Karuna Amman was born in 1966 in Kiran, a village in the district of Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. He was the special Commander of the Tamil Tigers in the eastern districts of Batticaloa-Amparai. He held the number two position in the Tamil Tigers hierarchy.
Karuna Amman provoked a split from the Tamil Tigers in March 2004 and became commander of an armed faction known under the name of Karuna. Karuna Amman is said to have justified this split due to the absence of any consideration on the part of the Tamil Tigers for the interests of the Tamils in the east. On their side, the Tamil Tigers alleged that the real reason for the scission prepared by Karuna Amman was based on the allegations of corruption and violations of the Tamil Tiger’s code of conduct.
The Karuna faction wielded authority in the south-east of Sri Lanka and was said to have a force of some one hundred men. The faction reportedly led attacks against the Tamil Tigers. Some sources put forward that the Sri Lankan government most likely armed, sheltered and supported the Karuna faction in its armed struggle against the Tamil Tigers. This scission in 2004 is notably credited with having contributed to the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in the east of Sri Lanka.
In 2004, Karuna Amman founded the political wing of the faction as a political party better known under the name of the Tamil Peoples Liberation Tigers (TMVPA).
According to a report by the Human Rights Watch organisation, Colonel Karuna and his men allegedly committed human rights violations with the complicity of the Sri Lankan government.
As special Commander of the Tamil Tigers in the eastern district of Batticaloa-Amparai in 1990, Karuna Amman allegedly committed human rights violations. Some 400-600 non armed police officers, who at the time had surrendered to the Tamil Tigers were said to have been massacred in the district under the control of Karuna Amman. Colonel Karuna is also accused of involvement in other massacres which took place in this district. In July 1990, Karuna forces allegedly halted a convoy of Muslims crossing through the Batticaloa district, and executed 75 of them, including women and children. In August 1990, the Karuna forces allegedly executed more than 200 civilians in two incidents- known as the Kattankudy and Erovar massacres-which occurred in the Batticaloa district.
The organisation, Reporters without Borders alleged that Karuna Amman also executed local journalists opposed to the Tamil Tigers. Karuna Amman and his men have also been accused by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Human Rights Watch of recruiting children and of going to the houses of Tamil families to enforce the enrolment of young children in the rebellion. Families which held back were reportedly harassed and threatened and their children kidnapped.
Under the command of Karuna Amman, the Karuna faction also reportedly committed human rights violations and was implicated in enforced disappearances of civilians in the Jaffa peninsula. In particular, according to a report by Amnesty International, faction members were said to have taken part in the execution of civilians. In addition, the faction allegedly went ahead with the abduction of children, particularly in the eastern districts, with the intent to forcefully enroll them in the faction.
Karuna Amman repeatedly denied these allegations in various reported interviews, and pointed the finger at the Tamil Tigers who, according to him, were trying to throw discredit on his party.
Karuna Amman reportedly left Sri Lanka clandestinely due to internal disputes and charges of financial wrongdoings being leveled against him by the faction. Karuna Amman was said to have benefitted from a de facto amnesty from the Sri Lankan government.
Karuna Amman was arrested in London on 2 November 2007.
Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.