COLOMBO : Sri Lankan authorities are to dig up the site of a suspected mass grave next week after claims it contains the bodies of scores of Muslims killed by Tamil rebels 24 years ago, police said Tuesday.
The move comes amid criticism that Sri Lankan authorities have been turning a blind eye to recent attacks against Muslims carried out by Buddhist militants. At least four Muslims were killed and hundreds of homes destroyed in rioting last week at two southern resort towns. ‘The site will be exhumed on July 1,’ a police statement said adding that security has been tightened in the area ahead of the exhumation. ‘According to the complainant, the bodies of nearly 100 Muslims killed by the Tigers are buried there.’
The announcement came the day after a judge ordered the dig to be carried out following a complaint from a local resident that nearly 100 Muslims were killed by Tamil Tiger rebels in the east coast town of Kalavanchikudy in 1990 before then being buried on the beach.
Sri Lanka’s 37-year civil war, which ended in 2009, mainly pitted the majority ethnic Sinhalese, who are Buddhists, against the minority Tamils, who are mainly Hindus and live in the north. The Muslim community, which accounts for around 10 percent of the island’s population and is concentrated in the east, largely avoided being caught up in the fighting.
But there have been allegations that the Tigers carried out several massacres of Muslims in the east as part of their push to create a separate Tamil homeland. Several mass graves have been found in Sri Lanka since the end of the conflict, mainly inside the former war zone but also in areas which were largely unaffected by the conflict which claimed around 100,000 lives. Sri Lanka’s government, whose troops are accused of the mass killing of civilians in the latter stages of the war, has been heavily criticised for failing to prevent last week’s anti-Muslim riots.