Civilian refugees imprisoned in internment camps in Vavuniyaa

[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 February 2009, 11:55 GMT]
The civilian refugees who either fled the war zone or caught by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) are denied not only the freedom of movement to go out of the buildings in which they are detained under 'near-prison' conditions, but are also denied freedom of movement inside the camp itself after 6:00 p.m. by the SLA, even for the call of nature, on grounds of condemnation that they were linked to the LTTE, said NGO activists on condition of anonymity.

28,000 civilians who have fled war zone since December 2008 are now housed in the camps heavily guarded by the SLA, where links with the outside world have been denied and even relatives or friends are not allowed to visit the camps.

Aid workers have only limited access.

Most of the schools in Vavuniyaa are now turned into internment camps seriously affecting education of the regular students of those schools.

A principal in the area said that the education has come to a total paralyse in district and they were forced to find private buildings to conduct classes.

The schools that have been turned into camps are Nelukku'lam Mahaa Viththiyaalayam, Vavuniyaa Mahaa Viththiyaalayam, Gamini Mahaa Vidyaalaya, College of Education, Poovarasangku'lam Mahaa Viththiyaalayam, Rampaikku'lam Convent, Pattanachoor Muslim Viththiyaalayam and Koayilku'lam Hindu College.

Almost all the refugees must be having relatives, friends or even properties outside of Vanni, in the other parts of North-East in the close-knit society of Eezham Tamils. But the civilians are not permitted with the choice.

However, money can buy freedom. A family staying in one of the camps, managed to escape after paying seven hundred thousand rupees to army officers, according to the relatives of the family.

The Sri Lankan forces have found a new earning ground in Vanni, in addition to Colombo and other parts of the island, where detaining a Tamil is a profitable business.


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