Aerial attack on Padahuthurai, a crime against humanity - Bishop

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 02 January 2007, 10:22 GMT]
The Bishop of Mannar Diocese, Rt Rev Rayappu Joseph, who visited Padahuthurai hamlet, which was completely destroyed by indiscriminate aerial bombardment by the Sri Lanka Air Force Tuesday morning, has condemned the bombardment and said the attack had destroyed the settlement of the Internally Displaced persons. There was no military installation of the LTTE in the area, the Bishop told media. The Bishop, calling the bombardment "a crime against humanity," urged the International Community to send independent observers to NorthEast. Death toll has risen to 15, including 7 children below age nine , a pregnant woman, her child and husband.

Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph
13 victims of the bombardment were identified Tuesday night: Anthonipillai Rasakumari, 52, a mother, Anthonipillai Kutti, 26, Anthonipillai Velastin, 30, a mother and her husband Kugan, their 2-years-old son Dayalan, 4-years-old daughter Dayalini, and 1-year-old baby boy of their relative, I. Madusan, V. Tharsini, 8, Jhomson, 9, Vinosan, 6, Uthayakumar, 55, V. Vijitha, 28, and Kili, 32.

The Bishop, while addresing the media in Tamil, condemned the Sri Lankan military for telling a "barefaced lie," that the airstrike had hit a LTTE military installation.

Bishop of Mannar, Rt Rev Rayappu Joseph, visited Padahuthurai within 4 hours of the attack. ICRC officials visited the attack site after the Bishop and the SLMM is expected to visit the site Wednesday. [Photo: TamilNet]

Voice: [English] Bishop
addressing media at Padahuthurai

MP3 AudioDirect Link (mp3)
"Such an open lie hurts us even further than the gruesome attack itself," Bishop Rayappu said.

"There is no hostile military presence [of the Tigers] in this area. These are innocent civilians who have been living here since 1995. These are people who were driven from Navanthurai in Jaffna by the atrocities of Sri Lankan forces.They were leading a simple life barely enough to survive with basic livelihood of small scale fishing on a day to day basis in the shallow waters."

"I have known these people for years."

Sri Lanka Army blocked ambulances from Mannar from crossing Uyilankulam entry point to transport the wounded civilians. Critically wounded victims were transported to Mulankavil and from there to Kilinochchi located 50 km northeast of Illuppaikkadavai (geographic distance). The road distance is around 80 km.

Voice: [Tamil] Detailed address

MP3 AudioDirect Link (mp3)
There is even not a single boat-yard in the vicinity, the Bishop explained that the hamlet was a peaceful place of refuge for the IDPs who were settled there.

Looking at the headless bodies of women and children the Bishop said the only term he could only characterize the attack as an act of "state-terror."

Dead children in Mulankavil hospital morgue.

"Innocent civilians are being killed on a daily basis in the East. A big scale war is thrust upon the people of the East. Many civilians are dying there. Also here in Mannar district, we have witnessed the inhumane act of violence," Bishop Rayappu said.

"It is high time that the international community realizes the state of affairs here and send a team of observers who can tell the truth to the world."

The international community should censure the Sri Lankan Government for the indiscriminate and terrible violence, he said.

"One should realize the objective of an attack of this magnitude in a purely civilian area where there is no Tiger camp or hostile activity," he repeated.

Most of the 231 persons of 46 famililies were living in 35 huts. The entire hamlet is destroyed, the Village Service Officer (Grama Sevakar) of Iluppaikadavai, Sinnathurai Vijayendran, who was also at the site told TamilNet.

Most of the civilians living in the hamlet were displaced civilians from Navanthurai and the surrounding coastal villages from Jaffna. They were displaced in 1995, Mr. Vijayendran said.

A child admitted at Kilinochchi hospital, succumbed to the wounds Tuesday night.

3 children, a preganant woman and her husband, were pronounced dead at Mulankavil hospital.

Two ambulances were rushed from Kilinochchi to Iluppaikadavai.

Six severely wounded children were among the ten wounded, brought to Kilinochchi hospital, in the first ambulance.

At least 14 bombs were dropped, each targeting two huts. One did not explode. Many of the huts were completely destroyed. Only a single house, built using concrete, partly survived, a Tamileelam Police official inspecting the site explained.

Bishop Rayappu, after returning to Mannar, wrote a letter to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and issued the copy of the letter to media Wednesday:

His Excellency Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse,
President of the Social Republic of Sri Lanka,

Your Excellency,

Aerial bombing that took place at Padahu Thurai near ILLUPAIKADAVAI, in the un-cleared area of the District of Mannar at 9.35 am Today the 02nd of January, 2007.

Three Kefir bombers aided by an aircraft that is said to be supplying information to them, had been bombing the above small settlement of displaced people consisting of 35 families from Navanthurai, Jaffna. This aerial bombing took place today the 2nd of January, 2007 at 9.35 in the morning. I saw 12 spots where the bombs had struck and two of these bombs remain unexploded. The area of this attack is just within a radius of 100 meters close to the sea shores. This settlement consisted of 35 Catholic families who were all very poor fisher-folk. There is a Catholic church on this very spot in clear sight. They were living in small cadjan sheds. The Parish priest of this locality in the person of Fr. P. Arulnathan OMI and most of the priests and religious working in this area are very familiar with this location, the people and their day to day life.

I visited this very spot today at 12.45 Noon and the ICRC came there fifteen minutes later. Tomorrow morning i.e. on the third of January 2007, the SLMM is expected to visit this locality. After listening to the people and to the priests and religious working in the area and from my personal inspection, I wish to convey to you that there were no LTTE bunkers nor could we see any sign of their camps nor any individual residence of possible LTTE cadre in or in the vicinity of this area. This attack is clearly on a civilian target which, as far as I had witnessed, has blown to pieces 13 innocent civilians on the very dawn of the New Year 2007. It is feared that many more of the wounded would succumb to their injuries.

I, in the presence of the Catholic priest of this area saw eight civilian bodies of the above tragedy at the Pallamadhu hospital out of whom three were children of 2, 6 & 11 years old. They were all limbless and three of them headless. The parish Priest of this area had seen five bodies of civilians known to him who succumbed to death at Mulankavil hospital, this morning. I was told by the Doctor of the Pallamadhu hospital that more than 35 wounded people had been dispatched to Mulankavil hospital and from there, nearly 25 serious cases had been sent to Kilinochchi hospital most of whom are, I was told children and women. A good number of these may not survive, I was told by a doctor. There were no LTTE killed in this incident except one who was on leave and had come in civil, minutes before the attack to this place to pay New Year visit to his mother-in-law, as I came to know from my inquires.



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