Anandarajah, in his sixties, is the father of Sindu, who is twenty-five. Former LTTE court clerk Anandarajah speaks first, followed by his daughter Sindu, a former LTTE fighter.
Anandarajah: Just after the ceasefire agreement on Dec 26, 2005, when the Security Forces and the LTTE returned to active combat, we were displaced. After I lost my business as a result of that displacement, I joined the LTTE Political Wing. In August 2006, when the Army attacked Pallai, we moved to Paranthan, where I joined the LTTE court system as a clerk in the head office. In that office we handled court cases from across the north, including land disputes, civil cases, divorce and maintenance cases, and financial cases. The court system was similar to the government system with different departments such as family counseling, department of lawyers, and so on. We had more than seven courts around the north in Mannar, Pallai, Mullaitivu, and Kilinochchi.
The LTTE leadership asked one person from each family to join them. I took my daughter and gave her to the LTTE on September 2, 2006. They did not conscript her by force.
In 2006 we began to close all the courts when the army advanced toward Kilinochchi and displacement in the area of Kilinochchi started. First we withdrew our court system from Adampan and Mannar, then from the Pallai area, as people began to move from areas that were unsafe toward areas where they felt more secure. People couldn’t face the K-Fir bombing and the shelling. Multiple forms of attack forced us to stay on the move; we were displaced every ten days or so. With all our structures (offices) we were continuously moving from Kilinochchi to Paranthan, to Murasumodai, Kandavalai, Puliyampokkani, Tharmapuram, and finally the courts closed.
From Paranthan to Mullaitivu, there was only one road and it was jammed with people and vehicles, so it took five days to move one kilometer. People from all areas across the Vanni were forced to travel on that one and only road.
We moved on to Visvamadu, Udaiyarkattu, Kuravaiyan, Puthukuddiruppu, Iranaipallai, Puthumatalan, Valaiyarmadam, Irataivaikal, Mullivaikal (Karaiyan Mullivaikal, Velam Mulivaikal) and finally Vadduvakal.
In Vadduvakal on May 17, the Sri Lankan Security Forces reached the seaside.
Sindu: At first I was in an LTTE drama group; later I received military training with the LTTE.
We suffered without food; from ordinary people to rich. The Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO)made a hut and gave people kanji (rice gruel). Because we couldn’t cook in those conditions, people went there to wait in line for the kanji, and sometimes people were killed waiting in the lines. Around May 1stthey stopped providing kanji. People starved – some died of starvation after that.Between Vadduvakal and the army controlled area, the space was littered with bodies. They attacked with cluster bombs that fell in one place and then split and attacked in a wider circle. They spread three hundred meters. Many were killed by cluster bombs. The coordinated shelling was terrible – like rain that rained and rained and rained. It started like that on January 15, 2009. The shells came from Mullaitivu, Palalli, Mankulam and Pallay.
I was injured at Iranamadu fighting with the army. One of our unit members alerted us to the proximity of the Army, just fifteen meters away on the other side of the river. We watched the Army measuring the depth of the water with plastic pipes. We contacted our superior who told us to observe the Army closely, and then to engage them. After we constructed three separate bunkers and started to engage them, an RPG shell fell on our position, severely injuring one of my colleagues in her abdomen, exposing her intestines. We fought for an hour until we had no more ammunition. Then a five-inch-shell exploded nearby and I was seriously injured in both of my legs. Our superiors instructed us to withdraw. Those of us who were injured were taken to Tharmapuram hospital on January 4, 2009. When I was admitted, the hospital was functioning well, but the next night the Army started to shell the hospital, so our superiors evacuated us from the hospital. They left the civilian patients there while it was still being shelled. I don’t know what happened to them.
After that, in Iranaipalai, a LTTE medical doctor treated my wounds. Each Division had one doctor, as did our Division. Soon the LTTE medical unit had to respond to many more wounded when K-Fir bombers attacked a group of one hundred and fifty new recruits. I was in a bunker during this attack in Iranaipalai. When they carried me out of the bunker, I saw body parts scattered all over the place and all the trees were gone.
I was injured again in Puthukudiruppu Manduvil. The LTTE medical unit treated wounded cadres there.
They placed me in an open bunker with other injured cadres because I couldn’t walk. Then, when a shell exploded twenty-five meters away, the exploding fragments broke my other leg. I was dazed – I felt that my leg was wet, then I shouted, “I’m injured please help me!” When they carried me, my leg was just hanging. They sent me to the Puthumatalan government hospital where there was an enormous crowd trying to get urgent medical help. Although the admission was completed outside the hospital at 6 pm, I was not taken into the surgical theatre until around midnight. There were very few doctors and many people were wounded and bleeding. Most of the injured were civilians. The Army captured this hospital with the patients, but I was gone by the time it was captured.
After K-Fir strikes destroyed the Poonambalam hospital in Feb 2009, the LTTE doctors began to work alongside the government doctors. There were about twenty-five LTTE doctors. The LTTE doctors saved many lives during “the end” (mudivu).
The LTTE medical unit transported all the wounded LTTE cadres by vehicle to a house in Iraddaivaikal next to Manjolai hospital. There were around seventy-five wounded LTTE women in the house there with me. Then they moved about forty-five of us, who were unable to walk, to an open area in Mullivaikal. I don’t know what day that was. We were moved around from place to place for about five days. Most of the time we were in bunkers, but we could hear shouting and crying coming from the area around us. There were five to seven wounded cadres in each bunker. One night a shell fell and killed twelve wounded girls.
On May 15, 2009, the LTTE announced, “If parents are alive they can take their children.” They also handed over some of the injured cadres to their parents, including me. On May 16th, the LTTE withdrew, and on the 17th the Army captured the entire area.
My father carried me in the night away from the LTTE medical camp. I saw one man lying down sleeping in a tent. My father tried to wake that man up and asked if he could put me down there. The man said, “It’s alright. You can lie her down here.” As he started to give me his space, I said, “No, no, you stay here, we will sleep next to you. While we were continuing to talk with him, bullets were coming from far away. Suddenly we heard a “thud,” and he was killed lying right next to me.
Then my father carried me to the bunker where my other siblings and uncle were staying. I was there until May 17th. We could hear marana ollam (“death mourning”) all around us. We stayed in the bunker with the belief that the LTTE would never loose.
Some of the wounded LTTE girls crawled three kilometers to reach the army-controlled area because they couldn’t walk. I saw the Army pick them up and take them in their vehicles.
People said that the Army killed some injured LTTE cadres. We didn’t see that; we only heard that the Army killed wounded cadres.
On May17th we started to cross over into the army-controlled area – my father carried me. We reached the Army’s area on the 18th. There were announcements through a speaker, “All LTTE cadres come forward.” We didn’t go there. My father waited and handed me over to the Army later, in Omanthai.
They transported me to Vavuniya hospital where I received medical treatment for one and a half months. When I was well enough to be discharged they sent me to Anandakumarasamy Camp. The Army did not arrest me, but someone working for the military interrogated me. Once a month my father and I must write our signatures in a register. The Army knows our whole story.
Female cadres worked harder than men in the war, many died, and we lost our friends. At the end the majority of the wounded female cadres took cyanide because they didn’t want to be in Army custody. I am a black belt in karate. We all learned that. Prabhakaran developed us. There were no inequalities between women and men. We were treated the same.
Now the greatest problem faced by severely wounded Tamil women fighters is psychological injury. Many ask, “What is the point of living? What is my reason for being alive?” The Tamil word virakthi, that means a lack of motivation or desire to live, describes their condition. They have lost hope.
Now I collect details of orphans, disabled people, and widows for the government. Although I’m wounded in my legs, I can ride a bicycle because of my training.
The Social Architects (TSA) are comprised of a diverse group of writers, intellectuals and working professionals. While most of TSA’s members hail from the country’s North and East, the group also includes other scholars and activists who have been working on issues related to Sri Lanka. TSA seeks to educate, to inform and to provide timely, thoughtful analysis on a range of topics.
They write under the pseudonym “The Social Architects” because of the risk of retaliation against those that speak out against the government. In addition each author has selected a pseudonym for themselves and the victims and family members who appear in the story. Over the eight days between March 12th and March 19th we will be releasing one TSA story a day. You can read them all here.