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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Sri Lanka army launches intensified artillery attack on densley populated Tamil village - 3 October - under cover of press censorship
On 3 October the Sri Lanka Army launched a heavy attack on densely populated Tamil villages in the Jaffna peninsula. The offensive was against Atchuveli, Vasavilan, Puthur, Pattaimeni, Avarangal and Vallai. Heavy shelling was directed into civilian centres from the Palaly army base. Shells fell sporadically in Navatkuli, Kaithadi, Navakiri and Neerveli sometimes through out the day.
The random shelling of population centres resulted in thousands more abandoning their homes and fleeing from the areas which were within Sri Lankan government artillery range. Kudarappu along the east coast of the peninsula was also subject to aerial bomabardment. The displaced civilians were accommodated in schools, temples and other public buildings. The Sri Lanka army plundered evacuated homes and shops in Valikamam East. Water pumps were taken way. Several properties were systematically destroyed and razed to the ground.
In early October, the ICRC head office in Colombo was denied permission by the Sri Lanka Joint Operations Command to bring a team of medical doctors and medical experts to the Jaffna teaching hospital. The lack of medical and support staff at the hospital severely hampered the efforts of the Red Cross to provide humanitarian aid.
The Director of Planning of the Jaffna Secretariat, Mr.K.Pathmanaban made urgent pleas for the removal of the blockade and for immediate food shipments on 11 October. He pointed that the "general population is on the brink of starvation. Furthermore due to unavailability of flour, all production of bread has come to a halt on 10 October."
" Shelling operations continue to pose a major problem for the civilian population. For instance, many residents of Point Pedro have stopped sleeping in their homes at night and, instead, prefer to take shelter in a more secure hospital area. `People think that their houses are no longer safe. That is why they prefer the safety of a hospital,'' the travellers stated. It appears that the town of Point Pedro has been shelled from the Palali military camp. People coming from Jaffna said there was a high degree of uncertainty among the population of the peninsula." (Hindu Online 14 October 1995)
"The military's artillery shell machine at Neerveli was switched on at 3.00 AM. on the 29th, and the frequency of shelling (sometimes four to six shells were blasted within a single minute) was so frightening that most of the staff ran for its safety to the University that was already crowded with people rushing from Uduvil, Marutanamadam, Enuvil, Urumpurai, Urelu, Kokkuvil, Kondavil, Kulappiddy and other villages of the Valigamam area. A Supersonic and two Puccara bombers began encircling the Tirunelveli-Kondavil area and suddenly began to fire rockets, the impact of which was like a powerful strike of lightening and thunder."
"More than ten persons died in and around Tirunelveli, among them three children belonging to one family. Their mangled pieces of flesh was buried along the roadside around 11.30 AM. Their bodies were blown to bits and even all pieces put together will not make one human form. Altogether 42 people died in Jaffna on the 29th, due to shell blasts or rocket blasts. On the 29th of October, Palaly road was flooded with people carrying pots and pans, pillows and mattresses, children and elderly on their bicycles or walking silently drenched in the monsoon showers." (Eye-witness report on the day that Jaffna University moved to Killinochchi - 29 October 1995)
Meanwhile press censorship prevented news of the genocide from reaching the outside world. Sri Lanka military spokesman Brigadier Sarath Munasinghe announced on 22 October at a Press Conference in Colombo:
"We expect more people to go to the peninsula very soon. In a matter of 10-12 days, those people who are in Colombo now can go to the peninsula. We will allow people to go and we are expecting them to come back," he said. For the first time since military operations in Jaffna were launched, the Brigadier said journalists too would be taken to the peninsula as soon as the time was ripe. He expected that the reporters could be taken very soon...He said there were no reports of any civilian casualties in areas taken by the security forces, a charge which has been repeatedly levelled by the LTTE leadership against the Sri Lankan military." (Hindu Report, 23 October 1995)
However, two weeks later the Press censorship continued and far from people in Colombo going to Jaffna, Tamils fled Jaffna in the face of the invading Sinhala army. Journalists were prevented from going to the peninsula until the after the completion of the genocidal onslaught in April 1996.
Paul Watson of the Asia Bureau of the Canadian Toronto Star reported on 4 November 1995:
"Sri Lanka's military won't let journalists cross into areas controlled by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam...Brig. Sarath Munsinghe, the military's spokesperson, denied commanders are trying to cover anything up. 'When the time is right, we will be taking the journalists to show whatever damages has taken place so far,' Munasinghe said. 'It is, I should say minimal.'"
see also Army fired indiscriminately into Tamil village says Amnesty
see also Indiscriminate artillery shelling of Tamil villages: September 1996 - February 1997