Sencholai Massacre – 7 Years On

Justice is no closer

Victims of Sencholai Massacre Vanni August 14 2006

by ‘Tamil Guardian,’ London, August 13, 2013

On 14th August 2006, four Sri Lankan Air Force jets flew over the Vanni, dropping sixteen bombs over the Sencholai children’s home in Vallipunam for orphaned girls.

Fifty-three Tamil school girls and 3 staff members were killed, and over 150 injured.

In a macabre warning of the attacks against hospitals within the designated ‘No Fire Zones’ in 2009, the Sencholai attack took place despite the Sencholai’s GPS coordinates being given to the Sri Lankan military via UNICEF and the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), in order to protect it as a humanitarian zone.

See the list of victims here, and their photos here.

Also see a survivor’s account of the airstrike here, and photos of the aftermath here and here.

The Sri Lankan government was swift to claim that all the girls who were massacred were “terrorists” at a “training camp” of the LTTE – a claim which was categorically rejected by UNICEF and international ceasefire monitors of the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM).

The Sri Lanka’s Inspector General of Police, Chandra Fernando,claimed at the time that three girls who were admitted to hospital with injuries “told Police that the place was not an orphanage.”

The Sri Lankan news site, the Daily News reported, ‘The Government and Security Forces denied the LTTE’s claim and emphasised that it was a military training camp used by the LTTE
“These children are innocent victims of violence,”to train hundreds of youth and the target was taken after compiling enough evidence to prove it was an LTTE military camp.’

In a statement, Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF said:

      “We call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and ensure children and the places where they live, study and play are protected from harm. “

Whilst, UNICEF’s Colombo chief, Joanna Van Gerpen told reporters:

“we don’t have any evidence that they are LTTE cadres.”

The SLMM monitors said they found at least 10 bomb craters and an unexploded bomb at the site.

The Head of the SLMM, Ulf Henricsson said: “We couldn’t find any sign of military installations or weapons. … This was not a military installation, we can see [that].”

The Swiss government described the bombing as “an outrage.”

Despite such unanimous consensus that the attack was targeted at an orphanage during the ceasefire, the IRCR and the Co-Chairs of the peace process – US, UK, EU and Norway – did not condemn the attack.

Seven years on, and tens of thousands more lives later, justice is no closer.


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