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.

 

Our lost dark nights of war in Sri Lanka: Women and rape May 28, 2009

I feel frozen. My neck is starting to tighten and my heart is beating like a drum. I don’t know why. I thought the memories are erased but it is not. It is buried in me and in many other women. Our eyes are telling so many stories. No one can read or listen or hear but as sisters we feel the pain and the fear among us.

Each time the sounds of the guns come closer to me, my body is shaking and we ran and ran to the place where there is no smell of the army. Each time we hear the news that army is coming closer I wanted to crawl and hide my face between my legs in the dark corner.

When we heard the noise of the army boots, my mother scuffled our hair and asked us daughters to wear clothes that covered our bodies fully with long gowns as many other mothers. My mother put me and my sisters inside the cupboard and  under the bed as her hands are shaking and her eyes are watering with fear. Her hands are tied as her options are blocked to save their daughters.

We learnt when we hide we get assaulted, so we decided to stay together but they the terrifying men selected us by the look of our body and asked to go to the rooms for check up  with them. With their gun inside our mouth they tested if our breast are bombs or if we carry guns in our vagina. Our voice were blocked inside the gun barrel stuck inside mouth. Our body become the frozen ice as blood became frozen inside our body as our eyes were looking for help. There is no rule or hands to wipe our tears of blood. We let our entire body to be frozen.   There are so many tests happened to my friends and sisters like this but we keep quite and only told our mothers.

Our mothers kept quite to save our fathers and brothers life as they would be killed if they asked questions as many times our fathers and brothers think that they are responsible for us.  On the way to school and to home, passing that army camp is not easy or safe. Our bodies got frozen as they checked our bras and between our thighs. Our brothers and fathers were beaten up and taken to their custody for speaking for us. I saw my sisters peeing on the streets as they were checked out and assaulted. We pass the sentry point as we pray the God. Even the God did not hear our cries or wounds.

Each time the army capture our homes(space) many of our sisters bodies are destroyed, assaulted, raped, killed and targeted as war tools to celebrate their victories. Our future turn dark. Many of my sisters quit school and we stayed home avoid the army and the camps.

Our homes are checked on a daily basis especially if there are women. Each time they check, they assault us by saying they are checking to see if we are terrorists and have any thing inside our clothes. Some of our sisters get raped too.

Our Tamil armed group brothers of freedom fighters who helped the army watched us being sexually assaulted; but some I saw had tears in their eyes as their hands are tied.

The army did not even leave me as a 13 years old or my sister who is 6 years old. My  sisters’ bodies got frozen and never talk about any thing. Our mothers told us not to say any thing to our neighbors or the world as she did not trust the world and worried that our future will be destroyed as we were told. One  day a sister from our neighborhood committed  suicide. We asked what happened, the parents kept quite. Later my mother told me that she was raped and killed herself as she does not want to see this terrifying world. We know so many sisters’ disturbing stories are buried in our backyard and in our streets.

As Tamil women, we were raised to not talk about our sexuality or our body as women. It is a secret. And we were brought up with a sense of shame to openly speak about our bodies.  We did not even talk about our sexual issues infront our fathers or brothers. We were told  that without virginity our lives are over.

I saw so many of them and still feel the wounds as someone who have worked in many villages and in Poorani  Women Centre. Poorani Women Centre is the first women centre that gave space to say and build hope for women who are being affected by (raped women, lost parents, lost homes, other…..). Working class women were in more vulnerable situation as we did not hold any status or contacts or as only we acted as with feelings and our voice already in the bottom of the agenda in our society.

I was involved from day one on as committee member and then staff at Poorani. It was seeded by Pat Ready who was a Burgher women who lived in England and Dr. Rajini Thiranagama and many others. As someone who was part of Poorani from the beginning and as someone who translated and communicated  the stories of rape  and their dark life to Pat Ready. I got to know more unheard voices which are still echoing in my ears during IPKF arrival for to bring so called peace.

Sothi(not real name)

“ they destroyed my life. Ariyandom, ariyandom. (dirty, dirty)” Her words hide from her mouth as she was trying to re-live and her body shakes.

“7 army tied me up on the bed. Both my legs and arms are tied…”

I did not want to hear any longer and stopped translating as women we feel and connect. She continued to stammer while her words get lost in her tummy.

“All 7 raped me until my vagina got trashed.”

She was pregnant  which she even did not know until we asked her and had to go through abortion.

“I do not want the child. I will kill the child if I had him.” Thanks to God it was not too late to do abortion.

As we hugged her, Sothi’s story went into my blood and touched and tore my heart. Seeing her washing her hands and feet all the time and screaming at sleep, feeling lost, I wanted to be with her and other women who are in same situation. I quit my school and forgot my age as teenager, as my life was full of these stories.

Another women who had passed the abortion deadline and could not accept her pregnancy or the baby, kicked her stomach to take revenge on the baby. She eat green Papaya and other medicine to kill the baby. But the baby was born. As the baby lay crying for milk, she refused to even see him or feed him. The Indian Peace Keeper destroyed the peace in this woman and her child, like many other women and children to prove their victory.

I can go on and on about women who have lost their hope and their self due to rape and effect of war. Poorani gave a space for women and gave hope. It was destroyed by the Tamil armed group to take over the power of the centre.

After that many women went in many different directions. Some women who had families went to their family and got married. Some of the raped women joined the LTTE as black tigers.

Few years later, Sothi’s destroyed body was given to my mother in a bag as she had requested and felt that she was part of our family. I do not know what happened to other sisters, therefore, defeating the LTTE and killing them does not make me happy or enjoy their deaths as they are my sisters, friends, classmates, neighbours and fellow human beings  even though they have chosen different path.

Even at the Poorani, in the beginning the army came into our bedroom and watched while we were changing clothes, taking bath, in wash-rooms day and nights until the authorities were challenged by us, especially Pat Ready and Rajini.

There are many dark nights that our eyes were not closed and our bodies were frozen:

Example: One day Pat Ready and I went to the army camp and informed Captain George that we are a non-violent group and his soldiers should not come to our centre, especially inside without permission. Pat told him that she will be travelling to Colombo and asked him to tell his army to not to come to our centre or frighten the women who are living there. She informed him that if proper action is not taken, she would report to the International Community. He agreed and came to see and toured the centre.

The day Pat left, Captain George came to our doors at late night, drunk with his gun slung over his shoulder. We had hired a new administrator from Jaffna University.  As soon as we saw Army Captain and his gun, many women and my sisters who came to visit the centre on that day and my grandmother hide themselves under the bed and in rooms. The administrator and two other women tried to talk to him while the Tamil armed group who came with him waited outside. I hid myself behind the front door. The administrator started to talk. George was asking all the questions as he pretended not to know any information about the centre. He requested her to take him to show the place that we are going to use for nursery which was filled with bushes and was dark. The administrator started to shake and cry but her feet were moving. I know why he asked her and what he wanted. I came out and said “Hi Captain George! Why do you want to see again. You came here before and were informed that you and your group cannot come here. Why are you here?” He was startled to see me there. He said that he was just checking to see if we are all safe. I said if there were any problem, we would inform and requested him to leave. He  left. Even though I was so terrified and shaking, I had to do this to save our sisters and me. I felt very strong at that time even though I did not belong to the same status as Dr.Rajini and Pat and was very young at that time. I spoke out for the first time against an army and have never seen even my mother or neighbours challenge the army.

That night, we slept in one of our neighbor’s house. The old woman had asthma. So many boots walked in the SARUHUKAL (dry leaves) and kicked Poorani’s doors throughout the night. The sound squeezed our hearts. The old women, our neighbour’s asthma started acting up  and she could not breath. She was making so much noise, we had to hold her mouth and block her breathing on and off to save all of us. That night our eyes did not close. I can not explain the fear and sorrow till the boots and the smell left us that morning.

Our nights continued to be full of these stories for years. We never wanted to live with those boots and gun and smell of army. But the Tamil human rights activists, media and the International Community talk about how some of our brothers and sisters being kept as human shields. But they buried our feelings and fears and our belonging in their reports as women, especially as working class women who do not have contacts, wealth or education. Our fearful faces and nights of terrors buried in our villages. We never wanted to pass this army camp even if we had to pass to save our lives, lives of our children.

2009:

I was told by a trusted source close to me, that women are being raped and have disappeared. Families are being separated on the way to safe zone. This information  would not be new to most of us, as we see reports everyday.

“A woman was raped by 26 army on the way to safe zone and her vagina and uterus were torn to shreds. She did not tell any one but her pain brought the truth to attention, but she does not want to say anything to anyone.”

Our wounds hidden and buried in the safe zone are slowly emerging.

Continuing effects in diaspora:

It did not stop. We, as women carry the dirt feeling and effect with us everywhere we go. I have counseled many women who do not want to let their husbands touch  their bodies. And their voice is again buried within themselves as they were afraid that they would be abandoned by their husbands and society.

As we shared our stories among us and see the injustice and cruelty, my voice got stronger with other sisters voice.

I have my own stories. But, I could not just only see my pain alone as there are unbearable  pain in scores of women and innocent terrifying experience..

We cannot let any longer let our voice and open wound be ignored. we cannot any longer let the torn vaginas and uterus be ignored. We cannot any longer allow powerful men to use our bodies as tools for their victories.

As Tamils, as human rights activists, as international representatives, as human rights and aid organizations, as humans we have a basic duty, to follow and make changes in these innocent lives, to save their future. Some of the ways we need to immediately address are,

  • send – DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team) as they did during Tsunami
  • Should push UN and international community to stand firm and stop the killing, rape, disappearance and torture of innocent civilians and provide basic humanitarian aid.
  • Speak for innocent civilians and should pressure other countries to follow international law to stop the killing, rape, disappearance and torture of innocent civilians.
  • Canada and other countries have to get involved in finding a REAL permanent solution to save many innocent lives in Sri Lanka by organizing a real peace talk by clearly telling the Sri Lankan government that there would be repercussions such as economic and political sanctions.
  • By facilitating a real dialogue between all parties.
  • Most importantly women from the grass root level, who are the most affected has to be part of the discussion and decision making.
  • Let our families and children to live where they grew up, away from the camps.

Until the real solution touches us, our lives remains dark.

By Regi David, Toronto,  May 27, 2009:

Don’t Test the colour of my blood, I also, will be destroyed.

But even then, the colour of my blood is red, just like yours, my friend.

 

Buried for years in our backyards: Stories of Rape, Hunger, and Death from SriLankan Tamil Women May 25, 2009

The smell of the army boots, the gun, never our friend

I became an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) when I was just 13 years old. Our house was bombed out. We did not know where to go. We ran and ran. The stench of corpses was everywhere. They were not just dead bodies. They were my uncles, sisters, friends and neighbours.

My mother asks me to close my eyes. I keep seeing the gun that pointed at my face. I see my sister frozen with fear of being raped. I see us running into the church. I see my neighbours crawling without legs. I see people’s feet, stepping over small babies. I see infants crying to awaken their dead parents. I see the pregnant mother running, to save herself and the unborn baby in her stomach. And I see her shatter in an explosion near the church. I see her two legs quivering in pieces on the soil. I see the fragments of shells, raining down to destroy me, to destroy my mother.

We are all packed in a small tiny space, our neighbourhood church. Hundreds of families, thousands seek here. There is no place to sit here. I just sit in one place for five days. I want to stretch myself and go to sleep. I am numb all over. There’s nowhere to even stretch my arms. Five days, I stand or sit, circulating blood. I cried for food and water, as many other children around me did. Our mothers could only give us their tears. Our fathers were nowhere to be seen. Our brothers were taken away by the army. My sisters were hidden under their folded arms, numb with fear. My uncles went with the priest to help the wounded and take the dead bodies to the cemetery as there were dead bodies everywhere. That was the last I saw of my uncles. It was the priest whose white tunic turned red, who tried to console us saying that he had to put my uncles too in the bullock-cart, they had used to send the bodies to be buried. My uncles were killed in the shell bombing while they were helping others. I never had a chance to say goodbye. We screamed and screamed until our throats went dry. No one heard our voices.

The Sri Lankan Government told the world that my uncles are safe… The Sri Lankan government told the world that my sisters did not get raped. They told the world that it was not true. But the truth is they are all gone.

Our stories are buried in our backyards, but our nights are full of these stories.

On seeing the bloodshed of innocent people, I decided to work with the community of people who most needed it. I worked in the community at the grassroots level with women raped and affected by war in many villages around Jaffna and continued my work in the first twelve refugee camps in Colombo during the 1990s.

I still recall vividly life as a community worker in the refugee camps.

I heard many voices of innocent, helpless civilians who lost their loved ones on their way to the camps. Women’s silent cries at being raped on their way to the camp. Mothers crying over their lost and disappeared children. Scattered families who had to leave behind loved ones who did not want to leave their homes, neighbourhoods they grew up in, friends, schools, temples, fields and trees even when their lives were in danger. My family was one of them. I saw entire communities of Muslims being uprooted from Jaffna with unbearable sorrow in their hearts.

But after all this struggle to reach the “safety” of the refugee camps, more struggle awaited us.

The refugee camps were packed to explode. People just had space only to lie down in the vast open halls of former schools and community centers.

People were lining for washrooms. When people had diarrhea, the last piece of cloth they had were most of the time soiled. And they had to keep wearing them until or if  some help arrives. There were many contagious diseases such as rashes, dysentery, and malaria in these refugee camps which kept recurring again and again.

Armed Tamil groups who were given responsibility over the camps by the government misused their power over the innocent helpless civilians. I saw old men who went to get fresh air, escaping the fetid air in the camps get beaten up until they coughed up blood, by one of the main leaders of the Tamil armed groups for returning after 6 PM. When people speak out, they disappear the next day. Young women and men were watched constantly. The people in these camps were not allowed to return to their neighbourhoods or communities that they grew up in, even if the wanted to. For some people, there was no place to return because of the bombs. People were afraid to speak freely about even regular happenings. There was so much loss and sorrow they could not even think about it, as it filled them up. Many times, when I gave counselling, people were bottled up with unshed tears and pain. It took me a lot of time to build trust. The counselling had to happen inside the camps surrounded by the Tamil armed groups, which kept most of them silent. People were kept in the refugees camps for months without being allowed outside. Even children! Our future is lost in the refugee camps in our own lands.

I had to fight for months with the Tamil armed groups for permission to take the children and families out for a few hours to conduct a trauma workshop. However, I could not continue to just do my set out tasks. I went further and beyond my limitations and asked questions and challenged the authority of the Tamil armed groups. So, I was targeted and was put in jail for 12 days with my family and friends, under the Sri Lankan emergency law just because I spoke out. I was able to get out of the jail only with the support of the international aid community. If they had not come to my aid, my family and I would have lost our lives as many Tamils have.

The international community should not wait to pressure for answers from Sri-Lankan government during disasters because the Sri-Lankan government does not listen or follow international law. This is clear from how the Sri Lankan government is not even allowing the UN to send aid, or the aid agencies to provide much needed relief for the 300,000 innocent civilians caught in the camps. The Sri Lankan government is not even letting in the international media. The international community has to act now and not just send requests as it has done for months. Otherwise many more thousands of innocent lives will be destroyed forever.

Future of Tamils in Sri Lanka:

Refugee camps are not a solution as the Sri-Lankan government, other Tamil armed groups, and Tamil human rights activists would have us believe. Even the leaders and their supporters who propose all these, the question we have to ask is: would you put yourselves and your children through a refugee camp?

During the last 30 years, thousands of innocent civilians have lost their lives and homes that they keep rebuilding, along with their identities and hopes.

I can understand the feelings of this war as the 1980s, 90s and 2000s are no different. Being raped in 1990s and being raped in 2009 is not different; the agony is the same. The loss of loved ones, the hunger, the running for safety is the same then and now. Having no hands to comfort, being alone is the same in that war and this war.

The international community and the Sri Lankan government thinks that they only need food and water, a place to sleep, and medicine to heal their wounds and they can survive. Food and shelter is important, too, but that is not enough for real peace. What about their scattered families torn apart by war, the endless mourning for them, and the endless hope for a life without guns and bombs. None of this comes into the solution of a refugee camp.

Therefore, refugee camps after the mass killings of Tamils, after the torture, after the erasure of people, the refugee camps are not a solution, especially because it is the same government who kills them and their families and then offers them refuge. Where is the guarantee of real safety inside these refugee camps? As I mentioned, when I worked in the refugee camps, what I saw was nothing less than terrifying. The threats to their lives, the torture, the violence continued even inside the camps. Therefore, this is not a permanent or democratic or diplomatic solution; it is not even a solution. It will not end the war or bring peace, and any human rights activist who works without any bias or agenda except for humanitarianism would not disagree.

It is our responsibility as a Sri Lankan, as a Canadian, as a human being to support and solve the real issue for our children in the future. The powerful leaders carry out their campaigns with both guns and pens. These guns and pens bury the stories, the pain, the faces of women and working class people in their own backyards. Sometimes, Tamil human rights activists and intellectuals cover up our pain with their personal pain and loss. Our unheard voices were buried for years and continue to be buried.

The war will end and people will be in peace only if the real root of the problem is touched and addressed democratically. Banning the LTTE or defeating them or other Tamil armed groups is not a solution. The solution will be when Tamils are treated as equal citizens in a land that they have lived in for many thousands now. The solution will be when Tamils do not have to prove their belonging or their right of place in Sri Lanka. The solution will be when we all sit down and talk with an open agenda with justice in mind.

No Justice, No peace!


By Regi David, Toronto,  May 21, 2009:

Don’t Test the colour of my blood, I also, will be destroyed.

But even then, the colour of my blood is red, just like yours, my friend.