Valaichenai report lists civilian casualties

[TamilNet, Sunday, 07 February 1999, 13:47 GMT]
Thirty five civilians, including five school children, were killed in the Koralaipattu Divisional Secretary's area by Sri Lankan Army (SLA) shelling and indiscriminate retaliatory fire in 1998 according to statistics gathered by Sri Lankan government officials. (The Valaichenai administrative unit is known as Koralaipattu)

Valaichenai is a Tamil township with more than 10 satellite hamlets and minor settlements 32 kilometers north of Batticaloa. The area has been severely affected by the SLA's activities.

The Sri Lankan government has concentrated 9 SLA detachments and 8 Sri Lankan Police camps and posts in and around this small area. (The Police deployed in the war zones of the island are trained and armed like the army)

The official figures gathered by the Koralaipattu Divisional Secretary's (DS) office revealed that 97 civilians were wounded and permanently disabled last year due to SLA action. Of these, 14 were school children - 6 girls and 8 boys.

Of the 97, eight were injured when they were assaulted by the SLA during cordon and search operations.

Ninety six houses were damaged or destroyed due to SLA shelling in 1998 mainly in Karuvaakerni, Puthukkudiyiruppu and Naasivanthivu amounting to ten percent of all the permanent structures in these villages near the Valaichenai town. (There are 957 permanent buildings the three hamlets)

Seven hundred and forty six civilians were killed in the conflict (due to SLA action) in the Valaichenai area from 1990 to 1998, according to officially recorded figures.

The actual figure could be higher if one takes into account the official procedure for recording the death of a civilian killed in the conflict.

The Divisional Secretary's office first conducts an inquiry into an application for a certificate of death. Once this inquiry is completed, the files pertaining to it are sent to the Batticaloa unit of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Police Department.

The applicant, in most cases the wife or mother of the deceased, has to appear before the CID with two eye witnesses to the incident in which the person was killed.

If the CID determines upon the conclusion of the inquiry that the person whose certificate of death is being sought is not a "terrorist suspect or a terrorist" it will sanction compensation.

Married persons whose death due to the conflict is established thus are entitled to 50000 Sri Lankan rupees (730 USD), unmarried persons above 21 are eligible for 25000 SL rupees compensation and 15000 rupees for those under 21.

However, only 319 cases of the 746 approved by the CID have been granted compensation by the government so far according to the Valaichenai DS office.

The Sri Lankan government (SLG) has told the Valaichenai DS that it has no funds to grant compensation to the immediate relatives of the others.

"4.7 percent is charged as National Security Levy (NSL) on all goods and services sales in the island by the SLG."

"The NSL, ironically, is paid by the families of the victims to whom the SLG has no money to grant compensation" points out a senior Tamil social worker in Valaichenai who has taken up the issue with the authorities in the past.

The population of the Valaichenai division is 53100.

Almost 1.5 percent of the division's population has been killed by SLA action between 1990 and 1998 even according to figures approved by the CID officials pointed out.


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