Missing former LTTE member found dead in Jaffna, Tamil MP calls for ‘urgent investigation’

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Sri Lankan Tamil Parliamentarian Sivagnanam Shritharan urgently requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Michelle Bachelet to investigate the suspected abduction, torture and extra judicial killing of Former Senior Member of the LTTE Political Wing and the Development Officer of Kopai Divisional Secretariat Manikkam Jeyakumar. 

In a letter to the UN High Commissioner, MP Sivagnanam Shritharan explains: 

Background

Mr Manikkam Jeyakumar was born on 28th April 1970. He is originally from Jaffna and he entered the Jaffna University in 1990/1991 and competed his Undergraduate Degree (B Com) in 1994.

LTTE Profile

After completing his University Education, in 1994, Jeyakumar joined the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and allocated to the Political Wing of the LTTE. He was known by the pseudonym “Aathavan” in the LTTE and deployed as part of a special team to assist late Brigadier S P Tamil Selvan who was the former Head of the Political Wing of the LTTE. In 1995, following the Jaffna exodus, he moved to Vanni along with the LTTE and sent to the Imran Pandiyan Regiment for training. He received one-year special training at “Maran 1” training base in Visuvamadu under the supervision of late Brigadier Kaddafi. He was a very active and physically fit person. He has completed Brown Belt in Shotokan Marsal Arts Karate Self Defence Training and also a very good swimmer.

He also took part in the Mullaitivu battle as part of the logistical team. Since 1999, he was appointed as the Auditor of the Political Wing and later promoted as the Officer-In-Charge the Financial division of the LTTE Political Wing.

He was married whilst in the LTTE in Vanni and he has two children from his happy married life.

He served in the LTTE until the end of the war in May 2009 and joined his family after leaving the LTTE. His family and he was arrested by the Sri Lanka army on 18th May 2009 and taken to Vavuniya.

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Life After leading Vanni

Jeyakumar remained in an IDP camp without identifying him as an LTTE member and did not undergo Rehabilitation for the LTTE members. He was released a long the civilians and resettled in a town called Sandilippai with his family. As his family and he feared the consequences of dodging Rehabilitation, he remained a low profile and did not maintain contacts with many former LTTE members.

He started working as a Development Officer at the Kopai Division Secretariat and led a self-sufficient and reasonably happy life.

Reasons for the suspicion of his death

It was reported by his family that he went missing since left home at 6 am on 28th September 2021 for his usual exercises. A short notice was published by the SAMUGAM Media News Website with his photograph and contact details of the family;

கோப்பாய் பிரதேச செயலக அபிவிருத்தி உத்தியோகத்தரை காணவில்லை!

This was also reported in another Website called Thaarakam.com, however, later removed for some reasons which remain suspicious and unknown. This also contained an allegation that Jayakumar was receiving mental health treatments for the last 6 months.

https://www.thaarakam.com/news/b7c473d1-5cd2-49d0-89aa-a85e9374968b

No other major media bothered to report his missing and no NGO within Sri Lanka attempted to investigate this further.

The media report on his missing did not reveal anything about his past LTTE involvement at all. This is understandable as the family was in fear of the consequences and did not want to disclose it to the media at that time.

On 30th September 2021, some villages found his body in an abandoned well in another town called Navaali and called the Police. Some local media reporters also came to know and went to the spot. One of the freelance reports who went there found torture injuries and blood stains on the body. He managed to take some photos, but he was not allowed by the Police to go take close up photos. In any event, the photos taken by him from far does shows the injuries and blood on the body.

Unfortunately, the local media inadvertently or deliberately failed to report the actual facts of the incident and raise reasonable suspicions or concerns about this incident. Instead, they simply reported it as “Missing Development Officer found dead in a well”. Even after it was revealed that Jeyakumar was a former senior member of the LTTE, all of the medias deliberately omitted this very important fact and also attempted to mislead the public by spreading that he may have committed suicide due to his mental health issues.

The police started an investigation for eye wash and also called the coroner to examine the body. Without any serious investigations the coroner produced the report that failed to raise any concerns.

The Police, Corner and also Media has either missed out or deliberately omitted the following facts:

  1. Mr Jeyakumar is a former senior member of the LTTE. Even if he was not Rehabilitated and his family does not want to reveal this information due to fear of consequences, this was corroborated by many other former LTTE members. Omitting this very important fact, causes serious suspicion. Photographic evidence of of his LTTE membership are also available and the former LTTE members are willing to testify to confirm that he was a senior member of the LTTE.
  2. Close friends of Mr Jeyakumar confirm that he was a healthy man and did not suffer from any serious mental health issues. He has a good habit of waking up early, exercising and looking after himself. It is a matter of common sense that someone with serious mental health issues and at suicidal risk would be doing exercises at 6 am every morning. In addition, he would not be allowed to work as a Development Officer at a Divisional Secretariat if he had any mental health issues. These proves that the allegation of having mental health issue was something planted deliberately to mislead the investigations and make everyone assume that he committed suicide. His friends are prepared to testify to confirm this.
  3. Hisfriendsabroadalsoconfirmthathehasspokentohimaweekagoandhedidnot mention any health issues or family problems. Even when the friends offered to help him financially on many occasions, he always refused as he has sufficient income, and he was never in poverty. This confirms that there were no family issues or financial difficulties which could have made him to think of ending his life.
  4. Mr Jeyakumar was also a very good swimmer, and this is also confirmed by his close friends. There is no way he could down in an abandoned well which is not deep. His friends who were in the LTTE with him in the past are willing to testify on this.
  5. Mr Jeyakumar lives in Sandillippai and his body was found in Navaali. Both towns are almost 5.7 km away and it is not possible that he would have walked all the way to end his life. In particular, the abandoned well in Sandillippai is located in a very remote area and not known by many people. The villages also confirm this. There is no way Mr Jeyakumar would have known that well and chosen that well to end his life as he never lived in Sandillippai before.
  6. The freelance reporter who managed to go to the spot and took pictures confirms that he has seen injuries and blood stains. There is no way he could have sustained injuries to bleed if he drowned himself in water. There are no sharp objects in the well that could cause injuries. It is very strange that the Police and the local Media,

did not even utter a word about the injuries. Even the media for whom the freelance reporter supplied the information supressed the fact there were injuries seen on the body. The freelance reporter is willing to testify on this.

7. It is claimed that the family did not want to open any investigations and take this matter any further due to their own safety concerns. However, this is not verified as the family did not speak to anyone yet and there is no such statement exist from any family members. Even if they have made this statement, it is understandable that the family members either voluntarily due to fear or made to say this under threats and duress. Either way, it is not relevant, and the family consent is not needed at all for a murder investigation. This actually confirms that the purported statement from the family is being used to close this case without going for further investigations.

In light of the above facts and evidence, it is apparent that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that Mr Jeyakumar was either unlawfully arrested or abducted and arbitrarily detained in connection with his previous involvement with the LTTE. It is very likely that he must have been tortured in an attempt to extract information about the financial sources of the LTTE’s Political Wing. It is also very likely that he must have died due to the torture and the body was dumped in an abandoned well far from his home.

For the above reasons, this case needs to be urgently investigated. The consent of the family of Mr Jeyakumar is not relevant here as this case involves public interest.

Therefore, we all upon the relevant authorities, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, other Human Rights Organizations, Human Rights Defendants and Politicians to take the necessary and immediate action.

We also ask the Media to act reasonably by conducting their own investigations, verify the facts and revealing the necessary information in order to expose the truth, MP Shritharan said in that letter.

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