Study Mission



To Vavuniya, Vanni, Mullaitivu and Jaffna





07 July 2003




Website :




Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR

Centre Tamoul pour les droits de l'Homme - CTDH

Centro Tamil para los Derechos Humanos

(Established in 1990)


Study Mission


To Vavuniya, Vanni, Mullaitivu and Jaffna


                                 by representatives of TCHR


in April - May 2003







Head Office


9, rue des Peupliers

95140 - Garges les Gonesse



Email :



Fax : + 33 - 1 - 40 38 28 74






Website :



Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR

Centre Tamoul pour les droits de l'Homme - CTDH

Centro Tamil para los Derechos Humanos

(Established in 1990)






Background                                                                                                            01

Ceasefire agreement

Fact finding / Study mission



Visit by TCHR                                                                                                         02

            Crossing into the Vanni                                                                                03

            Visit to Jaffna                                                                                               


Vanni situation                                                                                                       05

            War victims


            Kurukulam Children’s home                                                                        

            Vettimanai / Victory House                                                                           06

            Senthalir Children’ Home                                                                             07

            Kandaruban Arevucholai                                                                              08

            Chencholai Children’s Home

            Iniya Vazhvu Illam                                                                                        

            Lt. Col. Navam Academy                  


Law and order in Vanni                                                                                         09

            Tamil Eelam Police   

            Tamil Eelam Police chief Mr. Nadesan                                                       

            Three cheers for the Tamil Eelam Police                                                    11


Tamil Eelam Judiciary                                                                                           13

            Meeting with Judges                                                                                    

            Meeting with Mr. Para in charge of Tamil Eelam Judiciary                         



Education in the Northeast                                                                                              15


Health in the Vanni and surroundings                                                                16


Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation – TRO                                                                      19


Land mine victims and mines clearance                                                            20                   


            Removed and destroyed

            Villages where land mines are suspected

            Venpura / White Pigeon                                                                               21


Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organisation – TEEDOR                                


Jaffna situation

            The most disturbing stories                                                                         22

            High Security Zones in the Jaffna peninsula                                                23



LTTE Political office in Jaffna                                                                              24


Meeting with Mr. Para in charge of Tamil Eelam Judiciary                                         




Meeting with Father Bernard                                                                               25

            Judicial system

            High Security Zones

            IDPs                                                                                                              27


            Peace Talks                                                                                                


Meeting with Prof. Mohanadas – Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University         28

            HSZs and effect on students                                                                        29

            Armed forces

            UTHR (J?)



Disappearances and Chemmani mass graves                                                   30

            Board of Investigation (BOI)                                                 

            Number of names in the complaints                                                            31

            UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances

            Some factors established by the BOI                                                         


Missing Persons Guardian Association – MGPA                                              32


Personal experiences of relatives of three of the disappeared                               

            Mr. Satkunam                                                                                              

            Mrs. Seharaja Kanagampigah                                                                      33

            Mrs. Shanthamalar Kumareswaran


Meeting with Father Jeyakumar                                                                          34




Meeting with Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies                                       35


Internally Displaced People – IDPs                                                                     36


Visit to refugee camps / welfare centre of the IDPs                                         37

            Registered IDP in 2002

            Aladdy welfare centre                                                                                   38

            Maruthanamadam welfare centre                                                                                       

            Rottialaddy Camp                                                                                        

            Mallakam Magistrate camp                                                                         

            Konapuram welfare centre                                                                           39


Concluding Comments                                                                                         40


Thanks and acknowldgements                                                                            41                   


List of abreviations                                                                                               42


Map of Locations of High Security Zones (HSZ) in Jaffna Peninsula            






Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR


The Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR is an international human rights organisation established in 1990 in France and has branches in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, other European countries and also in Australia and Canada. TCHR is concerned with human rights violations in countries all over the world, but it specialises on Sri Lanka in its reporting.


TCHR has monitored the human rights situation in the North and East of the island of Sri Lanka since 1990.




The oppression of the Tamil people by successive Sri Lankan governments was persistent from the 1950’s. Tamil resistance started then, in the form of non-violent ‘ahimsa’ campaigns. These were met with military repression and persecution.  Eventually the resistance turned to armed defence when it was clear that ahimsa methods could not resist the organised and persistent violence against Tamils. The island has seen bloody conflict for the past two decades, especially in the NorthEast. Over 70,000 people have been killed. The conflict was grounded on discriminatory practices and human rights abuses. Many talks have taken place over the past half century, all of which have failed.


Please refer to TCHR website for further details of the history and texts of past agreements. Refer to “History à Nutshell”.


However, signs of peace have eventually sprung up.


Ceasefire Agreement

On 23 February 2002, a ceasefire agreement came into force between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It was signed by the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe and the LTTE leader, Mr. Velupillai Prabhakaran.


The agreement was welcomed by all, including the international community, as an historic achievement which laid a strong foundation for the peace process and for a  negotiated political settlement. The Norwegian Government has played a major part in facilitating the peace process. It has made sincere and untiring efforts to bring peace to the island. The SLMM - Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, comprising Norwegian and other Scandinavian officers, alongside representatives of both the government and the LTTE, maintain a vigilant eye on whether the agreement is being adhered to.


Fact-finding / Study Mission


TCHR made its first fact-finding mission to Sri Lanka in 1995, the period during which the Navaly massacre took place. The TCHR representative was refused permission to visit the Northern war zone in 1995, therefore the visit was limited to the Eastern province. TCHR was able to obtain first hand information from the victims of the Mylanthanai massacre, as well as from other civilians in the East.


Two representatives of TCHR Mr. S. V. Kirubaharan – General Secretary, Ms. Deirdre McConnell – Director International Programme and three other local representatives of the TCHR participated in the recent study mission to the Northern province. The visit was three weeks long and covered Vavuniya, Vanni, Mullaitivu and Jaffna.


The representatives also met many civilians from the Eastern province on various occasions in Vanni, Jaffna and Colombo.


The TCHR delegation was able to meet members of Civil society – religious leaders, journalists, NGO representatives, academics and civilians including victims of war.


Most of the people whom we met and spoke to in Jaffna requested us to withhold their name and address in our reporting for obvious reasons.


Terminology used in this reporting is as it is to be found displayed in every nook and corner of the Northern province and expressed verbally by the people whom we met.


Fact finding missions are not only important during war time, they are also important during cease-fires  and periods of negotiations between parties to the conflict.


Visit by TCHR


The TCHR delegation went from Colombo by bus to Vanni via Vavuniya. Before reaching Vavuniya, the bus passed through several towns and villages which were well developed and people appeared to be living happily with a reasonable standard of living. These towns and villagers have good buildings, Schools, Buddhist Temples, Community centres, play grounds, government buildings and statues of war heroes who were Police, Army, Navy and Airforce soldiers killed in the war. Farming and small industries appeared to be flourishing. Coconut and  pineapple farms were seen in abundance. Elephants are used in these areas to do hard work and transport heavy items. Transport is good. The state-run public bus service, private bus services, small cars in good condition, heavy vehicles and the latest model motorbikes can be seen on the well-maintained roads.


After passing areas with many Army and Navy camps and sentry points, the condition of the road changed abruptly to that of a badly maintained road. We were told that we had just passed the town of Mathavachchy and had approached the outskirts of Vavuniya which is the border area of the Northern province, a Tamil dominated area. When passing Army camps and sentry points, we were able to observe many under-age government soldiers in the Sri Lankan army! Also we saw many home guards on duty at various check and sentry points.


By the time we arrived in Dambulla, it was 3.00 p.m. and our driver advised us not to proceed on our journey to Omanthai because there would be a long queue of vehicles waiting for clearances and we would not have been able to be cleared before 5.00pm! In such circumstances, we would be compelled to return back to Vavuniya town and stay there overnight. Our driver did not consider this a wise move! When we enquired from the driver about the problem in staying in Vavuniya, he told us that there are members of Tamil quisling groups who rob people coming from abroad! So we decided to stay overnight at Dambulla guest house.


Crossing into Vanni


The following morning we went to Omanthai via Vavuniya and Thandikulam, from where our representative was sent back in 1995. It took us 30-40 minutes to reach the first check point at Omanthai. Vavuniya town is very busy with all sorts of shops, eating house and banks.


At Omanthai check point, there were many transport lorries and trucks waiting for clearance.


This check point is manned by the Sri Lankan army and the Police and of course all of them were armed. As our vehicle arrived at Omanthai in the morning, we avoided waiting in the big queue of vehicles waiting for clearance. First our driver was screened and the vehicle was driven on to a raised platform which enabled the soldiers to check the chassis of the vehicle, to see whether anything was smuggled underneath. Our documents and baggage were then checked thoroughly. None of the Army and Police officials at these points were able to converse in English. They spoke in Sinhalese and a few words of Tamil. Soon after the checking at the government point was over, our vehicle passed no-man’s land and reached the LTTE checking point.


In the North, the Sri Lankan government administrates only Jaffna, Manal Aru which is in  Mullaitivu district and part of Mannar. Almost 80% of the Northern province is under the administration of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – LTTE :  Vanni, Mullaitivu, part of Mannar and up to Muhamalai in Jaffna peninsula.


At this point, uniformed Tamil Eelam Police, well dressed Tamil Eelam volunteers (considered as immigration officers) and uniformed Tamil Eelam customs officers were on duty but none of them were armed. They were very polite and helpful. First we were received by one of the volunteers and we were asked to fill out a form. This form had questions such as full name, address abroad, locally and period of stay. When we produced this form, our documents were checked and we were asked to pay a sum of one thousand rupees (Rs. 1000/=). They then issued us a slip of paper with our details. One could presume that this was a visiting visa to Tamil Eelam! That was the beginning of our three weeks long journey into the North. At the beginning we stayed in Vanni for twelve days and then continued our journey to Jaffna.


The LTTE check-point naturally gave us an idea about the expenditures incurred in order to maintain this point. Salary for the police, customs and voluntary officials, uniforms, fuel for vehicles, food and drinking water, maintenance of the tents and marquees, etc.


Visit to Jaffna


When the TCHR delegation went to Jaffna, it passed the LTTE check points and reached Muhamalai. This is the beginning of the government controlled area of Jaffna. As soon as we reached Muhamalai, the first thing that we saw (it was unavoidable), was a huge cut-out of Eelam People Democratic Party – EPDP’s leader’s photo and his declaration! We wondered why Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe’s government which is in negotiation with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – LTTE, could not display something about Peace in general, rather than allowing the EPDP leader’s declaration. According to the people of Jaffna, in the last election the EPDP won only one seat and that was achieved by vote-rigging! A group of bypassers in Muhamalai told us, “It’s really annoying! Why is this government giving such importance to the EPDP?”


At Muhamalai, the Sri Lankan Police and Army were on duty with light and heavy arms. The identity cards and passports are checked and bags are thoroughly searched!  Also a mirror is used to check the underneath the vehicle. Here no one speaks in English. They speak in Sinhalese as well as a few words in Tamil. As soon as our checking was over, we continued our journey to Jaffna, as usual along the un-maintained roads.


From Muhamalai until Navatkuli, all the vehicles we saw were Army conveys. Those who were  walking were soldiers, those riding bicycles were soldiers, those on motorcycles were soldiers and even those travelling by tractor and other heavy vehicles were also soldiers.


Our journey from Muhamalai to Jaffna was along Koddikamam, Chavakachchery, Kaithaddy, Navatkuli, Chemmani, Kalviankaddu, Sankilianthoppu, Nallur, Whyman road, Navalar road and Point Pedro Rd.


In these areas we saw destroyed houses, temples, churches, shops, markets, hospitals, rest-houses, etc. The damage to Chavakachcheri is severe. The people have started their reconstruction work but it will take a long time to reconstruct these places.


In Jaffna, the people are in a dilemma! The people of Jaffna feel that they are under army occupation.  They all wonder about their future! The High Security Zone (HSZ) problem remains unsolved. The Internally Displaced People – IDPs, are very disappointed. There are thousands of IDPs who have been displaced many times for up to thirteen years. Most of the IDPs are toddy tappers, fisherman and casual labourers whose homes are in the present High Security Zones – HSZ, therefore they cannot return home. They lead a hand to mouth life, seeking whatever work they can find during the day.


The behaviour of the Sri Lankan army in Jaffna has not changed but due to the cease-fire they continue their notorious work with caution.


The human cost and tragedy of the war in the Northeast is very high. Much higher indeed than the International community is aware of! The whole infrastructure of Vanni, Mullaitivu and most part of Jaffna is totally demolished. The people of these areas have not only lost their livelihood but also their morale and their properties. “The damage caused by the twenty years of war cannot be estimated! It is always several times higher than figures mentioned by the media and NGOs”, a community worker told us.


Those who visit Vanni, Mullaitivu and Jaffna question themselves as to whether the government of Sri Lanka conducted the war on a theory of “if we win the war we will re-build the infrastructure of the Northeast but if we lose the war, let those areas remain in ruins”. The damage to Homes, Schools, Churches, Temples, Farming, Fishing, small industries as well as bigger factories like Paranthan chemical and Salt co-operation are just a few examples in the estimation of the costs of the material damage to the Northeast.


Under LTTE administration every sign-board is in Tamil, English and Sinhalese. In government-controlled areas, especially Jaffna, certain sign boards are only in Sinhalese. Also there are a few shops mostly near the sentry points and check points, controlled by the Sri Lanka army.  “Who is financing these shops and who get these profits?” is the question asked by the passers-by.


The people in the North seem not to have recovered yet from the effects of twenty years of war and economic embargo. Some are busy with their own rehabilitation, some are busy rebuilding their houses and getting ready for farming and fishing. Some do not believe that the present peace talks will bring a durable solution to the island’s long-standing bloody conflict.


The people praise the challenging work carried out by the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation – TRO  in Vanni and Mannar. TRO has various projects for the rehabilitation of people and now TRO projects are extended to the Eastern province as well.


The organisation known as TEEDOR - Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organisation is busy in building up Economic projects in LTTE administrated areas.


Also there are several child care centres and a rehabilitation centre for women severely affected by their traumatic experiences. The children in the centres and the women victims are well looked after.



Police Force


In Jaffna, the people consider the Sri Lankan police as corrupt, and have no confidence either in the Police or the Sri Lankan judicial system.

In Vanni and other parts of the LTTE administrated areas, the Tamil Eelam police is running a smooth and uncorrupted system to maintain law and order and the Tamil Eelam judicial system is fully accepted by the people.


Vanni Situation


In the North, the whole of the Vanni, the major part of Mullaithivu and Mannar district and half of Jaffna peninsula are under the LTTE administration. This covers a huge area of the Northern province, including Omanthai, Pulliyamkulam, Mamkulam, Killinochi, Karadianpokku, Paranthan and Elephant Pass of the A9 high way, Murasumoddai, Kandavalai, Visuvamadhu, Muthainkaddu, Mullaithivu, Mallavi, Skanthapuram, Thunukai, Akkarain and part of Mannar.


War victims


The number of the casualties of the twenty years of war in the North-eastern province is many times higher than the actual number of people killed. Every family is a victim of this war and every civilian has a heart-rending story to relate.


We met a worker from the East Mr. Selvam who had come to Vanni. His whole family apart from three brothers had been killed, but he knew many worse off than him, he said. Nine members of a neighbour’s family had been hacked to death. The sister of one of the slain men, was insulted by the Muslim Home Guard who killed her brother. The Home Guard lied, saying to her that her brother had said to him that he should take her as his wife.


Another case he told us about was that of a woman who had just had a stomach operation who was raped by Sri Lankan soldiers who had forcibly entered her home. She committed suicide soon afterwards. On the 31st day after her death, the army came and killed her husband. These are just some of the many tragic and horrendous life experiences people told us about the East.


In the Vanni, there are many Centres and institutions looking after the war victims, including parentless infants and children, widows, women affected by trauma, people with disabilities and so on. All these children and adults are additional to the figure of over 70,000 civilians killed in the twenty-year war.


TCHR representatives visited many of the Centres and institutions in the Vanni. Below we give a brief account of some of the Centres and their activities.




District                       Vision             Hearing/         Leg/hand       Other             Mental

                                   defects          speaking        defects          physical         defects

                                                           defects                                  defects


Jaffna                          8,943               2,917               2,794               5,465               1,602

Mullaitivu                     5,023               1,117               2,105               3,001                  754

Killinochchi                 3,444                  923               1,369               1,905                  438

Vavuniya                     1,749                  534                  786               1,268                  392

Mannar                       1,206                  414                  600                  942                  190

Batticaloa                      248                    99                  200                  213                    65

Trincomalee                  151                    74                  101                  163                    27

Ampara                            70                    40                    45                    10                    28



Kurukulam Children’s home


A children’s home known as “Kurukulam” is in Jayanthinagar near Killinochchi. This centre is funded by Malaysian and Australian branches of the TRO. According to one of its officials, this Centre was originally founded in 1957 with a difference name by Kathiravelu Appu who was killed by IPKF shelling in 1988.


There are about 500 children in this home in three groups: (1) 45 Children from the age of 1 to 8 years, (2) 240 children from the age of 8 to 12 years, (3) 215 children from the age of 12 and up.


In this home seventy percent of the children are parentless.  The children are looked after very well with the means available.


There are 22 staff managed by one director. Out of 22 staff, 15 are part time employees and three are full time teachers.


Some of the children have emotional and behavioural difficulties. Discipline is achieved by talking together, providing activities and creating a family atmosphere, where children can talk to significant adults about their feelings.


When we arrived at this home the older children were all sitting under a tree, having a meeting. We were told that they would be discussing, progress made by the children during the week and areas where improvements could be made.


The children below the age of two sleep in cradles in their special room. They are excited when visitors arrive to see them.  Here we saw a baby boy who had been abandoned and found in the bushes.


According to Kamala - the office accountant, the Teachers have staff meetings on Tuesdays. The Children above the age of five or six go to mainstream schools, government schools.  School starts at 8.30am, ends at 2.30pm. Children take packed lunch with them. The teachers help with homework.


The Home has been resettled in Kilinochchi since January 2002. The whole community of this childrens’ home had been displaced for six years. They had had to move several times, including to Mannar.  We also met Sherin, Selvarani and Shiva.


Vettimanai / Victory Home


From Kilinochchi, we drove through the villages of Kanagapura and Akrayan, to reach “Vettimanai” in the village of Skandapuram. As there is a lack of modern transport in Vanni, we saw many types of traditional transporting systems in use. We saw a bullock cart transporting cadjan leaves and a man carrying a massive amount of bunches of bananas on his bicycle. As this bicycle was over-loaded, it tipped over and we went and helped him. Along the way to Skanthapuram, we saw many manually built bridges, goats, cattle in the middle of the road, many birds and beautiful lotus ponds.


This home was first started in 1991, in Udduvil, Jaffna. It was relocated to Vanni in 1998.  “Vettimanai” or Victory Home is a Counselling Aid Centre for mentally ill women


At the entrance of Vettimanai or Victory home, we saw a sign board which read: “Action is more important than words”.


Ms. Mithira, the Director of this home, told us there are 50 women in this home. The youngest is 16 years old. Most of the women were found on the streets, having been separated from their families by the war. It has not been possible to trace all of their families. The women are accepted here and cared for in a positive and nurturing environment. The respect and dignity given them by the staff is clear from the moment one arrives at the home. There were two victims of rape in this home.


According to Mithira, another home in Kilinochchi admits residents from Vettimani who are transferred when their health has improved. Here the residents can learn computing and typing. However it is short-staffed.


Mithira further said, 15 women have been transferred to the Centre in Kilinochchi, eight of whom were helped to return back to their homes. Two women had to return to the Kilinochchi centre, as they had became unwell again. However the fact that six women were successfully helped to return home to live with their families is a great achievement. It is to the credit of the dedicated teams of the staff at Vettimanai and at the centre in Kilinochchi.


At Vettimanai, there are many activities taking place to keep the residents occupied. For instance, poultry and dairy farming, weaving coconut leaves for roofing (Cadjan) and brick making.


Files are maintained for all the residents. The women are grouped and live in several different multi-functional buildings which are like dormitories. Each group has its own dormitory. Twice a month the women are taken to hospital for check-ups and medication and if necessary they see the psychiatrist consultant, Dr Daya Somarasunderam.


Originally there were six staff but the number was increased to three shifts of six staff, as burnout was occurring and the staff themselves were becoming affected. When working so closely with people who are traumatised and mentally ill, it was recognised that the staff can themselves suffer from vicarious trauma. The staff working in this home are not specially trained but they are doing a really marvellous job.


As this is the only centre of its kind in the Northeast, some of the residents have come from the East.


Mithira said that there are two psychiatric hospitals in Jaffna but these are mainly for out-patients. They sometimes admit patients, but only for a few days and then discharge them.


According to Mithira, some of the women have serious episodes and even with ten members of staff, it is not always possible to restrain them. When the women become aggressive towards each other, the staff try to separate them. The staff have a policy of not using physical force on the residents.


Some families of the residents provide money for food, for instance on birthdays, so a party can be organised. We saw photos of some parties. However this can lead to increased emotional arousal and increased distress. For example, Rajeswary, aged 52, had a birthday party recently. Her family came and afterwards she seemed more distressed. It took a few days for her to become calmer.


The centre celebrates all religious functions as well as social functions.


The centre held an event on “World Day for the Disabled”. In the celebrations trees were planted, poems were read and speeches made by residents. A play was performed in this function. A Sports meet was held and games were played: Musical chairs, Scraping-coconut competition and weaving coconut leaves for roofing (Cadjan) competition were some of the contests they held.


The only assistance this home has received from other organisations has been the provision of bedsheets!


Vettimanai is under the “Women’s Human Development WDU”. There are five projects which are taken care of by the WHD. (1) Vettimanai or Victory home - Counselling Aid Centre for mentally ill women (2) Niraimadieelam - home for children with severe learning disabilities from birth. (3) Senthaliar,  Mullaitivu -  home for children without parents, or who were abandoned or extremely poor children (4) Malarcholai -  home for pregnant women where they can also bring their other children (5) Mary illam -  home for children over 15 years-old without traceable parents.


Senthalir Children’s Home


The Senthalir childrens’ home is in Selvapuram in Mullaitivu district. Here there were several small babies being looked after, including the baby of a 14 year young girl and another baby who was left by a mother after giving birth. She had simply handed her new-born to the mother in the next bed in the hospital.


Ms. Selvi who is in charge of this centre is a land mine victim. She manages her day to day work with an artificial limb. She said that there are 80 children in this Home. Some have neither parents, others have parents who cannot look after them. The youngest is 9 months old, the eldest is 16. After this age some get jobs as typists or continue to study. There are ten staff all permanent and full-time. There are 6 part-time teachers. There is a nursery for pre-school children. All school-aged children attend local mainstream schools. Sometimes parents visit them.


Children are referred to this centre in several different ways. They may be referred via the courts or via hospitals, because they were abandoned.


This centre faces huge financial problems. As in the other centres, here also the children are very well looked after.


Kantharuban Arevucholai

In Puttukudiruppu in Mullaitivu district, we went to Kandaruben Arevuchencholai. This is a home where parentless boys from all ages are looked after, like the other centres.  As we went there without prior arrangement, they had all gone out for swimming at the time we went to see them.


Then we visited Chencholai and met staff and a few children.


Chencholai Children’s home

We passed through Kaivelli village in Mullaitivu to visit Chencholai children’s home. This is a centre where girls are looked after.


The children’s home was founded in 1991 in Sandilipay, Jaffna. There are 250 children. All the children are parentless. They are divided in groups of about sixteen to make small family units. Eight children and then adults – carers and home parents. The secondary aged children go to nearby school, Mahayavidayalam.


The children receive extra tuition in the Home. There are 20-25 teachers. Some of the young people stay until they reach the age of  26 years for instance until they get married and leave, as two young people have done in the past. One of the girls who was looked after by Chencholai is now studying in her final year at Ramanathan Music College in Jaffna, at degree level in the fine Arts Faculty.


Here, the children have indoor sports and games to play. There is a small clinic for medical needs.


According to one of the officials of the Chencholai, in the centre if a child’s date of birth is unknown, the date of her arrival at Chencholai is chosen as her birthday and this is celebrated every year. Since often it is not known what religion the child’s family was, there is an interfaith approach to prayer. They pray in school, temple and church. When they go on holiday they generally go within Vanni.  Recently, in an exchange trip organised by TRO, 76 students went to Colombo. There were a total of 350 children involved in this, which was called “Santa’s Peace Mission”.


Iniya Vazhvu Illam

After visiting Chencholai we went through Vallipunam area in Mullaitivu. Finally we went past Iniya Vazhvu Illam, a home and school for disabled children, (Vision, hearing and physically disabled). We wanted to visit this home but we were told by the officials that most of the children were visiting relatives.


When we were returning to Killinochchi, we passed through Manthuvil Junction and we saw the market place where Kfir jets had bombed and killed many people in 15 September 1999.


Lt. Col. Navam Academy

This is an adult education centre for disabled war veterans. The Academy was founded in 1983 in Suthumalai in Jaffna. 160 students currently follow a variety of courses, both practical and theoretical. There are sports facilities such as volley ball and football for recreation.


Here there are courses held over a period of four months and are offered in: Motor mechanics, science, video skills, electronics, computing, cultural studies, language, Braille, English, politics and Music.



Tamil Eelam Police


On the very first day of our visit, when entering Kilinochchi, we had a very good experience of the Tamil Eelam Police. As we entered the town, we were busy looking either side of the road to see the extensive damage to the town due to aerial bombings and shellings. The Kilinochchi water tank, the General Hospital, Kilinochchi Central College and other buildings were razed to ground. While we were watching from the window, our van was stopped by the Tamil Eelam police!


One of the Police came to the driver’s side of the van and asked him to descend! We were wondering what was happening. The driver went and did not return for about seven minutes. Later he came back with a piece of paper in his hand. When we enquired, the driver explained us that he was charged for over-speeding. According to the Tamil Eelam police, the speed limit for Kilinochchi town is only 30km per hour and it is very well indicated along the roads in Killinochchi town, whereas our driver was driving at the speed of 39km per hour. The speed was indicated on a hand-held speed-gun used by the Tamil Eelam police.




Tamil Eelam Police chief Mr. Nadesan


We managed to meet the Tamil Eelam police chief, Mr Nadesan in Killinochi, outside the Tamil Eelam police headquarters which is under construction. It is adjacent to the site of the old Sri Lankan police buildings which had been destroyed in an aerial bombing.


The Tamileelam police force was founded in November 1990. Training of the Police started on June 1st 1991, in Old Park, near St. John’s College in Jaffna.  


According to Mr. Nadesan, Tamil National Leader Mr. Pirabaharan, holds the view that once National Liberation has been achieved there should be social independence, and a system of law and order should be maintained. If there is no social order in public life there would be chaos and disorder. Therefore it was through discussing with the public that the police force was founded and started with the full support of the public.


Adverts were put in public newspapers for recruitment for training of the Tamil Eelam police officers. Those who are recruited as Tamil Eelam police, firstly learn how the Police in foreign countries treat their citizens and then learn of the particular difficulties their specific public has faced in the past. This has to be understood by police in training, as they must understand the difficulties of the public, and the effects that past oppression has had on the people.


Mr. Nadesan further said, the struggle against oppression started because of the human rights violations committed against the people. It is very important to have a police force which does not violate human rights.


In the Tamil Eelam Police system, records and papers are kept of all processes.


What we gathered from Mr. Nadesan is as follows:


On November 19th 1991 the first policemen and policewomen completed their training. Tamileelam police officers do not drink or smoke. This is not a pre-condition for recruitment but it is practised strictly. The Tamil Eelam police force is free of corruption. 


The first police station was established in Jaffna itself, the second in Chunnakam, third in Chankanai, fourth in Chaverkecheri, fifth in Point Pedro, sixth in Nagerkoil, seventh in Palai and eighth in Valvettiturai.


In the Tamil Eelam police system, the traffic department was the first one which was established, to control traffic in Jaffna city. Then the Criminal Investigation Department was set up and finally the Crime Prevention Department was established.


Since the police force was formed there have been many displacements of the population, during which recruitment continued. The police also helped the displaced people to get those injured to hospital. In the meantime if there was aerial bombing it was usual for the police to help victims, whether they were on or off duty.


Before 1995 police stations were established in Kilinochchi and Mankulam and Puttukudiruppu. Some police were injured by bombing when they were helping displaced people who were crossing Kilali lagoon. One policeman was killed by supersonic bombing as he was helping children cross the busy road traffic near Old Park in Jaffna in 1993.


The police workforce increased and training continued throughout the Sri lanka army Jayasukuru  Military operation in Vanni.


After the LTTE re-gained control of the whole Vanni, a new police force department was created known as the Special Task Force - STF. The personnel was recruited from the public.


Currently there is a focus on Crime Prevention. The police hold meetings with the public to explain the procedures, the consequences of robbery, theft etc. They conduct public information and awareness sessions and lectures.


The Police force has developed a community-police approach, based on fostering good relationships between the police and the public. Officers are assigned to particular villages and one police officer and five villagers form a friendly rapport and meet once or twice a week.


Some police are now training in counselling with a view to helping solve family disputes. There are now plans to offer medical assistance to rural areas, and dental assistance. The public often approach members of the police force for advice. Traffic safety classes are given to children in schools by traffic wardens.


Facilities are lacking significantly, however the police force is trying to meet as many needs as possible.


According to Mr. Nadesan, in the Vanni the crime rate is very low. Mr. Pirabaharan always encourages the Police to develop a good relationship with the public. Tamil Eelam Police are not permitted to hit or assault anyone and are given intensive human rights training. The police trainers use the UN police training manual and the British police training manual.


There is a complaint procedure for the public to make their complaints against the Police. The Officer-In-Charge OIC replies to the member of the public. If the public is not satisfied with the OIC reply, they can write to Mr. Nadesan. Always, there is an emphasis on Freedom of expression. They can also write to Tamil National Leader, Mr. Pirabaharan.


The Tamil Eelam police is planning to start an Alcoholics Anonymous programme for selected persons. They are waiting to get help from NGOs to train their counsellors. The Tamil Eelam Police are very serious about every complaint. Violence against women is one of the issues which has high priority.


Prosecuting officers include women too. In the Tamil Eelam Police force 40% of the officers are women.


When someone is sentenced for their offences, the Tamil Eelam Police and the courts take the living situation of that individual into account.


There is counselling available for offenders. Young offenders go home or sometimes to a children’s home.


Recently a Sinhala policeman was in custody. An instruction from Mr. Pirabaharan secured him telephone facility so he could speak with his wife and children every day.


Amnesty International has visited the Tamil Eelam police stations and has been impressed with the work and the procedures. Many other international NGOs have visited the Tamil Eelam police and praised their work. One international human rights expert said that they have never seen such good records in any part of Asia.


“No children are allowed to beg within our administrated territories”, said Mr. Nadesan! “If there are any children found begging, immediately that child is taken to their parents. If the poverty in the home is such that the children cannot be cared for, they go to children’s homes”. Parents can of course visit the children.


We noticed that the Tamil Eelam Police are allowed to detain suspects for 48 hours.  When we asked why suspects are kept for such a long period, we were told that this is due to the practical difficulties of transport. Lack of vehicles and un-maintained roads lead to very slow transporting of the suspects. Mr Nadesan stated that this will hopefully soon be rectified to 24 hours.


The Tamil Eelam police force is doing very well and it has the full support of the public.


No influence can be used in the Tamil Eelam Police.  The article below appeared in the “Daily Mirror” in Colombo Sri Lanka.


Three cheers for the Tamil Eelam Police


(Opinion - Daily Mirror – 02/10/2002)


Three cheers for the Tamil Eelam Police! Now this call for congratulation may come as a surprise to many of my regular readers. I am not known to be a great fan of this Tamil Eelam business.


However, I do believe in giving credit where it is due and these kepi-capped chaps in their smart blue uniforms are clearly ace operators.


I see that one of those wretched private buses that recklessly career around the country without regard to the life or limb of Joe Public has, together with its driver, been arrested by the Tamil Eelam Police following an accident at Puliyankulam.


It appears that an unfortunate seven year-old boy was killed by the speeding mechanical contrivance and both bus and driver were arrested. Now I have both observed and travelled on private buses around the country and the behaviour of the drivers towards other road users is generally shameful.


The level of maintenance of the buses is equally appalling and - what is most extraordinary - this state of affairs appears to be tolerated to a remarkable degree by the Sri Lanka Police (i.e. the official lot).


Of course, I don't know why this is the case. Cynical Sri Lankan friends tell me that many of the bus companies are either owned by retired policemen or they simply pay off traffic police so that the lawbreakers can carry on their merry way unimpeded.


Surely not? I can't believe such a thing could happen in this sceptred isle . . . Now it seems that the police in Tamil Eelam have decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns: shocked by the level of driving in the south of the country they have decided not to tolerate the same lax standards in the areas they control. Hurrah! That seems just fine and dandy to me. Anybody prepared to bring dangerous and irresponsible loonies to book gets my wholehearted support. The roads in Tamil Eelam are clearly going to be a lot safer than those down here.


The Tamil Eelam Police, according to one report, was asking 200,000 rupees compensation for the family of the dead boy. Other reports describe this as a bail payment. Bleats the owner of the bus company pathetically, "This is too much money." Too much for a life? I wonder what monetary value he places on the life of a child. Twenty thousand? Fifty thousand? Or maybe a 'generous' one hundred thousand? I read that the bus owner travelled to Kilinochchi, refused to pay the money and promptly returned to Kalutara, abandoning his driver in prison. A sensitive employer, I don't think. In the end the bus driver was released on Rs 50,000 bail and the bus on 100,000.


I have to confess I have been deeply impressed by the Tamil Eelam Police.


A few months ago, I dropped in at the Mankulam Police Station (voluntarily, of course), just down the road from where the recent accident took place. There were carefully tended flowerbeds neatly bordered with used shell and mortar casings. Thoughtful people clearly not addicted to habitual waste unlike so many others in this country, I noted approvingly. Anyway, any policeman who keeps beautiful flowerbeds can't be all bad. I scoured the inside of the police station, manned by cheery, grinning operatives, in search of racks, chains, whips and manacles. You know, the sort of stuff policemen all over the world love to play with during their working hours. Disappointingly, not a trace. Not even the odd splash of blood on the cell walls. The most disturbing thing I could find was a framed picture of Prabhakaran on the wall of the spotless reception area.


Now, as we all know, the great stumbling block in the future talks between the government and the LTTE is going to be over the issue of one army and one police force for the whole country. Last week, the National Chamber of Exporters opined, "There should be one government, one police service, army, navy and air force which should maintain law and order." Eminent government thinkers and retained tame intellectuals have been scratching their heads over this one, wondering how to successfully merge two quite different armies and police forces.


Well, I think I have the answer. We should take the best that Tamil Eelam can offer the whole island: that is to say, the Tamil Eelam Police. Let them be the police force in both the north and the south and, in return, the Sri Lankan army should be the only army in both north and south. I see this as a true compromise in which all the peoples of Sri Lanka might get the best deal.


There is only one minor flaw in my brilliant new strategy. According to the BBC's film on the Tamil Eelam police of September 16, "The police of the Tigers' would-be state of Tamil Eelam pride themselves on being incorruptible and more efficient than their counterparts in the rest of Sri Lankan." I am told that if a Tamil Eelam policeman is found guilty of corruption then they throw a rope over the nearest lamp post and summarily hang him. If they move in down here, I doubt if there will be enough in the way of available lamp posts.


For unknown reason the author’s name was suppressed in the website of the Daily Mirror!

(Paul Harris?? - Daily Mirror – 02/10/2002)





The Tamil Eelam courts started functioning in 1993. The first syllabus was devised from lectures given by lawyers from the Sri Lankan courts. According to the spokesman of the Tamil Eelam judicial system, many experienced lecturers from other Law colleges have also give lectures in the Tamil Eelam Law College .


The basic requirements for the rule of law have been established long ago. The body of law  established includes Law of Evidence, Criminal Procedure Act, Civil Procedure Act and the Penal Code for enforcement of Criminal law. The English Common Law model has been used. Some laws are based on those in the Sri Lankan system and some on those in other countries.  Of course, a body of Case Law has been established, over the last ten years.


Meeting with Judges


In Killinochchi District court and Court of Appeal, we met Mr Opilan (Chief justice),  Mr Sugetharan (President of the Court of Appeal) and Mr Sentura (District Court Judge – Civil).


According to Mr. Opilan, the Chief justice of the Tamil Eelam courts, Tamil National Leader, Mr. Pirabaharan, is committed to the existence of an independent judiciary.


Tamil Eelam courts are also located in the East, Trincomalee and Batticaloa, where there is LTTE administration.


We could clearly observe that, whether in Jaffna, Vanni or other parts, the people in the North prefer to go to the Tamil Eelam courts than the Sri Lanka courts. In the Sri Lanka judicial system there is a problem with the implementation of the outcome in court cases.


One of the serious problems that the Tamil Eelam Police and Tamil Eelam courts are facing is when a crime is committed in the LTTE administrated areas and the suspects slip into and hide in Sri Lanka government territory.


There needs to be close liaison between the two court systems. The SLMM (Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission) could have a very useful role in this.


An example was given of a murder which took place in Madhu. In this murder case, half the accused were arrested by Tamil Eelam police and the other half were arrested by Sri Lanka police in their area.


What happened was that some people from the Government controlled area brought the victim and murdered him near Madhu which is the LTTE administrated area. When this information reached the Tamil Eelam police, they immediately went to the scene and arrested a few people. The other half escaped in a stolen vehicle back to the village which is in a Sri Lanka government controlled area. When the Sri Lanka police came to know about the murder, they immediately arrested the suspects who were in the village.


In the Sri Lankan courts the vehicle was returned back to the owner and suspects were given bail. Now as the murder took place in Mahdhu, the Tamil Eelam police and Eelam courts have a problem in proceeding with this case!


According to the judges that we met, most of the civil cases are land disputes. This has been a problem in the North. Now there are many more cases because the Sri Lankan army destroyed the fences which mark land boundaries.


The Tamil Eelam judiciary system has a free legal consultancy service for those who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer. In the Tamil Eelam courts anyone who understands the judicial system and the law can defend themselves in court as long as they follow the correct procedures. They can only take up their own case.


The punishment for offences varies, depending on circumstances. Certain offences have a maximum sentence of five years. Depending on the family situation, certain sentences are reduced to two months. However those who commit violence against women receive the maximum sentence. Rape cases are given  capital punishment. So far four death sentences have been carried out – for rape and murder – two in Jaffna and two in Vanni. According to the judges, Tamil National Leader, Mr. Pirabaharan – is seriously considering abolishing the death sentence, when there is durable peace.


Giving and taking dowry is against the law. The Dowry Law is to prevent poor parents from being forced to secure huge loans to pay for dowry. However property can be given as a gift. It can be arranged through the court system. Sometimes it is the man who gives the property. Someone affected by the dowry pressure can make the case – police may get involved.


“Thesavalamai law”  is also used in the Tamil Eelam courts. Thesavalamai Law the Customary law of Jaffna has been in operation for many centuries.


There are six district courts. Each has a Civil and a Criminal judge.  Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa.


We were allowed to be observers in Kilinochchi court, during one of the cases in which a van driver was charged with dangerous driving, causing an accident and serious injuries to the other party. At the end of the proceedings the case was deferred, as the judge requested the medical report of the victim.


There are two High Courts, one in Mullaitivu and one in Kilinochchi.

There is one Appeal Court, in Kilinochchi.

There is one Special Bench (like Supreme Court).


Out of 2,600 cases, only 650 cases have gone through to Appeal. 180 sentences have been given. For 500 cases sentences have been given and outcome. 50 cases are pending.


We also met the Appeal Court Judge, Ms Sarlada in the Appeal Court in Kilinochchi. Fifty per cent of the Tamil Eelam Judiciary are women.




We also met a Counsellor, Ms Rathy, who is attached to the courts in Killinochchi.  Most of her work is connected to matrimonial cases. If there are Divorce cases which could be settled by counselling, then the courts refer the cases to Ms Rathy –  in the hope of reaching a settlement.


According to Ms. Rathy – most of the divorce cases are based on suspicion and ended up in division. Ms. Rathy works with cases for four or five months. An appointment is made and she talks with the couple individually and freely. In the first instance she approaches the couple separately, then together. Ms. Rathy’s experience is very wide. Some families have grown up children, others have little ones. In some cases the husband has left with another woman, or uses the mental health of the wife as a pretext for divorce. Infertility is also an issue for separation, said Rathy.


Ms. Rathy has been doing the counselling work for the last one year and she has succeeded in settling nine cases out of twelve. Within Tamil tradition and culture it is preferred to give maximum support in an attempt to reconcile the couple. When reconciliation is not at all possible, the result is a divorce.



Meeting with Mr. Para – Tamil Eelam Judiciary System – (Please refer page 24)





Education in Northeast


TCHR met with Mr. Ilankumaran, senior official of the Education Council of Tamil Eelam.


In Jaffna, 52 schools are still occupied by the Sri Lankan army, who have no immediate plans to vacate these premises.


According to Mr. Illankumaran, the history of discrimination in Education against the Tamils started prior to standardisation, a system of institutionalised discrimination which was started in the 1970s. Educational facilities were not properly developed in the North and East even before that time. The shortage of teachers in the North and East is actually increasing.


Mr.Illankumaran further said that there is a shortage of 10,000 Tamil teachers throughout the whole island, 6,000 of which are needed in the Northeast. In fact in Vanni there is a  50% shortage of teachers. These figures show a massive shortage of teachers - whereas there is a surplus of 14,500 – 15,000 teachers in the South.


Even government reports state that there is a shortage of Tamil teachers, and yet the recruitment of volunteer teachers has been stopped. There is a huge shortage of Science, Maths and English teachers. In Vanni there is a 92% shortage of English teachers.


There is also shortage of 75% of administrative staff in the Education sector. Teachers  are found to carry out administrative tasks and inevitably this has an effect on their capacity to deliver their teaching. They end up being neither fully committed teachers nor fully efficient administrators – as they are obliged to do both jobs.



Clerical Grade                                 Need              Actual                         Shortage


Admin. Grade I                                   31                    01                               97%

Admin. Grade II                                  125                  49                               61%

Admin. Grade III                                 460                  77                               83.2%


Total                                                  618                  127                             79.4%



The National Institute for Education - NIE (part of the Ministry of Education) is issuing free text books written in Sinhalese language. It takes sometimes months and years to translated into Tamil language. Therefore some books available to students in the South are not available in the North East for two or three years. Children are forced to study without translations of the NIE curriculum materials. For only two subjects – Tamil and Hinduism – the material is in Tamil and therfore does not require translation, but all the other subjects need translation. Tamil students are preparing individually for Advanced Level - AL exams without the aid of any textbooks.    


For some areas of the school curriculum, the NIE produces audio-visual learning resources. Only six video cassettes have been translated into Tamil leaving 90% still only available in Sinhalese! Therefore Tamil pupils cannot benefit from these educational resources.


There are various reasons for which schools are not functioning. 263 entire schools continue to be located in an area where the families are not properly settled, ie they are displaced. 162 schools are closed because they are within the perimeter of HSZs. Some schools are closed due to the fact that they have no furniture or other equipment at all. In some places there are school buildings but no teachers.


Due to the High Security Zones students are forced to travel long distances to school.


Because of discrimination and delays, university medical courses which should be completed in five years, drag on for seven to eight years.


The Council for the Advancement of Education of Tamils is printing and freely distributing history books in Tamil. The translated versions of the history books produced by the government, are incorrect and give a biased account of the history - Mahavamsa. The Council has started to produce Teachers Guides to history and Social Sciences.


Mullaiyawalai Vithianantha College, Mullaitivu, was one of the few buildings we saw fully up and running. It had been reconstructed after being bombed and newly decorated.


Health in Vanni and surroundings


The following are the details that we gathered about the health situation in Vanni and other parts  of LTTE administrated regions. Due to lack of time, we did not dwell as much on details about the health situation in the Vanni as we would have liked. However we were struck by the massive shortage of medical staff in Vanni.


The Killinochchi general hospital, supposed to be the best hospital in Vanni is completely ruined and destroyed, razed to the ground.




Mullaittivu District



            No. of Out-patients

           No. of In-patients



















DH             Mullaittivu







PU             Mallave







CD8MH     Naddankandal







CD8MH     Mulliyawalai







CD            Oddusuddan







CD            Thunukai






















Kilinochchi District


DH             Kilinochchi







PU             Poonagary







CD8MH     Tharmapuram







CD8MH     Veravil







CD8MH     Vaddakachchi







CD             Vannerikulam







CD             Kandawalai























Malaria death details - Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu District


                                   Year               No. of deaths caused by malaria


1997                               303

1998                               123

1999                               063

2000                               048

2001                               036





P. Falciparum

P.  Vivax


No.  of slides examined


































1996        233,240

1997        330,623

1998        232,699

1999        392,038

2000        146,360

2001          67,892


Present status of Hospitals in Vanni








Present status

District Hospital


Destroyed. Functioning at PU Akkarayankulam. A temporary CD is functioning as the site identified for construction of the new hospital run by a doctor. 

Peripheral Unit (PU)


Functioning also as Kilinochchi District Hospital.



Destroyed. Functioning CD Mulankavil



Destroyed. Functioning temporary CD

Central Dispensary



Eight maternity homes


Destroyed. Temporary CD




Destroyed temporary CD

Central Dispensaries

Elephant Pass



Not functioning










RMO (malaria)


Functioning - Akkarayankulam



Functioning - Kilinochchi




District Hospital


Completely damaged

Peripheral Unit





Central Dispensary



Maternity Home


Functioning CD



Central Dispensary




Damaged not functioning


not functioning











Shortage of medical staff – Mullaitivu District


The table below shows the shortage of medical staff in the hospitals and clinics in Mullaittivu District.  



Description of post

No. required

In post


CD MH Naddankandal

Hospital attendants








CD Alampil

(This dispensary has no staff at present)



Sanitary labourer














CD Thunukai









CD MH Mulliyawalai





DH  Mullaittivu




Medical lab technicians


Hospital attendants

Ordinary labourers

Sanitary labourers

























RH Puthukudiirruppu


N.O. Grade 2

Hospital attendants


Sanitary labourers
























CD MH Mulliyawalai



Hospital attendants














Adampan DH


Mo sup duties

Dental Surgeon




Ordinary Labourer

Sanitary Labourer

























Vendaldani RH









PU Pesalai









DH Murunkan



Ordinary labourer










DH Talaimannar





Ordinary Labourer

Sanitary Labourer




















DH  District Hospital              M.O.  Medical Officer

CD  Central Dispensary         A.M.O.  Assistant Medical Officer

MH  Maternity Home               PU  Peripheral Unit


Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation - TRO


The Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation - TRO was founded in 1985 primarily to help the Tamil refugees from Northeast of Sri Lanka who were fleeing to take refuge in South India, at that time. Since the escalation of war in 1987 in the Tamil homeland, the project office of the TRO was established in Jaffna. It is registered under the Voluntary Social Services Act as a Non-Governmental Organisation with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Social Services (Registration Number: L50706). It has branches in 16 countries around the world.


In 1995 following the mass displacement of people from the Jaffna Peninsula and the displacement of the entire population of Kilinochchi in 1996, the project implementation office was transferred to Muzhangkavil in the Vanni.  Today with a cease-fire successfully in place TRO's head office has been established in Kilinochchi, A9 road and branch offices have been opened in Colombo, Vavuniya, Jaffna, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Mannar.


TRO objectives are to:


*          Provide short-term relief and long-term rehabilitation to the displaced and war affected Tamils in North-eastern Sri Lanka.


*          Channel expertise and funds to promote economic development, uplifting the living conditions for the displaced Tamils in North-eastern Sri Lanka.


*           Promote and seek international aid from nations and non-governmental organisations, for TRO's humanitarian operations in Sri Lanka.


*          Canvass public and political opinion internationally, to highlight the plight of the displaced Tamils in North-eastern Sri Lanka.


Two decades of unabated war that engulfed the Tamil people living in the north and east of Sri Lanka, have decimated the social structure necessary for their normal existence.  With over one million Tamil people still internally displaced within this region, their lives still crucially depend on relief and rehabilitation measures taken by Non-Government Organisations (NGOs). Until recently, local and international NGOs have played a significant role in planning and implementing relief and rehabilitation programmes which have prevented major crises in terms of general welfare and starvation. Well-timed actions taken by these NGOs have provided some resemblance of normalcy even under extreme conditions.


Over the last decade as the war in the Tamil areas intensified, thousands upon thousands have had to abandon their homes, their belongings and livelihoods to run for safety.  The economic embargo, in place over 12 years, has impacted severely on the livelihoods of the Tamil people


Having worked with the suffering people during the worst of war conditions, the TRO understands the social, political, ecological and economic background in which the people of the North-east live.  Thus, it is well placed to deliver the best and targeted rehabilitation and development programs that will benefit the people.

Broad programmes of TRO are the Children's Welfare Programme; the Alleviation of Malnutrition Programme; the Mine Awareness, the Prosthesis and Demining Programme; the Vocational Training Programme, the IDP and Refugee Resettlement Programme; and Water, Sanitation and Public Awareness Programme.

TRO volunteers are also at the fore-front of removing land mines in North-eastern Sri Lanka.  TRO's Humanitarian Demining Unit – HDU has to date removed more than 150,000 mines and unexploded ordinances, a mere 10% of the nearly 1.5 million mines believed to be scattered across Vanni alone.


Land mine victims and mines clearance


Most parts of Vanni, especially the A9 road and nearby areas are densely mined. On both sides of the roads “Mines awareness” sign-boards are displayed. Mines clearing projects are implemented by Humanitarian Demining Unit -HDU, which is one of the sub units of the TRO.


The demining is funded by foreign NGOs. The Norwegian People’s Action – NPA funded by ECHO and MAG a British NGO are the two NGOs working in Vanni on demining, mines awareness programmes, fencing of mining areas and education concerning mines.


According to the Co-ordinator of the HDU, presently the demining by HDU is taking place only in Vanni. There is an awareness programme in the East. HDU works with three aims: (1) Raise awareness among the public, (2) Prevention of casualties, (3) Resettlement of displaced people.


TCHR representative visited Iyakachchi near Eelephant Pass – one of the sites where  demining is in process. 


There was a team of 41 staff working with manual equipment. According to the HDU officials, 189 people have been killed by improvised booby traps and land mines.


By April, 2003, 98,000 land mines and 81,000 unexploded ordinances (UXO) were cleared. In other words 1,470 million square meters have been cleared. This is 2.86% or 1/35 of the total amount of land to be cleared. According to the HDU, another 2 million land mines and UXO are still to be removed. By May, nearly 20,000 people had been resettled in their homes without any fear of losing life or limb.


As there is an urgent need for settlement of civilians back into their homes, demining has to be speeded up with more sophisticated equipment rather than the manual equipment currently used.


Demining programmes are also taking place in Mannar by another foreign NGO.


One of the problems the civilians are facing in their re-settlement is housing. Houses are destroyed or totally burned down, mines are everywhere, there are not enough building materials in the market and very few professional carpenters and masons are available. Also the displaced people  do not have the financial resources to re-build their houses.


Estimated number of landmines:

Jaffna Peninsula                                            over 500,000

Vanni and surrounding regions                     over 1.5 million


Removed and destroyed

Jaffna peninsula

Within the last two years, UNDP which is in operation in the Jaffna peninsula, has removed and destroyed over 1,020 land mines and 277 unexploded ordnances (UXO).



Since 1998 in Vanni, the HDU has cleared approximately 100,000 land mines and 200,000 UXOs.


Villages where land mines are suspected and IDPs yet to be resettled


District                       No. Villages               De-mined                  Families to be settled

                                   Villages                      Village                        after de-mining

Jaffna                            93                             12                               19,314

Mullaiitivu                    127                            21                                 6,767

Killinochchi                   92                             30                                 6,408

Vavuniya                       75                             14                                 3,606

Mannar                         38                             02                                 1,418

Trincomalee                 07                             02                                number unconfirmed

Venpura / White Pigeon


A Technical Institute for Prothesis known as “Venpura” or “ White Pigeon” was established in 1994. It makes artificial limbs which help to transform the lives of land-mine victims who have lost limbs. It is funded by UNICEF and ECHO. The Institute is based in Kilinochchi with  recently established branches in Jaffna and Trincomalee. The service of the “White Pigeon” to the people is totally free and the Institute also carries out mine awareness programmes and organises rehabilitation for land-mine victims. In December 2002, 343 artificial legs were manufactured and distributed by White Pigeon.



Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organisation - TEEDOR


According to Project co-ordinator Mr. Dass, “Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organisation – TEEDOR” was founded in 1985 to plan and develop the infrastructure for the economic development of Tamil Eelam. Initially, it was known as the “Research Organisation of Tamil Eelam –  ROOT”.  Although it was started with only a handful of members, it soon took off and expanded its activities into many areas of economic development, hence the present name.


He further said that although TEEDOR has long-term objectives it is also involved in assisting the  war-affected people to rehabilitate themselves through application of available intermediate technologies and carrying out awareness campaigns on health, sanitation and nutrition.


This has brought relief to the people of Tamil Eelam in the face of the most stringent and inhumane economic embargo on food, medicines, chemicals, and other important items, to the Northeast.


In the 1980s, local methods for oil extraction, production of jam, soap, fuel economy cookers, paraffin-run converted motor engines, conversions to  water-pumps to operate on bio-gas and paraffin were all introduced and developed by this organisation .


As part of TEEDOR projects people were educated on improvements on local farming methods, introduction of better yielding crops, plantation in salty lands, fish farming, environmental care and awareness, cottage industries and so on. 


Jaffna situation


The MoU and cease-fire have brought some significant benefits for the people in Jaffna and other regions. On the one hand there are presently no new displacements of people, there are no casualties of artillery shell and aerial bombing. The economic embargo has eased and there is  food and other items. Farming is gradually improving. The schools which are not in the High Security Zone - HSZ are functioning to a certain extent with their available means. Fishing has recommenced, which is an improvement compared to the previous state of affairs where it had ceased altogether. However fishing continues to be fraught with many problems.


The famous Nallur Kandaswamy Temple which is not far from Jaffna town is, miraculously, untouched. On the other hand, the Jaffna peninsula is in ruins.


We visited various parts of Jaffna and witnessed the material damage to the Jaffna peninsula. Schools, temples, churches, community buildings and shops were damaged and destroyed in the artillery shelling and aerial bombing by the security forces.


Many people have gone to foreign countries seeking temporary protection from twenty years of   bloody war. We noticed that some new houses have been built recently. A villager explained us that these were built with foreign money remitted by kith and kin to their suffering and starving relatives in Jaffna.


Many Hindu Temples which were damaged and destroyed in aerial bombings and army shellings in Jaffna, have been renovated and newly painted. In some instances there are more bicycles in houses in Jaffna than the number of people living inside. When we enquired about this from a few people in Jaffna, we were told that the Eelam People Democratic Party – EPDP, which contested the last general election in November 2001 gave money and a bicycle to each voter. With all this bribery, the EPDP only managed to win one seat in the last election, an NGO worker told us.


Most of the roads in Jaffna town are closed for public use because of a Sri Lanka army camp in the middle of the city. The most rapidly developed building which any visitor to Jaffna cannot fail to notice is the Buddhist temple in Jaffna town. Twenty years ago it was a tiny temple with a few Buddhists monks. Presently it is a huge temple with full security. This temple is surrounded by high quality and expensive walls and is decorated with many elephant head designs.


Next to this Buddhist temple is the head office of the EPDP which used to be an old cinema. The tight security here is equal to that of an Army camp!  The name board of the EPDP is made out of silver and attracts the passers-by. The person who came with us told that this is one of the torture chambers of the EPDP. When we were passing this building the armed men on guard in front of this building were carefully scrutinising every passer-by.


In Jaffna, the sentry points are functioning as usual. There are sentry points in every nook and corner of Jaffna, more especially within the municipality limits! The usual harassment of women continues but due to the cease-fire the soldiers do it very cautiously. Soldiers in the sentry points unzip their trousers, make vulgar displays of their body parts and make nasty remarks to the girls and women passing by. If any male passers-by happen to notice this, they are immediately assaulted by the soldiers.


Rape cases and attempted rape by the soldiers in Jaffna continue, said a retired policeman. As usual most Tamil women do not tell these ugly incidents to anyone outside their families. In the past, there were women who have committed suicide and attempted suicide when the news of the rape is leaked out to the public.


The most disturbing stories


Some of the most disturbing stories that we heard from the people of Jaffna are the Sri Lanka security forces encouraging the young boys and girls to watch pornographic films and consume alcohol! There are occasions when these are distributed free of charge. When we tried to find out more about these matters from the public, we found that since the capture of Jaffna in 1995, the soldiers were given instructions by the government to divert the thinking of the new generation in Jaffna. The soldiers who waited for an opportunity, started distributing pornographic films and the liquor free of charge. In addition these soldiers encouraged gang-fights. In brief, a “divide and rule” tactic was introduced in Jaffna! “We thank General Ratwatta – ex deputy minister of defence and President Chandrika”, said an angry school teacher.


The representative of the Human Rights Commission in Somasundaram Lane in Jaffna has a list of complaints but the government has not done enough on these complaints. The HRC cannot do anything because the security forces are more powerful than the HRC at the government level!


In Jaffna, we managed to meet some religious personalities, NGO representatives, Academics and the public.


A teacher who wants his name to remained anonymous told us that “the government is branding the war victims as terrorists and making their propaganda abroad! The terrorists who arrest, torture, kill, rape and terrorise the public for the last twenty years are living happily enjoying impunity”.


Some unemployed people told us that when the MOU was signed, they thought this would bring an end to army harassments and that the army would go back to their barracks and that all IDPs would be able to go back and settle in their homes. “But presently we are experiencing this in reverse. The army are everywhere, in even greater numbers than before”.


The High Security Zones – HSZ and Internally Displaced people – IDPs are the main subjects of concern everywhere in Jaffna.  People in Jaffna expected the armed forces to be withdrawn from the peninsula. They consider them as an occupying force. “Nothing has worked out as mentioned in the MOU”, said a retired surveyor. “Now, it is more than 15 months and the army hasn’t moved an inch”, claimed a shop keeper.


A man working in a publishing house claimed that out of nine divisions in the Sri Lankan army, eight divisions are stationed in Jaffna and they all are well-noted notorious soldiers! For every eleven  civilians, there is one soldier in the peninsula. Also they have planted many civilians for their information gathering! “They are everywhere!” said a shop keeper.


In our observation, they are on the roads, corners, small lanes, markets, hospitals, homes, public buildings and in schools and near schools and disturb the innocent people. The bunkers still remain everywhere and are manned by soldiers with weapons.


We were told by the locals that the government keeps the soldiers in a ready mood to use them in any urgent situation. “Everyone in Jaffna wonders why the government is in need of such a huge battalion of soldiers, bigger than in war time! It is increasing!”, said a snack bar owner in Jaffna town.


People in Jaffna hate the High Security Zones – HSZ. The attached map shows the locations of the HSZs. “The territory covered by High Security Zones is bigger than none-HSZ”, said a journalist.


In our observation, the High Security Zone – HSZ in Jaffna is strictly enforced only on the Tamil people but in fact, it is a tourist zone for Sinhalese people coming from the South! All the buses coming from the South pass through most of the sentry points in areas considered HSZs.

Presently everyone in Jaffna wonders whether there are more Sinhalese in Jaffna than the Tamils! We presume that this includes the security forces, which, other than the Police force, are all 100% Singhalese.


Important areas where the source of income is earned through many sectors are all in the HSZs. The coastline for fishing and fertile lands for farming are all within the HSZs. Also the Cement factory  in Kankesanthurai – KKS in Jaffna, the biggest in Sri Lanka, is completely closed down due to the HSZ. Thousands of people are unemployed due to the closure of the this factory and the harbour in Kankesanthurai. In the East there is also the same problem with the HSZs.


High Security Zones in Jaffna peninsula as of 30 December 2002


HSZ                                                    No. of Houses                      No. of Families

Palaly                                                 18000                                     16426

Thanankilappu                                       145                                         145

Point Pedro                                            196                                         196

Ariyalai                                                   730                                       1000

Muhamalai/Eluthumadduval                   474                                         474

Beach Road, Jaffna                              300                                         420

Hotel Subash and Gnanams                  10                                           10

Karainagar                                         number unconfirmed             number unconfirmed

Valigamam North                               number unconfirmed             number unconfirmed

Other areas -                                           65                                           65

(Delft, Velanai, Kayts)


Total                                                  19920                                     18736





Fishing is one of the major resources of Jaffna. The restriction placed on fishing continues in various forms. The harassment of fishermen by the Navy also continues. There are many complaints made by the fishermen. “As all the coast falls under the category of HSZ, it goes on each year”, said a fisherman.




We were in Vanni during the period when the LTTE announced its suspension of talks with the government, due to lack of implementation of the outcome of previous talks and of the conditions set out in the MOU. The senior leaders in the political wing of the LTTE were very busy meeting VIPs from Japan, Norway, SLMM chief and others.


In Jaffna we met Mr. Thamilenti who is in charge of the LTTE political office in Jaffna. He was extremely busy, yet received us in his crowded office in Kokuvil. This office was over-flowing with people bringing complaints. They were mostly Tamil women.


Mr. Tamilenti told us that the office is compelled to function until mid-night to receive the complaints from the public. When we asked what sort of complaints they were, he explained that they vary: crimes, violence against women, theft, etc. When we asked him, how they manage to sort out these complaints, he told us that here the approach to the complaints has to be totally different to complaints made in the LTTE administrated areas. In Jaffna there are neither Tamil Eelam police nor Tamil Eelam courts, so everything is dealt purely within the relationship between the LTTE and the public. He said, “people listen to us, they accept our advice and if necessary they solve their problems amicably between them”. Of course the complaints against the Sri Lankan security forces are registered and referred to the SLMM and HRC in Jaffna.


Those who give complaints to this office frequently make requests for Tamil Eelam police stations and a Tamil Eelam court to be established in Jaffna. The people say that they have no confidence in the Sri Lankan Police and they are frightened to go to the Police stations in Jaffna.


Each day, 150 – 200 complaints from the entire Peninsula are made to the LTTE political offices. Most of the complaints are about the Police, Army and Navy stationed in Jaffna.



Meeting with Mr. Para – Tamil Eelam Judiciary System


When we were in Kilinochchi, we tried to meet Mr. Para who is in charge of the Tamil Eelam judiciary system but due to his heavy schedule we could not meet him. However while we were in Jaffna, we met Mr. Para briefly.


According to Mr. Para, there are no Eelam Courts currently in the Jaffna Peninsula. From 1993 to 1996 the Tamil Eelam police and courts were fully functioning in the Peninsula. During that period there were 9 murders and 7 rape cases in the peninsula.


He further said, currently there are around 25 cases of rape and murder every month in the Jaffna Peninsula! Under the Sri Lanka judicial system, most cases are pending – nothing happens, no conclusions are reached! Since the LTTE political office was established in Jaffna, many complaints are made to them by the public. The people have totally lost confidence in the Sri Lanka judicial system and Police in Jaffna. They say that the Sri Lankan police is corrupt.


When we enquired about this accusation from the public, we found that, when a complaint is made to the Police in Jaffna, the police demand money from both sides, the person who made the complaint and the person who was accused. Yet despite these bribes, the Police do nothing about the complaint! A retired government servant told us that the Sri Lankan police can “easily be bought”!


(Mr. Paras’s interview to one of the Colombo based news paper “The Sunday Times” on 08 December 2002 –






Fr. Bernard is a well-known personality in Sri Lanka. He is a former Rector of St Patrick’s College of Jaffna.  Even with his very heavy schedule, Fr. Bernard managed to meet us and share his views about the present situation in Jaffna. He told us that he is deeply concerned about the human rights and dignity of everyone living in Sri Lanka. 


Judicial system


Father Bernard stated that Human Rights is an important component of the peace process. It had been clear from closed door discussions in Colombo with, amongst others, diplomats from foreign embassies, that in the South of the island, human rights are thought of in terms of the right not to be subjected to physical violence. He stated that while civil and political rights are of vital importance – Economic, Social and Cultural Rights too, should be considered crucially important.


Regarding the judicial system, proper mechanisms for the enforcement of laws are very important for Just law and order to prevail. Any documents relating to political settlement and human rights must pay serious attention to this, with stipulation of regulations and conditions.


He explained to us that there is a link between the police, how they operate and the judicial system. Unfortunately, the PTA remains an obstacle to a Just peace, because it allows human rights abuses to be committed with impunity. Indeed the ER (Emergency Regulations) have lapsed, he said, but the PTA remains as a serious problem.


Father Bernard cited an example of a case in the South where an all Sinhala jury acquitted a member of the armed forces, accused of having massacred several Tamils. He pointed out that the verdict was, in fact, condemned by people in the South too, who recognised the blatant lack of justice. The Sri Lankan judicial system has been widely condemned by people and NGOs in the South as well as the Northeast, he said.


The case of the murders in Mirusivil was transferred to the South. This is another example of bias in the judicial system. The witnesses had to go to Anuradhapura to attend the hearings. There was a serious problem with transport, problems in obtaining travel passes and permits and with all these problems the people have, in addition, the awareness that it is a biased judicial system. He posed the questions, “How can we trust the judicial system?”


Fr. Bernard who has many Sinhalese friends in the South, said that in the South he has heard positive comments about the LTTE judiciary and the police. In the Tamil Eelam Police and Tamil Eelam judiciary, one cannot get anywhere with bribes. Corruption has no place in these institutions.




High Security Zones


Fr. Bernard said, presently the Sri Lankan forces are occupying two hotels in the heart of Jaffna Town and have declared this as a HSZ. Also they have plans to use Jaffna Municipality buildings as their new Head Quarters! 


Fr. Bernard related to us his personal experience of a few meetings that he attended where he spoke about the HSZs.


In September 2002 the Berghof Foundation organised a meeting and Fr. Bernard was asked to give a talk on HSZ. Many top ranking officers in the security forces were also invited.


At one point in the meeting, when discussion focussed on the progress of the MOU, one of the security officials was questioned by participants of this meeting as to why such vast buffer zones were needed. “Why can’t you retreat from the land so that the people can go back to their land and live peacefully?” the questioner added.


The security official had replied, “We know the LTTE has powerful, long-range weapons.”


It was pointed out to the official, that “if this is the case, then if the LTTE want to, they can reach even Palk Straits and Palaly from the place where ever they are now. So by declaring HSZs the government cannot stop the LTTE attacking any army camp! Therefore possible LTTE attack is not a valid reason for the declaration of HSZs!”


It was further pointed out in the meeting that it is more important for the government to think of Peace rather than the war and to think genuinely of winning the hearts and mind of people. In the light of this, it is important for the government to remove the HSZs and allow the resettlement of people back into their homes.


In another meeting on HSZs organised by the same Berghof Foundation, Fr. Bernard presented the civilian perspective and the security forces gave their perspective. There were fifteen Air Force, Navy and Army personnel.


Fr. Bernard stated that the retention of the HSZs is not justified and is, in fact, illegal. Firstly, it was under the Emergency Regulations that the land was claimed by the Sri Lanka military and now the ERs have lapsed.


The second argument was more practical. Taken into consideration the achievements of the LTTE – the military cannot win this war. He invited the Security personnel to urge the President to stop this war in favour of respect for life – Sinhalese and Tamil alike. They would not heed his warning.


At the beginning of the Vanni war he gave a warning about the fact that the army was boasting about land they were saying that they were capturing – operation Jeyasukuru. However it was simply no-man’s land. He had tried to point out the uselessness of a policy of war. They did not understand that he was concerned about the loss of life of all people – of the Sinhalese army personnel and the Tamils too.


During these discussions Fr. Bernard said that the Foreign missions and the army laughed at him.


Eventually what happened was that to everyone’s surprise, the LTTE took only three days to capture the same A9 road that took three years for the Sri Lanka army to capture.


Fr. Bernard had said in a subsequent meeting, that the army had fought this battle with fortified multibarral rocket launchers, with Kfir bomber jet, but they could not defeat the Tigers.


“After all the planning, training, all the equipment and hardware you had acquired”, he said to the military officials, “the war only lasted three days”.


Then Fr. Bernard told them, in another meeting, about the Elephant Pass. The people in that meeting again laughed at him. They said it was the most fortified army camp in the island. It had the best regiments, and a 10,000 strong army. Advice and training had been received from the Green Berets and so on. The security forces personnel had said there was no possibility “those brats” could get it.


Fr Bernard gave reasons for what he was saying about the Elephant Pass. He had said he did not want the war to go into the next century. There had to be the will to please the people, the aggression must come to an end.


After the Elephant Pass battle, villagers had remarked on their own feelings, saying that in a way they were sad to see big Sri Lankan brigadiers and soldiers running towards Palaly to escape. But they said they felt really proud to see the LTTE moving forward.  


Fr. Bernard said, “If not for India, it would have taken four days for the LTTE to take Jaffna. I saw soldiers from everywhere literally fleeing, running when they heard the Tigers had come to Chavakachcheri and Ariyalai.”


According to Fr Bernard, when the Tigers were gaining Elephant Pass camp they assumed that the security forces would leave Jaffna or surrender. At that time, Fr. Bernard immediately phoned the ICRC to make sure that they would overview the humanitarian task of looking after the POWs’ human rights. 


It is an indication of the sense of urgency and the imminent reality of that situation, that the ICRC actually asked if the Church would help look after the POWs. Father Bernard had replied that the church would help, as long as the soldiers did not take up arms again.


Fr. Bernard said, he had asked the LTTE why they did not over-run Jaffna when they were almost in the town.  In reply LTTE members had told him that if they could do it with no killing that is better (ie with appropriate arrangements made with the ICRC, for POWs who would leave or surrender). Otherwise they would be seen as heartless killers.


Fr. Bernard stated, in another meeting in Colombo, to senior military officials that each time they acquire military hardware they think they are going to defeat the LTTE. As if to seal the fact that this is not the case, the airport was attacked despite all the latest security.


Further questions Fr Bernard posed to the military were “Whose security can you secure? What does the trend I have outlined show? Ultimately, loss and destruction. What security are you capable of providing?” They had no answer with which to reply to him. They simply said, “ These things happen in war”.


Fr.  Bernard says the military cannot provide the security. Yet, in fact the security of the people, whether Sinhalese or Tamil is of paramount importance, Fr Bernard believes.


Another interesting point on security for civilians that Father Bernard made is that always before any attacks on military camps, the LTTE have asked the people to move to safe areas. But on many occasions the military would not allow them to move, in effect using them as human shields. At a certain point, when the military had refused to allow the people to move, the people wanted to show their protest by Hartal. Fr Bernard had an appointment with Major General Sulta. Four or five civil society leaders met him – and later the Major General contacted them to say they could go to the Kachcheri (local government office) to arrange for the people to leave. There was a problem with the offices on-site not following his instructions – so the Hartal was staged.




For 14 years people from Valigamam North have been displaced and have been forced to live elsewhere, often having to move time and time again. The soil in Valigamam is fertile and very good for agriculture. Individuals and families have lost out by being unable to cultivate in their own land and on a wider level the entire economy of Jaffna has been badly affected.


There are 15 families living at Ilavalai refugee camp. Their home is the village of Oorany near Myliddy. 43 families, originally from Valalai are living at Tikkam Vadamarachchi camp.


Fr. Bernard said that before the war 30% of the required consumption of fish for the whole island was supplied from the fishing centre at Mylliddy. Now these areas within HSZs and are out of bounds for fishermen. The fishermen are now IDPs.




“After the capture of Jaffna in 1995, people were bundled into vans without number plates, by members of the security forces. Many people approached priests to give shelter to their children. In the past I have described it as a nightmare. A person could disappear at any moment. There was an atmosphere of tension.”


Fr. Bernard gave a letter to diplomats describing the methods used to “disappear” people in Jaffna and they could not believe the way the disappearances were taking place here.



Peace Talks


Fr. Bernard said that it was a timely decision by the LTTE to suspend the talks. Last December he had written a letter along with many other organisations, asking the question, “What is the point in having talks with the government if the army is still occupying this region”.


The only language the Sri Lanka government can understand appears to be military strength. Fr Bernard stated that it does not seem to understand “ahimsa” – non-violence. Because people are so tolerant, they think they can put up military pressure and continue their rule!


“How many peaceful demonstrations have taken place, how many appeals have been given, and still the government refuses to listen to those non-violent methods!”


Fr Bernard described a graphic image of Jaffna. From an aerial view one gets the impression that a military net has been cast over Jaffna. The security checkpoints are like the knots, the streets are like the threads. It is as if the intention is to trap the civilian population in this net.


In concluding our meeting, Fr Bernard emphasised the fact that the warnings he, and others, gave to the security forces were given in humanitarian respect for the value of all human life – for the lives of members of the security forces themselves and for all human life, regardless of ethnic origin. He mentioned the facts, not to insult the security force personnel but to show his deep concern and to point out how the warnings were at each stage discussed.



Professor Mohanadas  -  vice-chancellor of University of Jaffna


Prof. Mohanadas is the Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University. He took up this position just four weeks before we met him. Prof. Mohanadas explained to us the situation of the University and several matters in general.


Prof. Mohanadas told us that as an educationalist, he is concerned about the fact that Sri Lanka has a Central Admissions Policy. Admissions are organised totally by the University Grants Commission, based in Colombo.


He explained that 20 years ago Tamils students fought against discriminationa against them in education and for merit to be recognised. Since then, over the last two decades there has been a war situation in the whole of the North East. Discrimination in Education was one of the factors contributing to the grievances of the Tamil people.


The government has succeeded in admitting students to the University on a District quota system rather than on merit .


Jaffna University is permitted to admit 1435 students per year, from the central admission agent – the University Grant Commission. Two hundred and seventy five students are admitted for performing arts;   music 75, dance 75, art 75 and drama 50. These students are selected by the university itself.


The university has had no special allocation of funds since May 2000. The university was badly affected in 1995 at the time of the mass exodus from Jaffna. Funds have not been allocated for building, equipment and vehicles. The institution is simply managing with the insufficient yearly allocation.


Staff and students have made requests to the Vice Chancellor to obtain better equipment but it is not possible to improve the situation especially regarding equipment and vehicles, due to lack of funds.


Jaffna university has 1 car, 1 pickup and I van.  Universities in the South of the same calibre have about 50 vehicles.


Expenditure should be around 375m rupees but the university has only 238m. The reason for this shortage is that figures are arrived at according to the previous year’s expenditure! That was when in wartime. There were no vehicles, no telephone, no electricity. It is not possible to work from that baseline into the future. It is in fact total discrimination.


Prospective students living in Jaffna have a chance of going to a University in another part of the island if they get a merit pass – i.e. in first 10% - wherever they want in the island. Sinhalese/Muslim  first year students are coming to Jaffna university from other areas.


Six faculties have courses conducted in the English medium:  Medicine, Science, Applied Sciences, Management and Business.


It is compulsory for students on Arts courses to take English language as a subject.


The University is planning to offer a degree in Physical Education - PE, with a 2 year diploma course, and a one year certificate level course. 


HSZ and effect on students


People are displaced from many places including the towns of Tellipallai and Palaly because of the HSZ. These people have been displaced for more than ten years. There are severe indirect impacts on students’ education due to these displacements. When people are living in their own home they can have a home garden which generates some income. Mangoes, Jackfruits and coconut are a few income generators. In addition they help feed the family. People can eat, even if they are unemployed. But this is not the case during the displacements. When displaced, they do not have such facilities and this effects everyone in that family.


Displacement can therefore lead to economic difficulties in the family household. Many students drop out of studying due to the need to support their families. Others are affected by mental health issues.


On Science oriented courses the drop out rate is high due to the strain and the concentration required. The opportunities for quiet study and reading are unlikely to occur when the basic needs of housing, shelter, food and so on are not being met.


Those students studying Medicine may have stresses on them leading to failure in exams. Ten medical students have been suffering acutely from psychological factors linked to stress. These students have now been admitted as psychiatric patients in hospital. Two have committed suicide.


Assistance was given to some students to prepare for passing exams but this has not been successful in all cases.


There is a need for counselling and preventative work to be done so that psychological problems can be identified early on and treated immediately. Maybe 1 or 2 % of students have these problems. It is hoped to set up faculty consultants attached to students who could oversee their well-being. So far, not a single person who has undergone such traumatic psychological breakdown, has fully recovered and been able to recommence their studies.


Armed forces


No armed forces are allowed on the premises in this University. By law they can be called in by the university if there is a problem. However when the armed forces have wanted to enter the university without being asked, the University staff have prevented them coming onto the premises. “It would be dangerous to bring the armed forces in, since our students look at them not as legitimate law enforcers but as “other”, not Tamil. There are no Tamils in the army.”


University Teacher Human Rights (Jaffna?) – UTHR (J?)

When a question was asked about the University Teacher Human Rights (Jaffna?) - UTHR (J?), the Vice Chancellor said he “did not want to talk much on this matter but people are politicised and want to inflict damage on their individual opponents, this cannot be prevented”!.


“When a person is embroiled at a university or school and then leaves during a war, when normalcy comes the government absorbs them back in.


When they (UTHR – J?) left the peninsula many years back, they used our name because they had had a post or thought they would be able to come back. But it is very unfortunate, even after a decade, they still continue to make use of the name! This is a political issue not an academic issue. Many things have happened politically.  This has to be sorted out at a very high level.”



In Jaffna University there is no gender discrimination. Girls are excelling. 50% of students are of each gender.


Recently, the Vice-Chancellor went to a prize-giving in a community based centre in Point Pedro. The students who received the prizes from nursery and standards 1 – 9 were all girls! Only one boy in 10th standard got a prize!


He asked the villagers why only one boy received a prize. They said the girls all study very hard. Before boys and girls were both obedient but now the boys are a little less so!


The Vice Chancellor explained to us about the bad liquor and social problems among the students in Jaffna. Displacement and unemployment have spoiled the social habits of the people of Jaffna.


The Vice Chancellor is determined to upgrade the University of Jaffna during his period. That is his priority.  He is planning to introduce English and computers for all.


Disappearances and Chemmani mass graves


“Disappearances” which took place in Jaffna soon after the Sri Lanka military captured the Jaffna peninsula remain unresolved! In every nook and corner of Jaffna, people are asking what the International community is doing on these matters. TCHR representatives entered Jaffna, via Chemmani. The driver explained to us the area where exhumation of a few of the bodies took place and the other areas where bodies are suspected to have been buried. Chemmani is a vast open area! Earlier Chemmani was only known for its traditional Hindu cemetery (cremation) which has existed there for many years. Since 1995 this area has been used by the Sri Lanka army.


As there were complaints from various groups, parliamentarians and religious leaders, President Chandrika Kumaratunga appointed a Board of Investigation (BOI) on 05 November 1996 to inquire into complaints of disappearances in the Jaffna peninsula.


The government decided to establish this Board, because the existing procedure of inquiry into these complaints was considered ineffective and totally unacceptable. The existing procedure of inquiry into these complaints was by the Police or the Military itself against whom the original complaints were made!


The following members were appointed as members of the Board under the Chairmanship of Mr. E. S. Gunatilaka, Additional Secretary of Defence.  On 01 December 1996 Mr. Bandula Kulatunga, a retired Senior Officer of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service was appointed as Chairman to give a picture that the Chairman is independent from the Defence establishment!


(1)   Major General W.A.A De Silva – General office Commanding 1st Division of Sri Lanka Army,

(2)   Rear Admiral H.C.A.C. Tissera – Chief of Staff, Sri Lanka Navy. Later he was replaced by Rear Admiral D.K.Dassanayake

(3)   Air Vice Marshal K.G.A. Peiris – Chief Staff, Sri Lanka Air Force

(4)   Mr. P. B. Ekanayake, Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police


For this board the staff was provided with a secretary by the Sri Lanka Navy. Lt. Commander H. Banagoda was designated as Secretary with two Chief Petty officers W. Piyasena and B.L.H. Pereira.


The Board meeting was inaugurated on 18 November 1996. The total number of complaints received by the Board was 2,621.


Source of Complaint                                                          No. of Names in the Complaints

Representation made to President Chandrika                                 132

Members of Parliament                                                                    415

Chairman Rehabilitation – Construction Authority                             68

Government Agent of Jaffna                                                             197

Vatican Embassy in Colombo                                                          189

ICRC                                                                                                 275

United Nations                                                                                  178

Amnesty International                                                           232

Aggrieved Parties (Direct)                                                                539

List forwarded by the Mothers’ Front                                                396


Total                                                                                                 2621


In fact, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances prepared and forwarded 651 fact sheets to Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva. Eventually this also reached the BOI through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 1997.


The BOI met the representatives of the International Committee of Red Cross – ICRC on 19 December 1996 and the representatives of the Amnesty International on 20 August 1997.


The representatives of both institutions expressed their satisfaction with the work done and were keen that those responsible for disappearances should be brought to book.


The representatives of the BOI visited Jaffna in January, April, June, August, October, November and December 1997 and met with complainants or next of kin of disappeared persons. The total expenditures incurred by BOI of Rs. 650,000 Sri Lanka rupees. This includes salaries, translation fees, food, snacks and travelling.


The BOI established certain factors and stated that it could not come to any final conclusion! Obviously it was not an independent inquiry. 99% of the positions on this Board of Inquiry were Defence staff.


The International organisations were shocked by the factors established by this board! “What will they do next?” is the question asked by Civil society around the world.


Some of the factors established by the BOI :


1-   They are (disappeared) still in Refugee camps or displaced in uncleared areas.

2-      Young men and women may have voluntarily joined the terrorists.

3-      May have left Jaffna and are in other parts of the country with relations and friends or employed in areas out side North and East.

4-      **Killed in cross fires and in Naval operations in the seas while fishing in banned areas especially after dark.

5-      May have either joined or conscripted by political parties like EPDP, PLOTE etc or are held in their detention centres.

6-      Serving as informants to Security Forces, Police Department Intelligence Units and not willing to disclose their identity due to fear of harassment to their families by terrorists.


** This factor was established because the Navy play a key roll in the BOI.


Also the BOI has stated that, “The ICRC, Amnesty International and the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances did not provide the name and address of next-of-kin or complainants!” The BOI further said that they understand that on principle these organisations do not provide such information.


A human rights activist in Jaffna said that if these organisations did not have this policy, we would experience even more disappearances than those which have already taken place.




We met a few members of the MPGA including Mr Satkunam, who has been in the post of Secretary since 1998. They said that this organisation was founded by Douglas Devananda, the Leader of the EPDP in 1996. We could not meet Mr. Selvarajah, the President of this organisation.


They all spoke to us in frustration and anger. They were complaining that they have done everything possible to trace their kith and kin who were disappeared soon after the Sri Lanka army captured Jaffna peninsula, to no avail. “We have met many NGOs, many parliamentarians, many international human rights activists, yet what have they done to trace our children, husbands, brother and sisters? Everyone is using us for their own benefits. NGOs are using us to get foreign funding, politicians are using us to get political mileage, some NGOs and journalists from the South come here with their hidden motives”, said MPGA.


Amnesty International said in 1997 that as many as 600 people who "disappeared" in the Jaffna peninsula after the Sri Lankan Army moved into the area in 1996, had "died under torture or been deliberately killed."


Mr. Satkunam said that at the beginning nearly 234 names were collected of those who were disappeared in Jaffna. These are only the names of those whose kith and kin are members of this organisation. This was the initial list that was given to various organisations and institutions including the President of Sri Lanka. However there are NGOs who prepared the full names and details of those who have disappeared. This list comprises 660 names which have already been passed to an International organisation.


Anyway, before the last Presidential election, Chandrika Kumaratunga spoke to Mr Satkunam on the phone. This was a phone call arranged by the authority in Jaffna and she promised that they will look into this matter. But to their surprise, Chandrika Kumaratunga sent a letter to each member saying that she is searching for the missing persons but nothing found to date.


Personal experiences of relatives of three of the disappeared


Mr S. Satkunam, Secretary of MGPA is from Sandilipay, and living in Ariyalai close to Nallur.


During the displacement in October 1995 he went to Chavakacheri with his family. In April 1996 President Chandrika announced on the state TV that displaced people could go back home and she would give protection. So they returned to Ariyalai.


Soon after the Sri Lanka army captured Jaffna in 1995, one Mr. Ramalingam who hoisted the flag along with General Ratwatta – ex deputy minister of defence, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Ariyalai in 1996. After this killing, Sri Lankan soldiers arrested Mr Satkunam’s son, S. Nirmalan, aged 21, who was about to sit for his Advanced level – AL exams at Central College, Jaffna.


Mr. Satkunam’s son was arrested on 9 July 1996 by Captain Lalith Hewewa and his soldiers. Mr. Satkunam has two daughters working in a bank.


According to Mr. Satkunam, one of his relatives saw his son Nirmalan in a blue colour army van in front of Jaffna Teaching Hospital. After that there was no news of him. We got some information that they were keeping some boys to do farming work in Palaly army camp. “I met with Lionel Balagalle, the present Commander in chief of the Sri Lanka army. Balagalle said he had four suspects in custody, but he did not give any names”.


Mrs Seharaja Kanagampigiah, 54.1 Point Pedro Road, Jaffna.


The following is Mrs Kanagamigiah’s account of her son’s disappearance.


“My eighteen year old son used to work for the SLRC.  He was arrested on 21 August 1996 at Ariyakulam Junction while he was going for work. On the same day at 5pm the army brought him back to a neighbour’s home in full army uniform, saying there was a grenade planted. As he approached the neighbour’s home, my son cried out “Ammah” to tell me that he was there. The army was slamming doors and gates. I realised my son was there with the army. I responded to my son’s voice and went to get him. The soldiers hit me and grabbed my daughter’s hair (whom we later met when she joined us). Other soldiers searched my home for photo albums etc.


The next day I went to the army camp and made a complaint concerning my son. The incident took place on the previous night. Soon after my complaint an article appeared in a local newspaper saying that the army “do not operate on civilians”. This news item was published in a local newspaper due to pressure exerted on the newspaper by the Army in Jaffna.


I saw with my own eyes, (my son detained), yet the army denied all knowledge of his arrest.


The person on the sentry point felt some pity when my neighbours explained that he is the only boy in the family and is relied upon to look after the family. After that the army asked those people to leave their home. They wanted to establish an army camp there!”


Mrs Shantamalar Kumareswaran, 103 Kanagaratanam Road, Ariyalai.


Mrs Kumareswaran had been displaced. She had been in Chavakecheri and had come back to Ariyalai. The following is her account.


“My husband Kumareswaran was arrested by the Army in the sentry point in front of the gate to our home on 06 August 1996 at 5.30pm. This happened when he went to the local shop to buy something. As he hadn’t returned home for many hours, I went and enquired from the shop keeper about my husband. The shopkeeper said when he left the shop the army took him. As he is an electrician for Jaffna municipality, I thought they must have taken him to do some electrical work in the army camp.


I enquired from the camp. They denied they had taken him, arrested him.


In a few days, his name appeared on an army arrested list at the Wellington (ex Wellington cinemas) army camp which is 512 Brigade. The army had come to my house and were making enquiries about my husband. The soldiers told me that he would be released very soon. The next day, I went to the army camp and the soldiers told me they had received a petition against him so they could not release him.”


Most of the ‘disappeared’ were people arrested at sentry points in Jaffna. When the kith and kin of the victims went and complained to the police, the police recorded the complaint but refused to give them reports.


According to the MGPA, in August 2002, Mr. Bradman Weerakoon, Secretary of the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, agreed at a meeting held in Colombo, to call Janaka Perera personally back to Colombo to make enquiries concerning these disappearances.  Janaka Perera is the present Sri Lanka ambassador to Australia who was the commander at the time these  disappearances took place in Jaffna. “This was agreed in front of Mr Sivajilingam MP, Mr S Padmanathan – GA of Jaffna and the Prime Minister’s adviser Mr Goonesinghe. But now it is almost a year and what have they done? This is what is called partial justice practiced by the Sri Lanka state!”, said Satkunam.


The Minister of Refugees, Rehabilitation and Resettlement has also obtained a list from MPGA and they asked what action has the Ministry taken to help, until now!


Meeting with Father Jeyakumar


Fr. Jeyakumar is the Director of Human Development Centre – HUDEC, which is one of the NGOs seriously involved in upgrading the situation of displaced people in Jaffna. Fr. Jeyakumar explained the situation to us, through relating his own experiences.


According to Fr. Jeyakumar, in 1995-1996 alone, 660 Tamil persons were reported missing in Jaffna, after being arrested or abducted by the Sri Lankan armed forces (Navy, Army, Police e.g. Special Task Force). These people were in fact “disappeared” and have now been established as dead.




There were also more “disappearances” both before that year and after that year. The International NGOs and Human rights organisations should make a note of this important point. The actual number of people “disappeared” in Jaffna is not 660, the figure is higher.


HUDEC has organised many seminars and meetings along with Buddhist monks and people from the South. Fr. Jeyakumar said that the military started to feel that by harrassing the Tamil people they could suppress the freedom struggle which has the support of the masses. The war is purely based on Sinhala Buddhist ideology.




Fr. Jeyakumar explained to us about the existence of the High Security Zones which are causing many social problems, and disturbing the day to day living of the people in many ways. People are deliberately prevented from returning to their homes which are in the HSZs and there are social and cultural problems in the welfare centres (refugee camps) in which they are obliged to live. This is really damaging the culture, tradition and values of the Tamil people. There are tremendous problems in the refugee camps.


HSZs are the main cause of all these problems for the people in Jaffna, said Fr Jeyakumar. “I am sure it must be same case even in the East. IDPs should be allowed to go back to their houses, villages and start their life. This HSZ business is a deliberate one! For example, look at houses from Ariyalai East to Navandurai. This is a coastal area, where people are not allowed to live in  300 – 500 houses. The Army is occupying most of the buildings.


There have been multiple displacements of the people over 12-13 years.  The lack of land to grow their own food on, as is the custom; the lack of work – many of the IDPs are fishermen and farmers who cannot earn their livelihood as they used to, as their traditional Tamil lands are occupied, leads to anti-social activities and cultural erosion. There are many widows and widowers….. The government authorities are permitting clashes between different groups and even encouraging Muslims to clash with other Tamils.


I would like to say frankly that the HSZs are seriously jeopardising the peace process.   Continuous violations of human rights make the Peace Process vulnerable”.



Consortium of  Humanitarian Agencies  -  Jaffna District


We were very glad to meet the office-bearers of the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies in Temple Road, Jaffna. We met Mr Paramanathan (President), Mr. Sri sativel (Vice President) and Mr Sodianathan (Administration Officer)


According to its office bearers the consortium is comprised of 52 organisations.


There are several contentious issues which demonstrate lack of adherence to UN Conventions, Mr. Paramanthan said.


They said that the term High Security Zone – HSZ is not acceptable when Emergency Regulations (ER) are not in force. They said the government can only declare “Restricted areas” under a normal situation, but not “HSZs”.


Since the MOU was signed, the armed forces have been trying to create HSZs outside the restricted areas, such as in  Selathmuduh, Mirusivil, Navatkuli and Kaidthaddy.


The CHA office-bearers asked a question: “In Jaffna, “security” is for whom? Is it for the people? If so, how far have we progressed in this?” 


When we talked to the Consortium office-bearers about the Chemmani mass graves, they said  that none of the international NGOs identified the full list of the disappeared people in Jaffna. In Chemmani, only four or five bodies were exhumed. They raised concerns as to why it is that no International NGO had come up with funding for analysis of  the DNA samples.


When the Human Rights Commission was not active there was a Peace March organised to its office and a vigil. The inquiries into the several exhumations of individual bodies have still not been published. The President of the Consortium advises the MPGA to refrain from liasing with the Human Rights Commission on individual cases until the enquiries regarding the last four or five cases are published. 


Many organisations come and go – but nothing changes in the lives of the victims!


Speaking at the local level regarding disappeared persons will not help, they felt. Last year they raised the issue with Ingrid Massage of Amnesty International but they could not get an answer. She said that samples should be sent to India for DNA testing.


Regarding the Military Camp at the Town Hall, the Consortium of Humanitarian organisations protested strongly and the plans were suspended.


We were told there are 40,000 army in Jaffna Peninsula. To give an idea of the impact that has on the town, consider that at New Year special flights had to be arranged to take nearly 10,000 soldiers home to South on leave for the holiday period. So many people were travelling from Palaly-Colombo-Palaly that most actually missed their holiday, arriving South eventually after New Year celebrations had ended.




Internally Displaced People - IDPs


The life of displaced people in Jaffna is miserable. There are people who have been displaced for the last 13-14 years! The majority of the displaced people are from the coastal areas.


They seem very frustrated with everyone especially the Government and fund-greedy NGOs. There are many NGOs in Jaffna, living on IDPs, but the IDPs lives remains the same.


TCHR representatives managed to visit a few camps and talk to the IDPs. The housing in the camps which we visited are all in bad condition. The roofing is leaking, there is no drinking water, no toilet and no washing facilities. Some people are not getting their dry rations.


Every camp that we visited, had been visited earlier by the Minister of Refugees, Rehabilitation and Resettlement. Residents of these camps are very angry with the Minister. IDPs claimed, “His visit to these camps was just political mileage, rather than any fruitful job done for us”. The strangest thing that we noticed was, the IDPs have no proper food, drinking, water, toilet facilities, etc., but the Minister and his team have given them ceramic plates as a token gift! The IDPs in the camps were asking us, “What can we do with these ceramic plates!”


When we were talking to IDPs in Jaffna, we asked the people who returned from Vanni to Jaffna, why they decided to leave Vanni. They told us that they had been under the impression that with the signing of MOU, the Army would have been back to their positions in 90 or 120 days, so that they could go back to their homes. But now they think they have made a big blunder by deciding to return from Vanni. One man told us,  “In Vanni you can go wherever you like, there are no restrictions and the TRO is helping the IDPs. Here, in Jaffna, the government which has money for the war, is doing nothing to improve our situation. Now there is a special Ministry too”.


Each centre has their own committees and spokesperson. In every camp/centres there was a complaint about Rs. 25,000/= . The IDPs complained that there is a discrimination in giving this fund for their resettlement. It is based purely on selectivity. As this is a complicated subject, we brought this to the concern of the people who are dealing with this subject. We hope this would have been settled by now.


All the IDPs are furious with NGOs and the Government. These people make use of the IDPs for their own benefits. But the lives of the IDPs have not changed for the better yet.


IDPs in Jaffna were saying “Even in those days, before 1990, we lived next to army and navy camps.” Yet now they are not permitted to live anywhere near. They used to farm right up to the boundary at Palaly airport. Now they cannot. And an additional issue – Sinhalese people are being settled there.


5,000 people used to be employed at KKS cement factory, many of them women. Now they are ALL unemployed. Whereas, the army have extensive employment in Jaffna!



Registered IDPs  in 2002



District                      No. of Housing                     Members of the

Units                                      Family


Jaffna                               97,317                                    339,440

Mullaitivu                           29,824                                    116,661

Killinochchi                       27,166                                    112,861

Vavuniya                           19,754                                      77,395

Mannar                             12,115                                      49,798

Batticaloa                           5,563                                      22,425

Trincomlee                         4,262                                     16,470

Ampara                              1,055                                        4,144





Aladdy welfare centre between Manipay and Uduvil


This camp/welfare centre has been in existence for the last three years. IDPs in this centre, established by a “Pastor of the Assembly of God” live in 14 homes. Originally there were about 75 families but some have already gone to another place but not back to their own homes, said the spokesperson of this centre.


This centre does not have any proper facilities. The NGO called “Action Faim” made a tube well and some other facilities. They do not have toilets in this centre. Roofing is made out of cadjans.


There is a Community centre with a few newspapers and a nursery for the children. The children above the age of 5-6, go to nearby mainstream schools. Every family in this centre receives dry ration worth 1,200 rupees per month. This is given by the government. There is a small adjoining dispensary give medicines for the IDPs in this centre.


The residents of this centre are from Thenmaradchi, Palaly and Vasavilan.


We were told that some of the IDPs who could go back to their homes in Kayts, continue to stay in this camp because Kayts is one of the islands where there is a big presence of EPDP cadres. The locals consider the EPDP as a most notorious group.


The Minister of Refugees, Rehabilitation and Resettlement had visited this camp and gifted the IDPs  with ceramic plates!



Maruthanamadam Camp

(Just behind Fine Arts faculty of Ramanathan College)


In this camp there were twenty three families, most of them from Kankesanthurai - KKS and Myliddy area. Four families are from Navatkully. Their displacement started in 1990. They were displaced to Vanni from Jaffna peninsula in 1995. Now they have come back to Jaffna.


They are labourers. The UNHCR resettled them in March and gave them plastic sheeting and Tupperware.


They said they have participated in many demonstrations and appeals were given to Jaffna Kachcherai but nothing seems to help make the changes they would like to see. “Our life hasn’t changed for the last 12-13 years”, said the IDPs.


In this camp/centre, we met an elderly man Mr Sellapan Nagarajah from Tellipalai, who was just out of hospital after a stomach operation. He is unable to work.  He lives with his wife and a son. He and his wife have asked for help from the UNHCR.


Last January all the IDPs here have appealed to the Government Agent of Jaffna,  SLMM and  the Tellipali GA office about the deteriorating situation, but nothing has happened!


Even outside the HSZ, the army is preventing people from farming and agriculture. If the people returned from the Vanni and other areas try to cultivate the land or put up temporary homes they  are prevented from doing so by the Army.


The IDPs in this camp attempted to put up houses on government land, but the police came and stopped them. “The police are unpleasant creatures”, said an IDP.


The Minister of Refugees, Rehabilitation and Resettlement had visited this camp and gifted the IDPs with ceramic plates!

Rotti Alaaddy Camp (Chunnakam)


This camp has become like a “permanent” camp. The people have almost lost hope of ever moving back to their homes. There are 185 families from Myliddy, Thaiddy, KKS and Palaly are in this camp. All these villages have been declared as a HSZ by the Army. Thirty-three families, returned from the Vanni have built their huts on their own. Neither NGOs nor UNCHR nor the government helped them.


We spoke to the secretary of the camp who has lived there for 7 years. Mrs Gunanpalasingam Vanaja from Myliddy. During displacement in 1999 they went up to Kodikamam. They were displaced many times. In 1996 they came here to Rotilladdy.


Almost a year ago, they appealed to the Minister of Refugees, Rehabilitation and Resettlement  asking that they should be resettled in their own houses – or given a proper housing scheme in this area. They have no proper toilets or wells. There are only 16 toilets for 187 families. 5 tube wells were provided by the Government Agent - GA. There is only one existing large well.


When they started the camp they were given protective sheets and cadjan by the Government Agent. The UNHCR gave them lanterns, saucepans and plastic buckets and some food items.


Children over 15 years of age go out and try to find work during the day with the adults. Children who have Ordinary levels (OL) and Advanced Levels (AL) are unemployed.


Most of the IDPs in this camp are professional fishermen, toddy tappers and casual labourers who worked at the KKS harbour and the Cement factory.


The roofing of the huts in this camp/centre are torn and the rain water leaks in. They contacted the UNHCR but nothing has happened on this matter.


The men in this camp/centre sell fish in the market. The ladies are unemployed and idling. If there is no fishing, the men too, have no work. 


Six people from the camp have lost limbs. While collecting firewood they walked on land mines.  They are fed up of camp life. Their boats and fishing nets are in their homes in their villages.


Mrs Vanaja’s husband was shot dead by the Sri Lanka Army. Her son died due to cancer. She has been living under shelling for 20 years.  She has children and grandchildren.


One rich neighbour is supplying drinking water for a whole family in this camp/centre.


The Minister of Refugees, Rehabilitation and Resettlement had visited this camp twice and gifted the IDPs with ceramic plates! This is supposed to be the biggest camp/centre in the Jaffna peninsula.


Mallakam Magistrate’s Camp


There are 56 families who have been living here since 1990. They are fishermen, farmers, toddy tappers and labourers. They all came from Mylliddy. They were displaced from Myliddy to Thenmaradchi to Vanni and to this camp in 1996.


The land where this camp/centre is situated belongs to one owner. The owner of this camp has asked these IDPs to vacate his land and they have been served with a Court Order to leave the land within one month.


They asked the land owner to lend them this land on a 5 year lease, but the land owner refused! Then the IDPs approached the LTTE political office in Jaffna and it was sorted out with land owner. Now they are no longer harassed by the land lord!


We asked those IDPs, why they neither approached the Sri Lanka police nor filed a case in the Sri Lanka courts? The reply was the same as others had given us in Jaffna. The Sri Lanka police or the courts work only if the bribe is given to them which none of us in this camp can afford, said an  IDP.


Here the Education of the young children is badly affected. There are the same water problems as in the other camps.


As there was a Court Order served on the IDPs in Mallakam, the office of the Government Agent considers this camp/centre as closed. Therefore the IDPs here are not eligible for any assistance from the government. 


The UNHCR has promised to give canvas sheeting for roofing to this camp/centre. As an official procedure, the UNHCR asked for a letter from the GA’s office to confirm that the IDPs  were living there. The GA office couldn’t do it because the camp was considered  “closed”!


The IDPs said that many NGOs, TNA parliamentarians, EPDP and government persons, promised many  things, none of which have materialised yet! “All have taken us for a ride”, said the IDPs.


For instance they were offered resettlement in Valigamam North. Yet they know that forty or  fifty families went to Kuppilan, near Palaly army camp, and built their homes in Kuppilan. The army came and bulldozed down their homes and the people were scattered in two different places. Clearly they did not want to go down this route!


There exists also a caste problem for the IDPs in this camp/centre. The IDPs here are not allowed take drinking water from the neighbouring well because the owner of that house practices the caste system strictly. He does not even allow the IDPs to open his gate.


The caste system is one of the things which was threatening the whole Jaffna peninsula. However, it disappeared to a certain extent during war-time. Under the Tamil Eelam judicial system, caste discrimination is a punishable offence.


The person we spoke to in the camp, was the President, Mr K. Thevalingam. He said that he is very grateful to the LTTE for settling their land dispute with the land lord. Otherwise they would have been evicted from that camp/centre a long time ago.


Three of the children in the camp have entered University. But many children and young people have had no education at all.


Here also, the Minister of Refugees, Rehabilitation and Resettlement had visited and gifted the IDPs with ceramic plates!



Konapuram welfare Centre - Mallakam


There are 96 families, originally from Myliddy and Palaly in this camp/centre. Nearly 36 families came from the Vanni. They received no help at all.  The children go to mainstream school nearby.


There are eight toilets in total for 96 families. The NGO known as “Action Faim” has given them toilets but they are broken. It was brought to the notice of “Action Faim” but they have not been repaired yet. The roofs of their houses are leaking.


The IDPs here also complain about their situation and said no-one is helping them! “We can neither go back home nor can we live peacefully here”.


Here also, the Minister of Refugees, Rehabilitation and Resettlement had visited and gifted the IDPs with ceramic plates!



Concluding comments


After this extensive visit to Vavuniya, Vanni, Mullaitivu and Jaffna – the TCHR representatives would like to make the following brief comments :


In Jaffna, the areas surrounding Army camps and installations, are High Security Zones for the Tamils whereas they are Tourist Zones for the Sinhalese! Every tourist bus which carries Sinhalese tourists from the South easily passes through all the HSZs. They are allowed to visit everywhere in Jaffna. But the Tamils are prevented from visiting the same areas.


In our observations, as long as the IDPs remain in temporary centres/camps, the humanitarian crisis will continue in the island. The IDPs remain in centre/camps as a result of the HSZs maintained by the Security Forces. The HSZs are the outcome of the expansion of the military presence and camps in the Jaffna peninsula and other parts of the NorthEast. Here the question of IDPs, HSZ and Security forces are inter-related.


The MOU signed on 22 February 2002 has a solution to this problem. The day when Article-2 “Measures to restore normalacy”, is fully implemented by the Sri Lankan government, the humanitarian crisis will be resolved and Tamil people will have confidence in the present government. It will be the beginning of the search for a durable solution to the island’s long standing ethnic conflict.


SIHRN based in Kilinochchi is an office very actively producing projects on paper, but they have no funds to materialise the projects. All are anxiously waiting for funding.


According to a Post Master in Jaffna, earlier it was a visible physical war in which Tamil people starved without food, died without medicines and were injured and killed in aerial bombing and shelling, but now it is an invisible war in which Tamil people undergo mental agony, trauma and die gradually of prolonged depression. This view has to be seriously taken into consideration by the government and the International community.


According to recent statistics, suicide rates have increased in Jaffna. This is the result of over twenty years of brutal war.


One of the disturbing news that we received in our mission was that neither of the Sri Lanka governments have taken any useful measures to bring to justice those responsible for the “disappearances” of over 660 people in Jaffna peninsula - believed to be buried in the Chemmani mass graves! Having personally met the kith and kin of the victims and gathered information about their tireless efforts to seek the truth of what happened to their loved ones, we wonder what is lacking here for the perpetrators to be brought to book! Are the International human rights organisations, institutions and the international community aware that no real progress has been made regarding these disappearances which took place in 1995-1996!


On the way back to Europe, in Colombo, the members of TCHR met with Mrs. Yogi Ponnambalam and Mr. Gajendran, wife and son of Kumar Ponnambalam, human rights defender who was assassinated on 5 January 2000 in Colombo. They expressed their disappointment with the new government for doing nothing regarding the brutal assassination of Kumar Ponnambalam, despite obvious clues pointing to the murderers.


It is worth reflecting on the fact that even twenty years after thousands of Tamils were brutally killed in the horrific massacres of July 1983, there has never been a public apology made to the Tamils for the horrors of that week, nor for any massacres that were carried out before and after that date. This is despite the fact that recently a Presidential Commission stated that those massacres were state-sponsored.


The EPDP cut-out at Muhamalai could be brought down in 10 minutes by a telephone call by the Minister of Defence to the Army chief in Jaffna. This is not done, and therefore is disturbing evidence of the level of seriousness of the present government said many people in Jaffna. This cut-out will certainly earn more enmity.


The NGO industry is a business enterprise in Jaffna! There was a time when people were looking for jobs in Banks, since there was good pay. The well paid organisations (enterprises) now in Sri Lanka are the International NGOs. According to many analyses in Jaffna, 80% of NGO funds are spent on staff salaries and the maintenance of offices. Only the rest, 20%, is spent on projects. Temple Road in Jaffna is for NGOs, like Fleet Street is in London for news publishers. Complaints about the foreign NGOs by the IDPs and other organisations are very serious. If these international NGOs are really working hard in Jaffna, we could have seen big changes, but nothing is visible! One wonders, where is the active advocacy for the rights of IDPs in NorthEast?


Thanks and acknowledgements


We in TCHR express our gratitude for the contribution to our report by Fr. Bernard, Fr. Jeyakumar, the Vice Chancellor of University of Jaffna - Prof. Mohanadas, Mr Paramanathan (President CHA), Mr. Sri Sativel (Vice President CHA) and Mr Sodianathan (Administration Officer CHA).


We also thank Mr. Nadesan – the Police Chief of the Tamil Eelam Police, Mr. Para and the Judges Mr. Opilan (Chief Justice), Mr Sugetharan (President of the Court of Appeal), Mr Senthura (District Court Judge), Ms Sarlada (Appeal Court Judge) of the Tamil Eelam judiciary and Ms Rathy of the Counselling service.


We thank the staff at the Kurukulam Children’s home, Vettimanai/Victory House, Senthalir Children’ Home,  Chencholai Children’s Home,  Lt. Col. Navam Academy and the other centres.


We also thank Mr. Illankumaran for his contribution regarding Education in the LTTE administrated areas and also the representatives of TRO and TEEDOR.


We thank the staff whom we met in the LTTE political office in Kilinochchi and Mr. Eelamparuthi, head of LTTE political office in Jaffna and his colleagues. 


We also thank the many NGO workers, journalists, school teachers and Principals, Religious leaders and shopkeepers who wanted to remain anonymous and the Members of the MPGA who shared their painful personal experiences with us.


We also thank Mr. S. Thirunavukarasu, the author of “Broken Promises” and Mr. Nilanthan whom we met in Thiruvaiarru, Kilinochchi.


We thank all those individuals we met who shared their personal stories with us. If we happen to have missed any name or organisation, please bear with us and accept our sincere apologies.
























List of Abreviations used in this report


BOI                 =          Board of Investigation

CHA                =          Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies

ECHO             =          European Community Humanitarian Office

ER                  =          Emergency Requlations

EPDP             =          Eelam People Democratic Party

GA                   =          Government Agent

HDU                =          Humanitarian Demining Unit

HRC                =          Human Rights Commission

HSZ                 =          High Security Zones

HUDEC           =          Human Development Centre

ICRC               =          International Committee of Red Cross

IDP                  =          Internally Displaced People

LTTE               =          Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

MOU               =          Memorandum of Understanding

MPGA             =          Missing Person Guardian Association

NIE                  =          National Institute of Education

PLOTE           =          People Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam

PTA                 =          Prevention of Terrorism Act

POW              =          Prisoner of War

ROOT             =          Research Organisation of Tamil Eelam

SIHRN             =          Sub-Committe on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs of the


SLMM              =          Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission

SLRC              =          Sri Lanka Red Cross

STF                 =          Special Task Force

TEEDOR        =          Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organisation

TRO                =          Tamils Rehabiltation Organisation

UNDP             =          United Nations Development Programme

UNICEF          =          United Nations Children’s Fund

UNHCR           =          United Nations High Commission for Refugees





























Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR

Centre Tamoul pour les droits de l'Homme - CTDH

Centro Tamil para los Derechos Humanos

(Established in 1990)





Website :





Head Office

9, rue des Peupliers

95140 - Garges les Gonesse




Email :

Fax : + 33 - 1 - 40 38 28 74










Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR                   Tamil Centrum voor Mensenrechten - TCHR

P. O. Box : 182                                                          Steelingmolen 43

Manchester M16 8ED                                               1703 TE Heerhugowaard

UNITED KINGDOM                                                 THE NETHERLANDS

Fax : + 44 - 161 - 860 46 09                                      Fax : + 31 - 72 - 57 15 801

Email :


Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR                   Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR

P. O. Box : 466                                                          422F, Moodie Drive

Nobel Park 3174                                                        Nepean

Victoria, AUSTRALIA                                                Ontario - K2H 8A6

Fax : + 61 - 3 - 95 46 63 48                                       CANADA


Tamilen Zentrum fur Mensenrechten - TCHR

P. o. Box : 319

8172 - Niederglatt