Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Eastern province situation report May 2005

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General Situation
Reports continue to come in from the districts on the sub-standard relief items being distributed amongst those affected by the tsunami. Complaints that transitional shelters fail to provide adequate protection from the rain and hot weather, food items that do not have the approval of the Ministry of Health being distributed continue to be hear from areas in the Eastern districts. District-level sources report on duplication and the lack of coordination in the work of the NonGovernmental Organisations. The volatile situation in Trincomalee following the placing of a Buddha statue near the bus stand on the night of 16 May continues to be reported, with several violent incidents occurring in the district. The Buddhist statue was placed on land owned by the Urban Council (UC), without their permission on the night of 16 May. Following this, a case was filed by the UC in the Magistrate Court and it was ordered that the statue be removed. However, as it was not removed a harthal was staged by the Tamil Peoples Forum; shops, businesses and schools were closed and security personnel set up checkpoints around the area. Grenade explosions, killings and abductions also took place during this time. A curfew was declared on 17 May, when nine explosions occurred in various different locations in town, where seven people were injured.

Observance of the ceasefire agreement / Incidence of Violence

In Trincomalee the body of an unidentified youth was discovered with gunshot wounds to his head near the Blue Oceanic Hotel on 16 May, two days later a former chairman of the UC was shot by unidentified persons at his residence. He sustained serious injuries when several unidentified persons entered his home at about 9.30pm and shot at him. He succumbed to his injuries five days later after being transferred to Colombo. The tense situation in the Batticaloa district also continued with several murders taking place in the course of the month. Checkpoints have been set up and a large number of security personnel have been deployed to patrol the area. Roadblocks and spot-checks are carried out and in general, security in the area has been tightened in the area. It was reported that the INAYAM organisation has been closed since the disappearance of one of the organisations' officers on 1 May, following his visit to the uncleared area. An exchange of gunfire took place in Valaichenai on 21 April, where three cadres suspected to be from the Karuna group, were killed. On 24 April, five people including the chief trustee of a temple, two students, an officer from the Batticaloa prisons and a former EPDP member, were injured in another shooting incident during a religious ceremony. A former member of the EPRLF Varathar Faction in Kallady, an unidentified youth in Kiraan and another in Gnanasurium, a 48-year old fishermen from Kalkudah, a man from Kokkadichcholai, a 23-year-old three-wheeler driver, and an EPDP member were all victims of brutal shootings by unidentified persons in various areas with the Batticaloa district. On 4 May the LTTE office in Valaichenai came under attack by unidentified armed paramilitary forces when several hand grenades were hurled at the office. No one was injured in the incident, which caused some damage to the building. Police officials, who visited the area, found an abandoned revolver. Unconfirmed sources said that there was an exchange of fire, which resulted in paramilitary gunmen fleeing the place under the cover of night. (Community Protection Network)

On 12 May, members of the EPDP came under attack while they were traveling by vans in the Valaichenai area at about 11.45am. None of the EPDP members were injured in the attack although four of the policemen who were in the same vans providing security sustained injuries. Investigations are currently taking place. In the Amparai district, the Governments' Special Task Force cordoned off the LTTE Political wing office in Navithaveli at midnight on 26 April. This incident was reported to the SLMM in Amparai. On the same day in Bakkiella, Ampara, a home guard and two civilians went missing and are suspected to have been abducted by the LTTE.

Delivery and distribution of peace dividends

Non-Governmental Organisations working in the Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Amparai districts provided a number of services such a mobile library service in Trincomalee to assist tsunami-affected students and others by the Foundation for Co-Existence (FCE) with the support of People In Need (PIN) Sri Lanka; in Kinniya the EFFORD organization donated the carpentry equipment to 38 carpenters affected by the tsunami disaster with the support of PIN; fifty houses are under construction in a project undertaken by Sarvodaya and the Korean Government in Pandiruppu, Kalmunai; SWOAD -- Akkaraipattu provided loans totaling over 1, 000, 000 for agriculture and self-employment in a number of DS divisions in the Amparai District.