Over 180,000 Tamils displaced and more than 200 civilian dead

Place: Jaffna | Courtesy: Collection
| Date: 19950715

By: Mr.K.Ponnambalam

This brief report covers a resultant situation for the period commencing with security operations from the early hours of 09.07.95 upto 6p.m. on 13.07.95 having inspected and received all possible reports of displacement, civilians casualties from the concerned areas, deaths and injured from the functioning hospitals inclusive of the Teaching Hospital, Jaffna, unclaimed deaths, missing persons, care and welfare of displaced families and related to the same.

The Government Agent of Jaffna, Mr.K.Ponnambalam, sent an emergency situation Report to President Kumaratunga on 15 July 1995 on the consequences of the military operation undertaken by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the Jaffna Peninsula.He reported:

While this being the first report I also wish to record my submission at the Defense Ministry, the two discussions at the JOC/MOD and the submissions made by me at the Operational Headquarters as well after the Navaly incident.

The official message of the imposition of curfew by the Ministry of Defence through Sub-Delegate, ICRC, Jaffna was received at my office around 10.00 A.M. on 09.07.95 and immediately the message was passed on to the Divisional secretaries / AGAA through special messengers on motor cycles to be brought to the notice of the population of the area through Grama sevagas and village level institutions and it was also announced in the local press on the following day i.e. 10.07.95.

I am also aware that it was announced locally from Palaly Base and reception of the short - wave announcement of Radio Ceylon is difficult to be heard in Jaffna.

My endeavor to read a leaflet supposed to have been air dropped had been in vain.

With Security operations from the early hours of 9th morning thousands of families from Divisional Secretaries / AGAA Divisions of Chankanai, Sandilipay, Tellippalai and part of Uduvil started fleeing from their villages towards safer areas of Sandilipay, Nallur and Jaffna and make shift arrangements were made to look after the needs of these families, transfer the injured for medical assistance and organise Welfare Centres for the needy in places of religious worship, schools and other possible places inclusive of St. Peter's Church, Navaly.

The details of deaths and civilian casualties as collected on the afternoon of the 9th instant was reported to the JOC/MOD.

The continuing accelerated tense situation with increased intensity of shelling and bombing from the night of 9th instant which continued thereafter and at about 4.30 P.M.on 09.07.95

St. Peter's Church, Navaly where hundreds of families have taken refuge under the existing calamity an aircraft has bombed this Church housed as Welfare Centre at which time the following two Grama Sevakas were recording the details of families who have taken refuge to extend food assistance. Mr.Anthonipillai Gabrialpillai of DS/AGA's office, Sandilipay. Miss.Hemalatha Selvarajah of DS/AGA's office, Sandilipay, resulting in the death of both the Grama Sevakas.

The immediate account of those transported by the Sri Lankan Red Cross Society and other volunteers to the Teaching Hospital, Jaffna the very evening was 65 and the injured was 180.

This message was immediately passed on to the Operations room of the Ministry of Defence by me.

However, later in the night and on the following day more bodies were collected from the debris and a few of the 180 admitted to the hospital succumed to the injuries bringing further deaths to 52, thus a total of 117 died in the St.Peter's Church bombing.

On the fore-noon of 12th I had personally inspected this disaster site and I am convinced that in this bombing disaster a few more bodies, limbs and pieces which were unclaimed and not collected has also been cremated adjoining the church and a few humam skulls remaining unburnt and stench from putrifying human flesh emanating from debris.

From the 10th upto the 13th with increasing intensity of the operations inclusive of shelling and bombing more civilian deaths and injured were recorded inclusive of the followings:

Mr.V.Vannisingam, Grama Sevaka, Tellipalai AGA Division. Mrs.Kamaladevi Ganeshalingam, Financial Assistant, Palmyrah Developement Board. Mr.Vythilingam Vannisingam, Planning Assistant, Education Office, Jaffna. Mr.Swaminathan Subramaniyam, Teacher, Inuvil Hindu College. Miss.Jeyatha Navaratnam, Final year Student, Jaffna University. The entire family of Mr & Mrs Thevarajah and their three daughters.

More families from new locations considered as unsafe for them started leaving their homes and villages and many of them who feared even the town areas of Nallur and Jaffna started migrating towards Thenmaradchy (Chavakachcheri).

In this process they left behind old and invalids who cannot be shifted, without claimimg their next of kin and sometimes I was made to understand even the seriously injured as well. The position as on the evening of 13th instant is summarised below:

Civilian Deaths - 205 Civilian Injured - 953

In respect of the death and injured details are as per information of the Teaching hospital, Jaffna, NGOO, my Divisional Secretaries/AGAA, Grama Sevakas, Parents and next of kin.

A total of 187589 persons consisting of 41686 families are displaced and they are now housed in the following Divisional Secretaries /AGAA Divisions and the number in each division living in camps and outside camps are as follows: The organised camps are 79 as on 13.07.95 and their locations are indicated in the annexed map with details as per annexure.