Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

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Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Indictment against Sri Lanka: Introduction & Index > Indictment against Sri Lanka - the Record Speaks

The Charge is Ethnic Cleansing

  • An Eye Witness Account, Dr. Ramani Chelliah,
    15 October 1987, Tamil Times

"...we who have been reduced to a people who are no longer able to bury our dead, do not even know now who is alive and who is dead..."

The Indo - Sri Lankan Peace Accord of July 1987 meant for me that I could make my long-awaited trip back to Jaffna to visit my parents and all my folks.

I arrived in a calm and peaceful Jaffna on September 25, 1987. Thileepan's fast was on, protesting the failure of implementation of the Accord. the continuing accelerated colonisation programme being carried out by the Sri Lankan Government and the delay in setting up the interim Government. His subsequent martyrdom on September 20 1987 had a profoundly emotional impact on everyone and tears of real anguish flossed freely. In spite of this and in spite of recognising political difficulties ahead. there was a general air of confident stability.

After years of living under war conditions peace had brought about great optimism. Delegations from foreign aid organisations had been visiting Jaffna. tourists Were in the hotels, surveyors were sighted measuring up to rebuild Jaffna town. We were to become like Singapore. so the story went.

On Saturday 10 October, I was in Urumpirai visiting my in laws taking lots of photographs and haying a very pleasant time. Distant rumbling noises were heard in the earls afternoon but we simply dismissed it. My father who was to have collected me in the evening to take me back home to Nallur turned up by mid afternoon with the news that there was shelling near the Fort and a curfew had been declared. It wasn't taken too seriously but not wanting to take any chances we returned to Nallur early. It was probably just a bit of trouble near the Fort as usual. but nothing to worry about we thought. After all we had not only the Peace Accord but the mighty Indian Peacekeeping Force itself to guarantee peace. No harm could possibly come.

A Tamil Father in Jaffna tries to comfort his wounded child

A Tamil Boy whose arm was amputated during IPKF attack on Jaffna

Displaced Tamils seeking refuge in an old Church

The next day shells began to rain down. The Indian army was shelling Jaffna. It was on our houses and on our heads that these shells were falling. There was shocked disbelief. It could not be possible. It could not be the Indian Peacekeeping Force who had been welcomed into our land with flowers. garlands and prayers.

The noise was deafening. All at home huddled together in a small part of the house which had a concrete roof under the fragile belief that it afforded marginally more protection than a tiled roof.

We learned the next day that at least fourteen people had died during the course of that evening alone in the immediate vicinity of our house. and around Pillaiyar Kovil which itself had taken about seven direct hits causing massive destruction. The headless trunks of a woman and a young girl had been sighted by a relative coming to see if we were all right.

Later people in the neighbourhood had to he brought in to identify the two from

their clothing. In one house a family of six had been killed instantly and in another four people from a family had died. The list of injuries was long. An apothecary. a kind and helpful man to whom everyone went had lost a leg. A teachers wife young woman had lost an arm. An old. blind diabetic man had shrapnel wounds on his hack which had swollen up grotesquely. A few people who had taken shelter by a brick wall had their bodies sprayed and splattered across the broken wall.

The curfew and fear and lack of transport precluded all talk of funerals. Those who were lucky were bundled up in sacks and dumped in the hospital morgue. For others where there were long delays before being cleaned up. Crows were sighted on trees eating human flesh.

That was the beginning of the Indian invasion. From the time the shelling started till the time I escaped out of Jaffna on 2 October, it didn't stop. Day and night every day during those twelve days, I lived with the possibility of being blown to smithereens. My only wish was as for a quick death if it had to be rather than a slow and agonising one through injury - the Jaffna hospital was closed. There was no transport anyway and there would have been no bandages even, let alone medicines.

My other and equally great fear was to have someone near and dear to me splattered across my lap.

We lived in total isolation because of the curfew and lack of movement. not knowing what was happening three miles down the road. No place within Jaffna was a safe place to escape to. The three designated refugee points (the Nallur Kovil, Hindu College and Hindu Ladies College) were filled to overflowing and people were fighting for standing space. At these places diseases were spreading in the filth and squalor and babies were dying of dysentery. Food supplies were running very low.

Surviving the shelling and the helicopter gunships and the bombing was one thing - facing the Indian troops after they got in was another. Isolated as we were we simply did not know what they would do once they actually came into our area. I left before that happened in Nallur.

In Colombo I found out about the point-blank machine gunning that had taken place at Urumpirai. Relatives I had been with and photographed on the day the shelling had started had been shot dead in cold blood by the Indian army some days later. Among them was a 72 year-old woman who had gone to open the door to let them in.

It is now over three weeks since India embarked on its military offensive against innocent civilians and yet the entire Northern province is totally sealed off, with no information coming out. They are said to be in control, the militant resistance has retired into the jungles and yet every escape route out of the North has been sealed. It can only mean one thing.

In the absence of outside observers and free flow of information India is carrying out large scale massacres of our people under the guise of mopping up of resistance. It is outright genocide. And we who have been reduced to a people who are no longer able to bury our dead, do not even know now who is alive and who is dead.

Jaffna Dutch Church
A historic landmark, the Jaffna Dutch Church, built in 1706
- Damaged by IPKF Shelling

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