The K Point alias the Eliyakanda Torture Chamber
Posted on March 3rd, 2017
Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge
In 1988 the JVP launched its 2nd insurrection against President Premadasa’s regime. The rebels and the security forces were responsible for gross violation of human rights during this period. The JVP insurrection claimed more than 60,000 lives. A large number of youth were arrested in connection with anti-government activities. The suspects were kept in numerous detention centers.
Eliyakanda camp (in Matara District) became one of the detention centers and it was well-known for its inhuman handling of the detainees. It was also known as the K (killing) point. Mr. Rohitha Munasinge’s book titled ‘Eliyakanda wada kandawura (Eliyakanda Torture Camp the Killing Point) published in 2000’ gives firsthand narration of torturing methods and merciless behaviour of the K point guards. Mr. Rohitha Munasinge who was a detainee in this center underwent torture and also witnessed horrific events. He is now living in France.
According to Rohitha Munasinge the guards of the K point unleashed extreme brutality on the suspects. They used sledge hammers to beat prisoners. When a prisoner was hit on the head with a sledge hammer he falls down and then goes in to seizure with violent body movements says Rohitha Munasinge who witnessed such events. For sadistic amusement the guards named two of such sledge hammers as ‘Loku Molaya’ (Large Brain) and ‘Podi Molaya’ (Small Brain). If a detainee was found with a relatively minor offence he was hit with the small brain or the small sledge hammer on the occipital region of the skull. For a big offence they used Large Brain or the big sledge hammer to hit on the parietal region of the skull. When a victim falls and starts convulsions the guards became very excited and gathered to observe it. They called it ‘break dance’.
The inmates were kept for long hours without giving water. When they were given food the detainees had to eat everything within ten seconds. If any food were remained on the plate after the 10th second the victims were beaten with clubs.
The Guards of the K Point
The K point guards were under educated youth who joined the Army low ranks during the height of the Eelam War. In 1989 the JVP issued an announcement to the armed forces members to resign from the military and they further said that those who disobey the order would suffer heavily. Several family members of the soldiers were killed after this notification and the soldiers became extremely hostile towards the rebels. They hated the JVP suspects and tortured them repeatedly.
Mr. Rohitha Munasinge says that many of the K-Point guards sexually molested the under aged suspects mostly the school boys those who were arrested for pasting JVP posters. Some guards openly talked about their atrocious acts and killings and boasted in front of others. However he describes on one remarkable guard who was kind to the prisoners. He had a minor disability in his right arm following a burn injury and he was less cruel to the suspects. When he was on guard he allowed the prisoners to have their meals without pressing for time. Once another guard tried to torture the prisoners unnecessarily he became so annoyed and pointed his gun at him. But on one occasion when he saw prisoners were talking to each other disobeying orders he became angry and flogged the prisoners with his leather belt.
According to another detainee there was a senior K –Point guard who was fond of cutting throats of the prisoners with a sharp razor blade. Often he behaved like a savage and inflicted pain on prisoners. When he was in a joyful mood he used to play music and dance.
The K Point Guard Who Suffered from Malignant PTSD
Private xx2 worked as a guard at the K -Point during the 88/89 insurrection period. He used to physically beat the inmates, used to burn them with lighted cigarettes, pushed the genitals of the victims inside the drawer of a table then close the drawer causing them enormous pain, and sometimes conducted executions. He worked in the K -Point for about a year and half then got a transfer.
From 1992- 1993 his mental health started fading. He could hear the voices of his victims, their shouting in pain. Private xx2 had intense rage and as a result of repeated physical abuse, his wife and children left him. Several times, he tried to commit suicide. In 2002, he was diagnosed with PTSD after a series of psychological assessments and detailed clinical interviews.
Private xx2 had intrusions, nightmares, phobias, ideas of reference, hallucinations and various other trauma related symptoms. He was severely abusing alcohol in order to forget the events that occurred at the K -Point. His recollections of the K -Point concurred with many descriptions given in the book ‘Eliyakanda Wada Kandawura (The Eliyakand Torture Camp)’ by Mr. Rohitha Munasinge. When Private xx2 was asked the color of the double cab vehicle in which they disposed dead bodies he gave the correct answer. This yellow color vehicle was vividly described in the book by the author.
The story of Private xx2 and his brutal experience as a guard at the K -Point recounts that the torture is a doubled edged sword that can harm not only the victims but the perpetrators too.