Brian Senewiratne, Australia
Sri Lanka bombs its own People
(Assisted by Israel, USA, UK, Pakistan, India, and China)
[also in PDF]
27 April 2005
was once asked by an Englishman connected with the British Refugee Council:
'You say Tamil Eelam, but where are the boundaries of this Tamil Eelam that
you talk about? Show me.' I was taken aback by the directness of the
question. I thought for a while, searching for an appropriate response. Then
I replied: 'Take a map of the island. Take a paint brush and paint all the
areas where Sri Lanka has
bombed and launched
artillery attacks during these past several years. When you have
finished, the painted area that you see - that is Tamil Eelam.''"
Krishnakumar, (Kittu), founding Member of LTTE, speaking in Zurich, on
Maha Veerar Naal, in November 1990
[ see also
Sri Lanka's War Crimes]
Tamil civilians pay a price for
what they did not do...
I am attaching some photographs mailed from
Trincomalee on 26 April 2006. If you find them shocking, I tender no
apology. It is time the world was shocked by what is going on behind
the closed doors of Sri Lanka.
This is not an Appeal, nor a Plea – humanitarian or otherwise.
It is to apprise foreign Governments, the international media, religious
leaders, NGOs, leaders of civic society and people outside Sri Lanka, of what is
going on in that country. It is NOT a request for help or intervention. I am
merely presenting the facts to the outside world and my sympathy to a devastated
people in Trincomalee.
1. On 25 April 2006 a female suicide bomber dressed as a pregnant woman was
‘visiting’ the Sri Lankan Army hospital in the Army Headquarters in Colombo.
This is in one of the heavily-guarded and most secured “High Security Zones” in
the island. She could not have got to where she was (outside the Army
hospital) without “inside help” ie from a member(s) of the Armed Forces (almost
2. She waited for the Army Commander, Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, and
threw herself in front of his limousine, detonating the explosives strapped on
her. Five of his body guards on heavily armed motorcycles were killed, as were
three others. Fonseka was injured but survived.
3. I am not going to speculate on the identity of the female suicide bomber. The
claim, as always, is that she was from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE). If she was, to get to where she stood, she would have needed to have
some very ‘close connections’ with the Security Forces, a possible but unlikely
scenario. The alternative possibility is that she could equally well have been
from a Sinhalese extremist group that has been urging the President Mahinda
Rajapakse to take a hard (or harder) line, abandon the Ceasefire, return to
‘war’ and ‘smash’ the LTTE.
4. I will not elaborate on the highly questionable human rights record of
Fonseka when he was the Commander of the Sri Lankan ‘Security Forces’ in Jaffna
in the Tamil North a decade ago.
Hundreds of Tamil civilians held in custody without charge or trial ‘disappeared’
– their tortured bodies later found in mass graves It was one of his own Army
soldiers who, under oath, in the Supreme Court in Colombo, showed
where the mass graves were located, adding that some were alive when buried.
An exhumation with international observers, including Amnesty International,
confirmed that the victims had been tortured and killed. I am not accusing
Fonseka of killing anyone. However, the victims were in his custody and he is
answerable. He could not have been unaware of what was going on.
That said, I condemn all killings or attempted killings – deserved or not.
5. Within hours of the explosion in Colombo, the Sri Lankan Armed Forces
launched air and artillery attacks in Trincomalee in the East – some 150km away.
The speed at which this occurred leaves not the slightest doubt that it was
6. Seven Tamil
villages near Trincomalee were indiscriminately bombed and shelled.
Israeli-built Kfir war planes made 5 ‘visits’ dropping scores of bombs on
civilian targets while the Sri Lankan Navy shelled the area from gun boats which
fortuitously ‘happened to be’ off the coast. Between 6.30pm and 8pm on 25 April
2006, some 96 naval shells landed in just one area alone. Air strikes continued
the next day.
7. The civilian population were unable to run for safety as shells came in from
sea and land, and bombs were dropped from the air. Thousands (I don’t think
anyone sat and counted them) fled the area dragging their elderly, the sick and
children. The Santhosam Children’s Home which cared for over 40 orphaned
children (ex-Tsusami which devastated the area) suffered a direct hit by a Kfir
bomb. The rationale is that small ‘Tigers’ become big ones. ‘Take them out’
early – ‘preemptive action’, if you like. The Transit Camp for Tsunami -
affected refugees was shelled. What the Tsunami could not achieve, the GOSL
would try. Is there any other explanation? It was not ‘collateral damage’. It
was deliberate and calculated. The number of casualties is unknown at the time
of writing but cannot be inconsiderable. It makes little difference whether it
was 10 or 1000. It is dangerous to quantify human life and suffering. It
devalues human life.
8. There are no hospitals in this area and the two medical centres are staffed
only by visiting doctors and nurses. They have been unable to get to these
centres because of road blocks set up by the Army.
9. The reaction of the Sri Lankan Government, the “Free World”(!), and even
Amnesty International, is interesting.Dr Palitha Kohonna, Director General of
the Peace Secretariat, now turned War Secretariat of the GOSL, admitted using
the Armed Forces against civilian Tamil villages, justifying it as a
“retaliatory measure”. He says that the air strikes and shelling should not be
counted as a violation of the Cease-fire Agreement (signed by the GOSL and the
Tamil Tigers) but a “fair reply” to the bomb blast in Colombo earlier in the
day. Condoning the attacks on Sampur and adjoining villages, Kohonna called the
attack by the State Forces as “justifiable”.
10. President Mahinda Rajapakse, who on several occasions has declared himself a
“man of peace”, addressed the Nation on TV just 4 hours after the bombing. He
praised the military for “patience and restraint”. Not a word of sympathy for
the Tamil civilians (whose President he is) whose lives have been shattered by
the bombing and shelling.
His Defense spokesman Kaheliya Rambukwelle declared “There is no duration or
limits on defence matters”. It is unclear who the aggressor was to mount this
‘defence’. Since the villages were attacked, one can only assume that unarmed
villagers in Trincomalee were attacking Sri Lanka and the Government was taking
11. The Sinhalese political opportunists in the so-called ‘Marxist’ Janatha
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) – no strangers to terrorism, who support President
Rajapakse and sustain his party in Parliament, called for all parties to support
Rajapakse “for the defense of the motherland against terrorism”.
These are the ‘patriots’ who brought the Sri Lankan government to its knees
in1971, and repeated it in 1988. They assassinated the charismatic husband of
Chandrika Kumaratunga (later President) because he posed too great a political
threat to them, President J.R. Jayawardene’s sister-in-law, Dr Gladys
Jayawardene (whose only ‘crime’ was that she, as Head of the Pharmaceutical
Corporation, imported drugs at a reasonable price from India), Professor Stanley
Wijesundera, the unassuming Vice Chancellor of Colombo University (because they
did not believe in tertiary education), and scores of other academics and
leading citizens, in addition to wrecking the agricultural infrastructure in Sri
What is interesting is that despite these acts of frank terrorism, the Sri
Lankan Government did not use Kfir bombers to bomb the Sinhalese villagers in
the South from which the JVP came. That is the difference between being a
Sinhalese and a Tamil in Sri Lanka.
12. If the devastated Tamil people were looking for sympathy from the
alternative Sinhalese party, now in Opposition, the United National Party, they
got none. After meeting with President Rajapakse (from the Sri Lanka Freedom
Party), the UNP Deputy Secretary-General Tissa Atanayake warned, “If the Peace
Process is to be fruitful, the LTTE should take immediate action to control
their violent actions” (emphasis mine).
13. The international response to the GOSL outrage in Trincomalee has been
predictable. The US, EU, Japan and India have condemned the suicide bombing in
Colombo and called on both sides to adhere to the ceasefire and return to
negotiations! The Indian Government convened its Crisis Management Group on the
second day of the bombing and sent additional warships to the Palk Straits
between India and Sri Lanka - presumably to help the Sri Lankan Navy if they ran
into problems shelling the unarmed Tamil villagers.
In Washington, the US assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Richard
Boucher stated “It is regrettable that the Tamil Tigers have decided to restart
the war instead of restarting the peace process. We are in touch with
Governments around the world to bring to bear whatever pressure we can on the
Tamil Tigers to abandon this course of action and to look for ways that we can
support the Government in coping with the threat”. With unusual modesty, the US
has played down the support already given to the GOSL by way of a massive supply
of arms, some of which rained down on the people in Trincomalee.
There was no response from Israel nor a request for thanks for supplying the
Kfir bombers or the Mossad agents who ‘helped’ to train the Sri Lankan Armed
The response of Amnesty International was pathetic - an appeal “to the parties
to take all possible measures to minimize harm to civilians and adhere to human
rights and international humanitarian law, which prohibit murder or violence to
those taking no active part in hostilities” . The fact that the GOSL has openly
flouted human rights and humanitarian law, apparently does not call for an
outright condemnation. The recently deceased Peter Benensen, the visionary
founder of AI whom I knew, must be turning in his grave.
14. The Sri Lankan government must be held accountable for this outrage, which
is certainly not the first. So must those who supply weapons to this
irresponsible regime who use these weapons against their own citizens. Sri Lanka
does not make Kfir bombers, multi-barrel guns or rockets. Those who supply these
have a case to answer.
15. A number of NGOs and others have appealed to the international community
which has responded in the way I have indicated. It has been a slap in the face
for these devastated people. I am not going to hurt these people again by
appealing for help from an international community steeped in hypocrisy. The
only ‘crime’ that these people have committed is to be born Tamil. They pay for
a crime they did not commit in a world where no one cares. Presumably Tamil
lives in Sri Lanka are not real lives, Tamil suffering not real suffering.
16. I have met some of the people in the villages that have now been flattened.
It was in 1952 when as a young Zoology student, I was hiking in this area.
Unable to find a place to sleep, we decided to sleep under a tree. Some young
men woke us up at midnight and asked us what we were doing. We explained that we
had decided to spend a few days there. They insisted that we move into their
huts (they moved out) and then proceeded to feed us for the duration of our
I hope that some of these young men were not among the disabled and old men who
were dragged to safety from the bombing. All I want these kind and hospitable
people to know is that the young Sinhalese boy whom they befriended and
protected from snakes and the pouring rain 50 years ago, sheds his tears while
they shed their blood at the hands of a brutal, barbaric and irresponsible
regime which has the temerity to call itself their “Government’.