did not turn up.
We, the Mannar women, are calling on the newly appointed Commission of Investigation to include the Mary Madeleine family rape and murder case, which falls within the stipulated period (June 8th 2006), in their investigation.
We believe that a fair hearing and proficient judgment on this case will break the silence of many women who have suffered and borne the scars of brutal crimes of the war in the last two decades. We firmly believe that the proceeding of this case can bring about much needed witnesses and a victims protection mechanism that will open space for victims to access the judicial system locally and internationally.
Mannar Women for Human Rights and Democracy