Posted on 19, March 2012
in Category Narratives
Kutty, a young man in his early twenties, sustained multiple injuries during the war. While he was a patient in hospitals at Kilinochchi, Tharmapuram, Mungilaru, Puthukudiruppu, and Matalan, each of these hospitals came under attack, resulting in injuries and deaths of patients, medical staff, and assisting family members. During the war he sustained injuries to his head, shoulders, abdomen, kidneys, and left leg; his right leg required amputation high above the knee. Kutty is temporarily living in Vavuniya with younger sisters, where he is frequently visited and interrogated by Army intelligence personnel.
I was born in the Vanni in 1987, and spent my early childhood in Thirunagar, Kilinochchi. When the army moved into the area surrounding Kilinochchi in 1996, we were displaced to Mannar and lived there in a temporary shelter for the next four years. We abandoned our property, house, bicycles and all of our belongings. Our family of ten was divided in 2000, when four of my sisters went with our mother and father to Mannar, and four of us went to live with our maternal grandmother near Kilinochchi. After grade eight, I left school and began working to contribute to household income.
The first time I was injured was on March 5, 2008, when I was struck in the back by a fragment of a shell; subsequently I received medical treatment for a month in Muhamallai. Shelling by the Army on that day killed forty-eight people, and injured many more people. They used phosphorous bombs on that day; I saw them exploding. If it gets on you it burns your skin and keeps burning.
The next injury was in late May 2008, when I was injured in my right leg and hospitalized for about three weeks at Kilinochchi hospital. A month later, I began work as a mason where we lived, outside Kilinochchi town. Then the Army began the attack toward Kilinochchi, so we had to run from there. My grandmother and I were quickly loading our belongings into a tractor cart when that shell came. I believe that shell came from the direction of Mallavi. I was injured severely in my right thigh and leg. Many people were injured and there was no one to help us. I fell unconscious when the shell hit my leg. A day later my friends took me to Kilinochchi hospital with my leg bleeding.
The K-Fir (fighter jet) came and attacked the Kilinochchi hospital on September 17, 2008, killing four female patients in the attack. At the same time, the Army was shelling from Murakandy, about twenty kilometers south of Kilinochchi. The K-Fir attack and Army shelling injured patients in the hospital, their family members who had come to help them and others who were inside the hospital. The force of the K-Fir’s exploding bomb threw me, and as a consequence, my thigh that was already wounded by a shell explosion was injured more severely. Because of the K-Fir attack that threw me from the hospital bed, my right leg had to be amputated.
There was no medicine in the hospital so we were transferred to Tharmapuram Hospital by ambulance. The Army was advancing into the Kilinochchi area. Next, the Army moved toward the Tharmapuram Hospital, where two people in the hospital were killed and 12 were injured while that hospital was under attack. Shells came from the Kilinochchi area and definitely from the Army position. When the shells were falling on the hospital I was moved to a makeshift hospital in Mungilaru. There was no medicine for injuries but a friend brought some medicine that helped reduce the pain and helped me sleep. My leg had been amputated on October 15, 2008; after the amputation I experienced severe pain.
Then the army started to shell at Mungilaru hospital. Twenty-five people were killed and around fifty were injured. This shelling originated in Kalmadu Army position. The Army had already captured Kalmadu. When the army was continuously shelling the Mungilaru makeshift hospital, forty multi-barrel rocket launcher shells were being fired in rapid sequence and the next forty started within five minutes.
When they stopped shelling the hospital, they next targeted an area where forty to fifty families were camped together nearby. The K-Fir jets came on bombing runs and the shelling was continuous. It was November 15, 2008. I was moved to Tevipuram.
I saw so many people who had died on my way. There was a big crowd of people moving on the road, pressing toward Tevipuram. The Army was shelling upon densely packed crowds of people moving on the road. The road was jammed with fleeing people so there was no escape. A friend of mine was driving a tractor on the road and a shell fell on him. I have seen so many people who were hit by shells and killed.
Next, I was treated at the Puthukudiruppu hospital. On February 16, 2009, the Army shelled Puthukudiruppu Hospital from positions at Mullaitivu and Oddusuddan. Forty-six patients admitted to the hospital were killed. It was the only hospital so injured people were brought there from a wide area.
People put up shelters close to the hospital for safety because they believed the Army wouldn’t attack the hospital.
The Army announced that Matalan was a No Fire Zone. After they made the announcement, I went there with my friends and put up a tent. Then the Army started to shell the Matalan hospital and people who had constructed shelters around it. The Army used phosphorous bombs and cluster bombs. I was there when the bombs fell and I saw them. Phosphorous bombs produced smoke that would make breathing very difficult. Some bombs burned human bodies. We were surrounded by empty land so we could see what was happening around us. People were crying with the bodies of their relations because there was no place to take them. My uncle and his son died from this phosphorous. They were in a tent over a shallow bunker; the phosphorous split bodies into pieces.
I saw many people injured and killed in Matalan. I saw people in a queue waiting to get kanji (rice and water) – children and women – wounded and killed when shells fell on them.
On March 10, 2009, the Army moved into Matalan, so we were forced toward Mullivaikal. I saw a lot of bodies on my way. There was no water or food, and it was difficult to bathe my wound. A house there served as the makeshift Matalan hospital. I didn’t go inside that hospital because there was no medicine and they couldn’t help with my injury. I had a bath at a well three houses away from the hospital. I had to wash my wound so it wouldn’t get infected, and as I was returning, I saw shells coming from Mullaitivu, Tevipuram, and Puthukuddiruppu, where the Army now had control, and they fell on the hospital. I left that place as quickly as I could. A friend who brought me on a bicycle was injured and he died. In that attack more than a thousand people were killed including nurses, doctors, patients, and others around the makeshift hospital. The Army stopped the ship that was bringing food and rescuing the injured people.
I couldn’t sleep because I was suffering from the pain of my wound, and I was always expecting shell attacks. I moved near Vadduvahal on May 13, 2009, and I hid myself under a lorry with a friend around 4:30 in the morning. At the time the makeshift Nedunkandal hospital was set up in a tent; it was the last hospital. There was heavy shelling from Mulliyavalai, Puthukudiruppu, Mullaitivu positions when around 9:00 in the morning a shell fell next to us and split into pieces. Shrapnel hit my stomach, my left leg, shoulder, and head. A few minutes before I was injured, I was watching an ambulance that was helping injured people when a shell fell on that ambulance, and I watched it burn. I was unconscious off and on for the next six days, and I didn’t have anything to eat or drink.
I managed to crawl little by little into a grassy place and lay there. I could hear people saying that the Army was shooting and shelling people when they tried to go to the other side. My lips had wounds on them.
On May 15, I was in the same place and I couldn’t get up while the Army was continuously shelling the people. On May 16 a friend lifted me and carried me, and put me on the side of the road. From May 17 –18, many people were injured and killed as a result of shelling by the Army. On May 19, at around 3:00 in the morning, I could hear women’s voices a hundred meters away. The Army was in the place where there were injured LTTE women in tents. I heard the women screaming, “Leave me alone Sir! Let go of me Sir!” (“Vidungo Sir!”). Then I heard gunshots and after that I didn’t hear any sound coming from there.
Around 8:00 am on May 19, the Army rounded up the area. I saw about seventy five meters away there were two men in LTTE uniforms with the Army. They made them take off their clothes and they shot them in their heads. I couldn’t move but I could hear and I could see. The Army found me and brought me to Manjolai hospital almost immediately from there to Kurunagala hospital. When the Army was moving me I saw a woman surrounded by six Army soldiers, but I don’t know what happened.
The government fought with LTTE – that’s over – Kilinochchi belongs to Tamil people but the government is building Buddhist temples and settling Sinhalese people there. It is not fair. We have nothing to lose anymore. We have lost everything.
Now there is no freedom for Tamil people, and everything has become only loss.