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 > Sri Lanka's Shadow War '02 to '07: Introduction & Index > the Record Speaks....

The Charge is Ethnic Cleansing

Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils
...in the Shadow of the Ceasefire: 2002 - 2007

  • Vaharai tragedy - theUnfolding Misery
    [TamilNet, 15 January 2007]

"In violation of International Humanitarian Law (IDL) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL) the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) continues to deny Humanitarian Agencies, including the UN and ICRC, access to the 15,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Vaharai Division of Batticaloa District in the NorthEast.  These IDPs were displaced from the Muttur, Sampoor, and Eachchilampattu Divisions of the Trincomalee District beginning in August 2006." Vaharai is Starving  - Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) Press Release 18 January 2007

[see also Sri Lanka's State Terror in Streaming Video   - Vaharai Tamil Refugees ]

Related Links

25.02.07 Aftermath of Sri Lanka Attack on Vaharai
SLA strips bare houses in Vaharai, Sampoor - MP
16.02.07  Damage to Vaharai schools extensive, says Education official
18.01.07 Vaharai is Starving
Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) Press Release
11.01.07  Vaharai tragedy
07.01.07 SOS from Vaharai
04.01.07 MP urges UN to persuade Colombo on safe-haven
03.01.07 SLAF Kfir jets bomb Verugal
03.01.07 Vaharai residents celebrate New Year
02.01.07 29 Batticaloa schools not re-opened
02.01.07  Kfirs bomb in Vaharai
01.01.07 Battle for Vaharai
30.12.06 SLAF Kfir jets bomb Vaharai
30.12.06 Hindu Congress condemns attack on Verugal Murugan
30.12.06  MP slams aerial bombardment on water refinery
29.12.06 Vaharai IDPs rally, demand International relief
28.12.06 De-populating Sampoor
23.12.06 Critically ill Vaharai patients transferred
23.12.06 Three pronged artillery barrage on Vaharai village
21.12.06  Vaharai patient dies due to lack of medicine
20.12.06 Besieged Vaharai continues to starve
20.12.06  Besieged Vaharai continues to starve
19.12.06 Humanitarian situation worsens in Vaharai
16.12.06 Declare Vaharai a safe zone �-Trinco MP
20.11.06   Vaharai children eat roast fish to quench hunger
15.11.06  Vaharai starves

Unfolding misery...

More than 72,000 Tamil civilians internally displaced due to the military confrontations in the East, residing in 50 temporary camps in Batticaloa district's LTTE and GoSL controlled areas, are facing serious shortage of food, accommodation, drinking water, sanitation and toilet facilities, according to Batticaloa District Secretariat. Muttur east clashes, followed by battle for Sampoor, and now Vaharai clashes intensifying, the increasing numbers of Internally Displaced (IDPs) in Batticaloa face a dismal future.

Following the offensive of SLA and aerial bombings by Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) in July and August, more than 40,000 people from the LTTE controlled Muthur East area in Trincomalee district became displaced and fled to Vaharai in LTTE controlled Batticaloa district.

During the battle for Sampoor in November 2006, Batticaloa District Secretariat reported 41,463 people from Trincomalee district and 30,630 people from Batticaloa have fled to the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) controlled areas in the Batticaloa district from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) held areas. The IDPs sheltered in 22 temporary locations in 14 Grama Seveka divisions in Batticaloa district.

Now, with the battle for Vaharai intensifying, other than the nearly 15,000 residents and IDPs are trapped in Vaharai as the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) conducts its brutal campaign to evict Tamils from the region, the rest have fled the area swelling the IDP population in other areas of Batticaloa.

Torrential rains in the past few days have blown off the roofs of six of the toilets constructed at the Kurukkalmadam camp in Manmunai Theneruvil Pattu regional secretary division. Twenty five tents in the camp have collapsed and six civilians residing in the camp afflicted by rain-related disease have been admitted in Kaluvanchikudy hospital.

652 civilians belonging to 188 families are accommodated at this camp, include 68 expectant mothers, 61 nursing mothers and 25 infants.

Acting on a complaint of worm-infested food being served to the residents of this camp, Mr.Gopalapillai, the regional secretary visited the camp, and after discussing with officer in charge, instructed that in future food should not served without the permission of public health officials.

Commenting on the situation prevailing at this camp, S.Krishnakumar, health officer of Kaluvanchikudy area said that construction of large number of tents is the root cause for the problems involving sanitation, drinking water supply and toilet facilities. He said that the problem can only be alleviated transferring some of the residents of the camp either to Mahiloor or to a new camp currently being constructed in Kaluvanchikudy, civil society sources said.

Acting on the suggestion of Mr.Krishnakumar, Batticaloa district Government Agent (GA), Suntharam Arumainayagam, instructed the regional secretary to take immediate steps to transfer 50 families to Kaluvanchikudy.

GA also announced that he will also take the necessary steps to transfer a Grama Sevaka (GS) from the area.

According to statistics released by Mr.Arumainayagam, the number of displaced families living in refugee camps in other areas are:

67 (352 members) Cheddipalyam

172 (642 members ) Manchamthoduvai

21000 (72,000 members) reside in 50 camps in Batticaloa District.

Asked about the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Batticaloa district, GA said a total of 64673 civilians belonging to 18176 families are residing in both the Government controlled areas and in LTTE-controlled areas in the following camps at the various locations:

2 Kaluvanchikudy
4 Araiyampathy
4 Vaharai
3 Valaichenai
21 Manmunai North
3 Kiran
11 Chenkalady

The Government Agent assured that he has discussed with various non governmental Organizations (NGOs) regarding accommodation issues and matters related to providing adequate sanitation and toilet facilities for the displaced, sources said.

Vaharai tragedy
[TamilNet, 11 January 2007]

Following Sri Lanka's Military Commander Lt.Gen Sarath Fonseka's assertion that Sri Lankan Forces will evict Liberation Tigers from the East withn the next two months, Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has intensified shelling and artillery attacks into Vaharai.

The people originally from Vaharai region and residents from the neighboring Trincomalee district who fled into Vaharai to swell the Internally Displaced People (IDP) population, express fear and uncertainty.

�I have been running from place to place for the last four months to escape shelling and Kfir attacks by the Sri Lankan Forces. The international community should do something to save our lives," an internally displaced woman told in Vaharai Saturday.

�I am from Senaiyur in Trincomalee district and due to the heavy shelling and aerial attacks I first fled to Ilakkanthai and then to Mugaththuwaram. Later, we were compelled to move to Verugal from where moved to Vaharai unable to stand the artillery attacks and Kfir jet bombings.

�The Government that made us displaced, wanted us to move out of Vaharai, but some of us opted to remain here. We face severe shortage of basic essentials. It is very difficult to obtain enough rice, good vegetables and even salt for rice.

�Kfir jets bombed Verugal Temple and destroyed the water sanitation system built by UN agency and thus depriving the people drinking water facility. The people of the area are now compelled to drink the salinated water once again," another IDP said.

Another internally displaced woman, Kannappa Sivapakkiyam explained her difficult life: �My hearing ability has been severely impaired due to the continuing artillery and shell attacks. I am scared very much. I have meager food and water. I was staying at Palchenai Refugee camp and then fled towards Vaharai hospital to escape shelling. A young boy helped me to come here, as I am unfamiliar to this area. The doctor at Vaharai hospital helped me a lot.

�Please stop the shelling at all costs. I cannot bear this any more. I wish that the New Year will solve our problems and bring us prosperity. I have been displaced several times since 1983 and I cannot move anymore.�

Another mother, Mrs. Rasa said: �We were running away to escape from the falling shells and bombs. We lie on the ground each time a shell fell. Even though we managed to reach the school building, the shells continued to fall, killing and injuring many people.

"We could not come along Nallur road and we managed to reach Mugaththuwaram. The shelling continued there too, and a fences began burning all around. I prayed as I fled with my child to Vammivedduvan and then to Kandalady as shells continued to fall.

�When shells started raining, I was at the mouth of a bunker and my child was inside. When a shell exploded near me, I was thrown a few meters away. My son shouted my name in panic. I could not see and hear for a while, and when I regained sight and hearing later, I could hear the sound of more shells. I am a person not frightened easily, but that day we hid in the bunker for the whole day. As soon as shelling stopped, we came to Vaharai.�

�Education of the children is suffering. The Grade 5 Scholarship national examination was scheduled on 4 December. However, two days before, Kfir jets started the bombing raids. The Army closed the A-15 road on the day of the exam and the children and teachers waited until 1:00 p.m. for the question paper to arrive. I could not stay at home leaving my child at the school out of fear of shelling. The children took cover along the walls of the school building. Teachers asked me why I had come to the school. How could I stay home, leaving my only child at the school?

�The Government did not send the question papers saying that there were clashes in Vaharai. I was very keen on my child's education right from the nursery class.

�I have seen Sri Lanka's President Rajapakse with his three children on the TV. They all are grown-up children. I thought the President, being the parent of those children, would understand how another parent would feel for the children.

�Mahinda and Rambukwella, who are dropping bombs and shells on us, should come here and stay here for some time. Then only they would understand what pain is, suffering is and fear is."

Sri Lanka Army (SLA) from its camps in Valaichenai Paper Factory and Karadikkulam launched their latest artillery attack on Vaharai last Friday. The shells fell on the Vaharai Maha Vidyalayam school compound where the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have sought temporary shelter, forcing them to run to Vaharai hospital.

The shells damaged the school building but fortunately, no one was injured. The shelling took place when food relief was being distributed to the IDPs at the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) office at Vaharai.

Aftermath of Sri Lanka Attack on Vahari
[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 February 2007, 01:01 GMT]

More than 200 civilians were killed and hundreds of others injured in the five-month long Sri Lanka military offensive carried out in sea, air and land on Vaharai and adjoining coastal hamlets. Nearly 40,000 IDPs stay in 49 temporary shelters and with friends and relatives elsewhere in the military controlled part of Batticaloa district. The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Vaharai and neighboring Trincomalee district express resentment over the inequity in reimbursing relief and compensation by Sri Lanka Government authorities.

Vaharai is the second largest Divisional Secretariat division in the district, comprising 21% of the land area. However, the population of the Division is low compared to other divisions, and more than 70% of Vaharai residents live below poverty line. Shortage of teachers during the past decade has resulted in low literacy rate.

Vaharai lies 75 km north of Batticaloa bordering Trincomalee district in the north and Polannaruwa district in the west. The only trunk road passes through this area is A- 15, the Trincomalee- Batticaloa Road and the branches of Mahavali Gangai, the longest river in Sri Lanka severs the road at two places i.e. at Verugal and Kiliveddy.

Even though the Division has abundance of seafoods and wild life, due to the location and inadequate infrastructure, the area is under developed. The three decade of war too has contributed to the low-levels of development and the dire economic situation.

Attracted by the beautiful flora and fauna, the former Premier of Sri Lanka, Mrs. Srima Bandaranayake built a personal circuit bungalow in Vaharai. Sinhalese were settled at Kajuwatta (a Sinhala term means cashew estate), adjoining Panichchenkerny, under the pretext of cashew promotion in the fertile lands. The abundance of seafoods too attracted many Sinhala businesspersons and seasonal fishermen to this area.

The elite groups of the society used this area for hunting.

Those who voluntarily setup home Vaharai region went back with the wealth, but the poor natives continued to live under poverty line.

Vaharai gave shelter to the people of Muthur East area in the Trincomalee district who were made refugees due to the military offensives in August 2006, in the middle of the fifth year of the Norwegian brokered Cease Fire Agreement between the government and Liberation Tigers. On 08 November, when the Sri Lanka Army carried out an artillery attack on the refugees at the Kathiravely School Refugees camp, 58 people including children and women were killed and 125 were injured.

The Palchenai Refugees camp attack killed 37 IDPs, and in Vaddavan 18 died. In addition, a number of IDPs died when fleeing by land and sea, and hundreds of others sustained injuries.

An accurate number of dead and injured is difficult to arrive at, as IDPs live spreadout in the district, many living with relatives and friends without the knowledge of the local authorities dealing with the relief assistance and compensation.

Meanwhile, the IDPs living at government expenses, point out inefficiencies of the authorities in paying compensations and say the payments are not timely. They say the red tape system should be put aside to help the people in need.

For example, the Ministry of Disaster Management gives Rs 15,000.00 for funeral expenses and Rs. 100,000.00 for a death. The injured are paid according to the seriousness of the injury. Although the rules apply to all communities, Tamil refugees complain of discrimination in relief disbursement.

When Sinhalese or Muslims are affected all the payments are distributed promptly, Tamil refugees say. Tamil IDPs receive payments for funeral expenses long after the death, and death benefits are paid after family struggles through months of hardship.

Civil society sources said the money allocated in fiscal year 2006 to pay compensation to the Kathiravely victims, was returned to the treasury due to the negligence of the authorities. When the authorities started to pay the money at the end of December, the Army resumed offensive the moneys were returned to the treasury, and so far the local authorities have not approached provincial authorities for the payments.

Batticaloa district government machinery is slow, civil sources say. Even tsunami victims were paid compensation only after three months of the catastrophe. Meanwhile, in Jaffna, the then Government Agent, Chelliah Pathmanathan, borrowed 2.5 million rupees from local businesspersons and gave the affected people immediately for funeral expenses. Then Premier Mahinda Rajapakse when he visited Jaffna came to know this and congratulated the GA for his timely and bold decision.

Rs 870,000.00 is needed to pay all Kathiravely victims. The question in civil society's is whether the Batticaloa Government Agent will rise up to the challenge to see the needs of the most vulnerable section of the society, are met promptly.



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