Suresh’s Story

Having been rehabilitated, I currently work and live happily in my hometown with my wife and children. After witnessing my uncle getting shot dead by the Sri Lankan army, I joined LTTE at a young age. After joining LTTE, I was given training on the use of heavy artillery and subsequently rose to become a general of a battalion.

Betrayal reigned following the split up of the LTTE in 2004. I had to return to and stay in my home region of Eastern Province as a result of this split up. All my siblings are male. One became a martyr, having been a combatant himself. Another sibling used to be a member of a different armed group. As this internal division amongst the armed groups started to impact my family, I had to return to the North once again.

I was at a battlefield in Ananthapuram when the final phase of the armed conflict started in 2007. As a general, my focus was on safeguarding all cadres assigned under my command. One day in Ananthapuram, the Sri Lankan army besieged the battalion that I had been commanding. The injuries inflicted on the cadres during the attack looked as if they were caused by burns. They did not appear as if they were inflicted upon by ordinary weapons. I learned later that they were caused by prohibited weapons that we had not heard of before.

In pursuance of the direction issued to the effect of splitting up the cadres and sending them to different districts to reduce the casualties sustained during the final phase of the conflict, approximately 35 of us started to move towards Batticaloa town. While we were traversing through Mulliavalli, we were subjected to several attacks, as a result of which several cadres traveling with us were killed. As we reached the Mallaviyaru area, the cadre who had been guiding us died of a snake bite. Without a guide, we struggled to find the right path forward. We encountered another paramilitary force along the way and in the fight ensued, we lost the remaining cadres. Having been weakened numerically and physically, we retreated through the Punanai region and entered the Velikanthai area, upon which we got entangled inside territory controlled by the Sri Lankan army. At that moment, the Sri Lankan Red Cross reached the area in pursuit of the sudden information that they had received. The army, having arrested us, produced us before the Sri Lanka Red Cross at Valaichchenai Police Station. Following that, we were detained at Minneria Army Training Centre for three days for interrogations. A total of 14 persons, including me, were arrested. Of which, two were female cadres. I doubt if I would be alive had the Sri Lanka Red Cross not shown up on that fateful day.

At the Minneria Army Training Centre, we were detained and interrogated by the CID officers. We were then transferred to the ‘4th Floor’ for further interrogation. There, in the name of interrogation, we were subjected to torture and inhumane treatment. Present amongst those who carried out the ‘interrogation’ were some members of the LTTE who defected to the government side following LTTE’s internal split. There were approximately 800 detainees in the camp along with me. Some of those had been arrested in 1992. I visited them after I had been released from the rehabilitation center.

Having spent almost six months in detention on the ‘4th Floor’, I retained legal assistance with the help of my brother, as a result of which I was transferred to Varakkappola rehabilitation center. Although I live in my village, I am the first to be interrogated whenever a crime is committed in the area. Recently, I was arrested by the CID and held in detention for 15 days following a crime scene in the area. In detention, I was beaten up and tortured by the CID officers, who were in an inebriated state. Only now am I starting to feel the effects of the torture that I was subjected to. As a driver, the effects have made it painful for me to work continuously.

Be that as it may, I have never received aid reliefs such as housing and livelihood support from the Sri Lankan state to which I am entitled as a rehabilitated person. I have never willfully given my name or details for such assistance anywhere. I do not wish to live with any aid relief from the Sri Lankan state. It gives me solace to live my life on my own, with my own toil and transcending the many struggles.

See story in full in Tamil here and in Sinhala here.