Feature Article

Family's hopes shattered, says father of bomb victim

[TamilNet, Friday, 13 July 2007, 10:59 GMT]
Aloysius Premathas 39, was eating inside his hut when a Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Kfir fighter jet bombed his fishing hamlet near the Church of Vea'laangka'n'ni in A'lampil Wednesday evening, severing one leg of his 15-year eldest son, 100 meters away from his hut. Fishermen sorting fish on the shore scattered in panic as wounded Premkumar lay on the shore. The tragedy of Aloysius's life began with the Sri Lanka Army's (SLA's) 1990 offensive on Mayiliddi in Valigaamam west where his ancestors had been living as wealthy fisher folk.

Aloysius Premathas
His wife Mary Jesintha, 36, on seeing her son's injuries, collapsed unconscious. Premathas's have three other children.

"Driven from our home by the SLA offensive in 1990 we lived temporarily in Chunnaakam and relocated again from Jaffna peninsula due to SLA's Sooriyakathir offensive in 1994. I had to leave everything I owned behind. Having no where to go, we spent our lives under the trees and in school buildings in Kodikaamam for six months.

"We sought refuge at A'ampil in Mullaiththeevu but from there too we had to flee from the shells launched from the SLA camp in Mullaitheevu, ending up at Oddusuddan in interior Vanni," Senior Premathas recounted his family's past.

Wounded Premkumar Premathas, admitted at Ki'linochchi hospital. [Photo: TamilNet]

"At Oddusuddan, 40 km west of the shores, I was struggling to find employment. We had to beg.

"When Mullaiththeevu SLA camp was overrun by Liberation Tigers we returned to A'lampil again where I resumed fishing and was able to feed my family. We were slowly overcoming our economic hardship when tragedy again," Premathas said.

"2004 December tsunami washed away all our belongings. Luckily all members of our family survived. We moved inland to Mu'l'liyava'lai and from there were again relocated in the interim refugee camp at A'lampil. Now the Wednesday bombing on refugee fishermen again had smashed our hopes of returning to a normal life."

Aloysus recounted the horrors of seeing his son in pain.

"When I was returning to our hut for lunch I saw my son going to the Fish Vaadi. My wife served me lunch and before I had had a mouthful there was a deafening explosion and my wife shouted that the Kfir had struck, and I shouted at my family to run to the bunker. I got into the bunker with my family and looked at the place from which the explosion was heard.

"It was near the Fishing Vaadi, and I blacked out. When I recovered, I saw the Vaddi enveloped in smoke; I threw away me plate and ran to see if my son was alright.

"There was no sound from the Vaadi and suddenly I heard my son crying for help. I had no thought of the Kfir still above or anything else. I ran and found my son in a pool of blood. His right leg was missing.

"No human being should see his or her child in a similar state, Aloysisus said.

"My wife, running to the scene, fainted. My eldest son, whom I hoped would carry me in my old age, now has to be carried by me, though he is fifteen. He is crippled for life. My children, all of them born here are refugees since their birth.

"Premkumar was my eldest child, the next Pratheeskumar is thirteen, daughter Mary Pirameela is nine and Yarl Mannan is six years old. I do not know how we are going to provide them the necessities all children have the right to have.

"During the period of peace, I managed to put Premkumar at St. Charles School in Jaffna in the hope of educating him. He was doing well in his studies, but as it was becoming dangerous for Tamil youths to stay in Jaffna, he came back," Aloysius said.

Fellow fishermen who were standing nearby said that Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) harassment of fishermen is increasing, but they have to keep fishing to feed their families.



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