Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Printer-Friendly Version

Tamil Civilians Need Protection Against a Vindictive Armed State

International Federation of Tamils
18 Rue des Paquis,1201 Geneva, Switzerland
tel/Fax 00 41 22 7320 831

Urgent press statement

Ref.Pr/S2 /040106


Tamil Civilians Need Protection Against A Vindictive Armed State

This is the second urgent appeal the IFT, International Federation of Tamils is making to the IC, International Community within a week, for urgent measures to prevent gross abuses against Tamils in the government controlled areas of the traditional homeland of the Tamils in Sri Lanka, by the State Armed Forces.

Vicious attacks on civilians, growing lists of missing persons, violence on women including rapes and murders, killing of school children and attacks on schools and universities, arson, increased checkpoints and harassing body searches are spiralling to intolerable heights.

In complete contrast to the statement made by the military spokesman on the killing of five teenage boys in Trincomalee that they were LTTE cadres killed accidentally in a blast while assembling an incendiary with an intent to attack a military installation, the autopsy made by the state medical officers on the boys' bodies, has revealed that they were shot through their ears at a very close range. It was also subsequently revealed that they were all advanced level qualified civilian students from the same school on a normal evening camaraderie at the beach. It has emerged that they were initially attacked by a hand-grenade thrown at them from a passing auto-rickshaw, wounding one severely. As the strollers at the beach streaked in different directions in panic, the boys stood by their wounded colleague to load him in a vehicle to rush for treatment when the State Armed Forces arrived as if in waiting, pulled the boys out of the vehicle, kicked, trampled and mauled them. The Seamen had pushed their rifles at the ear of each boy sprawled on the ground at close range and pulled the trigger. Five were killed instantly while two are in hospital, critically wounded. A spokesperson for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Helen Olafsdottir, told BBC Sandesaya, that there was evidence that all five students had been shot in the head in a manner she described as resembling 'executions.'

This is naked State terrorism perpetrated on unarmed school children.

The Tamil nation, both in Sri Lanka and belonging to the Tamil Diaspora, appeals to the International Community to condemn the barbaric act of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces and prevail on the President of Sri Lanka to take immediate and strong action against the perpetrators.

It has also come to light that the State Armed Forces initially threatened the relatives of the five murdered boys to sign documents admitting the dead belonged to the LTTE, if they wished to remove the bodies for burial and finally relented only when the bereaved stood their ground and socially prominent persons from the locality prevailed on the authorities.

This type of terror and violation unleashed on Tamils in Sri Lanka is on the increase after the election of Presdient Mahinda Rajapakse, with the support of extreme nationalists and Buddhist chauvinists.

Joseph Pararajasingham, a peace activist and a civilian Tamil leader, was assassinated in a cathedral during a midnight Christmas service. A paramilitary group attached to State Armed Forces has claimed responsibility. This is an act of terrorism and a violation of the Cease Fire Agreement. Yet, the International Community has not condemned it.

The number of persons reported missing in Tamil areas is on the increase. The National Human Rights Commission (Jaffna office) has reported 35 people missing, and there have been an increasing number of complaints of rape and murder by State Armed Forces and numerous army assaults within the last two weeks in Jaffna Peninsula.

Similar conditions prevailed in Jaffna in 1996 when more than 600 persons were reported missing and presumed buried in the Chemmani area on the outskirts of the city. Sarath Fonseka was the commander of the Armed Forces in Jaffna at that time. Ironically, he is now the Army Commander, appointed by President Rajapkse to execute his policy and the second wave of 'persons missing' has just resumed.

Selvam Adaikkalanathan, Member of Parliament, in a letter addressed to the President this week, has brought to light a list of army atrocities on civilians in Mannar district, another Tamil area under Sri Lanka government control. This is the area where, during the week following Christmas, the State Armed Forces set fire to hundreds of huts belonging to war and Tsunami refugees and forced them to take refuge again in a church. The state soldiers killed a father, mother and a 4 year-old child and a neighbour and fed the raging fire.

The Member of Parliament has stated that fishermen of the area, depending on their daily catch for living, have been ordered by the State Military to replace their 30 hp outboard motors with less powerful ones, a replacement they could not afford; fuel they are allowed to carry on board has been halved; this prevents fishing deep sea and often on return in strong currents, they burn more fuel and are left to drift unless rescue arrives. On days the fisherman do not return within the stipulated time, they are beaten up by the armed forces.

In Colombo and other major cities, nocturnal searches of Tamil homes, desecration of family bedrooms, dragging men and women - in their night clothes - to sites of interrogation, making them wait day and night in open spaces are indignities which are on the increase. New Year's Eve alone saw more than one thousand Tamils subjected to this indignity in Colombo.

The IFT considers this a war declared by the Sri Lanka Government on the civilian population in the island. The unarmed civilians need protection against a vindictive armed state. The International Community must respond immediately.