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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Sri Lanka renews its genocidal attack - Kilali, April 1996
The Sri Lanka government imposed a fresh censorship on news coverage on 14 April 1996 and renewed its genocidal onslaught on the Tamil people in the Jaffna peninsula in the succeeding days. Reuter reported on 19 April:
"The Sri Lankan government on Friday imposed censorship on coverage of military affairs by local media after the armed forces launched a fresh assault against Tamil Tiger guerrillas in the north. Last year the government censored local media for three months when the armed forces marched on the northern rebel stronghold of Jaffna town... Civilians were warned to take cover and a curfew was slapped on the northern Jaffna peninsula and northern mainland Kilinochchi district, a spokesman said. The government imposed a three-month censorship order on local reporting of military news from September to December last year ..."
"On Friday, more than 20,000 government troops launched ``Operation Riviresa Two,'' a follow-up to an offensive last year to capture the northern city of Jaffna... The ongoing operation is being conducted under tight government censorship on press. Although both the local and foreign press are covered under official censorship guidelines, Sri Lanka's information department said the ban would not be enforced on foreign media. The government also imposed censorship regulations during last year's ``Operation Riviresa.'' The move to block press coverage of the latest operation brought sharp criticism from Sri Lanka's independent daily ``The Island.'' ``It is indeed regrettable that history seems to be repeating itself within a matter of four months,'' an editorial in The Island said." (United Press International, 20 April 1996)
Under cover of the press censorship, Sri Lanka gunships attacked Tamil civilians fleeing the arrival of the Sinhala Sri Lankan Army:
"Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger guerrillas said on Sunday a refugee family was wiped out in a helicopter gunship attack on civilians fleeing the military's latest assault in the rebels' Jaffna peninsula stronghold. The Sri Lankan military, which says it takes maximum precautions to prevent civilian casualties, denied the claim."
"The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said in a statement faxed to Reuters all roads leading out of the area under attack were choked with civilians fleeing the fighting. Government Mi-24 helicopter gunships opened fire on fleeing Tamil refugees who have gathered in large numbers at the shores of Kilai to cross the Jaffna lagoon to safety, the rebel statement said. ``All family members of one refugee family have been completely wiped out and hundreds of Tamil refugees have been seriously injured in the helicopter gunship attack,'' it said without giving figures. A military spokesman denied the rebel claim, which could not be independently confirmed. It was the rebels and not the refugees who were crossing the lagoon in boats, he said. Some 50,000 residents who stayed at home or in safe places like schools and temples were under army control, he said." (Reuter Report, 21 April 1996)
Having alleged that it was the 'rebels and not the refugees who were crossing the lagoon in boats', Sri Lanka later admitted after the capture of the Kilali lagoon crossing, that the 'troops were now in a position to halt the flow of hundreds of Tamil civilians fleeing the peninsula."!
Reuter reported on 26 April:
"Sri Lankan troops attacking Tamil Tiger rebels in the northern Jaffna peninsula captured a key lagoon crossing on Friday, cutting off the main route to the mainland, state television said. It said troops were now in a position to halt the flow of hundreds of Tamil civilians fleeing the peninsula at the Kilali boat crossing across the Jaffna lagoon to the mainland. ... The LTTE said in a statement the army was forcing civilians trapped behind army lines to move to the Valikamam area... The Tiger statement said: ``Sri Lankan air force planes and helicopters continue to strafe and rocket boatloads of civilians trying to cross over.''