COLOMBO: A series of mysterious deaths reportedly occurring among former Tamil Tiger cadres who had been rehabilitated and released into society is creating unease in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province.
According to the Tamil media, 105 former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have so far died mysteriously, allegedly after being injected with a drug when they were undergoing post-war ‘rehabilitation’ in Sri Lankan army run camps.
The deaths, allegedly due to poisoning, came to light when an ex-cadre reportedly told the Sri Lankan government’s ethnic reconciliation committee at a recent sitting in Oddusuddan, that he had been injected with a drug which has disabled him. He told the committee that while in the LTTE he could carry heavy weights and run, but now he finds it difficult to lift even 10 kg. Other ex-cadres had also been given mysterious injections, he said.
With the media reporting 105 deaths, some due to cancer, T.Ravikaran, Northern Provincial Council (NPC) member for Mullaitivu district, and former Tamil National Alliance MP, Suresh Pramachandran demanded that all the ex-cadres who had undergone rehabilitation be examined by a team of foreign doctors as Sri Lankan government doctors could be biased.
“Members of the ex-cadres families are very apprehensive since the news came out. I have therefore decided to move a resolution on this issue at the NPC on August 9. I spoke to Chief Minister Wigneswaran about this and he said he would also place some facts before the Council.
The provincial Health Minister Dr.Sathyalingam has promised to get the ex-cadres medically examined. The Sri Lankan Health Minister Dr.Rajitha Senaratne told the media that the Health Ministry is ready to conduct a health survey of the ex-cadres. But military spokesman Brig.Jayanath Jayaweera trashed the story that the ex-cadres were administered a poisonous drug during the rehabilitation process.
A leader of the TNA told Express that since nobody has an authentic figure of deaths nor information about the cause of deaths, the party is investigating.
“We do not want to comment on it without having the facts. In a few days we may be able to say something based on facts. We cannot automatically accept any figure that may be touted now,” the leader said.
The only authentic case of an ex-cadre dying of a disease got during rehabilitation is that of the LTTE’s political wing leader, Thamilini. She was diagnosed as a cancer victim while she was in a rehabilitation camp and was treated at the government cancer hospital at Maharagama. But despite the best efforts of her Sinhalese doctors, she died. She acknowledged the service rendered by these doctors in her posthumously published Tamil biography, Oru Koovaalin Nizhalil (In The Shadow Of A Sharp Sword).