New Northern Provincial Council member, Sabaratnam Kugathas, recounted his first-hand experiences of the end of the war and the atrocities committed by Sri Lankan state forces, in his maiden speech at the council’s 117th sitting this week.
“I lived within the conflict zone until the end of the war itself,” Mr Kugathas said. “I directly witnessed the heinous bombings which the Sri Lankan governmental forces conducted against civilians - especially against the wounded who were admitted in hospitals, which resulted in the massacre of innocent civilians and children.”
“With the escalation of the war, Sri Lankan forces identified certain areas as no fire zones. Assured by such declarations, civilians sought refuge within those regions.”
“Barbaric targeted attacks were conducted against the countless civilians who had gathered within the no fire zones.”
Mr Kugathas added that thousands of innocent citizens and children were massacred as a result.
"The government declares that it has saved the nation from the grasps of terrorism. I have witnessed the Sri Lankan forces massacre the people who inhabited the regions which the forces themselves declared as no fire zones.”
“With the conclusion of the armed struggle, the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Sri Lankan government confined the civilians who escaped the no fire zones within approximately 5 rehabilitation camps. These citizens were held within such camps with no access to essential needs such as food or water. Many citizens died within these camps as a result of such treatment.”
“Accountability and justice must be provided for the violence and injustices which have been perpetrated against these people.”
Mr Kugathas emotionally expressed that the Tamils can never forget nor forgive the atrocities of Sri Lanka's forces and officials.
The chair of the council, as well as the Chief Minister, stated that his testimony would be forwarded to the UN Human Rights Council and to the UN High Commissioner for human rights.
Mr Kugathas was appointed alongside Abdul Niyas Seeni Mohamed to replace S. M. Rasik and Emmanuel Arnold who recently was chosen by ITAK to become the new Mayor of Jaffna.