Unheard Voices

Don't test the color of my blood

Situation of The Internment Camps in Vavuniya July 2, 2009

Note: I have posted some examples of the situation of  the Internment Camps in Vavuniya from a source. We hear similar stories from our families and friends. I would welcome further information that confirms or corrects this report. That we need to know what is going on in the camps, and that therefore outside observers should be let in, e.g. human rights groups and ICRC.

These are some examples of the situation of The Internment Camps in Vavuniya.

Chettikulam Internment camp consist 4 zones. Each zone has more than 20,000 – 25,000civilians. Zone 1 is the oldest of These 4 zones. Zone 4 contains the people came on last days (after May 15th) of the battle. These zone 4 people are considered as hardcore LTTE supporters or family members of LTTE cadres. Zone 1 is the best of all these zones (or hell) according to facilities available which is also below the least acceptable living standards. Ban ki moon like people visit this zone 1 and only after severe temporary face lift make ups of the camp.

Water facility is severely limited

Water facility is severely limited. Only 3 tube wells were constructed for each zone. No pipe lines. Water has to be collected for drinking or toilets or washing clothes from these wells and they have to use these wells to bath too. People cannot get required volume of water. People are always dehydrated. (Feeding mothers cannot give breast feeding due to dehydration.) These wells are situated in open space. Men and women of all ages have to use this to bath. When young girls taking bath all security personnel who are free of duty will take seats around these wells and watch. There is one canal going along these zones which channels water from a tank to fields. Some people use this to bath. But this goes by zone 1 then zone 2 then zone 3, as so on. So zone 4 people have to use the water that all three zone people have already washed. When the water reach zone 3, 4 it stinks.

Toilets are also not enough

Toilets are also not enough. People start to make queue from 4am. Waiting will go on beyond 9 / 10am. If people are in hurry they have to use bare land in front of all people and security personnel.
Tents given are very thin as they are see through on day time and specially in nights when lamps are light. In day time these tarpaulins tents are very hot. Temporary sheds are also made with tin sheets.

Peaple eat spoiled meals and get diarrhea and typhoid

People get meals as parcels. Breakfast come around 9 – 11am. Lunch arrives not before 4pm. Quality is very poor. Not only the quality, but due to the delay all most all of the time meals are spoiled. But people have no choice they have to eat it as there are no alternative meals. There are no special meals for infants and kids. Even one year toddler has to eat same meal. Many of the kids still refuse to eat these meals and becoming malnourished. Even who eat get diarrhea and typhoid.

prostitution for getting some money to buy food for their kids

Sinhala business men bring goods in Lorries and sell in the camps but many people has no money to buy even for their kids. In order to buy some biscuits or some other thing to give to eat to their kids many young mothers who lost their husbands were persuaded for prostitution by security personnel for one hundred rupees. This prostitution for getting some money to buy food for their kids is very common and very much open to public awareness.

People have to be always in queue throughout the day. Queue to use toilet, fetch water, bath, get meals, and get treatment. If one was delayed in getting treatment he will lose all other provisions.

People are getting sick very often

People are getting sick very often. Few doctors go to see the people as OPD patients. Even these doctors were under surveillance during their visit by Intelligence officers. The queue will be too long. Some Acting Physicians are also going. These doctors are Tamils. If they think a person need a hospital admission patient has to be sent to the medical coordinator of the zone with a transfer form. The coordinator has the power to reject or authorize the transfer of that patient according to his knowledge. These coordinators are not only always Sinhalese but also they are people from the batch who has just finished their internships and waiting for their post intern appointment. These juniors even reject consultants’ transfer requests. They said that army officers asked to restrict the number of transfers of IDPs. Now some coordinators are getting Rs.500 – 1000 as bribe from the patients for authorizing transfers. After their approval people will be transferred by ambulances or by buses. On the way to Vavuniya there is a main check post. That check point camp has one military doctor. If he was in the check post while these buses or ambulances were taking patients he will re – scrutinize the transfers. He is lack in clinical medical knowledge. During early part of this month two children transferred to Vavuniya GH for management of pneumonia were send back to camp as no need for transfer by this military doctor were died even before the ambulance reach back the camp. Even after this incident he is still taking decision on transfers.

even children are dying in high numbers

Before mid of May most of the deaths were among elderly people in these camps. But now even children are dying in high numbers. Also Within 18 days of this month Vavuniya hospital has 5 maternal deaths among IDP population. Last year Jaffna hospital had only 2 maternal deaths and those are also unpreventable.

neonatal deaths and maternal mortality are very much higher than any other war torn countries

When neonates and mothers send back to camps after delivery significant number of babies die during neonatal period.
Vavuniya GH only receives daily 10 to 25 corpses from Internment camps. Among the deaths are neonates, infants, children and elderly people are most in number. There are only 272,000 people are living in these internment camps. For this population this amount of morbidity and mortality is very much high. We don’t know there are any other places they are sending dead bodies. Patients are transferred to other hospitals too. These rates of neonatal deaths and maternal mortality are very much higher than any other war torn countries in the world. One who analyses these statistics must also compare the statistics of Vanni before this displacement. Even with all medical restrictions imposed by the government those vital statistics(Health Indices)are much better than many other South Asian countries.
The most prevalent illnesses among these internment camp people are
1. Chicken pox
2. Typhoid
3. Typhoid complication such as perforation
4. Pneumonia – mostly in children and elderly
5. Pneumonia complications such as even pyo thorax – most children die from pneumonia almost always had pyo thorax.
6. Malnutrition

Camps for prisoners who are militants and who the army things as militants

There are camps for prisoners who are militants and who the army things as militants. These camps are separated from others. Some camps are under ICRC visit schedules. Many are not allowed for ICRC visits. Even in the camps ICRC knows, there are hidden sections where prisoners kept secretly. These prisoners not known by ICRC. Prisoners frequently beaten. When they get ill only a doctor among them can treat them. If someone becomes more ill, an outside doctor will be called. He/she can prescribe more medication. But there is no chance of transferring them to hospital. So they must get well with the drugs or have to die.

Patients all over the wards

In GH Vavuniya, there are patients all over the wards on the beds, under beds, between the beds, on corridors, on waiting halls, duty rooms, under the trees, etc. Patients will grab your legs when you go by the ways and beg you for food, money, dress etc. you can see lot of children getting treatment without any by standers as they don’t have one.
The Vavuniya hospital actually needs more men and material, Even though the number of patients transferred is restricted by Sinhala doctors who are coordinators for the camps and by the military doctors it is very high.
Some Sinhala Doctors, many Police and many Army personnel are demanding for bribe from people who are in the camps and who are visiting to the camps. To see people, to get approval for transfers, even to give a lift in their vehicle inside the camps (camps are very large –may take more than two hours to cross the camps from bottom to the visitors area).
People are provided with at least some ‘food’ and some ‘water’. Nothing provided by the government other than these meals and water. But for all other thing that they need to have for living they need money. Most of them don’t have any money in hand to buy the other necessary things and even to bribe the police and army. This leads them to beg, and some ladies go for prostitution with army and police.

families separated between camps

There are families separated between camps. Even children are separated from parents. There are no any mechanisms in practice to find the missing parents, kids or relatives and reunite them. ICRC was not allowed to enter or take any information from these camps. They are allowed to go only to some prisoner camps.

Courts ordered to hand over Orphan children from camps to two approved orphanage homes of Vavuniya few weeks back. But presidential secretariat informed not to release and they said that they will be adopted by the first lady and will be taken to some area in South. The children are still suffering in the camps.
The children from ‘Senjcholai’ are not seen. People from Vanni said they have surrendered with the employees worked there to the forces. There are some rumors they were detained in Omanthai.

no recorded data about the people residing in the camps available other than army

There are no recorded data about the people residing in the camps available other than army. So people gone missing cannot be found whether they stayed in a particular camp.

UN workers are going in to the camps in restricted manner but they are not saying anything to outside world

UN workers are going in to the camps in restricted manner but they are not saying anything about the situation they are seeing in the camps to outside world.

There were more than 335,000 people in Vanni. But now only 272, 000 were reached Vavuniya. No one knows anything about the rest. Some friends of Sathiyamoorthy and Varatharajan the heroic duo said while they were in Vanni told media only about the deaths they were sure. These two and some other Doctors who were there till those last days did magnificent and brave job that Tamil history cannot forget. These doctors about 06 – 07 in number were held in Colombo. Except three(Sathiyamoorthy, Sanmugarajah and Varatharajan), details of others are not published by government.

equal to Nazi concentration camps

These camps are not IDP camps or not even internment camps but they are equal to Nazi concentration camps. There are no gas chambers. But people are allowed to die naturally. Or if saying correctly the circumstances are purposefully created to hasten the death of the inmates. The situation is more than a hell described in the Hindu Puranas.

Our people are going to die in these camps

Our people are going to die in these camps. Only those who survived from these camps will be resettled but not in their lands but where the government wants to settle. Now the officials are saying only a very small fraction of people of Vanni have own lands and others lived only in government (Permit) lands. (This number is not correct). So the people those who have not own a piece of land cannot ask to be settle in the lands where they lived before the displacement. So the demography of the Vanni is going to be changed.


2 Responses to “Situation of The Internment Camps in Vavuniya”

  1. Muthamizh, Chennai Says:

    Good Article about True situation in Eelam


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