The UTHR (Jaffna) had published its first report in January this year. It was felt necessary to come out with the second report within a short interval, because of the fast moving course of events surrounding the parliamentary General Elections. The ban on participation in these elections called by the LTTE in the NorthEast and by the JVP in the South, gave these elections a singular flavour. With high stakes and a prevalence of armed groups, official and unofficial, killings mounted to a national average of several tens per day. Even in a situation where little that is creative or constructive is visible, and humanity is on the decline in national life, it remains the task of any serious human rights organisation not merely to record violations of human rights, but also to question the conduct of forces and suggest alternative values. We do not, and it is not our task to, support any political group. But in performing our task, we have to say things, which have political implications. Our concern however is to do with values enshrined in the universal nature of human experience.
This issue contains accounts of incidents that took place in many parts of the North. During this period (JanuaryMarch) members of the UTHR worked both as a team and sometimes as individuals to visit places where incidents occurred, interview eyewitnesses and to check on what had actually happened. The preparation of this report has involved wider participation from the academic community, students and individuals and organisations from outside, than before. Apart from the academic circle there were ordinary people who spared their time to collect information at our request. The UTHR (Jaffna) is very, grateful to all who had given verbal and moral support in bringing out this second resort. Then silence spectators come out as active participants leaving their foot prints on the soggy path, it is a welcome sign for a society like ours, to create awareness and demonstrate that people are awake, at least to fight silently against injustice and inhumanity.
The situation has not improved in the North. Vadamarachchi continued to be a trouble spot, with attacks by the militants leading to reprisals. A similar situation exists in several parts of Jaffna.
At the time of writing heavy fighting is reported in Mullaitivu. So far no detailed reliable reports are available. Reports reaching Jaffna indicate much civilian suffering.
Two University students were shot dead on the 2nd February in a sequel to events beginning on the previous evening. This follows events with qualitative similarities at Jaffna Hindu and St. Patricks, thus bringing into focus the problems faced by the young. The running of places of education and factories pose severe tests for grass roots democracy. Leading persons in such institutions have been receiving rough treatment -and are sometimes spoken to as criminals.
A grave problem the people of the Worth face is the tracing of missing persons. When a boy is missing his parents have no idea where to begin. To start with, why he was missing may he a problem if he had trouble with a number of armed groups. They would have to go from one IPKF camp to another. If an arrested person succumbed under torture, the truth may never surface.
It is pathetic to see the plight of mothers waiting in hope for news of their sons in front of army camps. Many of them bear their grief on taut faces. Those who wail become objects of fun for soldiers on sentry duty.
The UTHR (Jaffna) does function in a culture where every endeavour is identified as being subservient to some force. We once again emphasise that we are a body bound only by common values. This may be difficult to grasp. Our continued effectiveness depends on whether or not we do our work impartially and honestly in terms of our declared values. Once again we have recorded all violations of which we received accounts, whose human context was instructive, on the grounds that all life is sacred. We value life irrespective of boundaries, national, racial or otherwise.
The UTHR (Jaffna) assumes total collective responsibility for the contents of this report. We regret any past association of individual names with our work. Such association was never sought. We are all clear in our minds that acting collectively, without seeking individual prominence, is important for maintaining a sense of mission at this time.[Top]
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