Ilankai Tamil Sangam

23rd Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Open Letter to Solheim

by K. Mylvaganam, June 25, 2007

Nearly five people are either shot and killed or stabbed and beaten to death by the GoSL forces or by the Para-Military elements attached to the forces every day. When someone is shot, we do not blame the “Bullet” for it but the person who pulled the trigger. Therefore, the GoSL forces cannot get away by saying that it was one or the other Para-Military groups which are responsible, because these groups are under the payroll and protection of the GoSL. Rape and burglary are taking place during the dark hours under the cover of the curfew.

Hr. Erik Solheim
Minister for Foreign Aid
Oslo, Norway

Dear Honourable Minister,

I have lived in Bergen for over 23 years. I am presently in Kilinochchi in Vanni. I came here a few months back on a short holiday and got caught up in the terrible situation prevailing here. Since I am a Tamil (with a Norwegian passport) I take relief to some extent that I am able to share the sorrows and undergo the atrocities my fellow Tamils are undergoing in Sri Lanka. **

I write this today on the occasion of the Co-Chairs meeting in Oslo, with you Presiding over the events of today and tomorrow.

My being here has made me very conversant with the untold agonies the minority communities, both the Tamils and the Muslims, are undergoing in this once beautiful and peaceful country. The situation is getting worse as the days pass by.

Closure of the A-9 highway to Jaffna:

The sudden and total closure of the A-9 highway to Jaffna has caused extreme difficulties to the residents both in and outside Jaffna. Those living inside Jaffna are virtually held as prisoners, denied their basic right to travel freely to places of their choice. It is only the rich who can afford to pay the airfare to make it Colombo after a long wait and “Oiling” of those responsible for issuing the air tickets. A few manage to travel by ship after a month-long wait. Many patients who are seriously ill and in need of specialized medical care are unable to reach Colombo in time. The scarcity for essential food, medicine and fuel is inflating the prices of goods. It is not everybody who can afford to pay high prices. The children and pregnant mothers are undernourished due to this situation.

Vanni is also badly affected by the restrictions imposed on the transport of goods to and from Vanni at the Omanthai checkpoint, which also gets closed intermittently because of the rift between the government forces (SLA) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). All construction works have come to a stand-still due to cement and steel rods being banned from being brought into Vanni.

Human Rights Violations:

There is no respect for Human Rights in this country; not only in the Tamil areas, but also in the South. 

Financial Abductions are the rule of the day. In Colombo many rich people, both Tamils and Muslims, are targeted and heavy sums running into several millions are obtained as ransom. This has compelled many business magnets to close their establishments and migrate to greener pastures like Malaysia and other places.

Political Abductions are prevalent in the country. Mainly the Tamil youngsters are targeted and their mutilated bodies are later found thrown around or they go “Missing.” The wounds on their bodies reflect the sick mentality of the armed forces. Just to reiterate this, I may refer to the abduction of the two employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross. They were abducted by people who claimed that they were from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). This abduction took place at the Colombo Fort railway station, right under the eyes of both the military and the police who were present there, but they turned a blind eye on the event for obvious reasons. Both of the aid workers were found murdered the following day. No-one has been arrested so far. Seventeen employees of the French INGO Action Against Famine were asked to lie prostrate on the floor and bullets were sprayed on them. The dead included a female worker as well. This happened over ten months back and no-one has been arrested so far. Of course, the government says that they have appointed a commission and I quote below what the Chief Justice of the Indian Supreme Court, Hon.Bagawati, who is the Chairman of the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), has said:

We have identified and raised a number of concerns with the commission and the government of Sri Lanka (GoSL). We remain concerned that the current measures taken by the GoSL and the commission to address issues such as the independence of the commission, timeliness and witnesses protection are not adequate and do not satisfy international standards.”

The report also averted to the fact that the role of the Attorney General’s Department in the commission detracts from its independence and impartiality.

Daily Killings, Rape and Thefts:

Nearly five people are either shot and killed or stabbed and beaten to death by the GoSL forces or by the Para-Military elements attached to the forces every day. When someone is shot, we do not blame the “Bullet” for it but the person who pulled the trigger. Therefore, the GoSL forces cannot get away by saying that it was one or the other Para-Military groups which are responsible, because these groups are under the payroll and protection of the GoSL. Rape and burglary are taking place during the dark hours under the cover of the curfew. Out of shame and fearing the social consequences, the victims rarely come out and register their complaints except for a few, especially when the victim is murdered after the rape.

Dictatorial Attitude of Ministers:

The GoSL, though it has over 100 ministers in parliament is virtually run with an iron fist by the Rajapaksha Brothers. They are making Hitler an angel by their dictatorial attitude and actions. It is a widely known secret that it was the defense secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksha who gave the orders to forcibly pull out the Tamils including women, children, the sick and the old in the middle of the night from the lodges in Colombo and to drive them away to the northeast.

Humble Appeal:

The Tamils, especially those living in the government-controlled Tamil areas, have undergone severe hardship and have been living in fear for over quarter of a century. They have lost over 70,000 civilian lives and billions worth of properties. They are dying for PEACE, which they hope Norway will help bring to them. They have unblemished trust in Norway. I have lived in Norway for nearly a quarter of a century and, as President of the “Forening for Tamilene i Hordaland,” had the pleasure of meeting two foreign ministers – Froyden Lund I 1985 and Stoltenberg later. Since then, Norway has been involved with the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka.

I take this opportunity to thank you for all the effort you and your team are making in trying to bring the two parties to the peace talks. I personally feel much harder arm- twisting of the government of Sri Lanka by way of freezing foreign aid to the SL government will bear fruit. I trust the meeting of the Co-Chairs on 26.06.2007 will bring some decisive conclusions to achieve this end.

Thank you.

**Paradoxically, I may say that I am enjoying the sufferings because it allows me to take part ever more in my own close-kn-t community here in Vanni.