Killing Fields Tweets

Eyewitness: Sri Lanka's Killing Fields


By Shash Trevett, On Saturday, August 15 2015

The following account is based on interviews to Together Against Genocide (TAG). Personal details of Meena (not her real name), place names and dates have been changed to protect her identity. It was early in the morning of 14th August 2006. Meena was at home getting ready to attend a computer course at her school. She had completed her A Level examinations a couple of months before, and was shoring up her qualifications further. At 7.30am that morning, Meena was outside her family home when she saw Kfir planes belonging to the Sri Lankan Air Force fly over her house. A few seconds later she heard a loud explosion, accompanied by a bright light. Terrified, she dropped to the ground, covering her ears, trying to protect herself from the sounds of the aerial bombardment. Her mother, frightened for her daughter, had run out of the house when she heard the first bomb blast. As the Kfirs circled overhead, Meena’s mother flung herself on top of her daughter, covering her child with her   Read on...

 
By Paul M.M. Cooper, On Friday, August 14 2015

The following account is based on interviews to Together Against Genocide (TAG). Personal details of Kaalidasan (not his real name), place names and dates have been changed to protect his identity. Kaalidasan was working as a volunteer in a medical tent when the Sri Lankan Army closed in on his position. For weeks people in the area of Mullivaikal had been hearing the thud of artillery in the distance, as the army encircled the retreating Tamil Tigers and the Tamil civilians behind their lines, with concentric lines of artillery. To the East and West of the medical centre, the separatist group had dug in their own artillery divisions, returning fire through the day and night. The South of the medical centre was exposed directly to Sri Lanka army’s artillery, and to the North the only protection was the Indian Ocean. The sound of the guns was nightmarish, never-ending. People were lying everywhere on the ground, packed in tightly on waterproof tarpaulins and mats, watching the pill  Read on...

 
By Shash Trevett, On Tuesday, June 16 2015

The following account is based on interviews to Together Against Genocide (TAG). Personal details of Shanthi (not her real name), place names and dates have been changed to protect her identity. “The smell of blood was so strong, [there were] flies everywhere, there were puddles with bodies lying in them.”   This is how Shanthi describes the final two weeks of the war in May 2009. In an interview interspersed with deep sobs, she describes how she, her mother and her 4 year old daughter cowered in makeshift shelters, avoiding the bombs that were falling all around them. On the move constantly, they hid during the shelling and ran to different places in the lulls before new waves of shelling began. There was no food or water. People were injured and dying around her. The picture she paints is of a panicked populace, on the move constantly, strangers joining with other strangers to tend to the wounded, the dying and each other. This is her story.   Shanthi, her mother and her fo  Read on...

 
By Shakuntala, On Wednesday, May 20 2015

The following account is based on interviews to Together Against Genocide (TAG). Personal details of Kumaran (not his real name), place names and dates have been changed to protect his identity. When Kumaran wakes up in the room he has been given by the Home Office, it takes him a few minutes to adjust to his present surroundings. Sleepless nights, recurrent nightmares and depression help contribute to this disorientation. He feels an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia, of the walls moving in, caging him once again. His room, his present day cage, reminds him of the cell he had been kept prisoner in for two years. It is difficult for him to differentiate between the nightmares of his sleep and his present reality. For Kumaran, life in his room in the UK is one of living torture: uncertainty and threat of deportation mirror the uncertainty and fear which shadowed him when locked away for so many months. For Kumaran the years ahead seem to hold nothing but ceaseless striving: to rec  Read on...

 
By Paul M.M. Cooper, On Saturday, May 24 2014

The following account is based on interviews to Together Against Genocide (TAG). Personal details of Mayuran (not his real name), place names and dates have been changed to protect his identity. Mayuran was in his mid-30s when the Sri Lankan army advanced into the LTTE-controlled North-East of Sri Lanka in its final assault. He first joined the LTTE when he was sixteen, and had been part of a team that laid claymore mines along enemy positions and also taught combat to new recruits. In Mayuran's own words, here is what he saw. In 2009, when the Sri Lankan Army first declared its so-called “no-fire zones” people began to flock to these small areas in their tens of thousands as the shells began to fall all over landscape of mudflats and low jungle of the Vanni region. Houses, bunkers, camps and refugee infrastructure were constantly hit in the wake of the Government offensive into the North. Soon, after the government had repeatedly hit the no-fire zones with barrages of ar  Read on...

 
By Paul M.M. Cooper, On Sunday, May 18 2014

The following account is based on survivor interviews to Together Against Genocide (TAG). Personal details of Ainkaran (not his real name), place names and dates have been changed to protect his identity. Ainkaran volunteered in a hospital in the contested North East of Sri Lanka when the government began its final offensive on the Tamil separatists. It was 2009, and the outlook was grim for the LTTE. The cadres had set up fortified settlements far behind the frontline in order to escape the artillery of the Sri Lankan Army, but there were some shells, with a range of 3-5km, that could still reach even these safe havens. As the fighting intensified and the shells began to fall, Ainkaran helped to spread the sign of the International Red Cross across the roof of a school building that they had converted into a hospital. From up on the roof, you could already see the smoke rising over the trees, and hear the distant thud of the artillery. When artillery fired, you first hear  Read on...

 
By Paul M.M. Cooper, On Saturday, May 17 2014

  The following account is based on survivor interviews to TAG. Personal details of Ahalya (not her real name) and her family members, place names and dates have been changed to protect their identities.    Ahalya was in her late twenties when the war in the North of Sri Lanka came to an end. She was the sister of an LTTE soldier who was killed fighting in the war, and since his death had been determined to do what she could to alleviate the suffering of the Tamil-majority population of the LTTE-controlled zone.   During the war, Ahalya helped out in the Vithiyasaalai Hospital in Oru Kiraamam, while her mother and father stayed at home and looked after her little son. It was hard work, at first, dealing with the wounded and the sick. She grew tougher, though, and before long her work at the hospital, along with caring for her child, became the focus of her life.   The  Vithiyasaalai Hospital, like most institutions and public services in the North of Sri Lanka, was run by the LT  Read on...

 
By Together Against Genocide (TAG, formerly Tamils Against Genocide), On Friday, May 16 2014

For the first time in 5 years, we have decided to selectively open up our archive of witness accounts from inside of Sri Lanka's Killing Fields. Here we publish some of what was told to us by those who witnessed first hand the genocide in Sri Lanka. We have changed the names of people and places, and even the dates of events, redacting identifiable details where possible to protect our sources. The Sri Lankan state still actively hunts down and persecutes those who speak out about the events of 2009, so much so that a full and fair narrative may take years to emerge. We'd like to acknowledge our team of multi-disciplinary volunteers - lawyers, international relations and social science scholars and technologists who helped with the work needed to record these stories and who have almost all chosen to stay anonymous for reasons of security.  The accounts here have been selected and written up by our resident linguists Paul MM Cooper and Shash Trevett.    Read on...