“They killed my son”

Dr Kasippillai Manoharan calls on Sri Lanka’s authorities to tell the truth about what happened to his son. ©Amnesty International

Dr Manoharan recalls the day when his son was gunned down by Sri Lanka’s security forces

The last time I heard from my son, Ragihar, was a mobile phone text message. It just said: “DAD”. That was 2 January 2006. He had been on the beach with four of his friends in Trincomalee,Sri Lanka, near our home.

That day, I heard a bomb blast near the beach. Two of my sons got back immediately. Ragihar did not.

 Within minutes of the explosion, I got a call from him. “Daddy,” he said, “the forces are around me.” He meant the security forces. That was all he said. After that, I got the text – my last contact with my son.

I rushed to the scene, but the navy guards there said: “No, you can’t go through at the moment.” They purposefully turned the lights off under the Gandhi statue, where my son and his friends had been sitting. And then I heard voices crying in Tamil: “Help us! Help us!” 

I kept arguing with the guards to let me in. Suddenly, gunfire flared by the Gandhi statue. Later, they said: “Five civilians are dead and two are injured.” I was in total shock.

 Gunshot wounds

The Gandhi statue in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, where Ragihar was killed. ©Amnesty International

I visited the mortuary. When I opened the door, the first body I saw was my son’s. He had five gunshot wounds. While I was there, a police officer demanded that I sign a statement saying that my son belonged to the Tamil Tigers, the armed group fighting for independence in Sri Lanka. He told me if I did this, they would release his body immediately.

I refused. I told him that my son is not a Tamil Tiger. He is a sports person, a table tennis player and coach – he coaches police officers and children. He is a chess player, a student, a good boy.

The government claimed that my son and his friends were killed in a grenade attack. But three of the boys had head wounds – all of them shot through the back of the head. I have photographs, and the doctor’s report confirms this. The entry hole was small, and the exit wound was big. That shows they shot Ragihar at very close range.

Challenging the authorities

That night, I took a decision. I would challenge the authorities, no matter what. I was the first to give evidence in my son’s case in Sri Lanka. I said it was clear to me thatSri Lanka’s Special Task Forces had killed my son.

From the moment I spoke out, I received death threats. My sons were threatened. My lawyer, too. The journalist Mr Sugirdharajan who came with me to the mortuary and took photos and video was shot dead a few weeks later. His photos disproved the army’s claim that the students were killed by a grenade explosion. A Buddhist priest who publicly condemned Ragihar’s murder was also killed. This shows how far the authorities were willing to go to hide the truth about what they had done to my son. It was too dangerous for my family to stay inSri Lanka, so we left in December 2006.

Since then, my wife and I have been fighting for an international investigation into our son’s killing. It has been seven years. We lost our family, friends, medical practice, property. My wife cries every day in front of Ragihar’s photograph.

My call to you

Witnesses reported that Ragihar Manoharan was shot dead by Sri Lankan security forces on 2 January 2006. ©Amnesty International

In September, I will be going to the UN in Geneva. There, I will hand over a petition demanding that the Sri Lankan government release its 2006 Presidential Commission report into “16 serious human rights violations”. One of those 16 violations is the killing of the “Trinco-5” – as my son and his friends are now known.

I gave evidence to the Commission in that case. I have a right to know what is in that report. I believe it will reveal the names of my son’s killers and expose what really happened.

Before Ragihar died, he cried out to me for help. This is my call to you. Please sign this petition and share it and our story with as many of your friends as you can. The more people sign, the more people I have standing beside me. And the more people beside me, the stronger and louder our call for justice for Ragihar’s killing. When justice is served – when Sri Lanka finally tells the truth about what happened to my son – then we can say that Ragihar’s call for help has finally been heard.

Act now

Sign our petition calling for human rights progress inSri Lanka, including the release of the report that will expose the truth about what happened to Ragihar.

Posted in Sri Lanka | Tagged , , , , , | 28 Comments

  1. Junghan Park says:

    Expose the truth!! God watches all the people.

  2. tishay nayak says:

    We demad justice.. May god bless your sons soul..

  3. Anis K says:

    Need very badly “Justice”

  4. Gamini. A says:

    AS A FATHER I FEEL THE PAIN IN YOUR HEART. AND YES ,YOU NEED A JUSTICE AND TO KNOW WHO ARE THE KILLERS OF YOUR SON.

  5. Thiru siva says:

    Justice Should be prevail!
    The perpetrators including the Pres Pakse family should be tried and punished.

  6. Liam McClintock says:

    The international community will not stand for cover-ups. If nations wish to emerge from isolation, they must be open and honest.

    • puniselva says:

      The Commonwealth refuse to shift the venue of CHOGM2013 out of Sri Lanka and thus refuse to ”isolate” Sri Lanka. No CHOGs except Canadian Prime Minister have raised their voice against the crimes that continue to be committed by Sri Lanka.

  7. Raju says:

    At the height of terrorism where your son had been. You are talking about a bomb blast but do not give any casualties. Killing in any way is pathetic. But LTTE is to blame for the mayhem we faced not the GOSL.

    • Gayle Johnson says:

      Raju,

      The focus is on his son’s killing, my God, have a heart.

      Stop politicizing , all he wants are answers and accountability. No matter who is responsible !

      Shame on you!

    • A. S says:

      wow, yet again the world sees how u Sinhalese try to cover up the genocide by pulling in the LTTE into this.. YES the LTTE have committed crimes, but this father is talking about the brutal death of his son, due to the govt…
      One thing you should realise is the fact that the so called “rebel/terrorist” group is long gone… but the govt which has commited war crimes is STILL functioning..should we not do something about that?

      • Paul says:

        we feel for Dr.Manoharan.
        but what if all fathers who lost their innocent sons in bus bombs, those who even couldn’t give a call and say that suicide bomber is around, start blogging like this?

    • puniselva says:

      Raju
      You seem to be ignorant of post-independence oppression of ethnic minorities from 1948 till today: look at what Sinhalese told LLRC: successive governments are the terrorists who created LTTE terrorism. Nobody denies the violence of the armed struggle to get justice.

  8. kali says:

    Dr.Manohran,

    I share your pain at the loss of your son. But if it is any comfort to you Sri Lankan history is lettered with
    inhumanity towards the Minority Tamil Community. The death of your son although it was a personal tragedy was milder in its nature and brutality compared to treatment meted out to Krishanthi and her family and I hope that you have the courage to face the future.
    Not withstanding your own personal tragedy there are also so many Sinhalese families who are grieving for their loved ones and my heart goes out to them and without wishing to justify the actions of LTTE , our struggle was a reaction to an action which if the Sinhalese politicians had the vision could have averted and avoided.
    I hope at last justice will be done in your case and you can bring a closure to the suffering.

    • Fonz says:

      Let me qualify what you stated. The Sri Lankan history is NOT specifically littered with inhumanity towards the minority Tamil community. Sri Lankan history is littered with suppression of basic rights, inhumnaity , devaluing of life and degrading punishment with regard to anyone who opposed the Government militarily and of late anyone who opposed the Government in any form. Today anyone belonging to any race and creed other than a Sinhala Buddhist is relegated as a second class citizen. Example, JVPers wre killed, journalists have been killed, Chrsitian churches and mosques attacked. I disagree with your reference to Tamils as “minority Tamil Community”. This is factually incorrect. All Tamils are Sri Lankans. Sri Lankans are the majority. Being Tamil, Muslim or Chrsitian is subdividing the majority , viz Sri Lankans. In that case, I am fair skinned, then I should fall into a minority too. At what point are we going to stop this minority business. The majority Sri Lankans should stand up against the people who are attacking their fellow citizens on the basis of race, religeon or cast. Hierarchically, being Sri Lankan should have priority over other sub-divisions.

  9. S.D. Dharmasena- Los Angles says:

    Dr.Manoharan I strongly condemned security forces barbaric action. Those responsible for killing of your son
    should be punished.My mother too was killed by LTTE when she was worshiping the sacred SRIMAHABODHI at Anuradhapura. There were nearly 150 people were killed that day by LTTE. Killing of this way either by security forces or LTTE should be condemned by all right thinking people.

    • kali says:

      S D ,

      I have already addressed this very issue above and you have my sympathies and hope you find time and space to erase this memory and move on. You might forget but not forgive which is understandable.

  10. Dave says:

    This issue was in height of war. the helpless civilian that we know now , is a hardcore terrorist when he pulls out a grenade in a few seconds. this was reality. if you son was an innocent civilian our prayers are with you. you say ‘ [ From the moment I spoke out, I received death threats. My sons were threatened. My lawyer, too. The journalist Mr Sugirdharajan who came with me to the mortuary and took photos and video was shot dead a few weeks later. His photos disproved the army’s claim that the students were killed by a grenade explosion.'] if you ever spoke against the LTTE you would never live another day after 2nd January 2006. we too have lost so many loved ones with bodies blown apart when the LTTE went on rampage using suicide bombers on civilians.. but there was no Amnesty intl or other NGO’s to at least pray with us. The LTTE slaughtered so many innocent civilians at Kent and Dollar farms just using machetes and swords. even pregnant mothers had their bellies cut open. a whole busload of Buddhist monks on pilgrimage was shot in cold blood. and so many more …..IF AMNESTY INTL HONESTLY WANTS TO HELP THE INNOCENT WITH JUSTICE ..THEY WILL NEED ONE HELL OF AN ARMY. [I THINK WHICH WHY THEY ONLY HAVE A CHOSEN FEW]

  11. Gayle Johnson says:

    Dr. Manohran,

    I will never forget our meeting in NYC at the Amnesty office : your story was heartbreaking.

    I would have thought there would have been some accountability by now, unfortunately there is not. I do pray that you and others get the action you so rightfully deserve.

  12. roshan Liyanage says:

    i am so sorry he was killed like this. I believe he was innocent Tamil boy .i apologize the family on behalf of all good Sinhalese people i know.i know many of us feel the same.

  13. Dr.Sivasambu Anandaraja says:

    Dr. Manoharan,
    As parents nay as human beings our hearts go out to you. We wish you success in your endeavours in Geneva.

  14. Neelam says:

    Justice should prevail! Heartfelt condolences!

  15. Kushal says:

    Killing of innocent civilians is a heinous offence. Even if the government troops had killed them by mistake, they should apologize and the truth must come out. It is the responsibility of every government to protect its people, and that’s for the security forces are. I don’t know the details there, but this story is shocking. There should be independent investigations.

  16. mubashiru somuyiwa says:

    Justice must be done pls accept my sympathy

  17. A. S says:

    I hope your son rests in peace :(
    Another classic example of the ethnic cleansing carried out by the SL Govt…

  18. Ram says:

    I take my hat off to you Dr Manoharan. You are not just fighting for you son, infact, you are fighting for all parents whose children were brutally murdered by the GoSL.
    The International community is partly to blame for giving support to this muderous regime during the war and continue to support this regime.
    NO MATTER WHAT JUSTICE MUST BE DONE. I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT YOUR HARD WORK AND PRAYERS WILL BE ANSWERED SHORTLY.
    Keep it up. Fight for every mother and father. GOOD LUCK. Every human being should pray for JUSTICE.

  19. Davis Kandiah says:

    There is no words to describe the fathers pain & agony, International Court must step in and deal it.

    Davis.

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