Prawn farm massacre

The Prawn farm massacre, also known as the 1987 Kokkadichcholai massacre, took place on January 27, 1987 in the village of Kokkadichcholai, Sri Lanka. At least 83 people who worked at the farm were killed. [cite news
last = Rajasingam
first = K. T
coauthors =
title = Sri Lanka: The untold Story, Chapter 33: India shows its hand
work = Asian Times
date = 2002-03-30
url = http://www.atimes.com/ind-pak/DC30Df04.html
accessdate = 2007-07-18
] cite journal
author = McConnell, D.
year = 2008
title = The Tamil people's right to self-determination
journal = Cambridge Review of International Affairs
volume = 21
issue = 1
pages = 59–76
url = http://www.informaworld.com/index/790622093.pdf
accessdate = 2008-03-25
doi = 10.1080/09557570701828592
] The Special Task Force, an elite special forces unit of the Sri Lanka Police specialising in counter-terrorist and counter-insurgency operations, is accused to have perpetrated the massacre.cite web
last = Hoole
first = Rajan
authorlink =
title = Kokkadichcholai massacre and after
publisher = University Teachers for Human Rights
date = 2002-05-14
url = http://www.uthr.org/Reports/Report8/chapter3.htm
accessdate = 2007-07-19
]

Background

As part of the ongoing Sri Lankan civil war, a shrimp culture farm was owned by Serendip Seafood Limited, a business located in Mahiladiththivu and owned by Hong Kong based American investors in conjunction with local partners was attacked and destroyed in 1987. It employed a large number of local workers.cite web
last = Gharavi
first = Hamid
authorlink =
title = Arbitration under Bilateral Investment Treaties, American Arbitration Association’s A.D.R.J. and Mealey’s Int. Arb. Report, May 1998
work =
publisher = Salans
date = 1998-05-01
url = http://www.salans.com/FileServer.aspx?oID=371&lID=0
format = PDF
accessdate = 2007-07-19
] One of the prominent local partners was Sam Tambimuttu, a lawyer and a member of the minor political party Eelam Peoples Liberation Front (EPRLF). He was also a member of parliament (MP).

At the time of the incident EPRLF was aligned with the government in its war against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) group. Eventually many members of the organization worked with the government as paramilitary support (see Razeek Group).

In the mid 1980s the company purchased land from local residents near the farm. It was believed that the price per acre was Rs 2500, though local residents allege that they received Rs 500 per acre as a consequence of Tambimuttu's mishandling of the money. The American partner, upon hearing the incident, ousted Sam from the partnership. Sam was deeply angered by this incident. Consequently, he told the Special Task Force that there was a connection between the prawn farm and the LTTE. Subsequently the Special Task Force raided the farm. However, they could not find any connection with the LTTE there. cite book
last = McGowan
first = William
authorlink =
title = Only Man Is Vile: The Tragedy of Sri Lanka
publisher = Farrar Straus & Giroux
date = 1992
pages = 243-244
isbn = 0374226520
]

Incident

Relatives of the victims claimed that on January 27, 1987, a number of helicopters circled the area. The military entered the village from Vellaveli, Kondavedduvan, Kaluvanchikudi and Kallandy camps in military trucks. At a nearby junction, a military vehicle was parked and the Special Task Force officers exited the vehicle and walked into the prawn farm. The Special Task Force gathered up the employees outside and checked their identity cards.

The employees were rounded up, herded onto a semi-trailer, taken to a road junction and shot dead. Seven of the victims were boys aged 12 to 14. Forty others who had sought refuge in the farm were also shot and killed. The bodies were later burnt on piles of old tyres obtained by the security forces from the town's bus depot.Citation
last1 =
last2 =
title = Military operations in the East
newspaper = The Island (Sri Lanka)
date = 1987-02-04
year = 1987
url =
]

The relatives of the victims alleged that STF personnel invaded a house near the farm, threatening the residents not to speak about the massacre or report it to anyone. The relatives further added that the bodies were put into a semi-trailer and driven out of town.cite book
last = Trawick
first = Margaret
authorlink =
title = Enemy Lines: Warfare, Childhood and Play in Batticaloa
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=bh6ezdXCLvMC&pg=PP1&dq=Enemy+Lines:+Warfare,+Childhood+and+Play+in+Batticaloa&sig=P321dsjCo_Y0rLU_AA_2xhX3ekw#PPA90,M1
accessdate = 2007-08-30
publisher = University of California Press
date = 2007
pages = Chapter 4
isbn = 0-52024-516-4
]

Reaction

The government denied the massacre at the farm, but the Managing Director of Serendip Seafood Limited, Mr. Victor Santhiapillai, who was a former Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (a United Nations body) and the company's former Manager and the present Consultant, Mr. Bruce Cyr (an American national) rebutted the government's denial and confirmed that the massacre did in fact took place.

They also contradicted the government's claim that those killed were either terrorists or that they died in the crossfire. Rejecting the government's Media Centre claim, the Managing Director, Mr. Santhiapillai, said, "I totally reject the Media Centre's charge that the 22 Serendib Sea foods staff members (plus 12 still missing) who were shot by the security forces were terrorists, The Centre must find some other more intelligent and plausible ways of handling such incidents."

ee also

Some notable massacres in the eastern province of Sri Lanka during the 1980s to late 1990s:
*Aranthalawa Massacre
*1990 Batticaloa massacre
*Eastern University massacre
*Gonagala massacre
*Gomarankadawala massacre
*Kallarawa massacre
*Kattankudi mosque massacre
*Kumarapuram massacre
*Mylanthanai massacre
*Tampalakamam massacre

References

External links

* [http://www.uthr.org/bulletins/bul44.htm Race for infamy in Northeast Sri Lanka]
* [http://www.c-r.org/our-work/accord/sri-lanka/chronology.php Chronology of events in Sri Lanka]
* [http://hrw.org/reports/pdfs/s/srilanka/srilanka925.pdf Human rights accountability in Sri Lanka - HRW]


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