WAR CRIMES - 1987
Rajiv Gandhi's War Crimes]
"The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians shall not
be object of attack... Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited." - Article 50(4), 1977
Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949
"The IPKF were given strict instructions not to use tactics or weapons that could
cause major casualties among the civilian population of Jaffna, who were hostages to the
LTTE. The Indian Army have carried out these
instructions with outstanding discipline and courage, accepting, in the process a high
level of sacrifices for protecting the Tamil civilians". (Indian Prime Minister
Rajiv Gandhi the Lok Sabha, 9 November 1987)
"The spokeswoman of the Indian High Commission in Colombo said: 'The Indian peacekeeping force is fighting with one hand
tied behind its back. It is carrying out this operation under severe constraints'. The
constraints according to India are based on the army's reluctance to use its full fire
power so as to spare civilian casualties. Thus the advancing troops have no air cover, and
are only occasionally using heavy weapons to reduce Tiger defences".
"Over a period of about 20 days (commencing 9 October 1987) , the
Indian Army's direct attack on LTTE positions, and defence from LTTE attacks, was coupled
with the Indian Army's attack and storming of still unevacuated Jaffna - and many villages
and settlements throughout the Peninsula - with widespread (insofar as territory),
indiscriminate (insofar as targetting) and sustained (insofar as intensity) artillery
shelling. Only less widespread, sustained and indiscriminate, there was air-strafing from
helicopter as well. It was not "cross-fire" that incidentally killed thousands
of civilians. The majority were killed unavoidably inside their houses and huts
under shelling, or were shot at random by the roads and on the streets. A large
number of people were "only" wounded - yet, many of them died in the absence of
medical care, especially under the 24-hour curfew over a period of about one month, to
... The situation became grotesquely hopeless for many people in some
areas : while the curfew was being rigorously enforced - that is, with an order in place
to shoot-to-kill pedestrians -the inhabitants were simultaneously ordered out of their
houses into the outskirt concentrations an absurd operational overlapping inevitably
leaving a good number dead.
.... The population was not adequately warned nor given time for
preparations, and the places to which they were referred (three improvised
"camps" took the bulk of the people, one of them a big Hindu temple crammed with
an estimated no less than 40000) had not been prepared with the bare minimum hygiene
facilities as foreseen by the Law of War, not to mention drinking-water, food, medicine
and lighting. ... the central fact is that the Indian Army attacked Jaffna, and many other
populated places throughout the Peninsula, shelling and firing massively and
indiscriminately rather than at the LTTE selectively.
...In the North, the military result has been that the LTTE guerrilla
has been dislodged - as distinct from destroyed or disarmed - from their main position,
Jaffna town. Other consequences have included : material ruin for much of the population
all over the Province; physical and moral suffering for no less than 1 million people,
including thousands of civilian casualties counting both killed and wounded; real or
lasting peace for none among the Tamils so far.
... For military reasons, besides firing and shelling, there has. been
considerable burning of houses and huts - massively in some rural localities - by the
Indian infantry : so as to deny the Tamil guerrillas fighting positions and hiding-places,
especially on the sides of roads and other routes feasible for army convoys.
....On top of everything else there has been the "unmilitary"
or "unsoldiery" side of events :- wanton killings out of rage, reprisals against
non-combatants, looting of homes of middle and wealthier classes, soldier's assault of
women, a murderous attack on the main hospital
both patients and medical personnel, and killing of a number of unarmed and disarmed
guerrilla suspects without trial according to the Law of War."
Eduardo Marino, Report to International Alert, December 1987
"...The exemplary Indian Army fought
with one hand tied behind its back and the result was that 500,000 Tamils became refugees
in their own homelands. The exemplary Indian Army was sparing in its use of heavy
artillery, but sustained artillery shelling destroyed more than 50,000 homes in the Jaffna
Peninsula. And Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi would have his members of Parliament believe
that the Indian Army acted with 'outstanding discipline and courage' accepting sacrifices
'for protecting Tamil civilians'.
Lanka Accord and the Tamil National Struggle, Nadesan Satyendra, 1988)
"The Indians have insisted throughout the 11 day offensive that they have used
little artillery and no air cover to minimise civilian casualties. That claim was sagging
yesterday under a heavy, and remarkably uniform, weight of evidence from refugees and the
few scraps of independent confirmation coming out of the Jaffna peninsula.
The infantry advance, the student said, was preceded by a systematic artillery barrage. He
had heard heavy guns firing daily, and had seen two women killed by the washing well in
the Hindu Ladies College, one of the main refugee camps where thousands have sought
shelter from the fighting. 'The people have no food but they are not worried about that.
Even if they are starving, they worry only about security. They have no cover from the
shelling' he said.
He also flatly denied the Indian claim that there had been no air strikes.
He had seen
helicopters and fixed wing aircraft of the Sri Lankan air force attacking with bombs and
machine guns. The Sri Lankans, indeed, have more or less openly admitted that their
aircraft were used last week, but they have insisted that the operations were only on the
direct request of the Indians.." - Derek Brown, Guardian, 21 October 1987
"A senior Sri Lankan security source admitted last night what had previously
only been rumoured - that despite Indian protestations about their self denial of air
cover during operations, on one occasion, air cover had been provided by the Sri Lankans
at the Indians' urgent request.
It happened when a group of commandos had been air dropped into an unsecured landing
ground north of Jaffna and suffered heavy casualties. The Indians needed instant help, and
the Sri Lankans brought up helicopters to give covering machine gun fire to an armoured
rescue. A recording of radio messages during these operations smuggled out of the north
and circulating in the capital makes it clear that the Indians and Sri Lankans were
working close together" - Michael Hamlyn, London Times, 21 October 1987
"India forbids journalists from entering the combat zone, and no independent
confirmation of the situation in Jaffna was available... Reports from officials and
refugees said two thirds of the city's 150,000 residents had fled or sought refuge in
schools, Hindu temples and public buildings.." - International Herald Tribune,
21 October 1987
"The (Indian) spokeswoman said that Indian forces had not entered nor touched the
Jaffna Hospital. But a report from a local correspondent, who recently returned from the
Jaffna peninsula, said it was hit at least seven times earlier this week"
Bruce Palling, Independent, 22 October 1987
"... (in Mannar) we heard the familiar stories from Tamil refugees from Jaffna.
Dr. B.B. Easwaraj, 27, who had fled the town two days earlier, said that large sections of
Jaffna's main hospital had been destroyed by shelling. Dozens of bodies of men, women and
children lay rotting in the mortuary.
Phillip Constantine,26, another refugee, said that one Tamil family had been executed
by the Indians by having a tank run over them. Mannar like many areas in the north and
east of Sri Lanka, has been devastated by almost a decade of fighting between the Tigers
and the Sri Lankan army and now, the Indians. Three months ago, when the Indians arrived
to act as peace keepers, the local Tamils greeted the Indians as saviours. But as one Sri
Lankan police officer told me, they now regard them with the same contempt as they once
did the Sri Lankan police and army.." - Simon Freeman, Sunday Times, 25 October
"...Jaffna is a broken and silent place of refugees clustered in churches and
temples among empty roads. The area behind the Fort bears all the signs of two savage
campaigns, first by the Sri Lankan army and now by the Indians. It is the Tigers who seem
to have won the battle for hearts and minds... though they wanted peace more than
anything, the Tigers were 'their' boys and the Indians were outsiders...
Last Thursday, he (a refugee) said that he had been ordered from his nearby house by Sikh
soldiers, who were apparently clearing the area before an offensive. One of the soldiers
struck him and when his daughter protested, she too was beaten.
Another old man told how his daughter had been killed when she returned to the family home
to fetch her jewellery...a middle aged woman had half a leg missing - blown off by an
Indian shell. A 14 year old girl clutched a stomach wound. A young woman with a blood
soaked plaster on her leg said she had been unconscious when Indian soldiers 'liberated'
the hospital last week. She was certain that the Tigers had not been in occupation at the
time, as the Indians claimed..." - Derek Brown, Guardian, 27 October 1987
"Tens of thousands of refugees are living in appalling conditions in makeshift
camps in Jaffna, according to a senior Sri Lanka Red Cross official, despite claims by the
government of President Junius Jayawardene and the Indian Army that the town is returning
to normal...'it is a ghost town. The streets are deserted. Thousands of people are living
in temples because they are afraid to go back to their homes. They have no electricity.
They need everything - clothes, medicine, even candles and matches. Many buildings have
been destroyed. I saw three or four dead bodies on the streets'...
20,000 refugees share three or four toilets... It is a similar story in the Tamil eastern
coastal provinces... hundreds of buildings in Trincomalee have been destroyed... the
countryside is just as ravaged as the towns. He (the Red Cross Official) said that he was
describing what he had seen as accurately as possible in the hope that international
publicity would help the victims.." - Sunday Times, 8 November 1987
"But on the evidence last week in Trincomalee, many Tamils still view the Tigers
as their only defence against Sinhalese domination. Many young Tamils regard the Tigers
stand in Jaffna as heroic, even though it cost so many innocent lives. The Indian and Sri
Lankan strategy of arming Tamil groups opposed to the Tigers is also going badly wrong.
Last week the Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam, PLOTE, was warned about
using weapons, supplied to kill Tigers, to rob innocent civilians" - Simon
Freeman, Sunday Times - 8 November 1987
"Our first encounter with these young men came shortly before we reached a Sri
Lankan army camp... They said they were from PLOTE, the People's Liberation Organisation
of Tamil Eelam, part of a Tamil coalition bitterly opposed the Tigers. Plot has been armed
by the Sri Lankan authorities, who believe, mistakenly, that the organisation and its
allies will be useful supporters in the fight against the Tigers.
The parallels with South Lebanon are inescapable. There the Israelis hoped that by arming
Christians they would, somehow, help defeat the Shi'ites. Here the Sinhalese majority seem
to think that fringe Tamil groups can be manipulated in the fight against the
Tigers..." - Simon Freeman, Sunday Times, 25 October 1987
"At least 43 people (Tamils) are known to have 'disappeared' following arrest
by the IPKF... The majority of the 'disappearances for which the IPKF were reportedly
responsible occurred in the Jaffna District in October and November 1987, the period of
the main IPKF offensive on Jaffna town" - Amnesty International Sri Lanka
Briefing, 19 September 1990