Ampara, IDPs and Refugees, Peace and Conflict

The cost of liberation…

I do not have any words to express my agony and the untold hardship that I had faced in my village during the liberation of Seelavathrai, south of Mannar by the Sri lanka Army on 01.09.04. .Having woken up to the deafening sounds of the artillery, followed by gunfire, I peeped through the window. I saw total mayhem. People running helter-skelter dragging their children, not aware where they were heading. I thought I will die along with my family. My husband said that it would be best for all of us also to run away from the house as the firing was getting very much louder and closer. Along with our children we went out of the house to be greeted with very close range firing… it was too late. We hurried back home and cramped under the bed… praying. My husband was in shock and my children were shivering.

I heard a youth groaning… I peeped out once again and saw a youth in a pool of blood at the gate of our compound… groaning. He was calling for help… no one was there to help him. After sometime we crawled out from under the bed and ran out. The youth in a pool of blood lay dead at our gate. We opened the gate and crossed over his body with our children and ran towards the church. Whilst en-route to the church we saw the landmine victims. Some dead, some still in the van trying to get out. My husband helped those who were trapped in the vehicle. By the side lay mutilated bodies as a result of the landmine. Death groans from those who virtually dying. I spotted a badly injured child not more than two years of age next to her mother who was dying. The child’s feet severed and blood all over. I left my child and carried the very badly injured child. The child was shivering and murmuring, not knowing what had happened. I held on to the child so hard to arrest the shivering…. The child then lay still… died clinging on to me. The child’s murmuring still haunts me and I do not know how I would come out of this trauma. A total of seven civilians had died. We then saw army personnel in uniform who directed us to the church. They asked us to leave the landmine sight immediately expecting more casualties.

At the church we were checked and then proceeded by foot to Nannaatan escorted by the Army. We remained in the school and were provided with relief. Later we were shifted to another location. We had no belongings and came with what we were wearing only. We need to be resettled very fast, well before the monsoon rains. Our earnest request is resettlement as the conditions in the camps will get worse with the rains. It seems that we will be resettled only next year and wonder how we can go on with life.

Early resettlement will at least allow us to start life yet again as it’s a suitable time for farming and fishing. We need to be compensated. Even if we are compensated monetarily, I wonder how I will ever forget the plight of those landmine victims… especially the child who breathed its last on my shoulder. Is all this worth it…….

Ms. Jesudhason Jeyanthi
from SP Potkernney
Mannar District,

Oct 26th 2007