Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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NESOHR: Urgent Appeal to Halt Military Activities

And Restore Normalcy in the North East






Karadippoku Junction




Press Release
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The NorthEast Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR) is highly perturbed about the increasingly militaristic approach of the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) in resolving disputes with its partner in the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA). The parties to the CFA trading accusations against each other as to who fired the first shot is highly debatable, but the harm caused to civilian life cannot, however, be glossed over.

Loss of schoolchildren

In this context, our attention is drawn to the ‘confusion’ surrounding the aerial bombardment that killed 51 students and injured 136 in Mullaittivu while these students were undergoing a programmed first aid and leadership training. The necessity for such a course in first aid and leadership for senior students selected from many schools in the Kilinochchi and Mullaittivu districts arose consequent to frequent air raids by SLAF Kfir jets, commencing from one during the cease- fire in Muttur. When Mullaittivu and Kilinochchi have become the hunting ground of these killing machines, the teaching community along with the parents felt the necessity to train students senior enough to take leadership roles and impart basic knowledge of first aid and precautions during air raids. The killing of school children by aerial bombardment in Nagarkovil in the Jaffna district during the mid-nineties is still fresh in the minds of the teachers and parents and, therefore, a collective effort was undertaken to train these students.

In the background of falsehoods that are in the air implying that the location was a military training ground of the LTTE and those killed were trainee combatants, NESoHR carried out its own investigations with the view to bring out the truth for the benefit of those who are still kept in the dark.

NESoHR wishes to vouchsafe that those killed were in fact students undergoing training for first aid during air raids and were not in any way connected to any military  training programme. Results of this investigation are attached as annexures to this document in the following order:

  1. Principals Association letter to UNICEF
  2. Leadership Training Programme for A/L students 2006 – Syllabus
  3. Timetable for the programme
  4. Detailed list of students killed
  5. Details of students injured

Curfew and closure of entry points:

NESoHR is equally concerned about the curfew in the Jaffna peninsula that has invariably imprisoned a people already on the fringe of frustration and despair due to perpetual subjugation under a hostile military occupation for nearly a decade now.

During the communal pogroms of 1958 and 1977 the Tamil people, who were the victims of racial hatred, did pray that a curfew would be declared to safeguard them from being killed, but the then governments procrastinated and left the innocent Tamils in the hands of hoodlums and a police and army that were mere on-lookers. Those were curfews the governments elected not to impose, for those who sought them were innocent Tamil people; in fact, there was not a war between two parties and Tamils as one party were a passive, unarmed nation of people facing discrimination and military oppression. Whenever they drew attention through democratic and non-violent means, the strong arm of the law crushed their opposition, paving the way for Tamil militancy.

Right to life – Freedom of movement:

Exacerbating the out-of-gear situation due to curfew, Jaffna peninsula, districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaittivu, Mannar and many parts of Trincomalee and Batticaloa remain cut off from the outside world commencing 11 August 2006. Aerial bombings, artillery shelling and multi-barrel rockets on the civilian population in this undeclared war have cumulatively placed the people in a critical situation, wherein the freedom to flee for safety itself has been denied.

Scarcity of food essentials, fuel and medicines, denial of access to treatment of the seriously injured in the bombings, all during a 'cease-fire period' are matters that the international community needs to take up with the government.

Two infants, a critically ill pregnant mother and a 60 year old man with a hip fracture transported in the Kilinochchi Ambulance vehicle were denied access to Vavuniya Hospital yesterday, 21 August 2006 at the Omanthai military entry point by the SL military. This inhuman denial of access to medical treatment resulted in one child dying on return to Kilinochchi.

Under the cover of curfew, the military in the occupied parts of the Jaffna peninsula and elsewhere is engaged in a spree of killing civilians, including academics, university students, a former Tamil legislator. Also noteworthy is the fact that scores of civilians have been killed by shelling in Allaippiddy in the Jaffna district and those injured have not been allowed to seek treatment in the Jaffna hospital by a military blockade. Relatives and humanitarian workers have not been allowed to remove the dead bodies for burial in time.

The militaristic approach of the government in dealing with democratic human rights issues is amply demonstrated and testified by the appointment of a retired military commander as the Government Agent (Chief Administrative Officer) of Trincomalee in violation of the basic principles of appointing members from the Civil Administrative Service. 

A government that is brazenly violating a CFA by engaging in aerial bombings, shellings, rocket attacks, forcibly keeping a civilian population imprisoned within the confines of military gates and imposing an undeclared food-medicine-economic embargo deservedly earns the reputation of a ‘rogue state’ and, therefore, the international community in general and universal human right lovers have a solemn obligation to effectively intervene now.

Fr.M.X. Karunaratnam

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