Civilian forced to work by Police wounded
[TamilNet, Saturday, 14 August 1999, 16:06 GMT]
A civilian who was engaged in forced labour by Sri Lankan military trained Police near the Paddirippu bridge, about 24 kilometers south of Batticaloa was wounded when sentries at this entry point to the western hinterland of the district opened fire indiscriminately among civilians here today.
The Liberation Tigers dominate the areas west of this bridge. A shot had been fired from the western sector beyond the lagoon in the morning.
Reacting to the shot, Policemen overseeing civilian passers by who had been forced to clear the undergrowth near their checkpoint at the Paddiruppu bridge had opened fire indiscriminately in the area. They claimed that the Liberation Tigers had fired the shot. The Police also fired mortars in the direction of the western hinterland. The wounded person, K.Yoganathan, 24, a daily wage labourer, was admitted to the Kaluwanchikudy hospital later in the morning.
Human rights activists in Batticaloa charge that the security forces expose innocent civilians to danger by forcing them to work for them in sensitive spots such the sentry points and the environs of camps. In February this year, a civilian named Paakiaraasa who had been forced by the SLA to clear shrub near its camp at Peythalai, 34 kilometers north of Batticaloa, was severely injured and lost his eyesight when he tripped on a mine buried there.
He survived the explosion after being treated at the national hospital in Colombo but is now confined to his home. Paakiaraasa was the sole breadwinner for his family. He cannot find work because of the loss of his eyesight and the injuries caused by the explosion. His family lives in abject poverty now. Human rights activists in Batticaloa cite the death of Kanthalingam Jeganathan, 21, who refused to work for the SLA camped at the Valaichenai general cemetery on May 18 this year in expressing their opposition to forced labour in the east.