Tsunami Disaster & Tamil Eelam
Sampavi Parimalanathan, an Australian Tamil
writes from North-East Sri Lanka
31 December 2004
The writer is a Student Volunteer from one of the
Universities in Sydney,
who originally went to Sri Lanka to help in the hospitals
Sampavi Parimalanathan, an Australian Tamil , writes on her return
from North-East Sri Lanka
- Death, Destruction &
Discrimination, 30 January 2005]
To whom it may concern,
I am writing to you from North-East Sri Lanka, one of the areas hit
by the massive tsunami on December 26th. I initially came here to do
voluntary work at hospitals, however, since the natural disaster, I
have been roaming the streets, talking to survivors and helping with
some aid work.
All I see is absolute devastation. Local schools overflow with
displaced people. Mourners cry in huddled groups. There are families
where only 3 out of 20 people have survived. So far I have met 105
families where a loss of more than 10 people per family has
occurred. Stories of the water grabbing babies from their mothers'
grip, stories of small children being trapped underneath collapsing
buildings, stories of entire orphanages being engulfed by the sea
still swirl in my head.
A 32 year old man tells me he is the only survivor in his family.
"The sea has engulfed my parents, my siblings, my wife, and my
children." He is from Kallappadu, a village that had been completely
wiped out by the tsunami. He had survived because he had gone inland
to visit his friend. He now has no family, no home and no
livelihood. His boat lies smashed against a post 500m from the sea.
Another woman tells me of how she was only able to save 1 of her 5
children. The man next to her says only him and his son survived in
their family. He is from Mullatheevu where there have been more than
4000 deaths.and counting.
However, these pathetic stories of death and destruction are not
heard by the international community. I am yet to see any media
coverage of the situation in North-East Sri Lanka.
The tsunami hit Sunday morning, and the people I saw first at the
scene to help with the catastrophe were the LTTE (Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam) and TRO (Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation). It has
been five days since the tsunami, and I am yet to see any Sri Lankan
Government personnel arrive to assess the situation at any of the
areas in the North East province that I have been to. Yet, branded
as 'terrorists' by many nations, the LTTE are risking their own
lives, searching the seas for bodies whilst warning calls go out for
I spoke to a Tamil Tiger who was clearing bodies. I ask him if he
has lost any loved ones. "Yes. Thousands," he replies. He then turns
around and starts clearing bodies. I find out later that he had lost
his entire family.
The LTTE has volunteered all their troops into aid work. I see them
everywhere, bringing in food, collecting clothes, distributing
donations and housing survivors.
A few NGO vehicles are around, but I am not too sure of the extent
of their contribution. The BBC coverage talks very little of the
need in the North East, and false claims of the LTTE placing strict
restrictions on aid receipt are being broadcasted.
The footage of the devastation in Sri Lanka has been on the news.
However, very little information is going out about Tamil Eelam, the
province the LTTE have been fighting for.
The Tamil people of Sri Lanka have been fighting for independence
for the last 25 years, wanting liberation from discrimination and
prejudice. Years of anti-Tamil acts, ranging from discrimination in
the education and work force, to Government backed up acts of
violence such as the 1983 riots which killed thousands of Tamils,
have devastated the Tamil people of Sri Lanka.
Today, the Tamil people are again targets of discrimination. This
time, they are prevented from access to foreign aid or media
coverage. From what I have seen first hand, I can assure you that
the all the work being done in these Tamil areas is by the LTTE and
by TRO. There has been no lending hand of support from the Sri
Lankan Government, who promises to give equal opportunities to both
Tamils and Sinhalese citizens. This incident is a perfect example of
why the Tamil people need their own country. The Sri Lankan
Government is clearly not concerned about the welfare of the Tamil
people. Even in such a state of absolute loss, the Sri Lankan
Government is brutal enough to direct all funds and media away from
I hope to be the messenger who conveys the calls of help of the
Tamil people. The cries of the Tamil people have been silenced by
the Sri Lankan Government for far too many years. The Tamil people
desperately need to be heard by the international community.
If you would like to help in any way, I urge you to contact TRO in