Chencholai girls complex deliberately bombed by Sri Lankan Air Force

On 14th of August 2006, the government forces deliberately bombed a girl’s orphanage killing 60 girls and wounding 120 who were between the ages of 15 and 18

Chencholai Massacre

In the Cenchcholai complex in Vallipunam in the Mullaithivu district hundreds of female students in the age group of 17-20 were gathered on 10 August 2006 for a weeklong training in leadership and first aid which was intended for preparing the students for leadership in their school and community during the impending war. On 14 August 2006 around 7.30am, Sri Lankan Air Force carried out extensive bombing. 52 students and two staff were killed. 130 students were seriously injured. Many more received minor injuries. Three of the injured girls lost one leg and another girl lost an eye.

These ‘fragmentation bombs’ explode in the air and spread a lot of metal fragments, effectively a shower of shrapnel, enough to cause widespread injury (and suffering), not enough to kill. This explains why so many children were injured (some 129), some of whom died later, having undergone tremendous suffering from their injuries. There must be a reason why the Armed Forces, and by extension the GOSL, used these bombs which, with Napalm bomb.

Chencholai Valaham an orphanage for girls in Vallipunam was bombed by Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Kfir jet bombers at 7 am this morning (14/08/06). The latest information indicates that 61 girls have been killed, with the death toll expected to increase, and over 129 injured. The location of this children’s home is well known by all parties: the Government of Sri Lanka, the Government Agent, ICRC, UNICEF and all those who work in the Vanni. It has been in existence at the current location since 1998. This area is a “peace village” with 5 orphanages, which are registered with the Government of Sri Lanka as orphanages, within a 1 km radius:

Chencholai Girls Home

Bharathy Illam Girls Home (a TRO run home): 160 girls – tsunami and war affected

Inniya Valvu Illam (a TRO run home for deaf & blind children): 78 children

Vasanthan Children’s home: 60 girls – tsunami and war affected

Senthair Ilam (relocated from Mullaitivu after being destroyed by the tsunami): 130 children

Every weekend girls from the surrounding areas come to the orphanage for ‘first aid’ training which includes life and leadership skills training. These children were preparing to go back to their homes when 16 bombs were dropped on them. The surviving children have been severely traumatised by the events of this morning and will require further counselling and support.

Mitigating circumstances that surround this episode and experience with Sri Lankan government tampering of evidence to concoct ‘prima facie’ prosecution necessitates immediate international investigation of these cases. NESoHR vouchsafes the fact that the students killed and injured in this horrendous aerial bombing were in fact innocent students.

United Nations spokesperson Orla Clinton said that students had been killed in the attack and they seem to have been students between 16 and 18, A-level students, from the Kilinochichi and Mullaittivu areas, who were on a two-day training course.  UNICEF  UNICEF staff from a nearby office immediately visited the compound to assess the situation and to provide fuel and supplies for the hospital as well as counselling support for the injured students and the bereaved families. “ These children are innocent victims of violence ” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director while UNICEF’s Joanne van Geiter said “ At this time, we don’t have any evidence that they are LTTE cadres ”

The bombing on Monday of a Vallepuram compound in Mullaitivu district that reportedly killed dozens of girls and wounded many more is a shocking result of the rising violence in Sri Lanka, UNICEF said today.

“These children are innocent victims of violence,” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “We call on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and ensure children and the places where they live, study and play are protected from harm.”

The compound in the northern part of the country was bombed, reportedly killing as many as 40 adolescent girls. Some 100 children were wounded, many critically. Girls from various schools in the nearby district of Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi were staying overnight at the compound, attending a two-day course in first-aid.

UNICEF staff from a nearby office immediately visited the compound to assess the situation and to provide fuel and supplies for the hospital as well as counseling support for the injured students and the bereaved families.

This latest incident comes amidst escalating hostilities in Sri Lanka in recent weeks, where tens of thousands of children were displaced from their homes. Hundreds of children have been injured, lost family members, and live in constant fear of the violence and continuous shelling of their communities.

The Tamil Nadu state assembly in India passed a resolution termed the Chencholai orphanage bombing as ‘uncivilized, barbaric, inhumane and atrocious’.

Kumarathasan Rasingam – Secretary, Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Org.

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