Friday, December 30, 2005

SLN withdraws passes from Punguduthivu fishermen

Angered by the damages to the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) building caused by the residents of Punguduthivu when they protested against the rape of Tharsini (20), the SLN command has withdrawn fishing passes from Punguduthivu fishermen, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian said Friday. Mr Ponnambalam has written a letter to Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, Deputy Minister of Defence, requesting him to direct the SLN to immediately reissue the passes.

SLA imposes restrictions on Thiruketheeswaram residents

The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has imposed restriction and close surveillance on the movement of about forty families residing in the surrounding of the historic Thiruketheeswaram Sivan. These families are among several hundred families displaced in the year 1990 due to violence. They were allowed to resettle to assist reconstruction work on the damaged temple.
Thallady main camp of the SLA is located close to the temple and the temple area has been declared by the SLA as high security zone.
SLA authorities two days ago confiscated thirty-five bags of cement taken by workers for the construction of the temple, sources said.
The residents have been warned not to allow any members of their relatives or friends to stay in their houses without getting permission from the police post is located in the area.

Sri Lanka’s Will to War

Sri Lanka’s Will to War
By Rajesh Suntharamoorthy

As the year draws to an end, no amount of peace rhetoric can disguise a powerful atmosphere of doom and gloom engulfing the Tamil Homeland. Not a single one of the nine districts have been spared of arbitrary killings, abductions and unfair imprisonment. Everywhere it seems, grenades are exploding, soldiers are opening indiscriminate fire and scores are being killed in what increasingly looks like a return to all out civil war.

Everyday the international media –Reuter, BBC and the Indian papers- report of grenade attacks, mine blasts and gun fire killing Sri Lanka Army (SLA) personals. Judging by these stories, one may be forgiven for assuming that the Tamils are a blood thirsty bunch of terrorists, determined to blow up innocent soldiers who are merely going on about their day to day lives.

The truth could not be further away. They say there are always two sides to every story. The Tamil side it seems is not worthy of being reported in the international media. As far as the international media is concerned the killing of innocent farmers that prompted mine blasts in Jaffna and the gang rape and murder of a 20 year old girl that prompted a mine blast in Mannar are just irrelevant and unrelated. Everyone seems to be all too careful to maintain a record of the number of soldiers killed in what has been the bloodiest month since the signing of the Cease Fire. At the same time nobody seems to care of the innocent civilians who have perished during the same month. It seems that the lives of the four year old child burnt to death in Mannar and the retired bakery worker shot to death in Jaffna are simply not valuable enough for a mention in the international media.

So what has been really happening over the past 31 days? Is there a possible end to this cycle of violence between the Sri Lanka Armed Forces and the Tamil civilians? It appears that a chronological analysis of events is necessary to grasp the true reality of the situation.

Thursday, December 01, 2005 – Targeting Tamil patriots

Sri Lanka Military Intelligence (SLMI) shot and killed two farmers at a tea shop close to Athiyar Hindu College in Neerveli. The victims, Mr. Kunaratnam Krishnakumar (34) and Mr. Sinnaiah Sivakaran (24) were both involved in decorating the streets in Neerveli during the Martyrs remembrance week.

Frustrated by the cowardly attacks of the SLA to silence Tamil patriots, the residents of Jaffna called for a general shut down protest to be observed on the following day. A handbill issued in the name of Roaring People's Force (RPF) –a group that had been unheard of in the past- warned that reprisal attacks on SLA soldiers and intelligence operatives will escalate if attacks against Tamil activists and civilians continued.

The mine attacks targeting SLA troops in Jaffna during the second week of December were the promised reprisals by the RPF. In other words had the SLA not murdered the innocent civilians in Neerveli, there would have not been any mine attacks. This is the truth that many international media organizations are either unable or unwilling to accept.

Friday, December 16, 2005 – Rape as a weapon

Miss. Tharsini IlayaThambi (20) disappeared while on her way to an aunt’s home in Punguduthivu 7th district. The following day her body was found in an abandoned well near the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) camp in Punguduthivu. The young victim had been abducted, raped, tortured, murdered and mutilated by the SLN. Postmortem examinations had revealed that the victim had been subjected to sexual violence before being murdered. They also found bite marks on the victim’s hands, legs and face. A deep stab wound to the chest was also present. What's more her gentiles had been mutilated. Examinations further reveled that the victim was gagged and her legs were tied together, before she was tied to a rock and thrown in to the abandoned well.

Deeply shocked by the horrific nature of the crime, the Tamil Nation erupted in protest on Sunday, December 18. A fifty-five years old civilian from Punguduthivu had to be rushed to Jaffna Hospital with serious gunshot wounds after the SLN opened fire on protesters. In a strongly worded statement the RPF warned that it will use ‘all means necessary to drive out the criminals who are occupying’ the Tamil Homeland.

Once again the RPF kept to its words. This time an SLN convey in Mannar was to pay the price for the brutal gang rape and murder committed in Punguduthivu. A claymore mine blast killed 13 sailors in Pesalai area of Mannar. Although over 300 news outlets reported the mine blast, none made any effort to point out the fact that, it was in fact an incident that could have been avoided, had the SLN not carried out rape and murder with impunity.  Furthermore, most of the articles went on to blame the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the attack, accusing them of trying to re-start the civil war.

Monday, December 19, 2005 – Attacking the academia

SLA troopers opened fire at a peaceful demonstration march –condemning the rape and murder of Miss. Tharsini- by Jaffna University students and staff, wounding at least seven demonstrators including Prof. N. Perinpanathan, a Senior Lecturer, and a student leader of the medical faculty T. Kandeepan. Professor C. Mohanadas, the Vice Chancellor of the Jaffna University, Prof. R. Sivchandran, Dean of Arts, and S. Kajendran, Jaffna MP were severely beaten by the soldiers.

The University of Jaffna closed its gates. The 6 000 students of the university requested the LTTE to provide them with self defense training.

Saturday, December 24, 2005 – Burnt alive and shot to death

Four persons of two neighboring families, a 43 years-old couple, Mr Emmanuel Cruz and Mrs. Anthonicam Cruz, and Theresa Cruz, a mother and her four-year-old boy Dilakshan Cruz were burnt to death by SLN personal at the Victoria Hundred Houses resettlement in Pesalai. On the same day five civilians including a female were shot to death in the Jaffna peninsula. The SLA made an initial claim that all five were armed at the time of being shot. However, it later emerged that all five were civilians who ran to seek shelter after a firefight broke out between the SLA and armed men in the area.

‘Rebels in Sri Lanka Kill 10 Soldiers’ cried the Washington Post on December 27. Not even a passing reference was made to the killing of nine innocent civilians just three days prior. Not even a word of credit for the RPF that carried out the attack.

Sunday, December 25, 2005 – Murder at Midnight Mass

Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, a senior Tamil politician and the Batticaloa district Member of Parliament (MP) of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was shot and killed by two SLMI personals at St. Mary's co-cathedral church in Batticaloa town while attending Christmas prayers early morning at 1.20 a.m Sunday. The MP's wife, Mrs. Sugunam Pararajasingham, seriously wounded in the gunfire, was rushed to Batticaloa Hospital in critical condition. Seven more persons were injured in the gunfire.

The Sinhala media was quick to point out the resemblance between this killing and that of the late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in August. The only difference is that the Foreign Minister’s murder was met with strong criticism from around the world. Everyone from world leaders to local media sent out sympathies for several days after. The murder of Mr. Pararajasingham was virtually ignored.

The culprits of neither of the murders have not been caught yet. When it came to Kadirgamar, it was said that ‘unidentified gunmen’ could simply not have carried it out. The blame was pinned on the LTTE without a shred of evidence. The European Union went on to impose a travel ban on the LTTE. However, the very same people insist that the murder of Mr. Pararajasingham was carried out by ‘unidentified gunmen’.

2006 – Will to war

Apart from the above mentioned high profile events, not a day has passed without incidents of violence across the Tamil Homeland. The cycle of innocent civilians being shot, and the RPF exploding grenades in retaliation, seems unstoppable. Calls from the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Norway and Human Rights Groups for an end to the violence have fallen on deaf years.

The one sided, unbalanced reporting of events in the international media is not helping the situation much. Reporting mine attacks without identifying their root courses as well as pinning the blame on the LTTE without a shred of evidence, are further aggravating the already volatile Cease Fire.

In wishing all of our readers a happy new year, we look forward to 2006 as a year in which we can halt the tit-for-tat violence by stopping both the tit as well as the tat.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Trincomalee observes hartal in protest against killings of Tamils by Sri Lanka Defense apparatus

Trincomalee Tamil speaking people Tuesday observed a general shut down in response to the call by the Trincomalee district Tamil Resurgence Committee condemning the assassination of Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham and killings of Tamil civilians in their homeland, and demanding the withdrawal of government armed forces deployed in Trincomalee violating the Ceasefire Agreement, sources said.

Attempts by Sri Lanka Intelligence and various armed hooligans to open up shops failed miserably, sources added.

EPDP armed gang gets away with two Halo Trust vehicles

The EPDP armed gang which operates under the command of Sri Lanka Intelligence, in the occupied areas of the Tamil Homeland, stole two vehicles belonging to the Halo (de-mining) Trust.

Armed men forced into the parking garage located close to the offices of Halo Trust, located at the junction of Nallur Cross Street and Navalar Road, and drove away two vehicles belonging to the NGO after tying the guards Tuesday afternoon, sources in Jaffna said.

Following the robbery of vehicles, Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and police cordoned and searched the surrounding areas but failed to arrest their comrades.

Sri Lanka Navy sets fire to Refugee homes in Pesalai

Eleven temporary shelters with cadjan roof tops, out of more than one hundred such huts in the open refugee camp (ORC) located in the premises of the Ceylon Fisheries Corporation in Pesalai in Mannar district were set on fire by the Sri Lanka navy (SLN) on Tuesday afternoon around 2.30 p.m, sources said.

The families have lost all their belongings and have been given shelter in the Vettrimatha Church, which is now housing several families driven out of the One Hundred Housing Scheme by the SLN and armed gangs who operate under the Sri Lanka Intelligence.

Just last week four people including a four year old child were burnt to death by the SLN in the same housing scheme.

Seven persons abducted by Sri Lanka Army in Jaffna

Three fishermen who went to Mannar seas for fishing last Thursday and four other persons, including three who were arrested by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in various parts of Jaffna, have been reported missing in Jaffna.

Three fishermen who set off for fishing Thursday in the Mannar seas from Gurunagar coastal suburb of Jaffna, Joseph Christurajah, 48, Saverian Sreesilvester, 48, and Kajanbert Kongland, 28, have not returned from the seas and their parents have lodged complaints at the office of Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission in Jaffna, sources said.

Three youths arrested on Saturday in different areas in Jaffna by the Sri Lanka Army soliders, Murugathas Theeparooban, 19, from Kaithady East, Nunaval, Jeyapalaratnam Prasanth, 19, from Katpakapillayar Road, Uduvil and Joseph Sutharan, 48, from Sandilippay have not returned home after being arrested by the SLA soliders and are missing, parents of the youths reported.

A student from Kokkuvil East, Thevakumar Ramanan, has also been reported missing since December 17, his parents said.

Several thousand Tamil youth disappeared during the 80s and 90s. Many of them were later found in several mass graves that have been discovered across the Tamil Homeland.

The SLA is known for its brutal torture of anyone arrested on suspicion. The usual practice is for the tortured individual to be shot to death and buried in shallow graves near an army camp.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Two Tamil youths shot and killed by Sri Lanka Army soldiers

Sri Lanka Army troopers shot and killed two Tamil youths at Santhiveli 9 km north of Eravur in Batticaloa district around 10:30 a.m. Monday. The youths shot dead by the Lankan troopers are yet to be indentified, Eravur Police said.

Two Auto-Rickshaw drivers shot dead by Sri Lanka Intelligence

Sri Lanka Intelligence officers shot dead Mr.Ramanan and knifed Mr.Wijeseelan to death Sunday night in two separate incidents in Trincomalee, sources said. The body of Mr.Wijeseelan was recovered from the Kanniya-Wilgam Vihare junction, and the body of Mr.Ramanan was recovered near fourth milepost along Trincomalee-Kandy highway with gunshot injuries.

Youth seriously wounded by Sri Lanka Intelligence

A 24-years-old Tamil youth, Mr. Satheeskumar, was shot and seriously wounded by Sri Lanka Intelligence officers, Monday evening around 5:30 pm. at Pisthar Road in Akkaraipattu, 58 km south of Batticaloa town.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Three civilians including a 65 year old man shot dead by Sri Lanka Army

Three civilians including a 65 year old retired bakery worker became the latest victims to the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) guns in the Jaffna peninsula today. All shootings are reported as being arbitrary incidents of violence.

The latest killings bring the 24 hour death toll of Tamil civilians to over 13.

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) has been reported of all incidents, but has thus far remained tight lipped.

Just 2 weeks ago the killings of 13 Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers in Jaffna received world wide condemnations and were widely covered by the international media.

Both the international community and international media have turned a blind eye to the killings of civilians by Sri Lanka Army, Navy and Intelligence personals.

‘If the murder of 13 civilians within 24 hours is called peace, we are better off having war,’ said a shop owner in Jaffna Town.

Four people including a four year old child, burnt alive by Sri Lanka Navy

The charred remains of four people; two males in their 40s, one female in her 40s and a four year old child were found in the Pessalai area of Mannar district today.

All four including the child were taken away by Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) for questioning following a mine attack on a SLN convey, local sources reported.

The four had been locked up inside a house before the house was set on fire by the SLN, sources added.

Five further houses were also burnt by the SLN.

Although the incident has been reported to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) no action has been taken.

Both the international community and international media have turned a blind eye to the incident.