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Home > International Tamil Conferences on Tamil Eelam Freedom Struggle > Peace with Justice, Australia > Yalppanam in War 1983-1996

International Conference on the Conflict in Sri Lanka:
Peace with Justice, Canberra, Australia, 1996

Yalppanam (Jaffna)  in War 1983 - 1996

Professor Peter Schalk

Professor Schalk is from the Department of History of Religion in the Uppsala University in Sweden. He has contributed to the quest of peaceful resolution of the Sri Lankan national conflict by participating in and organising many international seminars and conferences over the years.

Ilam war I-III

Yalppanam (Jaffna) has been in war (armed conflict) continuously from 1983. Journalists usually distinguish between Ilam war I lasting from 1983-1990, Ilam warII lasting from 1990-1994 [1] and Ilam war III lasting from 1995-. Just now, facing the military taking over of Yalppanam by the Lankan armed forces from December 1995, we have a peak, not an end, of the Ilam war III. Several hundred thousand refugees are now concentrated to Valikamam and Vanni in the north [2]. That war can be followed on Internet at the following sites:]

INCORE web-server at http://www.incore.ulst.ac.uk/ INCORE is the joint INitiative on COnflict Resolution and Ethnicity of the United Nations University and the University of Ulster. This server does not give news, but it gives connections to news' sources.

[email protected], moderate discussion, information, Tamil interest. Membership required that can be obtained free of charge. Most Ilavar discuss in between themselves having different views on the armed struggle.

A parallel to the Tamil Circle above is the Sri Lankan Forum that reflects Lankan interests mainly, at http://www.lacnet.org/slnet/forum/

[email protected], editor of the University Teachers of Human Rights' bulletin on e-mail. You may request subscription and backnumbers from professor Jivan Hoole. This bulletin criticises both the LTTE and the government, but mostly the LTTE. It is regarded as defending Lankan interests by the Ilavar.

[email protected], Lankan interest, but also international news agencies on Lanka, inclusive of Voice of America. Membership required that can be obtained free of charge.

[email protected] sends regularly LTTE press releases. This is an important source for balancing the Lankan interest sources.

Those who can read Tamil can get daily reports by the LTTE, about two pages, at http://www.powertech.no/~jeyaramk/tenews/

An important source in English by the LTTE is monthly journal INSIDE REPORT that also appears on the same address as the Tamil LTTE reports; http://www.powertech.no/~jeyaramk/insrep/

The Government interest is reflected in the daily journal The Daily News and the weekly Sunday Observer that can be visited at http:/www.lanka.net

The Lankan side is also represented in The Sunday Times at http:/www.lacnet.org/suntimes/this/frontm.html

India's reporting on the war can be followed in detail by visiting the daily Madras journal THE HINDU at http://www.webpage.com/hindu/index.html

The interest of civilian Ilavar is reflected in the homepage of the Citizens Committee of Yalppanam (Jaffna). The Citizens Committee is led by the Vice-Chancellor of Yalppanappalkalaikkalakam (Jaffna University). The site has important reports about the situation of civilians in Yalppanam. See also the homepage for the University.

The interest of the University of Yalppanam is reflected at Yalppana ppalkalaikkalakam  This university is moved to Kilinocci on the Vanni to avoid confrontations with the army. Important reports from the university about the situation of civilians are at this site. In May 1996, Uppsala University will issue the following book: P. Schalk, Academic Exchange between Yalppanappalkalaikkalakam (Jaffna University) and Uppsala University. Uppsala Studies in the History of Religions. Vol 3, 1996. Uppsala: Department for the History of Religions, 1996. Orders can be put to [email protected] .

A homepage reflecting the position of the Ilavar is http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~janahan/tamil.html This homepage has many links to other homepages reflecting the interest of Ilavar. There is also many articles reflecting their stand. There are also important reports about refugees in Yalppanam today.

A homepage following the successive political positions of the Government is http://www.slembassay.org This is the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington that takes a central position in diffusing information from the Government to the West. It publishes also important documents, like the documents for the devolution package.

A special homepage is http://www.tamil.org that calls itself World Tamil Web. It contains links to news from the island, LTTE news, Government news, news from India about the island, news by agencies like the BBC, Reuter, Voice of America, etc. It has also a lot of information about the island that one can reach by a search machine.

On the armed conflict in Lanka

The conflict in Lanka is sometimes conceptualised by political scientists and human rights activists as a typical ethnic conflict that polarises three ethnic groups.[3] A numerically dominant majority, the Sinhalese, stands against a numerically subordinate minority, the Tamils. The Muslims, having emerged as a third group in the conflict, [4] have tried to take an independent position. Although the mother tongue of the majority of the Lankan Muslims is Tamil, they try to establish themselves as a separate ethnic group on the basis of religion. This group demands the right of self-administration in certain areas, especially in parts of the East. The consciousness of all ethnic groups is structured by incompatible political claims for territory,

On one side there are the Ilavar, ie. those who demanded reforms for the northeast from 1920-1983, and having got very little, then some of them demanded land., either to form a separate state, a confederation, or a federative state. An Ila-v-an (plurIla-v-ar) is one who yearns fro a Tamililam. An anglicised form of this word with a clear pejorative connotation is Ilamist. It is equal to terrorist. The Tamil term Ilavan, is a self-designation, a honorificum, like black that became beautiful in the civil rights movement in the USA.

The land of the Ilavar is called (Tamil) Ilam. Ilam is the Tamil name of Lanka in pre-Pallava and post-Pallava Tamil sources from South India [5]. Tamililam consists of the Tamil speaking parts of Ilam. in the political conceptualisation of the Ilavar, the island consists of two nation states, of the de facto state Tamililam and of the de jure state Sri Lanka. Sometimes commentators of the conflict speak of Ilam only, meaning Tamililam. This usage creates confusion for a historically conscious person

The political centre of the Ilavar is Yalppanam, but the projected future capital of the Tamililam is Tirukkonamalai (Trincomalee).

Most of the Ilavar are Tamils, i.e. Tamil speaking people. These are mostly Hindu Tamilar, but there are also Christian Tamilar, and Muslims (who do not count themselves as Tamilar, although they speak Tamil). It is possible even for a Sinhala person or a Westerner to be an Ilavan, if he speaks or fights for Tamililam. To be an Ilavan is mainly a political concept. Sinhalese persons being friendly towards an Ilavar, are usually blamed to be Ilamists by extremist Lankans, and members of Western NGOs, who want to give humanitarian aid to Ilavar, are also sometimes blamed to be Ilamists. There is one political party in Colombo consisting dominantly of Sinhalese, the Nava Sama Samaja Party NSSP, that fights for the right of self-determination for the Ilavar [6].

The demands of the Ilavar are primarily territoral. The quest for reforms was given up and replaced by the quest for land. The demands oscillate between a separate state and something less than a separate state, but what exactly this is, is unclear. Clear is only what the LTTE has put down in writing in official statements and that is nothing less than a separate state. Other former Ilavar groups TULF, EPRLF, PLOTE, TELO, EROS have accepted a federal set-up after 1987 [7].

On the other side, there are extremist Lankan who refuse and still and still refuse to initiate even reforms because they cannot accept the Ilavar have been discriminated [8] and moderate Lankans who initiated reforms and a certain degree of devolution of power, but refused and refused to acknowledge Ilavar's right for independent self-administration [9] A Lankan is a person who defends the unitarian (centralised) or the unitarian (decentralised) state of Sri Lanka [10]. The unitarian concept is usually related to a concept of Sinhala-only, a concept of a homogenous Sinhala culture all over the country. A united concept is at present usually related to a concept of multi-ethnicity, but what connects both is it's aversion towards federalism, confederalism and separatism. the bottom line goes for the united concept above federalism, at the level of devolution of power of some degree to districts, provinces or regions. the present Government promotes a united concept and has chosen the expression union of regions as a future characterisation for Sri Lanka in its proposal for devolution of power [11]

A Lankan is a person who defines himself as a Lankan. By doing so, he expresses the idea of a unitarian or united state of Sri Lanka. Most Lankans are Sinhala speaking persons who are Buddhist, but the concept of a Lankan is primarily a territorial concept, like Tamililam. The passports of the Ilavar classify even them as Lankans as long as there is no de jure state Tamililam.

In July 1983, nation-wide anti-Ilavar programs made clear to the Ilavar that they face annihilation [12] Many Tamils who have defined themselves as Lankans became Ilavar at that moment. They realised that Colombo, Kandy and other cities are not safe for them. Only the de facto state of Tamililam was [13] in August 1983 also, all demands for a separate state was declared unconstitutional by the introduction of the 6th amendment to the Constitution. This was the start of organised armed conflict between the two political formations, the Ilavar and the Lankans. July-August 1983, was then a definite turning point the island was de facto- not yet de jure- divided into Ilavar and Lankans in the mind of detached observers in and outside the island [14].

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that sees itself as a representative for all Ilavar, wants to achieve control over well-defined territory in the North and East, defend it from claims from outside, create material welfare and cultural homogeneity on the basis of language, territory and history, but not on the basis of religion. The LTTE projects a Tamil linguistic secular nation-state like the TULF in its resolution [15] and manifesto [16]. That state has no place for Sinhala settlements that are part of a colonisation program initiated and supported by the administration in Colombo. The LTTE has, however, not opposed to individual Sinhala settlers in Tamil areas in a situation of peace [17].

The constitution of this projected state of Tamililam is still not yet published and a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) has not yet been declared, although many symbols of an independent state have bees displayed. The most evident is that of producing a national flag by making the tiger flag of the Tamililam in November 1992.

The political type and structure of this state are then yet unknown. Only vague, fragmentary and contradicting speculations about the nature of this state are known. Some few projections by the LTTE can be given.

This state's borders have been drawn and published many times by the LTTE taking over the drawn map of the TULF from 1976-77. Tamililam is expected to be a secular state that sometimes gets the multivocal attributes democratic and socialist [18]. It echoes not only the Vattukottai resolution of the TULF from 15th May 1976 [19] and the manifesto of the TULF from 1977 [20] but also the official attributes of the state of Sri Lanka [21]

The LTTE has an unshakeable self-confidence in its military strength, but there is no economic surplus relating to the infrastructure projects and long-range economic investments and expenditures for various social and cultural needs in the projected Tamil state. there is now an intensive research going on by an organisation first called ROOT, now TEEDOR, how to increase the economic basis, but as long as the war is going on, there is no surplus available. This is a weak point in the process os state formation led by the LTTE, it forces the LTTE to tolerate a Government Agent (GA) on its controlled territory. He brings all the schools, the university, and hospitals [22]. Still, in area controlled by the LTTE, there then is a double administration. It seems to be odd that a government supports economically institutions controlled by a separatist movement, but the alternative for the Government is Independence (UDI) of Tamililam by the LTTE. It would have nothing to lose and all to win in such a situation [23]. Even if this situation became real, another obstacle for declaring an UDI would remain. Very few states, if any at all, would recognise the state of Tamililam under the administration of the LTTE.

The Government of Jayawardhanapura completely denies that Tamils have any right of self-determination and to stipulate the concept of a homeland. The former President Wijetunga has also made clear in 1994 that he does not acknowledge the concept of an ethnic conflict. The existing conflict is, according to him, that between a terrorist group in the North and a legal Government in the South. According to him, the Tamils have no separate consciousness, but have the consciousness of belonging to the unitarian state of Sri Lanka. They are like vines around the stem. They are then not a separate ethnic group and therefore there cannot be any ethnic conflict [24]. The Buddhist sanga in a recent official statement also declares that the Tamils have no grievances [25] This denial of the concept of an ethnic conflict criminalises the LTTE and makes negotiations difficult. It is combined with the quest for a military solution that the present Government under President Chandrika-Kumaranatunga- Bandranayaka has made effective in 1995-96.

The Indian Government fears the well-known separatist movements in South India co-ordinate their struggle with the LTTE to form a new Tamil state. Its operative names depending on the applied perspective are either Greater Tamil Natu or Greater Tamililam. There is, however, no official document of the LTTE in which such a state is promoted, on the contrary, what can be documented is that the Tamililam is projected as an independent state [26].

From a historical point of view, the conflict arose in the 1920s, when the Lankan movement for independence from Colonial British administration projected visions of a free Ceylon [27]. The Lankans and Ilavar already the formed different political bodies with different visions of a free Ceylon. Communalism, projecting and exploiting ethnic categories, started then. The Nationalistic Lankans built up a Sinhala consciousness by reviving selectively historical traditions. The Ilavar feared discrimination from the Lankans and developed in the 1920s the word and the concept of Tamililam as autonomous, but not yet sovereign area for the Tamils [28]. It is therefore not anachronistic to speak about Ilavar and Lankans from the 1920s. The Ilavar also reacted to the selective revival of history by the Lankans. The Ilavar used the name weapon. They revived traditions of an independent Tamil Kingdom in the North from 13th to 17th century. It plays an enormous role in the Vittukottai resolution of the TULF in 1976 and in the manifesto of the TULF in 1977 [29].

A projected Tamil nation-state that was to be sovereign, represented a serious challenge to the Sri Lankan unitarian state from about 1976-77. Then, even the Tamil allegedly pacifist Gandhian party in Parliament, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), demanded a separate state. Ten points of discrimination were enumerated and it's resolution [30] and these were summarised in its election program as reasons and motivations for demanding a separate state [31].

Still in 1991, Neville Jayaweera, former Government Agent in Yalppanam, ex-ambassador of Lanka in Stockholm, describes Sri Lanka as a hegemonistic society [32]. He has the experience of an insider of Sinhala administration and has contributed to make diplomats and donors of foreign aid understand the real nature of Sinhala political praxis. His frank book on Sri Lanka as a hegemonistic society is spread world-wide. The present author has tried to describe the society as a dharmacratic society to indicate the importance of strands of Buddhism as an ideology of political power of mono-cultural nation state [33].

The constitutions of Sri Lanka from 1972 onwards that have been defended by successive Sinhala Governments, are unitarian (centralised) in their character. Sri Lanka is said to be one although there are several minorities that are recognised. In the Constitution, in the articles 9 and 18, Buddhism is classified as taking the foremost position and Sinhala as the only official language respectively. There is an inclusive, but subordinative hierarchical view of the relationship of the Sinhalese in relation to the minorities. The constitution, especially articles 9 and 18, have been used, above all by the Buddhist sangha, to rationalise discriminatory practises, especially in the field of education and settlement. Additionally, the dominating ideology among Sinhala intellectuals called jatika cintanaya, national ideology, rationalises this hierarchical conceptualisation of human relations by references to racial myths and by references to the Constitution.

Changes proposed in this Constitution under the pressure of foreign donors and human rights organisations do not, however, even touch the seemingly untouchable articles 9 and 18 [34]. These articles are on the Constitutional level the main obstacles to peace [35]. The 13th amendment to the Constitution enforced by Indian pressure in 1987 that makes Tamil an official language, and the proposal of the present Government under Chandrika Kumaranatunga-Bandaranayaka, is just an anomaly within the totality of the Constitution as long as section 18 is not eliminated. Section 9, the other stumble block to peace, has never even been touched. The present Government has even perpetuated it in its present proposal for devolution of power [36]. A secular Constitution cannot be thought of in Sri Lanka.

The conflict is regionalistic within the SAARC-area in the sense that India's security interests were threatened by some features of the Sri Lankan Government's Foreign policy and by an alleged synchronised separatism of Tamil Natu with some Ilattamils represented by the LTTE. On the other hand, the Indian Government has actively supported armed Tamil groups from Ilam to 1987 and has intervened Military in the conflict 1987-90. the conflict is not internationalised. That makes the conflict not very interesting to donor agencies, NGOs, human rights organisations, churches and tourist agencies.

The conflict between the Government in Jayawardhanapura and the LTTE in Yalppanam has shifted back and forth from being a low intensity war to a high intensity war. Individuals sufferings on all sides is immeasurable. The Government has lost many young soldiers. The LTTE is approaching the number 8000 in the beginning of 1996 [37], out of which many were young women who died in the act of killing on the battle field. According to Government sources, the LTTE had lost 500 terrorists who have been killed by the Sri Lankan armed forces during the first three months of 1996 [38].

The suffering and sacrifices of human lives to create Tamililam has been immense, but those who engaged themselves in armed struggle found it worthwhile to suffer and die punita ilatciyam holy aim, as the LTTE says. The situation has in the middle of 1996 reached a level of two alternatives only, either victory or defeat. a victory for the Tamils in the form of unilateral declaration of independence would imply the establishment of a permanent martial society that for decades ahead. It will have fight against the Sinhala state along its new borders. A military defeat for the Ilavar would generate guerrilla war fare for decades. A negotiated settlement with or with out foreign mediation that enforces compromises on both sides is out of the question now and in the near future: both sides have far from exhausted their martial resources in arms and man power. All available alternatives give them no hope for the soon appearance of a civil society.

The civil victims

Ilam war I and II are documented well with the Citizens Committee of Yalppanam, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (Jaffna Branch), by the Jaffna diocesan Human Development Centre in Bishop's House, by the council of Ten Non- government Organisations, Jaffna District, and by the reports of the GA and the Government of Sri Lanka. Then, there are the daily news in four newspapers being issued in Yalppanam. Very well informed is also the European NGO forum on Sri Lanka with its centre in London. There is also the very qualified reports by the ICRC that, however, cannot be used as source material in publications because these reports are classified as confidential, and so are the reports by embassies stationed in Colombo.

Finally, there are the daily reports by the LTTE called Vitutalaip pulikalin tolaipe cicceeytittokuppu, >>Compilation of telephone news by the Liberation Tigers<<. They balance the reports by the Government of Sri Lanka. They are very detailed in their original written form being about 1-3 pages in Tamil, describing every day what is going on in Yalppanam concerning military activities and civil life. They are sent to special places in the West and reach a selected public with only a few hours delay from the time of sending, and they are base of all information that comes form the LTTE offices in exile to the Western world. Extracts from them are distributed as telephone reports by LTTE offices in the West. These reports have of course to be used with the same restriction and openness as the reports by the Government. Putting all these sources together, it is possible to write a detailed war history of Yalppanam.

There has been made an attempt already to present a war history with special emphasis on the destruction of civil life in Yalppanam. It exists only as a photostatcopy and is not printed or published in present shape. Its title is Assessment of War Damage to the City of Yalppanam and is a report commissioned by Municipal Commissioner, Yalppanam Municipal council. It was completed in November 1991 and covers therefore only part of the period in question. The authors of the Assessment....describe partly the same incidents of destruction as the Citizens Committee.

Another important attempt to describe the destruction of civil life in Sri Lanka. Economic Blockade by Mayan Vije from 1993, published by the TIC in London. it covers the whole period relevant here from 1990-92.

Civil life during the time in the early 1980s, before the Tamil migrations and destruction caused by the wars, is well documented in a flood of scientific publications that, however, only seldom reach the West. I wish to mention the Statistics of Jaffna District prepared by the Department of Geography, University of Yalppanam in 1983. Important also is Jaffna District in Facts and Figures by professor Po. Palacuntarapillai and Ka. Rupamurtti. Facts from these publications are a good base for a diachronical description of the war history of Yalppanam.


Two references to the word Yalppanam in daily usage is quite clear. Yalppanam refers to the Yalppanam city proper and to the peninsula comprising the administrative unit called Yalppanam district.

Yalppanam district is almost identical with the Yalppanam peninsula covering an area of about 1036.8 sq. kms. The district administration is run by the district secretariat headed by a Government Agent (GA) who has to follow instructions by Colombo. The district is divided into 13 subunits called Assistant Government Agent Divisions (AGA divisions).

In 1981, the census of population counted 738 791 in Yalppanam district with a population density of 712 persons per sq. km. The sex ratio was slightly in favour of females.

About 85% of the population of the district belonged to Hinduism. The majority of all Hindus are Saivas. The rest are Vaisnavas. There were also Roman Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and some few Buddhists.

Of the working population in the district about 35% were engaged in agriculture and fisheries, 28% in production related industries, 21.1% in sales, 9.6% were professionals, 7.2% were clericals and 4.9% in services. Only about 9.9% of the labour force are females.

There were 14 737 public sector employees and 7 137 coperation sector employees in the Yalppanam district. It derived a great proportion of its income from people employed abroad, tertiary occupation and this is followed by agriculture.

The climate is hot and humid with temperatures ranging from 26 to 30oC.

The present district cover 25% arable land, 14% tree crops, 21% buildings and roads and 16.5% were under shrubs. About 22% of the district was defined as marginal land.

In Yalppanam district, agriculture was the major occupation of the people out of the total land area of 95 069 hectares. 26, 000 or 27.55% were under permanent Cultivation of other field crops took up 6500 hectares. Fruits took up 2219 hectares, tubers and yams 1770 hectares, and tree crops 1600 hectares.

Yalppanam produced the largest amount of onion and chilly in the whole island.

Paddy cultivation depends entirely on rain and not on irrigation.

Yalppanam district (including Killinocci) counted for 25% of the island's fish production. 12 000 fisherman operated in 5300 boats. Ocean fishing predominated the fishing industry in Yalppanam district and lagoon fishing is done in various places. The highest fish production of 41 000 tonnes was recorded in 1982. A fraction of this catch was consumed locally and the balance was transported to Colombo and other areas in the south for distribution. A small portion of the catch was also sun dried and distributed outside Yalppanam. Large quantity of prawn, beach-de-mer, chank and shark fin was exported to foreign countries that brought in a good amount of foreign exchange. Fish Production would have earned a minimum of Rs. 400 million a year for the district.

The district as lime stone, silica and coral as mineral resource. Manufacture of cement at Kankeecanturai was the largest industry in the district. Cement, abestos, sheets, kitchen utensils from aluminium and glass products were some of the industrial products distributed to other parts of the country.

In 1982 there were 6,671,236 palmyral palms in the district.

There were 566 schools in the district (including Killinocci), mostly Government schools. University of Yalppanam, founded in 1974, provided degree courses in Medicine, Arts and Science. There are other technical colleges providing courses in Agriculture and Technology.

In the district were 27 hospitals and 23 other health institutions providing health services to the people.

There were 24 Post Offices and 101 sub-post offices in the district.

There were 5 banks with 25 branches operating in the district. Before 1983, Yalppanam was a well functioning provincial district.


In connection with the anti-Tamil pogroms in the South in July 1983, there was an inflow of people to the district looking for protection. From 1984 out-migration became, however, important by people who had to look for security, for maintenance and education in other areas of the island or abroad. Intra-district movements of people have taken place in a large scale and the shifting of people from the coastal area. A large number of refugees from the islands have come to the peninsula. An estimation from 1992 gives 1.5 million people residing in and around Yalppanam city. All these migrations and the destruction connected with it, is a result of the civil war between the Government and the LTTE.

A number of important building in Yalppanam city and other towns were destroyed totally or partly even before the start of the second Ilam war in June 1990. in and around Yalppanam city the following must be mentioned:

On 30th March 1987 Air Force bombers dropped bombs on wards 19 and 20 of Jaffna General Hospital. The roofs of the building have been marked with huge Red cross signs, but these were used as targets. Eight patients were killed.

The destruction during the 1980s was extensive of important institutions like Jaffna Modern Market Complex, Jaffna Post Office, Jaffna Railway Station, National Savings Bank, Main Street, Our Lady of Refugee Church, Police Station Cluster, Telecommunication Exchange, Trimmer Hall, Vannai Civan Kovil on Kankecanturaiviti, (KKS Road), Yal Potu Nulakam, (Yalppanam Public Library), and Yal Mavatta Talaimaypitam (Jaffna District Head Quaters).

A group of the Sri Lanka Forces had in 1987 succeeded in moving into the unused Telecommunication building. That had been completed in the early 1980s but had been damaged by machine gun fire and shelling. The LTTE attacked this building. It took a severe pounding with heavy damage to the structure.. The electronic exchange equipment housed in the building was destroyed.


On January 16, 1986, the Government declared that within the area of one km of ever camp, there is a security zone for the Sri Lankan soldiers. Within that zone the SLF is allowed to use heavy weapons including mortars. Within the security zone of the Kottai Yalppanam were living 52 000 Tamil civilians. There were situated eight hospitals including the General hospital, nine schools, markets, the Secretariat Municipal Council Building, the main bus stand, temples churches, 2120 shops and 2681 residential houses. The were all sitting ducks for the mortarfire from inside the Kottai. The terror of the civilians went on till India interfered in May 1987 stopping the Vattamaracci offensive led by Lalith Athulatmutali, minister in the Government.

Indian Forces came to Yalppanam in accordance with the agreement signed by Rajiv Gandhi and J R Jayawardhanain July 1987. The people of Yalppanam were relieved first. Sandbags were removed, bunkers were closed up, people returned to their houses and minor repairs and reconstruction commenced.

The so called Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) suddenly turned into an enemy of the people n October 1987, when the LTTE first promised to lay down arms, but later refused to do it. The IPKF saw its aim to disarm the LTTE, but threw their full force against the populace of Yalppanam, especially in the period 10, October, 1987, to the end of 1987. The most important battles against the LTTE took place during that short period, but the struggle continued on a lower scale with ambushed on Indian soldiers and reppaisals against civilians. Yalppanam was compared to Belfast. In the Kottai were now placed Sri Lankan and Indian soldiers. The latter remained there till April 1990 when they were replaced by Sri Lankan soldiers.

The atrocities done by the IPKF to the civil population are well documented by International Human Rights' organisations. What is important also is that the IPKF lost totally confidence by the population and brought the civilians closer to the LTTE. The Tamil ally of the IPKF, the ERPLF, lost totally ground in Yalppanam after the IPKF had withdrawn form Yalppanam in May 1990. Now the LTTE had to face one enemy only, the contingent of Sinhala soldiers in the Kottai in the very centre of Yalppanam.

It is impossible to say who, the LTTE or the Government Forces, actually initiates a military activity, and who retaliates. The LTTE usually attacked army camps with the purpose of eliminating a military stronghold of the enemy, to prevent him from advancing or just to conquer arms for further struggle. The Government Forces attack the LTTE when establishing or defending Army camps and when advancing. The Government attacked, however, not only LTTE fighters, but also civil targets. This is continuously and regularly done and defended by saying that civilians are supportive of the LTTE. To stop the support of the LTTE, Government forces attack civilians. These became than victims of the war.


A garrison of about 240 Sinhala policemen and soldiers was caught in the Kottai having been surrounded by the LTTE since June 11, 1990. It could not fight its way out. The Government warned by leaflets the civil population to clear out on June 24, 1990. It had decided on using air power to try to destroy Tiger positions so that troops could move out of the Kottai. The bombings started on June 25. the densely populated urban areas around the Kottai were mainly residential. People from the Old Dutch Quarter and the Central Town area, Kottai, Vannarpannai and the immediate coastal settlement of Kurunakar and Pacayur moved out immediately.

As the armed conflict in June 1990 showed no sign of abating, still more town residents moved out. Shopkeepers in the central town area loaded their stocks into lorries and moved to area subject to less attacks. It was a mass exodus out of the city leaving it a ghost town, except for a few. Leaving a house also meant it was easy prey for robbers and looters who were not averse to moving whole doors and windows, not to mention furniture!

In connection with the struggle in and around the Kottai in August 1990, all available arms were used leading to further destruction of Yalppanam city that became exposed to the following attacks:

1. by the Sri Lanka Air Force that dropped bombs with twin engined Sia Marchetti bombers by diving on their targets,

2. by troop carriers (Avros and Chinese built Y-12s) that were used as bombers to drop barrels filled with 300kg of explosives and bombed indiscriminately,

3. by two stage artillery shells that were fired from the army camp at Palali,

4. by Sri Lankan Navy gun boats that launched shells from the seaside,

5. by two stage artillery shells were fired from a garrison at Mantaivu,

6. by heavy machine-gun fire and shelling that came from the Kottai,

7. by machine-gun firing, rocket mortar, grenades and shells that were shot from helicopters.

The following public constructions were hit or hit again during this struggle for the Kottai. 1. Modern Market, 2. Railway Station, 3. Old Post Office,

4. Telecommunication Buildings, 5. Public Library, 6. Kankecanturaiviti, 7. Kottai,

8. Grand Bazaar, 9. Old Dutch area, 10. Small Bazaar, 11. coastal areas of Gurunakar, Pacayur and Navanturai, 12. Jaffna General Hospital, 13. Yal Manakara Capai, (Jaffna Municipal Council at Nallur), and 14. power station at Cunnakam.

Even after the battle of Kottai, the attacks by the LTTE and the Government continued and led to further destruction. For Yalppanam city, there exists a summary of the damage up to October 1991.

Summary of damage to Yalppanam city up to October 1991 expressed in numbers

Residence-houses 7832
Commercial buildings 997
Religious buildings 45
Industrial buildings 53
Public-Government buildings 54
Educational buildings 37
Municipal buildings 26
Electricity 102 km cable, 3000 service connection
Roads 56 km
Vehicles 37 cars, 177 bicycles
Livestock 1628 cows, 2055 goats, 31236 poultry
Fishing equipment 842 boats, 829 nets
Machinery 256
Movable items 17 369
Deaths 167
Handicapped 33
Injured 205

An estimation has been done of the costs to replace the damage caused to the city of Yalppanam. The reconstruction of Yalppanam city alone will cost Rs. 4,014,688,468. To this we have to add all the costs for the damages caused to the Yalppanam after October 1991.

Total cost in Rs. (4,014,688,468) of replacing damage caused to the city of Yalppanam only

Fishing sector 399 914 625
Health sector 17 066 480
Public Services sector 1 998 350 000
Public Transportation sector 382 440 000
Municipality 321 000 000
Education sector 266 741 750
Industrial sector 3 712 840
Commercial sector 114 836 945
Private residences 425 639 822
Religious buildings 1 005 429
Co-operative Societies 1 969 725
Banking sector 12 945 181
Damage in AGA Division, Yalppanam 29 147 120
Damage in AGA Division, Nallur 16 986 251
Loss of income from farming 22 933 200

All the islands around Yalppanam, the passage at Anaiyiravu (Elephant Pass), and Palali airport in the North were in 1992 occupied by Sri Lankan Forces in part, and they encircled the peninsula. The only possible, but also illegal passage for civilians to go to Killinocci on the mainland, was in 1992 through the lagoon at Kilali. That is a name of a village on the southern part of the peninsula. Anaiyiravu (Elephant Pass) and the Cankupittippatai (Sangupitty jetty) at the Punakari were closed at this stage.


The visitor in Yalppanam will soon observe a semantic gliding regarding the word normalcy. When prevailsnormalcy in Yalppanam? the answer is that normalcy prevails when only about five civilians are killed or wounded per day by the Sri Lankan Forces, and same limited property is destroyed. Many a-normal days of up to 30 killings or wounded of civilians have raised the threshold for normalcy. There are although a-normal days when nobody is killed or injured. This semantic gliding of the concept of normalcy has been enforced -not introduced- since the beginning of the second Ilam war in June 1990.

The point is that persons killed could be anybody because these persons are all killed or wounded by random shelling, bombing or random shooting from helicopters in acts of revenge by the Government Forces. They need not kill hundreds because the terror created by killing five, who could be anybody is immense. Their death has no strategic value. it is then mere terror killing to make the civilians disloyal towards the LTTE. Time for terror-cum-revenge killing of civilians is at any time, because the attacks of the LTTE directed against a camp or a person are at any time.

Let us look at some normal days in the beginning of March 1991. On the 2nd March 1991, the Minister of Defence, Ranjan Wijeratne, was killed in Colombo, allegedly by the LTTE. In Yalppanam district the following happened.

On 3 March nothing happened. It was a day of loading-up to take revenge on the Minister getting killed. It was an a-normal day in that sense, but the balance was established and nemesis came on the following day.

On 4 March the Sri Lankan Air Force planes started bombing Yalppanam from early morning indiscrimanently over purely residential areas. At least 23 persons died. Among them was a 64 year old man, his wife aged 53 and his daughter aged 22 when a bomb hit their house Ariyalai. Two women were injured at this attack at the same place.

At Kontavil, a father with his three children died, when the house was hit by a bomb. In another place in Kontavil, five more people were killed by bombs.

At Cunnakam five people were killed on the spot and seven others were seriously injured at a bomb attack.

At Tontamannar, when members of a family were assembled for a religious ceremony connected with the death of a member of the family, bombers dropped a bomb on the house killing five persons on the spot and injuring three others.

The Air Force dropped bombs on the islands also. At Velanai an elderly man was killed and another injured.

On March 5, the air planes attacked the Nallur kovil and killed an elderly woman. The same happened in Kompayanmanal. At Kokkuvil, a man was killed in a bomb attack. At Muracumottai and elderly woman was killed and six others injured. At Urkavarrurai, two adults and three children were injured.

On March 6, there was firing from naval boats at Valvettitturai. One fisherman was killed, two were injured and four were arrested.

On March 7, two people died, and eight were injured in a bomb attack in Kokkuvil.

We could go on like this day for day, but this is hardly necessary to understand the background of the semantic gliding of the concept of normalcy. That changed concept of normalcy implies that the acceptance of an endurance in suffering exemplified by fear, starvation, and encounter of death and violence. Fatalism becomes the normal reflection on and evaluation of life. There is also the intensive feeling of being abandoned by the world.

Selection of recent works on the emancipation of Ilavar

Hellman-Rajanayagam, Dagmar, The Tamil Tigers. Armed Struggle for Identity. Stuttgart:Franz Steiner Verlag, 1994.

Hoping Against Hope. Appeals for Help to the President of Sri Lanka, and other dignitires by the Citizens Committee, Yalppanam (Jaffna), Sri Lanka, 1990-92. With a Preface, and Introduction, and an Index, by Peter Schalk. Edited and Published by Peter Schalk. Uppsala:Peter Schalk, 1994. 82 pages.

TheLankan Tamils Ethnicity and Indentity. Ed. by C Manogaran and B Pfaffenberger. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994. 247 pages.

A. J, Wilson, The Break-Up of Sri Lanka. The Sinhalese- Tamil conflict. London: C. Hurst & Company, 1988.


1 For the suffering of the civilians and destruction of Yalppanam during Ilam war II see Hoping against Hope. Appeals for Help to the president of Sri Lanka, and other Dignitraies by the Citizens Committee, Yalppanam (Jaffna), Sri Lanka, 1990-1992. With a Preface, and Introduction, and an Index by Peter Schalk. Edited and published by Peter Schalk. Uppsala: Peter Schalk, 1994. 181 pages.

2 For the situation of the refugees on both sides see R Hensman, Journey without a Destination. Is there a Solution for Sri Lankan Refugees?. London: The Refugee Council. no year of issue. 65 pages. The most elaborate information is given by The British Refugee Coucil in it's journal Sri Lanka Monitor.

3 See for example the title (and content) of the following book" A J Wilson. The Break-Up`of Sri Lanka. The Sinhalese-Tamil Conflict. London: C Hurst & Company, 1988. 240 pages.

4 The following works on the Sri Lankan Mislims with a historical approach are important. V Mohan, Muslims in Sri Lanka. Jaipur: Aalekh Publishers, 1985. 108 pages. Muslims of Sri Lanka. Avenues to Antiquity. Ed. M. A. M. Shukri, Beruwala: Jamiah Naleema Inst. 1986. 494 pages. M N M Kamil Asad, The Muslims of Sri Lanka under British Rule. New Delhi: Navrang, 1993. 166 pages.

5 See for example Akananuru 88 Kuruntokai 343, Narrinai 88, 366.

6 "Text of the speech delivered by Comrade V Thirunavukkarasu at the 1st Congress of the United Communist Party of India at Guntur, Andhra pradesh from april 25 to 29, 1992". Nava Samasamaja News Letter. Vol 14, 3, 1992, p. 11: " On the Tamil national question the NSSP stands uncompomisingly for the right of the Tamil speaking people to self-determination and regional automy on the basis of complete equality and liberty". this does not mean that the NSSP is pro-LTTE, on the contrary.

7 Their stand is summarised in D. Hellmann-Rajanyagam, The Tamil Tigers. Armed Struggle for Identity. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag: pp. 142-146.

8 Among them is the Buddhist Sangha and Sinhala extremist groups. A typical document called "The Mahasangha and Devolution for this stand is issued by the Australian Centre for Sri Lankan Unity (ACSLU) in April 1996, published over SLNET Forum 4.4.96, vol 196 N, http://www.lacnet.org/slnet/forum/ .

9 This is the stand of the present Government as documented in Legal Text of Devolution Proposals of the Government of Sri Lanka. The text (no pagination) is available at the website of the Sri lankan Embassy in Washington: http://www.slembassy.org

10 See P. Schalk, `Unity and Soverignty'. Key Concepts of Militant Buddist Organisation in the Present Conflict in Sri Lanka". Temenos, vol 24, 1988, pp. 56-87.

11 Legal Text ....(no pagination).

12 V. A. Leary, Ethnic Conflict and Violence in Sri Lanka. Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka in July-August 1981 on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists. International Commission of Jurists. Geneva: International Commission of Jurists, 1983. 109 pages. pp. 102-105.

13 Leary, Ethnic conflict....p. 106.

14 Leary, Ethnic conflict....p. 106. See also A J Wilson, The Break-Up....p. 224.

15 TULF National Convention. 14 May 1976. Logos Vol. 16. No. 3. September 1977, no pagination.

16 TULF Manifesto. General Elections 1977. Logos Vol. 16. No. 3. September 1977, no pagination

17 Anon. Socialist Tamil Eelam. Political Programme of the LTTE. [Pamphlet, 16 pages. no place and date of issue, illustrated].

18 Anon. Socialist Tamil Eelam, p.

19 TULF National Convention, no pagination.

20 The TULF Manifesto, no pagination.

21 Th official name of Sri Lanka is "The Democratic socialist Republic of Sri Lanka." See General Information, http://www.slembassay.org .

22 See Hoping Against Hope. pp. 6, 14, 17, 129.

23 Ibid...pp.6-7.

24 Anon. "President Wijetunga's Shift to Strident Sinhala-Buddhist Chauvanism." Tamil Times. 15th November 1993. pp.9-11.

25 The Mahasanga and Devolution, no pagination.

26 Anon Socialist Tamil Eelam.

27 See Schalk. ` Traditionalism..' (Forthcoming) and Wilson, The Break-Up..p. 8.

28 See Schalk. ` Traditionalism..' (Forthcoming) and Wilson, The Break-Up..p. 8.

29 TULF National Convention, no pagination. The TULF Manifesto, no pagination.

30 TULF National Convention, no pagination.

31 TULF National Manifesto, no pagination

32 N. Jayaweera, Sri Lanka Towards a Multi-Ethnic Democracy. Oslo: PRIO, 1991, p.33: "Throughout most of its recent history, Sri Lanka has been a hegemonistic society."

33 P. Schalk " Articles 9 and 18 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka as Obstacles to Peace." Lanka 5 (1990): 276-296. Id.. " The Concept of Concord in President Ranasinghe Premadasa's Buddhist-Political Discourse." Lanka 4 (1990): 22-92

34 Amnesty Internationl. Proposed Amendments to the Constitution Affecting Fundamental Rights. January 1991. ASA 37/01/91. London: Amnesty International, 1991, p.14.

35 Schalk, "Articles 9.."

36 "Legal Text...", no pagination.

37 Oral information from Mr. Lawrence Tilakar, member of Central Commitee of the LTTE, Paris in March 1996.

38 Anon. "500 tigers were killed during Jan-March." Daily News. Security News. Internet Edition, Tuesday 2 April 1996.


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