Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Printer-Friendly Version

The Situation in Muthur

by Dr. Brian Senewiratne, Brisbane, Australia

What the Sri Lankan Armed Forces are doing in Trincomalee is not “bad”, it is much worse than “bad”. It is not cruelty, it is beyond cruelty and into the realm of barbarism or savagery, take your pick. By extension, those who direct such behavior and/or are in a position to stop such atrocities, are guilty of the same.

I enclose, with minimal comment, a letter I have just received. It is from a former student of mine.  The only comment I will make is that what is going on in Trincomalee is, in my book,  “mass murder’ or even ‘genocide.’ One could ‘dress’ these up and call them by some other name, eg ‘fighting terrorism’, ‘defending the nation,’ etc, but mass killing is mass killing, genocide is genocide, whatever the dressing.  It is for us to point this out to the international community, which continues to supply the gun boats, bombs and rockets for these atrocities to continue.

Can I comment further on this letter? Of course, I can but I will not do so in any detail. I will leave it to you to decide, now that I have drawn your attention to the facts on the ground. I will only make few observations which you might not appreciate.

1. What the Sri Lankan Armed Forces are doing in Trincomalee is not “bad”, it is much worse than “bad”. It is not cruelty, it is beyond cruelty and into the realm of barbarism or savagery, take your pick. By extension, those who direct such behavior and/or are in a position to stop such atrocities, are guilty of the same.

Am I accusing President Rajapakse of barbarism? Yes I am. Am I accusing President Kumaratunga of barbarism a la the bombing of Jaffna with half a million people in 1995 and the ‘disappearances’ of people who have been held without charge or trial in custody, their bodies subsequently recovered from mass graves in Chemmani? Yes I am. Do I believe the Sri Lankan Army Corporal, a Sinhalese, I might add, when he gave evidence under oath in the Supreme Court in the Krishanthy murder trial, that he and his fellow soldiers were asked to bury people (it was he who told us where they were buried) who were not yet dead? Yes I do.  Am I accusing President Jayawardene of barbarism a la the July 1983 massacre of Tamil civilians in Colombo when he and his cronies opted to watch the massacre or even encourage it? Yes I am.

Let us not try to do some ‘dressing up’ to make these (including what is now going on in Trinco), look better than they are. Let us tell it like it is. This is barbaric. Full stop. End of story. Amen.

2. If the Sinhala South wants to be ruled by a barbaric regime, that is their choice. There is no need for the people in the North and East to be ruled by this same regime. The latter have voted overwhelmingly for a separate Tamil State (at the 1977 Elections). There is no evidence to date that they have changed their mind, Mr Karuna notwithstanding.

Will the Tamils be better off under the LTTE? I do not know. What I do know is that they cannot possibly be worse off. As I have said in an earlier communication, a recent (2005) survey in the Government-controlled areas in the North East, showed that some 85% of people wanted the ISGA implemented i.e. to be ‘ruled’ by the LTTE. Are they wise or mad? I do not know, but it is their choice. Had such a study been conducted in the LTTE-controlled area, I’d say the result would be somewhere near 100%. That is speculation, so shall we have a vote? And will the international community force the Sri Lankan Government to accede to the wishes of the people, as shown by that vote? If not, then there is no point getting the information.

3. To negotiate with such a regime is an exercise in futility, comparable with the folly of prolonged negotiations with the Chandrika Kumaratunga regime. All that it achieves is for the Sinhala regime to be given time to enhance its destructive power, the evidence of which was seen in Jaffna in 1995. We are going down the same road, with predictably the same results. I have no doubt that the LTTE realises this. Our role is to make sure that the International community knows this. That is where we, in the expatriate community, have failed so miserably.

4. There is concern, justifiably so, of child recruitment by the LTTE. Just look at the right column in the table given below – the children under 5 years of age who are going though what they are.  That is where the LTTE recruits are going to come. I can be sure of 3 certain recruits. These are the 3 children who watched their mother bleed to death with a severed hand, the ICRC desperately trying to get her to Trincomalee Hospital, and being not allowed to do so by the Army. There, for sure, are three ready-made recruits for the LTTE, the ‘Black Tigers’ and the suicide squad.

5. The Sinhala Government is too stupid to realise that Eelam is not a creation of the Tamils or even of the LTTE. It is a creation of Sinhala ethno-religious chauvinism and State brutality. The division of the country is not going to come because the Tamils wanted it, but because it was forced on them by the abysmal stupidity of a succession of Sinhala Governments since Independence, especially since 1956. It is too late now to turn the clock back. Indeed, the events now unfolding in Trinco are turning the clock forward at a spectacular rate.

My first reaction on reading the letter I received was to catch the first plane and get to Trinco to be with my people in their greatest hour of need. Yes, they are my people although they speak a different language. However, I think that I will be of greater use to them if I stay alive here than go to Trinco and be killed like my friend Joseph Pararajasingham..

The very least I can do for these people, who are paying for what they have not done, is to apprise the International community of what is going on. This is what I tried to do in my earlier article on The killing of innocents in Sri Lanka (27.4.06). Here now is a Report from the ground, the ‘ground reality’. You can do what you like with it. If it is going to the dustbin, let it go. If mass murder and genocide are acceptable, so be it.

Attention of Dr Brian Senewiratne
Muthur, 5 May 2006

Dear Dr. Senewiratne,

Re: The Situation in Muthur

Despite the chaos here, we have seen your recent article on the killing of innocents in Trincomalee. We are grateful you, a Sinhalese, for pointing this out, when the so-called Monitoring Mission does not seem to have the guts to do so.

We are sending you some facts and figures to apprise you of the extent of the suffering.

People in Muthur are being displaced some 15 km to areas of supposed safety. I doubt if any place here is safe. It certainly does not seem so from what has happened so far.

People are on the road, literally camped under trees. I enclose a photograph but I have far worse ones which I am not sending you for obvious reasons. A few days ago, people with nowhere to go and tired of wandering about, decided to move back since the bombing seemed to have stopped. But then the shelling from the Naval boats started again, and the people are going back to ‘safe places’ again.

The SL military is preventing people from moving to safe areas, both in Trincomalee and Batticaloa.

Sampoor Hospital, which is the nearest hospital to these people, is essentially closed because there are no doctors. Eachchilampattu Hospital is the same. Doctors are understandably reluctant to come because of the bombing.  

The LTTE Thileepan mobile medical service is giving emergency medical and wound care, but there is a limit to what they can do.

You would have read that a mother of three children died of bleeding following the severing of her hand by a missile. ICRC tried to carry her to Trincomalee but was stopped by the Sri Lankan Army and she bled to death.

Here are some statistics from Health Care Centres in the region which you might have already seen:

  Families Individuals Children Under Five
1.Thankapuram 402 1308 75
2.Partarlipuram 1505 4660 175
3.Nallur 189 615 unknown number
4.Illankai thurai 674 2470 240
5.Punnaiyadi 507 1911 96
6.Kalladi 145 425 26
7.Verukal 298 1680 61
Total 3720 13069 673+

This is the same area which has been devastated by the Tsunami and about which the Sri Lankan Government, despite claims to the contrary, has done absolutely nothing. They are now being bombed by Forces of the same Government.

Doctor, we really have no one to turn to. The children and infants are in real risk of dying unless help arrives fairly soon.

Thank you, doctor, for what you have done to tell the world of our plight.

Kind regards,
[Name withheld]

  • Publication date: