Sri Lanka's Continued Ethnic Cleansing ...
- after Tamil Armed Resistance Ended on 17 May 2009
- the Record Speaks...
On Sri Lanka's 'Welfare Villages' P.C.Vinoj Kumar, Tehelka, 25 July 2009
[Comment by tamilnation.org
Re Vinok Kumar's statement 'western aid reducing
sharply the Rajapaksa government has the daunting task of finding
the resources' see also IMF, Sri Lanka reach
$2.5 billion loan accord"... some analysts feel that the US may be influenced by a
Sino-Indian factor too. Sunday Island noted that the Indian
member on the IMF board, who represents a group of countries
including Sri Lanka, had been strongly advocating Sri
Lanka’s case.Then there is China’s increasing economic clout and a growing
strategic interest in Sri Lanka, which has made Washington sit
up. Like India, the US may be veering round to the view that the
only way to prevent Sri Lanka from going wholly under Chinese
influence is to meet Sri Lanka’s demands."
"Do I know what it means
To stand in the queue as a mere 13 year
Collecting charity for my younger brother
and widowed and
a wound in my stomach which hurts and oozes.
no one to care for the pain
To live on, not knowing why
reason or meaning of hope...�
These are the opening lines of a poem by Sumathy R, who worked as a
volunteer for a few days in a Tamil refugee camp in Sri Lanka. She
describes the travails of the destitute and the orphans living in
army-controlled camps According to reports, about three lakh Tamils
displaced from erstwhile LTTE-controlled areas by war are treated
like prisoners in these camps in North Sri Lanka. �Hundreds of
thousands of Tamils remain locked in camps almost entirely offlimits
to journalists, human rights investigators and political leaders,�
The New York Times reported on July 12 after meet some refugees in
one of the camps.
Making a mockery of the international outrage on the rising deaths,
disappearances, and malnourishment in the camps, Rajapaksa described
the �welfare villages�, as the camps are known in Sri Lanka, as �the
best� of their kind, in a recent interview to N Ram, Editor of The
Only last month, the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, Sarath N Silva,
spoke with rare candour about the inhumane conditions he had
witnessed in the camps. �It is an utter lie to say that there is
only one race and no majority or minority in the country,� Silva had
said. �I can�t explain the pathetic situation they (the Tamils)
Colombo continues to deny the UN and other international aid
agencies free access to the camps, saying it is identifying and
separating LTTE cadres hiding among the refugees. The government has
turned down appeals from human rights groups that the army make its
screening process transparent.
Tamil politicians say that the refugees are gripped by fear because
of this army operation targeting Tamil youth and middle-aged men.
They say suspects are arbitrarily separated from their families and
housed in special camps. Military spokesperson Brigadier Udaya
Nanayakkara told TEHELKA that about 10,000 persons are now in such
camps. Jaffna MP MK Sivajilingam says relatives of the detainees are
in great anguish since they don�t know the whereabouts of their
No agency, including the UN, has accurate details about the total
number of inmates in each camp. The government has refused to reveal
details despite demands from various bodies.
When asked about the
alleged disappearances of Tamil youth from the camps, UN
Spokesperson for Sri Lanka Gordon Weiss said, �We have asked the
government to increase the level of transparency surrounding the
screening process.� He admitted that the UN and other international
organisations do not have access to camps� central registries. Thus,
Colombo is accountable only to itself for the life of Tamil inmates.
Since the number of detainees in the camps is unknown,
theoretically, Colombo can get away with any number of
Unhygienic conditions are posing major health problems in the camps.
�There have been outbreaks of chicken pox, hepatitis and diarrhoea,�
says Vinya Ariyaratne, executive director of Sarvodaya, a Lankan NGO
working in the camps. He said about 20 percent of the children below
the age of five, who number about 5,000, were malnourished.
Theoretically, Colombo can get away with any number of
�In one camp there are more than 40,000 people. The government is
trying to decongest these camps by opening new ones,� Vinya told
TEHELKA. Vinya said his organisation had no details about the
allegedly high rates of deaths in the camps. However, The Times,
London, has quoted senior international aid officials as saying that
about 1,400 people were dying every week.
Weiss said that while the health front was under control, �There may
well be more disease outbreaks if [the camp] systems become
overwhelmed by rainfall and flooding,� adding that Sri Lanka had
told the UN that a 180-day plan to return people to their homes will
soon be implemented.
With western aid reducing sharply due to Colombo�s devil-may-care
attitude on human rights issues, the Rajapaksa government has the
daunting task of finding the resources to return the nearly three
lakh refugees to their original habitations in the Wanni area of Sri
Lanka � which has turned into a wasteland.