| || |
| State Terror and Cowardice - Allaipiddy August 2006 |
Saturday, 3 March 2007 - 8:55 PM SL Time
Allaipiddy shelling on 11 and 12 August 2006 - an eyewitness account
On 11 August 2006, around 6.00pm, we heard heavy shelling from the Muhamalai frontline towards Vanni. Later we could hear shelling from the Mankumban and Mandaithivu islets as well. Around this time Sri Lankan military announced a peninsula wide curfew over the State radio. People wanted to move away from military camps. The problem was that they did not know how. The little village of Allaipiddy was surrounded on three sides by sea. All along the coast the Sri Lankan Navy is present. On top of this, the military hides behind bushes and Palmarah estates at night. We felt trapped.
The villagers near the PhiliNeri church had been gathering at the church to spend the nights ever since the massacre on May 13 by the Sri Lankan Navy. After the May massacre, the Sri Lankan Navy promised to protect the villagers. What they did was to divide the tiny village into several smaller areas and install army barbed-wire fences around these tiny areas, effectively trapping the people within. Villagers remained cut off from those in the other areas. Yet, hearing the exploding shells, even people living not that close to the church wanted to move to the church, but were prevented from doing so by the military. Everyone stayed at their usual night places. The shelling intensified throughout the night.
On Saturday, 12 August, as the morning dawned, people woke up determined to get out of Allaipiddy. But the 24 hour curfew imposed by the military prevented the people from moving. People were forced to spend the day wherever they had taken refuge for the night. During the day, the military stationed in people`s homes, schools and temples began to move towards the frontline. More and more shells began falling.
It was then that hundreds of army men moved towards the PhiliNeri church. They told us that they will send us to Jaffna mainland and asked us to accompany them. People who were waiting for the chance fought with each other to go with the military. The military took the people up to the Allaipiddy junction. Here the military quickly entered their military camps and then told the people to return to the church. Within 30 minutes after the people reached the church the army men came again and this time they forced another lot of people to accompany them. The military repeated this three times using the people as human shield for their movement towards their camp.
By now it was noon. The noise of gun fire and explosions were heard all the time. Shells came towards our church from all four directions. We felt that we were in the middle of a battleground unarmed.
Once all the military had reached their camp, the village became eerily silent. People were still frightened and agitated. People feared that the military would come out and take revenge on the people for the losses they have suffered. Realizing the dangerous situation they were in, some people began to dig holes in the ground to hide. The majority stayed in churches and schools.
Around 4.00pm the shelling resumed. We all lay face down whereever we happened to be at that time. The homes shook as if there was an earthquake. Trees fell or were destroyed. Then, by about 11.00pm, it all became quiet again. We were clueless. The silence frightened us even more. People knew the brutality of the military and the silence was confusing and surprising.
Suddenly, the brutal repercussions that we feared started to unfold. Artillery started reaching us from all directions. There was firing from the naval gunboats as well. We could hear the multi-barrel rockets being fired in our direction. There was no break between the shells exploding. Rather than wondering where the last shell fell, we were left looking for a spot where a shell may not fall. They fell everywhere. We ran forward and when shells fell in front we ran backwards. This went on not for one or two hours, but for one and half days.
Many of our fellow villagers lay dead and many more were injured. Eighteen people lay dead inside the PhilipNeri church alone. Seventy-five people inside the church were injured. Among them was a four month old baby with a broken arm. Three young siblings, all under the age of four, lost their parents in this shelling. The bodies of the parents were never recovered. Many families were injured en-masse. Many were permanently maimed.
Through the efforts of the PhilipNeri church priest, Father Jim Brown, and the Jaffna High Court Judge Srinithi Nanthasekaram, the injured and the dead bodies of eighteen civilians were recovered after a lot of delay.
The Navy obstructed the efforts to recover the bodies of the rest of those killed. A further seven bodies were recovered 22 days after the incident. Many bodies have not been recovered to this date. One injured man who was treated at the Jaffna hospital said six bodies of his family members were not recovered to this date. Another woman being treated at the hospital said four members of her family died and their bodies were never recovered. I know of two more people whose bodies were never recovered. How many more that I have not heard about?
One woman I spoke to, who was one of the very last persons to leave the PhilipNeri church after the fatal incident, said as follows,
?Artillery shells started to fall in my yard so I ran to the school. I spent the night there, but shells were falling there as well. When dawn arrived the next day, I went back to my home. There was no one there. It was quiet like a graveyard. I decided to go to the church but there were only four people alive there. The church building had also suffered damages. Among the church ruins were bodies of the dead and injured people. It was unbearable?.
Father Jim Brown, an eyewitness to the entire scenario and perhaps the only eyewitness who had the capacity to tell the world what happened, was disappeared when he went back to Allaipiddy a week later to perform a ritual at his church.
The identity of the person, whose eyewitness account is reported, is withheld for his/her safety.
The two key people, who bravely went against the Sri Lankan military obstructions to help the injured and remove at least some of the dead bodies, have suffered for their actions. Father Jim Brown disappeared on 20 August. Judge Srinithi Nanthasekaran was transferred from Jaffna after facing death threats from the Sri Lankan military in Jaffna.
Joined: Nov 2005
|3 Mar 2007 23:51:30 GMT Report for Abuse
Father Jim Brown disappeared on 20 August. Judge Srinithi Nanthasekaran was transferred from Jaffna after facing death threats from the Sri Lankan military in Jaffna.
demoCRAZY at work!
Joined: Feb 2007
|4 Mar 2007 02:04:03 GMT Report for Abuse
|Hmm..Many sad stories are unfolding now. Any Tamilan, in his/her right state of mind, won't wait until the terror hit his/her house. All Tamils should put their differences aside, and join the Forces of Tamil Nation for genuine purpose.