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Sri-Lankan Army massacred civilians in bunkers - medical worker

copyleft | 08.09.2009 08:39 | Anti-militarism | Repression | Social Struggles

A medical worker who came out of Mu’l’li-vaaykkaal during the last days of the war on the NE Sri Lankan coast last May reveals shocking evidence which had so far only been rumoured.....meanwhile, conditions in Sri Lanka’s militarised internment camps continue where over 250,000 civilians remain in captivity, what critics have called “the world’s biggest open air prison”.

the following contains 3 reports (all from Tamilnet):
1). SLA massacred civilians in bunkers - medical worker
2). Continuing misery of Sri Lanka's camps
3). Amnesty wants Sri Lanka camps unlocked, war crimes probes

SLA massacred civilians in bunkers - medical worker
TamilNet, Monday, 07 September 2009

The advancing Sri Lanka Army massacred civilians by paving their bunkers with tanks, by throwing explosives inside the bunkers and by shooting the injured, says a medical worker who came out of Mu’l’li-vaaykkaal during the last days of the war, became incarcerated in a camp and now escaped the island. "Around a hundred thousand captured civilians herded to Mullaiththeevu were kept in rows within barbed wires, most of the time without water or food under the hot sun, and were bullied and ill treated with arrogance," he writes in a lengthy note that reached TamilNet this week. The note in Tamil was provided by the Norwegian Tamils Health Organisation (NTHO), urging TamilNet not to reveal the identity of the health worker for reasons of his security.

The medical worker was injured in a fire-bomb attack of the SLA on May 12th.

On alleged earlier firing on civilians, who in desperation tried to get into SLA controlled area, and on violence in recruitment during the last days that especially affected the families of LTTE heroes and fighters, the medical worker attributed responsibility to some elements long infiltrated into the LTTE, to work on behalf of Colombo. LTTE senior ranks were shaken by such treachery, he writes.

Further personal observations culled out from his notes follow:

Colombo particularly targeted hospitals and makeshift hospitals. When people moved away from Ki'linochchi, its hospital started functioning in the school building at Udaiyaar-kaddu. More than two thousand shells were fired on this building by the SLA.

Ki’linochchi to Tharmapuram, Vaddakkachchi, Visuvamadu, Udaiyaar-kaddu, Puthukkudiyiruppu – until reaching Mu’l’li-vaaykkaal, at an average 50 civilians were killed every day in Sri Lankan attacks. 8000 were already killed before herded into Mu’l’li-vaaykkaal.

Medical work decimated and workers were shaken at the death of patients, nurses and workers.

When there were more than 300,000 people, Colombo sent food for only 30,000.

Important medicines such as anaesthetic drugs were not sent. Life-saving surgery without anaesthesia was a cursing ordeal for the patients as well as doctors.

Mothers and children standing in queue to receive infant milk food were targeted in the SL shell attacks. Without seeing no one could visualize the sorrow of the child that lost the mother and the mother who lost the child.

SLA shell attacks, guided by spy craft were targeted on queues for gruel also. Despite casualties the queue would form again.

While even gruel was scarce to people, lands they cultivated were harvested by the SLA.

At one stage, the LTTE leadership ordered food meant for combatants to be shared with civilians. The fighters fought only with gruel food and to the last LTTE served gruel to people.

Around 1000 waterholes were dug and several hundreds of toilets were made for civilians at the initiative of the LTTE. Water often mixed with sand was collected in shell-halves and was filtered by cloth.

There were no epidemics.

Pregnant mothers and infants bearing shell fragments came to makeshift hospitals.

These hospitals functioned 24 hours and wailing was always heard around them.

Many dead bodies couldn’t be buried in certain situations of SL attacks and hungry dogs dragged them.

Every time moving patents to ICRC vessel there will be targeted shelling from the SLA. A few hundreds taken for ICRC treatment died. How that happened was not known and whom to ask.

Even in emaciated conditions people donated blood for treatment and some of them later died of their own injuries.

More than a thousand people were killed on the day when the SLA entered into Maaththa’lan and Pokka’nai (20th April).

On May 15th and 16th the SLA entered and rampaged the pocket of land crowded with nearly a hundred thousand people.

I had to pass through at least around 300 bodies when I came out. Some were alive but couldn’t walk. I helped a few who could walk. Some held my feet when I tried to go away. What could I do?

There is a long list of people who were eliminated and disappeared after capture by the SLA. The army-controlled area was a place where murders took place in front of one’s eyes.

In Mullaiththeevu, a hundred thousand people made to stand in rows would all of a sudden be ordered to squat by the SL army. The soldiers would make sadistic laugh at seeing the melee of people falling on each other in the exercise.

Long poles were used to beat the people and to threaten them.

Old and young stood under hot sun for a long time, immensely suffering from thirst.

Mullaiththeevu to Vavuniyaa was scenery of disaster.

There were 20 to 25 people in a tent in the internment camp at Cheddiku’lam. Food was sometimes thrown from a vehicle.

Everyday in the internment camp around 30 people died.

It was a place of epidemics.

Thousands suffered of Chicken Pox, hundreds had brain fever, many elders died and some committed suicide.

The bribe to SL army for a person to come out was several hundred thousands of rupees.

In the last days of the war over 18,000 killed, more than 5,000 lost limbs, more than 7,000 seriously injured and several thousands suffered minor injuries. Several thousands suffer mental illnesses. More than a hundred medical workers- doctors, nurses and volunteers perished.

Knowledge and exercise of precaution reduced casualty. No one died of any epidemic under LTTE control.

Several thousands of Sinhala youth of the SLA, from poor families, regrettably laid down their life in the war.

The sadistic lust of Mahinda Rajapaksa is very astonishing - inflicting pain on ordinary civilians in every possible way, and then projecting that as forms of his soothing operation to the outside world.

The world may forget, but Tamils will never forget the true face of the civilisation of 21st century, the world has shown to them, writes the medical worker in his notes.

Continuing misery of Sri Lanka's camps
TamilNet, Monday, 07 September 2009,

Two months after Aljazeera compiled a dossier of information highlighting what the broadcaster described as “shocking and disturbing” conditions in Sri Lanka’s militarised internment camps, nothing has changed. Reporting in late July, Aljazeera noted that what the Colombo government calls “welfare camps”, critics have called “the world’s biggest open air prison”. TamilNet is revisiting Aljazeera’s July report, which set out the substantial material about camp conditions compiled by the broadcaster despite the government’s restrictions, to highlight the ongoing misery of the camps’ inmates.

Aid agencies sounded the alarm to the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinater even before the war was over, that "current conditions in Menik farm are not only a violation of IDP's fundamental rights to freedom of movement, education and livelihoods, they are also failing to adequately fulfil rights on basic access to food, shelter and water," Aljazeera said.

Over 220,000 people are held in overcrowded and poor sanitary conditions in the six-zones of the Menik farm camp, while minimum international standards - outlined by the Sphere Project – would allow for a maximum of 140,000 people in the cramped space, the report said.

Amnesty wants Sri Lanka camps unlocked, war crimes probes
TamilNet, Monday, 10 August 2009

Amnesty International on Monday called for “the immediate release of 285,000 innocent Tamil civilians - including an estimated 50,000 children - being held in cramped and squalid camps” by Sri Lanka’s hard-line government. Amnesty called on the United Nations, Sri Lanka’s donors and rest of the international community to monitor the camps, push for unimpeded access for aid agencies, rights monitors and journalists and to take initial steps towards on international inquiry into war crimes. Amnesty noted that in Menik Farm – the most presentable of the camps - the equivalent of the population of the town of Bournemouth live, eat and sleep in an area size of Wembley Stadium.

“The camps - each surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by security forces - were set up during the recent Government offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam,.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: “The largest camp - Menik Farm - is horrendous. It holds about 160,000 people in an area smaller than one square kilometre.”

“That's like the entire population of Bournemouth having to live, eat and sleep in an area the size of Wembley Stadium.”

“The people we are talking about here are doctors, teachers, farmers - ordinary people with ordinary lives. Yet, they are being held in horrendous conditions for no reason other than that they previously lived in areas held by the Tamil Tigers.”

“There is a lack of running water, limited access to toilets and restricted communication with the outside world,” she said.

“Aid workers in the camps are not even allowed to talk to the residents of the camp. These are innocent people being treated in the most inhumane way.”

Amnesty International called on the United Nations, Sri Lanka’s donors and other members of the international community to: “call for an immediate end to restrictions on freedom of movement that prevent displaced persons from leaving the confines of the camps and ensure that assistance they provide to maintain the IDP camps is not used in a way which violates human rights by continuing the practice of arbitrary detention of displaced persons;

“deploy an effective UN human rights monitoring mission to help provide safeguards against human rights abuses and, over the longer term, to contribute to protection of human rights for everyone in Sri Lanka;

“continue to demand full and unimpeded access by relevant UN agencies and other international humanitarian organizations to all IDPs, including for protection purposes. Such access must extend to monitoring registration and screening processes, detention places and IDP camps;

“call for access to IDP camps by independent human rights monitors and journalists;

“encourage the government to commit to clear benchmarks for durable solutions for Sri Lanka’s displaced population that comply with international human rights standards, including permanent, voluntary return to area of origin, integration into the local community, or resettlement in another part of the country;


“disclose information in their possession regarding the final phase of the conflict as an initial step towards an international inquiry into allegations of serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the recent conflict, with a view to establishing the facts and make recommendations on how best to ensure accountability for abuses.”

Amnesty called on the Sri Lankan government to:

“immediately end the detention of civilians by lifting restrictions on displaced persons leaving the confines of the camps, grant immediate, full and unimpeded humanitarian access to the camps, permitting the supply of food, water and medical assistance [and] commit to the eventual closure of all the camps.”