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Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Indictment against Sri Lanka > Genocide'83 > Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01 > Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils  - in the Shadow of a Ceasefire - 02 todate: Introduction & Index  > Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils in the Shadow of a Ceasefire - 02 todate: the Record Speaks > Disappearances & Extra Judicial Killings > Rape & Murder  > Torture  > Sri Lanka's War Crimes > Censorship, Disinformation & Murder of Journalists > Patterns of  Impunity  > Sri Lanka Accused at United Nations > Rajiv Gandhi's War Crimes

INDICTMENT AGAINST SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka's Undeclared War on Eelam Tamils
...in the Shadow of a Ceasefire

Sri Lankan air force planes resuming aerial bombardment of the Muthur region in Trincomalee district on April 26th have in a colossal blunder dropped bombs on Muslim populated areas coming under Government control. At least three people were killed and eight injured in the incident where all victims were Muslims.

Consequent to the suicide bomber attack on Army Commander Lt. Gen Sarath Fonseka the Defence ministry suspended transport to and from tiger controlled areas in the Wanni and also commenced a three - pronged undeclared war in Trincomalee district.

The air force along with the Navy and Army had conducted a three - pronged , coordinated attack on areas coming under Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam control in the Muthur region on April 25th. Two Israeli built K- fir jets and one Ukraine made Mig 27 bomber conducted six sorties from 5. 50 Pm to 6. 25 pm.

Naval shelling from five Isreali made Dvora gunboats targetting coastal areas went on from 6. 35 to 8. 10 pm on the 25th. Artillery shelling from the Army base at Kuranguppaalam (Monkey Bridge) began at 6. 45 pm and went on intensively till 9.00 pm. Thereafter multi - barrel artillery bombardment continued intermittently till midnight.

Expectations among the civians that the bombing was now over got rudely shattered in the early hours of 26th when K- fir jets from China Bay air force base resumed aerial bombardment again. Both the Sampur jetty in LTTE controlled area and Muthur jetty in GOSL controlled area suffered hits. At least two uniformed personnel from the Navy were injured.

Bombs also fell on areas extending up to three kilometres from the Muthur Jetty. These are clearly demarcated Government controlled areas and are largely populated by Tamil speaking Muslims.After protests were lodged by Muslims in Muthur to the security authorities the bombing ceased.

One area affected badly was the Muslim settlement called Dharga Nagar. A Muslim Moulavi or Mullah Junaideen Mohammed was killed on the spot. His injured wife Akram Mulfikha (25) and sister Munira Junaideen (18) died after being admitted to Trincomalee hospital. Another seven injured persons from Muthur are receiving treatment there.

While the Navy transported the injured Muslim people from GOSL controled Muthur to Trinco in their gun boats assistance to injured Tamil civilians from LTTE controlled areas in the Muthur division was denied. Though the Red Cross was reportedly engaged in negotiations to get Navy assistance in transporting three seriously injured Tamil civilians to Trinco the defence ministry authorities in Colombo have adamantly refused to help.

According to informed sources at least twelve civilians have been killed and thirty - seven injured in the artillery and aerial bombardment of Muthur areas on April 25th. Around sixty - five people have minor injuries. With Muslim casualties the overall civilian toll has gone up to fifteen civilians killed and forty - four injured.

One of the biggest problems is the lack of adequate medical facilities to treat the injured. The Sampur clinic is ill - equipped to handle a tragedy of this proportion.

Three Tamil civilians requiring urgent surgery are still in Sampoor as the security authorities are refusing to transport the Tamil victims to Trincomalee hospital. Sampoor clinic does not have adequate surgical facilities.

Also some of the victims had died because of bleeding caused by the wounds. If proper medical help was available their lives may have been saved. Five bodies have been identified as belonging to K. Meiyan and his two year old son Meiyan Kishanthan, Ms Nagiah Rukmani, Ms Pathiniyan Nagamma and Ms Veerapathiran Pagawathipillai. All were from Sampoor, Muttur east, according to civil sources.

Many areas in the region are virtually a sea of rubble after the intensive attack. Apart from bombs dropped in six different air force sorties, there were at least 80 shells by the Navy and over 160 shells by the Army. Rescue work is currently underway and many of the affected houses, dwellings and other buildings are yet to be cleared. The casualty toll may go up when all the debris and rubble are cleared. The areas affected are Sampur. Muthur, Senaiyoor, Kadatkaraichenai, Kattaiparichhaan, Iraalkuli, Soodaikkudaa, Ilakkanthai, Santhoshapuram, Paattaalipuram, Koonitheevu and Uppaaru. These villages are in Muthur East and largely adjacent to the coast.

People have fled their homes and sought refuge in the Muthur division interior areas after the attack. Massive displacement has occurred. 43, 158 people from 10, 718 families are currently displaced in Trincomalee district. The bulk of these are from the Muthur region.. A human tragedy may occur if their needs are not met on time.

In a separate development armed Sinhala villagers attacked Tamil residents in Thanga nagar on April 26th.Three Tamil civilians Sivalingam, Jeevarasah and Pathmanathan were hacked to death. Two other Civilians Alagusingam and Yogarajah were taken away by the mob and are presumed to be killed.

Tamils from the village and other Tamil villages in the neighbourhood have fled to LTTE controlled areas in Verugal - Eechilampattru area in Trincomalee district. Nearly 1500 families are reportedly displaced.

People in Trincomalee have heard the reports of shelling and bombing and are extremely worried. A curfew was also imposed in the three Trinco divisions including the town and gravets.

Meanwhile the Government maintains a tough posture.”I f the LTTE continues attacking, there will be coordinated retaliation in the form of defence,” Plan Implementation Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said. “This will continue as long as the LTTE targets the security forces.”

Despite this claim reports from Muthur indicated that actual LTTE positions in the area have not been affected badly. Only some buildings of the Tamil rehabilitation Organization have been hit. The brunt of the undeclared war has been borne by Tamil civilians.

Retired army brigadier Vipul Boteju, told AFP that President Mahinda Rajapakse had little choice but to order limited air strikes after Tuesday’s suicide bombing at army headquarters in Colombo.

“The government had to retaliate, they had to do something. They selected Trincomalee. They are showing we are not willing to simply accept what the Tigers have done to us,” Boteju told AFP on Wednesday.

“Yesterday was to show the world they can hit any place in the country,” said Boteju, who warned however that the LTTE would not simply take the air strikes lying down. “They will hit something big, maybe overrun an army camp,” he said. “They may go for a big economic target in Colombo. But then afterwards both sides will say, okay, let’s now go for talks in Geneva.”

The Tigers however said they would retaliate if the government continued the attacks; “It is like a war situation in Trincomalee. If the attacks continue, the LTTE will be forced to take military defensive action,” S. Puleedevan, head of the Tigers’ peace secretariat, told Reuters.

” We are in a state of readiness and are awaiting for the instruction from our leadership to respond with a force that will be catastrophically disabling and devastating to the enemy,” said Mr.S.Elilan, Trincomalee district political head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam commenting on the current situation in Muttur east, in a “Tamilnet” report.

Mr.Elilan said that LTTE has not yet retaliated against the air strike, artillery fire and gunboat attacks by state armed forces. LTTE is keen not to disturb the peace process.

“However we are waiting for the instruction from our leadership,” said Mr.Elilan

Meanwhile Retired air force chief Harry Gunatillake, also told AFP that the Tigers were trying to strengthen their hand before agreeing to further talks in Switzerland.

“They brought the action right to Colombo to get people worried,” he said, referring to the suicide bombing.

“They want to create fear among the people so they can strengthen their position if and when they go back to Geneva,” he said, adding the Tigers had in the past used similar tactics ahead of scheduled peace talks.

If the government made only limited use of air strikes, he said, there was still a chance talks could resume in Switzerland perhaps as soon as May.

But if Tamil civilians were killed in the strikes, he warned, the situation could escalate into a “big conflagration”.

The head of the government body for co-ordinating the shaky peace process in Sri Lanka, Palitha Kohona, said the military response had come after the rebels had fired on army bases in Trincomalee.

“The airforce and naval action is to deter and contain the LTTE from carrying out further provocative attacks,” said Kohona, the Director General of the Peace Secretariat.

But Tamil politician Dharmalingam Sidharthan, himself a former rebel and leader of the PLOTE said the suicide bombing and the government’s immediate retaliation signaled a return to full-scale hostilities.

“You have the LTTE carrying out an attack inside the army camp and the government retaliating with air strikes,” Sidhathan said. “If this is not war, what (else can you) … call it?”

Nandakalyananda Godage, a former deputy foreign secretary, was also downcast.

“They may be talking peace and a negotiated settlement but they don’t want it,” he said, referring to the LTTE.

“The government has allowed them to attack us with impunity. Any other country would have hit back very hard,” said Godage.

“The only option is to ask the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force as they did in Cambodia and Darfur,” he said.

“If the international community doesn’t support us we will have a bloodbath.”

Swedish Major-General Ulf Henricsson, who heads the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) that oversees the truce, said if air strikes continued, peace talks would become difficult. The worst case scenario was a return to war, he said.

“We still have a valid ceasefire agreement. No party has ended it, but of course it is not a ceasefire right now,” he told Reuters

Whatever the pros and cons of differing viewpoints the actual position is that the Sri Lankan Government has launched an undeclared war for the avowed purpose of teaching a lesson to the LTTE. This is done both as an act of vengeance as well as to show the South the Government is tough.

The ground reality is that innocent civilians are suffering badly. The international community which condemned the LTTE for the attack on Gen Sarath Fonseka must with equal vehemence condemn the Government action of targetting innocent civilians in a horrendous three - pronged bombing and shelling campaign.

Even if the tigers provoked the state the wilful targetting of civilians by the security forces cannot be condoned. It is time for the International community to give priority to the plight of innocent civilians above the interests of the chief players namely the GOSL and LTTE. If the International community does not act fast not only would it be perceived as partisan in Tamil eyes but will also precipitate the eruption of a full - scale war.

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