Feature Article

Vaharai tragedy

[TamilNet, Thursday, 11 January 2007, 02:05 GMT]
Following Sri Lanka's Military Commander Lt.Gen Sarath Fonseka's assertion that Sri Lankan Forces will evict Liberation Tigers from the East withn the next two months, Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has intensified shelling and artillery attacks into Vaharai.

[Photo: TamilNet Library]
The people originally from Vaharai region and residents from the neighboring Trincomalee district who fled into Vaharai to swell the Internally Displaced People (IDP) population, express fear and uncertainty.

“I have been running from place to place for the last four months to escape shelling and Kfir attacks by the Sri Lankan Forces. The international community should do something to save our lives," an internally displaced woman told in Vaharai Saturday.

“I am from Senaiyur in Trincomalee district and due to the heavy shelling and aerial attacks I first fled to Ilakkanthai and then to Mugaththuwaram. Later, we were compelled to move to Verugal from where moved to Vaharai unable to stand the artillery attacks and Kfir jet bombings.

“The Government that made us displaced, wanted us to move out of Vaharai, but some of us opted to remain here. We face severe shortage of basic essentials. It is very difficult to obtain enough rice, good vegetables and even salt for rice.

“Kfir jets bombed Verugal Temple and destroyed the water sanitation system built by UN agency and thus depriving the people drinking water facility. The people of the area are now compelled to drink the salinated water once again," another IDP said.

Voice: An Interview from Kannappa Sivapakkiyam

MP3 AudioDirect Link (mp3)
Another internally displaced woman, Kannappa Sivapakkiyam explained her difficult life: “My hearing ability has been severely impaired due to the continuing artillery and shell attacks. I am scared very much. I have meager food and water. I was staying at Palchenai Refugee camp and then fled towards Vaharai hospital to escape shelling. A young boy helped me to come here, as I am unfamiliar to this area. The doctor at Vaharai hospital helped me a lot.

“Please stop the shelling at all costs. I cannot bear this any more. I wish that the New Year will solve our problems and bring us prosperity. I have been displaced several times since 1983 and I cannot move anymore.”

Voice: An Interview from Mrs. Rasa

MP3 AudioDirect Link (mp3)
Another mother, Mrs. Rasa said: “We were running away to escape from the falling shells and bombs. We lie on the ground each time a shell fell. Even though we managed to reach the school building, the shells continued to fall, killing and injuring many people.

"We could not come along Nallur road and we managed to reach Mugaththuwaram. The shelling continued there too, and a fences began burning all around. I prayed as I fled with my child to Vammivedduvan and then to Kandalady as shells continued to fall.

[Photo: TamilNet Library]
[Photo: TamilNet Library]

“When shells started raining, I was at the mouth of a bunker and my child was inside. When a shell exploded near me, I was thrown a few meters away. My son shouted my name in panic. I could not see and hear for a while, and when I regained sight and hearing later, I could hear the sound of more shells. I am a person not frightened easily, but that day we hid in the bunker for the whole day. As soon as shelling stopped, we came to Vaharai.”

“Education of the children is suffering. The Grade 5 Scholarship national examination was scheduled on 4 December. However, two days before, Kfir jets started the bombing raids. The Army closed the A-15 road on the day of the exam and the children and teachers waited until 1:00 p.m. for the question paper to arrive. I could not stay at home leaving my child at the school out of fear of shelling. The children took cover along the walls of the school building. Teachers asked me why I had come to the school. How could I stay home, leaving my only child at the school?

“The Government did not send the question papers saying that there were clashes in Vaharai. I was very keen on my child's education right from the nursery class.

“I have seen Sri Lanka's President Rajapakse with his three children on the TV. They all are grown-up children. I thought the President, being the parent of those children, would understand how another parent would feel for the children.

“Mahinda and Rambukwella, who are dropping bombs and shells on us, should come here and stay here for some time. Then only they would understand what pain is, suffering is and fear is."

Sri Lanka Army (SLA) from its camps in Valaichenai Paper Factory and Karadikkulam launched their latest artillery attack on Vaharai last Friday. The shells fell on the Vaharai Maha Vidyalayam school compound where the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have sought temporary shelter, forcing them to run to Vaharai hospital.

The shells damaged the school building but fortunately, no one was injured. The shelling took place when food relief was being distributed to the IDPs at the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) office at Vaharai.

Related Articles:
28.12.06   De-populating Sampoor
20.12.06   Besieged Vaharai continues to starve
20.11.06   Vaharai children eat roast fish to quench hunger
15.11.06   Vaharai starves
31.01.04   Peace gives no light to Vakarai

15.01.07  Unfolding misery
11.01.07  Vaharai tragedy
07.01.07  SOS from Vaharai


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