sKumuthini is the name of the passenger ferry between the island of Delft and Punguduthivu, via Nainathivu. On the 15th May 1985, Sri Lankan Navy personnel stopped her at mid-sea, and the government Navy personnel bludgeoned and cut to death all her passengers, including women and children.

Excerpt from Letter from Secretary General, Amnesty International to Sri Lanka President J.R.Jayawardene, 7 June 1985

In respect of the allegations that navy personnel may have been responsible for the killings of unarmed Tamil passengers travelling on 15 May on a ferry boat between Delft and Nainativu, I would like to draw your attention to the account, which Amnesty International received after writing to His Excellency the President, of a survivor who gave details of how the killings took place and identified one of those participating in the killings as belonging to the Nainativu Island Naval Camp. According to this account:

“We boarded the government launch “Kumudini” at about 7.45 a.m. on 15 May 1985………..

On the said day when the boat had proceeded towards Nainativu Island for about half an hour, it was ordered stopped by some men who came in a fibre glass boat. About six men boarded “Kumudini” while about two remained in the fibre glass boat which they tied on to “Kumudini”. The six men who boarded “Kumudini” had rifles as are carried by naval and army personnel. All of them were dressed variously in blue longs or shorts and T-shirts. However, the blue longs and shorts worn by them made me realise that these men were navy personnel.

All the passengers and crew were ordered to enter the forepart of the boat and ordered below deck there, leaving the aft section and the driving cabin completely free. All the pasenqers thus forced into the aft section were made to repeatedly shout out their names, status, locality and where bound to. One man pointing out a gun shouted out such an order in broken Tamil. If anybody lowered his voice the man would threaten to shoot him unless he raised his voice. As the passengers were made to shout in this manner, one from the crowd of passengers was called at a time and led into the aft section.

I nor the others in the fore section knew what was happening to each person who was led away in this manner owing to the din created by the forced shouting of passengers. After about 12 persons had been called into the aft section in this manner we heard the report of a gun and I saw a body falling overboard and being washed alongside the boat. I was able to see this as I was standing………..

When it came to my turn I went towards the aft section. On approaching it I saw blood all over and the cut pieces of human bodies. At this juncture I shouted and refused to move. I was then hit on the head and I fell. I felt that I was dragged and cut on my head by some kind of a hatchet. I received further injuries on my stomach and legs and fell between the boards of the bottom of the boat. I pretended to be dead and lay there. I felt further bodies falling over mine and the cries of distress of men and women.

About 45 minutes later I heard the fibre glass boat being started and going away…… Of the men who were engaged in this attack I was able to identify one of them as a navy personnel whom I have seen in the said area and is from Nainativu Island Naval Camp.”