underclass rising | 11.05.2009 13:55 | World
About 500 protesters calling for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka have blocked roads outside the Houses of Parliament. Police said the demonstrators had spilled through police lines and taken to the streets in Westminster.
Protesters, including hunger strikers, have been camped in Parliament Square since early April. The United Nations has described the situation in northern Sri Lanka as a “bloodbath” after reports of heavy civilian casualties at the weekend. Police closed the approaches to Parliament Square from Westminster Bridge and Whitehall and blocked the protesters in with vans. The main entrance to the Houses of Parliament was also closed off, to prevent the crowd surging towards the Commons through the Carriage Gates.
[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 May 2009, 02:55 GMT ]
2,000 civilians feared slaughtered in a single night
Indiscriminate barrage of shelling by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) on the ’safety zone’ starting from Saturday night to Sunday morning slaughtered more than 2,000 civilians including large number of women and children, medical sources in Vanni said quoting the injured who managed to reach the makeshift hospital. Dead bodies are scattered everywhere and 814 wounded managed to reach the makeshift hospital up to 9:25 a.m., doctors said. Every kind of lethal weapon such as the internationally banned cluster shells and shells fired from Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers and Cannons were used turning the so-called safety zone into a killing field. The SLA usually chooses weekends for its massacres to minimise international attention.
The entire family of a devoted nursing officer, Gracian Tharmarasa, has been wiped out in the shelling. Dead bodies are found in bunkers and inside the tarpaulin tents. The exact number of the killed and injured is yet to be ascertained. 257 dead bodies, including 67 that of children, have been brought to the hospital. 112 of the injured brought to the hospital were children.The makeshift hospital which is now running in junior school in Mu’l'li-vaaykkaal is struggling beyond words to cope with the situation, the medical sources said.
“This is the first time in history where the International Community and the UN have politically experimented such a mass killing of civilians in a single day by giving an almost open consent to a government,” described a human rights professional in Colombo upon hearing the news.
The large scale slaughter is believed to be a result of India prodding Colombo to finish the war before the change of government, political circles in Colombo said adding that it seems that the ‘war on terror’ has been translated into ‘war on civilians’ in the time of Obama Administration.
A doctor working inside the so-called no-fire zone in the north of the country told the Guardian that at least 378 people had died and 1,212 had been injured in a series of attacks last night, which included shelling from positions held by government forces.
That would make it the bloodiest day since the government launched its all-out campaign to destroy the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at the start of the year. The death toll is expected to rise because the figure released by the medical staff only includes bodies brought to the hospital. More bodies are understood to be lying where they fell.
The assault started on the same day that the Sri Lankan government ordered the tens of thousands of civilians still trapped by the fighting to move into an area that is just 2km long and 1.5km wide to enable it to flush out the remaining Tamil rebels.The shrinking of the safe zone meant some families had to abandon the bunkers they had dug in the sand to find shelter in the new area designated by the government.
According to a UN source, most of the people who were killed were inside the new no-fire zone. The official said many were believed to have died in an air strike at about 5.30am today. Medical staff working in makeshift facilities inside the zone said shells started falling on Saturday evening. One doctor said shelling started at 5pm and continued through until 9am. It appeared that the shells were fired from government positions in Mullaitivu. He said the dead included a man who worked as a nurse at the hospital and seven members of his family, who were killed when a shell hit the bunker where they were sheltering.
“The shells were landing about 300 metres from the hospital,” he said. “All the time, we have casualties coming in. We don’t have time to think.”
He said the dead were being buried in large pits, with 30 or 40 bodies in each pit. He ended the telephone interview without giving his name, saying he had to deal with an eight-year-old boy had just been brought in requiring immediate surgery on his wounds. Another doctor, V Shanmugarajah, told the Associated Press that 1,122 people had been wounded in the artillery barrage.
“We are doing the first aid and some surgeries as quickly as we can. We are doing what is possible. The situation is overwhelming; nothing is within our control,” he said.