Monday, August 28, 2006

*An article from Voice of America*

Bombing Highlights Dangers for Sri Lanka's Children

By Patricia Nunan Colombo28 August 2006

Sri Lankan orphan Tamil girls walk to their classes at a school run by the Tamil Tiger rebels for children whose parents were killed in the war against the Sri Lankan government, in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka, Thursday, June 22, 2006Rights groups are calling for an investigation into a Sri Lankan air force bombing of what the government says was a training center for the Tamil Tiger separatist group and the rebels say was a children's center. The incident has reignited debate about the children who are unwillingly forced to take part in Sri Lanka's bitter conflict.
Early reports of the bombing in the eastern district of Mullaitivhu on August 14 appeared on the pro-rebel Web page, Tamilnet. The Web site said four Sri Lankan air force jets dropped 16 bombs on a children's center, where students, most of them girls, were taking a first-aid course.
Tamilnet ran four photos, one apparently showing the bodies of 12 girls. The Web page said 61 people were killed and dozens were injured.
The U.N. children's organization UNICEF says at least 19 people died in the bombing. The agency believes all those killed were aged between 16 and 18.
UNICEF and human rights groups say they want the government to investigate the attack.
Sri Lankan officials confirm the air force bombed the compound. But National Security spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella says if those killed were children, it is only because they were illegally conscripted by the Tamil Tiger rebels, also called the LTTE.
"The fact is that gender or the age limit is of no concern, when it come to training them, when it comes to soldiers, because they are carrying arms in order to kill the enemy. This time the enemy is government forces. So even if it [is] a 17 year-old child in terms of age, they are soldiers who are prepared to kill," he said. "What is important is that the LTTE has taken these people [and] trained them."
The Sri Lankan military has released video footage from a spy plane that shows people in dark uniforms fleeing the bombed area, suggesting, officials say, that adult Tamil Tiger soldiers were present.
The incident has again focused attention on the use of child soldiers in Sri Lanka.
The government and the Tamil Tigers signed a ceasefire agreement in 2002, raising hopes of an end not only to two decades of civil war, but also to the conscription of child soldiers.
Throughout the conflict, rights groups say, the rebels have forced children into their ranks as part of their campaign for an independent homeland for the country's ethnic Tamil minority.
But hopes the practice would end were soon dashed. In a report released in November 2004, the U.S. organization Human Rights Watch says the Tamil Tigers conscripted more than 35-hundred child soldiers in the two and a half years after the ceasefire was signed.
The use of child soldiers is one of the reasons the United States designates the group a terrorist organization.
Now the ceasefire has all but collapsed, with clashes breaking out between the rebels and government forces in eastern and northern Sri Lanka. Rights groups say that puts children at renewed risk - such as in the recent bombing incident.
Under international law, it is illegal to take military action against children. If the children
Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil children stand in line to see a doctor at a medical clinic as soldier patrol at Katkolam village in northern Jaffna peninsula, Sri Lanka, June 20, 2006are soldiers, all other possible means should be used to try to counter them as a potential threat.
International law also demands that armed groups such as the Tamil Tigers ensure that they do not endanger children by their actions, or bring children near camps or military installations that could be legitimate war targets.
James Ross, a senior legal adviser with Human Rights Watch, says that given available evidence, the government cannot justify the Mullaitivhu bombing.
"The bottom line here is that even if the Tamil Tigers were giving some kind of training to benefit their own forces, no evidence has been presented that would show that these particular students or young people were actively participating in the hostilities, which would be the standard for when a civilian could actually be targeted," commented Ross. "So, the Sri Lankan government, it's not just a matter that training is going on, they'd actually have to show that these were forces actively participating in hostilities."
Rifts within the rebel movement are compounding the problem of child conscription.
In 2004, the Tamil Tigers split into two factions. The commander of the breakaway faction goes by the alias Karuna.
The Tamil Tigers charge that the Sri Lankan government orchestrated that split, and the Karuna group is a paramilitary organization working for the government - charges that officials deny. The group does have an office in the Sri Lanka capital, which has police protection.
UNICEF says the Karuna group is conscripting children, with 30 cases verified in one week in June alone.
"What we have seen is recruitment by a new faction, the Karuna faction, with fairly significant numbers recruited between the months of April and June," said JoAnna VanGerpen, the UNICEF representative in Sri Lanka. "It was off in July but now we're hearing new reports again of recruitment. This is a very unfortunate development."
Ross from Human Rights Watch says it is very worrying that the government apparently is complicit in the Karuna group's conscripting of children.
"The fact that abductions appear to be taking place in Batticaloa area by the Karuna Group, and the camps in which these children who are abducted have been taken are in areas of government control, that is government involvement in this activity," said Ross. "And that's what we're concerned about."

A Sri Lankan government spokesman says that it welcomes the Karuna group's effort to become part of the political mainstream, but that does not mean the government approves of all of its actions.
After months of brinksmanship, Sri Lanka's government and the Tamil Tigers are facing the prospect of renewed civil war. The nation's children, it appears, will be caught in the crossfire.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Honourable Albina Guarnieri, P.C., M.P.
Member of Parliament
Mississauga East Cooksville
August 15, 2006

Canada Must Break Silence on Atrocities in Sri Lanka

Switzerland, the most neutral country in the world, has spoken out against what it calls an ‘outrage’. That outrage is the deliberate targeting of children in a bombing raid by the Sri Lankan Air Force. Scores of young school girls were killed, more than one hundred injured.

“Regrettably, Tamil civilians and children continue to be the victims of the silence of the world,” observed Albina Guarnieri. “It is time Canada sent a forceful message to the Sri Lankan Government that it must now be held to account for a long series of atrocities by its military.”

Canada is one of Sri Lanka’s largest donors of foreign aid and provides industrial cooperation programs to Sri Lankan business. Despite its influence, Canada has not asked for any standard of conduct from Sri Lanka. In fact, Canada continues to provide aid without requiring Sri Lanka to ratify the International Criminal Court. As a result, this recipient of Canadian tax dollars is not among the one hundred nations that are subject to investigation and prosecution for war crimes.

“It is time for Canada to take a stand against a campaign of military atrocities in Sri Lanka. Canada should link future aid and debt relief to Sri Lanka’s immediate acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the potential investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity as set out in the Rome Statute.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Young innocent girls dressed in silk Sarees lie in caskets.
These girls should be wearing them for their wedding not for their funeral.

Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission staff taking pictures
of the unexploded bomb at the orphanage.

Funeral of one of the young girls.

A teacher singing prayers for her dead pupils.

Teachers carry their pupils' caskets to the cemetry.

Preparing for a Hindu cremation.

Preparing the caskets for the school girls.
Sri Lankan false propoganda specialist Keheliya Rambukwella slips and made this statement in the interview below:

'Age or gender does not come into account when it comes to combat,' the spokesman said in response to allegations that children had been killed in the attack.
*Sri Lankan government unleashes it's usual false propoganda. *

Colombo disputes rebel claim of orphanage bombing
Aug 15, 2006, 11:30 GMT

Colombo - Sri Lanka's government on Tuesday disputed Tamil rebel claims that an orphanage had been bombed and 61 children killed, saying the air force had taken on a 'legitimate military target' where training was being provided for rebels, including children.

Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told journalists that the air force had kept the target of Monday's attack in north-eastern Sri Lanka under surveillance since 2004 and had found that training was being provided there to militants who are now being deployed in the front lines to combat the security forces.

'Age or gender does not come into account when it comes to combat,' the spokesman said in response to allegations that children had been killed in the attack.

The statement came after the government has repeatedly alleged that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was using children as combatants. The government was seeking a meeting with UNICEF representatives in Colombo later Tuesday to explain its position on the incident and also planned to meet with diplomats and representatives of donor countries, Rambukwella said.

Meanwhile, all schools in Sri Lanka have been closed for two weeks in a move seen as a precaution against feared Tamil rebel attacks in retaliation for Monday's bombing.
Education Ministry officials said they were advancing the school holidays, which had been due to commence on August 22.

The secretary to the Education Ministry, Ariyaratne Hewage, said one of the reasons for moving up the school holidays was that the South Asia Federation games were commencing and that the schools were needed to provide accommodation for the competitors. But other Education Ministry sources said the decision was taken after the deaths in the alleged orphanage bombing in Mullaitivu, 360 kilometres north-east of Colombo.

Tamil rebels claimed that 61 children attending a first-aid class were killed there and 153 injured when Sri Lankan air force jets bombed the facility.

A Tamil rebel statement said the LTTE had called for a day of mourning Tuesday to mark the deaths. We ask the people of Tamil Eelam and all Tamils living throughout the world to observe this day of mourning wholeheartedly,' it said. 'We urge the international community and organizations working for the welfare of children, such as UNICEF and Save the Children, to condemn this brutal act by the government of Sri Lanka and take immediate action against those responsible for this vicious massacre, so justice can prevail.'

Scandinavians monitoring the 2002 ceasefire between the government and rebels visited the scene of the attack and confirmed that the location had been bombed and one of the bombs dropped had remained unexploded. ***

Monitors who visited the location had seen at least 10 bomb craters and the site was not a military installation, said Ulf Henricsson, the head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission.
Fighting between government forces and Tamil rebels has continued in the northern Jaffna Peninsula since Friday. At least 90 soldiers and more than 150 rebels have been killed in the confrontations, military sources said.

© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

*** Picture of the unexploded bomb shown in the video link below and picture attached at the bottom.

Monday, August 14, 2006

We, Tamils, would like to thank Canada, USA, UK, India and European Union for banning LTTE and helping the Sri Lankan government spread democracy by bombing Tamil orphanages.

Injured girls with fear in their eyes.

A Tamil Eelam police women helping the injured.

Injured girls being brought to hospital by Tamil civilians.

A sister in agony.

With 155 seriously injured, there aren't enough beds.

A sister crying over her sibling's death.

Charred bodies being identified.

Relatives searching for their loved ones.

Where is the international community?

Tamil civilians and nurses trying to save the injured.

Innocent young girls put to permanent sleep.

One bomb didn't explode but the other 15 did!

A distraught relative

Here is a picture of younger children from the orphanage. They might face the same fate from the Sri Lankan Government in the future.
The children's home is located in a well known humanitarian zone. "The Sencholai children's home compound was established eight years ago and is well known to international agencies," Mr. Sivarajah, a civil servant said. "Many UN seminars, including those conducted by UNICEFhave been held here."

"The Sencholai building has been for the past 8 years used to house girls who had lost one or more parents. Several other institutions providing humanitarian services are located close to Sencholai. 'Iniya Valvu Illam', a house for the severely disabled, 'Gandhi Illam', a children's home for boys, 'Vasantham', another children's home are located within 1 km from the Sencholai building that witnessed the carnage today," Mr Sivarajah said.

"Administrators of the Iniya Valvu Illam have informed me that the disabled children in their home are severely traumatized, and their staff has been consoling and counseling the children," Mr Sivarajah added.