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Another eyewitness account to the horrors of the last days

September 30, 2009

Source: Articles published in a Tamil bi-weekly Nakkheeran (17/8/09, 20/8/09 and 24/8/09) by Father Jagat Casper from excerpts of a letter sent to him by Sivaruben

The genocide of Ceylon Tamils, was facilitated by India providing military assistance (including the Indira Radar and satellite intelligence), China contributing rockets and chemical weapons, Russia supplying tanks, cannon and armoured vehicles as well as on-field consultations and Pakistan providing missiles and weaponry worth several millions of Rupees. With the military force of all these countries against us, how could the armed Tamils forces alone resist this assault?

This is how the final assault of 17 May 2009 took place in front of our own eyes. We weren’t sure if we could believe what we were seeing was real. Missiles were falling amongst us coming from all directions.  Chemical weapons were also being fired at us from unknown locations. There was also continuous gun fire. I got out of the bunker cautiously, when there was a little pause in the shelling. The devastation and destruction of Mullivaaikkal unfolded in front of my own eyes.

My kith and kin whom I saw before I ran and hid under the bunker were later discovered to be in pieces in a wilderness of corpses. I could not distinguish between those who were young and old. Body parts covered the entire area. A mother was in tears, screaming out aloud holding on to a headless body that appeared to be her child. “My lord, why does it have to be us! I’m unable to see my son’s face! Demon Rajapakse why don’t you come and take me as well!” she screamed.  Following this, a bullet, which was fired, struck her head spraying its contents, making a mess of it. She fell to the ground, kissing the Mother Eelam.

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  1. Australians for Tamil Justice permalink*
    October 3, 2009 8:52 pm

    Source: Articles published in a Tamil bi-weekly Nakkheeran (17/8/09, 20/8/09 and 24/8/09) by Father Jagat Casper from excerpts of a letter sent to him by Sivaruben

    The genocide of Ceylon Tamils, was facilitated by India providing military assistance (including the Indira Radar and satellite intelligence), China contributing rockets and chemical weapons, Russia supplying tanks, cannon and armoured vehicles as well as on-field consultations and Pakistan providing missiles and weaponry worth several millions of Rupees. With the military force of all these countries against us, how could the armed Tamils forces alone resist this assault?

    This is how the final assault of 17 May 2009 took place in front of our own eyes. We weren’t sure if we could believe what we were seeing was real. Missiles were falling amongst us coming from all directions. Chemical weapons were also being fired at us from unknown locations. There was also continuous gun fire. I got out of the bunker cautiously, when there was a little pause in the shelling. The devastation and destruction of Mullivaaikkal unfolded in front of my own eyes.

    My kith and kin whom I saw before I ran and hid under the bunker were later discovered to be in pieces in a wilderness of corpses. I could not distinguish between those who were young and old. Body parts covered the entire area. A mother was in tears, screaming out aloud holding on to a headless body that appeared to be her child. “My lord, why does it have to be us! I’m unable to see my son’s face! Demon Rajapakse why don’t you come and take me as well!” she screamed. Following this, a bullet, which was fired, struck her head spraying its contents, making a mess of it. She fell to the ground, kissing the Mother Eelam.

    From the neighbouring bunker, a faint voice called out, “Please, can somebody help me!” As I turned around, I saw an old man, with wounds in his chest, abdomen, and leg. One could feel the pain and hopelessness in his voice. Before, I could reach him, he also fell dead. As far as the eyes could see, there were bodies, and body parts, scattered everywhere.

    Grief overwhelmed me. In a daze, I started to mutter a few words. “President Obama, you were our last hope! We believed in you! You came from an oppressed people! We hoped as we saw every airplane that flew across our skies! We felt that you would come to save our race! You let us down!” I cried to myself.

    I tried to get up and walk. Bullets rained down again. I was unable to walk faster. I religiously made sure not to let my feet touch the scattered corpses and body parts, with difficulty. I walked avoiding the piled corpses and body parts towards the bunker, where my wife and children were. Another mother’s sorrow prevented me from going ahead.

    She would be around 30 years old. Her six month old baby was killed in the shell fire. Hugging her baby she cried, “Demon Rajapakse ate my husband. Now he has eaten my baby. Has your (Rajapakse‘s) hunger now been satisfied?” and kissed her dead baby and soaked it with her tears. There was no one around to console her. No one even heard her lamentation. Suddenly, she stopped and turned back. Her face changed and she started to talk to her baby with laughter as if the baby was alive. Within minutes a mother became mentally ill.

    Thoughts about my wife, child and parents weighed me down. I ran towards the bunker where they had been hiding. The area around was scattered with hundreds of corpses and body parts, some burnt to ashes due to the bombardment. I knelt down and fell. “My Lord”, I cried. The shells rained down. Despite this, I examined every head and every corpse. I couldn’t identify any one. Concluding that all my relatives had been burnt, I got up, resolved to bare my chest to the enemy missiles. In the midst of the corpses, a mother got up slowly mumbling.

    “Son, your relatives have gone towards Vadduvahal this morning. Go there and save them quickly”, mumbled that mother. I ran towards Vadduvahal. A long line of parked vehicles owned by the Vanni people were along the Mullivaaikkal- Vadduvahal main road. Half of them were burnt by the missiles. Others looked like orphans. People who did not have any where to dig bunkers were lying under these vehicles.

    The Chencholai [an orphanage]kids, who were brought up by our National Leader as his own kids also found refuge under these vehicles at the late stages of the war. They were like the chicks hiding away in fear from carrion that feast on the dead. When I was about 100 meters away from these vehicles a missile landed and exploded on them. In front of my very eyes more than fifty of those kids faced their gory deaths with their heads, legs, hands and torsos scattered.

    “International Community, United Nations and the Tamil world, whenever you want a witness to this genocide call me”. I am still alive and I will be in the witness box.

    Do you know the pain of the mothers who wrapped their dismembered and dead children in whatever rag or cloth they laid hands on, kept them in the nooks and crannies of burnt and abandoned vehicles? I saw this on 17 May 2009 at Mullivaaikkal- Vadduvahal main road. We have become a race so accursed by God that we were not vouchsafed time to weep and lament our dead.

    I thought that only the beach was full of dead bodies and body parts. But I saw the same on the long stretch of the main road inland. I couldn’t bear it any longer. The mind which had lost all feeling and toughened because of witnessing the untold suffering felt like exploding. I felt like crying aloud. I crawled through the carnage religiously avoiding touching the flesh of the Tamils.

    Sinhala sylvan vampires were launching missiles from everywhere. These missiles whistled past a pregnant mother, who was in labour under a tree. Her husband must have died a short time before in this missile attack and his body was in a pool of blood. She held the dead body of her husband very firmly, cried and screamed in labour pain. How can I forget this extreme suffering?

    In the shock waves generated by the multi-barrel gunfire she gave birth and her baby landed in the Mullaitivu soil. The mother hugged the baby to her breast. No one, whether relatives or not, was around to help her. She did not know whether to hug her newborn or cry for her just dead husband. I do not have words or means to register this scene, where she held her newborn in her right arm, and held her husband’s corpse with her left arm. How can I record this?

    She was so disoriented to the extent that she didn’t bother to adjust her clothes to cover her, and her wailing continued. She lay inert, worn out, spent. The baby cried for the want of its first feed. I visualized both Rajapakse brothers (Mahinda and Gothabaya) as gigantic vultures eating the flesh soaked in blood of dead bodies. You will all perish and the Sinhala Nation has to answer for all these atrocities. My blood boiled.

    I stumbled around helplessly. I spend sleepless nights thinking about the mother and baby. This is how I reached Mullivaaikkal temporary medical facility in May. A thatched hut was our Accident and Emergency department. Under the eves lay a baby who had lost both its parents and both its legs in a bombardment. With eyes full of tears, I went closer and had a look at the baby. Glucose infusion kept the baby alive. It played with the tube and smiled at me. Would the baby feel the unreality and horror of whatever happening and happened around us? As I asked the nurse about the parents of the baby, the nurse responded, “I am everything for the baby and its parents are in that heap” and showed a heap of corpses little away from the hut.

    The thoughts of the faces of these two babies, one playing with the infusion tube without parents and its legs and the other born under a tree on the roadside crying for its first feed still reverberate in my mind and their agony will be my constant companions for ever.

    With hatred, frustration and anger and with the worrying thought that is this how our liberation struggle was going to end, I tried to go further. There another atrocity was being staged.

    A missile exploded a little away from the road. I looked as the dust and smoke settled. A Tamil family under a tree is destroyed in the blink of an eye in front of me. The severely injured father’s hands and legs are trembling. He is unable to get up. The mother’s body is in a mess with her hands holding the baby in the breast feeding position. Her left breast is shattered and the baby is looking for the right breast to take its feed. The baby does not know the murderous intent and the horror of the enemies. Nearby a four year old girl, probably the one elder to the baby, with a plate in her hand crying and calling out, “Mum, I am hungry! Mummmm, I am hungry”. A six year old boy standing next to the father shouting at him, “Dad, all are moving away from here! Let’s go! Daddy, get up! I am thirsty! Get up quickly!”

    There was no one in a mental state either to understand what was happening around them or to help one another or to console anyone. Death and destruction were showing their true inhumane and merciless face, intent on eradicating the Tamil race. Tamil Eelam is now a land of death for its citizens. The child instinctively searching for its mother’s breast will last in our memories of this darkest day for ever.

    I moved further. Our National Leader used to say that “We must repay the horrors visited on us.” “Had we paid it back without just saying in words, wouldn’t these Rajapakses (Mahinda and Gothabaya) stop this rage”, I imagined. In the good old days Mr SJV Chelvanayagam (the founder of Federal Party and the Tamil United Liberation Front and won a referendum for an independent and a separate country for the Tamils in Sri Lanka in the Gandhian way), fondly known as Dad Chelva, said in one of his speeches in the Law College, “There will not be any safety and security for the Tamil people. Only God can save us.” Yes, we were walking with dried throats on the day when God has let us down. I cursed myself for being born a Tamil. I was angry with each and every person in the world.

    I recollected the feeling I had before. “President Obama, you were our last hope! We believed in you! You came from an oppressed people! We hoped as we saw every airplane that flew across our skies! We felt that you would come to save our race! You let us down!”

    (Sivaruban will return with more recollected memories)

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