LETTERS AND PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS
5.1 Trincomalee District, 8th July:
5.2 Colombo, 3rd week of August:
5.3 C olombo, 4th week of August:
5.4 Jaffna 12th August:
5.5 Jaffna, 7th August:
5.6 The Policeman, Akkaraipattu, mid-August
Dear Akka (elder sister) and Thangi (younger sister). This a missive from your loving brother. We scrambled in fear because of the atrocities unleashed by the armed forces at mid-day on Friday, 22nd June. Siva and his family were killed. The four in our family were also at the same place. I alone am left living. Father, mother and sister were killed. What can we do? Do not be sad. But they are taking away the young boys. I do not have my identy card and am very much afford. If you can, please ask the boss where you are working and try to get me to Colombo soon. I am now staying at the refugee camp at Nilaveli Church. Do let the others know. I had sent two letters earlier.
Your loving brother.........
A Muslim lad from Kalmunai in the East was in the class of a Tamil lady lecturer at a Colombo institute. The lad was friendly with the lady and used to approach her privately to have his difficulties cleared. The lady found that the boy had got into difficulties over paying his fees. The reason she discovered was that the boys parents had hoped to make a profit of Rs.55,000/- from their paddy harvest and send him Rs.10,000/- for his exepeses. But they had been unable to go their paddy land which was in a Tamil village. The lady offered to contribute towards his fees from her salary. But the boy declined. Over the period of Tamil-Muslim tension in the East, the boy ceased to go to her. She ran into him shortly after the massacres of Muslims at Kattankudy and Eravur. She asked him why he had not come. The boy replied that he had many uncleared difficulties, but that he would face problems from his community if he came to her. He said that he had moved out of his room to a shophouse, because the mother of his room-mate from Eravur had come down. His room-mates father and youngest brother had been killed. On the 12th August, someone had called out in Sinhalese. The youngest brother had gone to the door and was shot down. The father ran to his youngest son before the mother could stop him. He too was killed. The villagers said that the LTTE was responsible for the massacre.
The boy was absent from classes for a week and returned later. He said that his parents had been able to harvest some of their paddy under army protection and had sent him money to settle his fees. The Tigers, who had harvested some of their paddy earlier had warned them not to come again under army escort. He added that since the army was not going to be around all the time, the warning had to be taken seriously.
The lady also said that there was a Muslim officer at her bank who used to come out of his way to attend to Tamil customers, while the Sinhalese officers treated them with indifference. This time the Muslim officer smiled from a distance. But did not come forward.
A Tamil lady met a Muslim boy from Samanthurai who had come to Colombo to try for a visa to go to Canada. He said that some Muslims had been killed at the Veeramunai Mosque. Asked what he felt was behind the troubles, he explained: When two people are in a compound a third person shies stones at one or both of them, and sits giggling behind a wall, while the first two accuse and tear at each other. That is what is going on now. He further added: Only ten percent can understand that it is instigated.
The bombing during these last few days has been severe. The noise is unbearable and there have been many casualties. A bomb which fell inside Schwartz Lane, by Gods grace, did not explode. Many people in that area have just left by van for Kayts. My daughters-in-law left with them with her infant daughter. The people are thoroughly worn down. May god protect us.....Love, amma.
....Vast number of youth are joining the movement, some as an outlet to their own family circumstances and others deceived into believing that training is for self- defence purpose only. A large percentage of youth are being treated as psychiatric patients - constant bombing and shelling thought this new wave of violence triggers vivid memories for those having seen their loved once killed previously. What will become of this generation? The government proceeds to order new bomber from Italy, now numbering ten. Because pamphlets have been dropped warning civilians to vacate a certain radius, loss of life has been less this time, though property damage has been much greater. The LTTE claim civilian deaths are too low for international propaganda and intervention....
June 25th is a date I will never forget. The bombing and shelling began at 3.00 a.m. and continued most of the following day - it was brutal. The pattern seemed to Fort, Palaly, Karainagar and back again. Each time the bombers passed over- head and in many instance, we could actually see the bullets from the heli-firing in Chunnakam market. I was amazed to hear that the bomber pilots conversation could be clearly heard through the FM 1000 antenna. What was even more disturbing was to hear callous comments in English! One such conversation went as follows: Do you see the library, go to the second junction, the two storey white building behind the pavilion is the target, and seconds later we heard the bomb around the Fort. Sometimes the response was completely out and once the pilot exclaimed, beautifully done!. I could hardly believe that I was listening to a real life situation and the sick feeling of being helpless to prevent someones inevitable death moments later.
Another conversation said, :How many bombs do you have left? .....One.....Drop it anywhere you like and return to base (Vavniya). Then suddenly we heard Im too high.... Dont come lower than 5000 feet.....(later).....Were under fire.....Pull out, I said pull out.
At 3.00 p.m. that same day some one informed us that the LTTE was holding a meeting at the nearly school. This was the first of many meetings for gold collections, training camps, refugee camps with an LTTE office on the premises - it almost seemed as if the famous school was being targeted. That evening we decided to build a bunker.
Since all the palmyrah trees are being chopped, there will soon be an environmental crisis, not to mention that this particular tree is the source of food and employment for many.
By early evening the news came that Jaffna was burning and the sky was filled with heavy black clouds. An eeric silence loomed and the spirits were at an all-time low. The looting of shops and homes became rampant that night as people evacuated the area and poverty escalated......
The LTTE has stated clearly that this is the final fight and that they are not prepared for further talks. Yogi makes such statements that all should worship the gun and not think of peace at this time. Fear of the army marching and a sense of desperation has given the people no alternative but to side with the Boys though most have lost confidence in their actions. Everyone longs for peace yet no one has a voice to speak in this silenced nation for fear of not living long enough to enjoy it. I was disheartened to learn that the church, in most instances, feels they do not have a part to play in this process.....
Development projects have all come to a half and NGOs are attempting to organise relief into the peninsula under trying circumstances. The Tigers have set up an organisation called the ROOTE to discuss projects and funding of NGOs in the North. Since people are bound by silence, it will be very useful if more international organisations are represented here than the ICRC and the MSF....
A church worker was travelling to the East when his passenger van stopped at Wellawaya. A man got in who had obviously recovered from a long illness. It became evident from his talk that he was one of the Muslims policemen who had surrendered to the LTTE at Kalmunai, in June and had been taken into the jungle along with others to killed. He showed the church worker two injuries on his head and one on his shoulder. After being lined up and sprayed with automatics, the executioners had come and looked at them, firing single shots at those who groaned or moved. The policeman said that he had resolved to act dead until everything was clear. He then struggled along to the lonely hut of a Tamil chena cultivator. This man had cared for him and helped his escape.
The policeman who was returning to his native village of Akkaraipattu, said that he harboured no ill-feelings against Tamils. It was the LTTE who had done this him. On the other hand he was helped by a Tamil peasant. He recalled that the Bible had much in common with the Quoran. He made the church worker promise that he would send him a copy of the Bible, which he hoped to read during his convalescence.
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