LTTE propaganda defeated, truth revealed
Doctors Sinnathurai Sivapalan, Veerakathipillay Shanmugarajah,
Thurairajah Vartharajah, Thangamurthy Sathiyamoorthy and
Kathiravelu Illanchelian Pallavan at the press briefing.
Defeating the LTTE propaganda that was tarnishing the Sri Lankan
Government’s true image was thornier than crushing terrorists
militarily. Exaggerated numbers of civilian casualties and deaths
multiplied in hundreds, forged reports on artillery attacks by the Sri
Lanka Army while they were crawling over dotted mine fields losing their
lives and limbs in their missions - different types of formulated
stories and tales were not thrown in singles but thumped on us in
Web casting fabricated video clips, created by their own cadres and
spreading them around the world in split seconds as if created by
unbiased individuals or crews was believed by most of the world as
divine word. Above all greatest attempt was made on misusing the lives
of their own people to whom they swore a fantasize Tamil Eelam.
Conscripted stories on the unfortunate plight of the innocent Tamil
civilians were sold at an accelerated pace across the globe bringing
dollars to bloodsucking individuals and mafia groups and especially to
the LTTE. The poor conditions people were encountering in their struggle
for survival under LTTE’s iron clutches was sent across using and
pressurizing the most reliable sources of the area - the senior health
officials. We would never know what went through their minds during
their long period of service under duress and dictates of the LTTE.
“Yes we regret giving a false impression to the outside world,”
answering a question raised by a journalist, doctor Thangamurthy
Sathiyamoorthy, the Kilinochchi Regional Director of Health Services
said during their first ever interaction with the media last week. They
hid the truth obviously for the fear of the gun.
All five doctors, Veerakathipillay Shanmugarajah, Sinnathurai
Sivapalan, Thurairajah Vartharajah, Thangamurthy Sathiyamoorthy,
Kathiravelu Illanchelian Pallavan met a cross section of the local and
international media at the auditorium of the Media Centre for National
Security in Colombo. During an elaborate interview with the ‘The Hindu’
editor-in-chief N. Ram, President Mahinda Rajapaksa indicated the
Government is likely to give the five Tamil doctors who were working in
the uncleared areas till the last hours, a chance to reveal the truth.
Thousands of people reached safe area on May 16. Pic: Thilak
These five doctors, who reached the Government controlled areas at
last and were detained by the Security Forces and later handed over to
the Criminal Investigations Department for damaging the image of the
Government and the Security Forces by giving false statements especially
to international media including the BBC.
“The conditions the people had to live were horrible. LTTE wouldn’t
let them go to the cleared areas and held them with force in this area
where there was no drinking water and proper sanitary facilities,” said
Dr. Sinnathurai Sivapalan, the Medical Officer in Charge of the LTTE run
Ponnambalam Memorial Hospital that was in Puthukkudiyirippu.
“There was no place to find hygienic drinking water and there were no
They dig a hole in the ground and slowly water sip in to the hole as
the ground was in between the two large water bodies - the sea and the
lagoon,” Dr. Sivapalan said.
This was extremely muddy water which the people used by filtering
using a piece of cloth. “Except for the last week in the No Fire Zone,
people tried to boil the water and drink,” he said. “I drank that water
and if I continued with it for few more days I would definitely have
fallen severely sick,” he added.
Since there have been no proper toilet facilities people have used
small kerosene barrels as toilet pits by burring them in the sand with
its hole uncovered and a temporary cover. As Dr. Sivapalan said the
Ponnambalam Memorial Hospital was built and run by the LTTE and he was
part of LTTE medical support team - “I was just a doctor recruited by
them. Their Medical wing had trained cadres in carrying out medical
procedures as well as in arms,” he added.
The LTTE had been trying to develop this hospital and lots of
assistance have been flowing from the Tamil Diaspora in USA and several
other European countries. “Medical doctors from USA, UK and several
European countries visited our hospital during 2002 - 2005 and
volunteered their service from time to time. Transferring technology was
a main aim of the visit,” doctor Sivapalan said.
The LTTE had allowed doctors Sivapalan and Kasilingam Sujenthan - the
LTTE medical wing leader who was then based in Kilinochchi, for a three
months visit to Norway and the scope of the visit was bringing in newest
medical knowledge and technology in to their local system. “We visited
three Government hospitals in Oslo and a Norwegian doctor working for
the Government, assisted us in the entire visit,” Sivapalan added.
Journalists and doctors in a cordial discussion soon after the
The visit was organised by Norway based Tamil Diaspora Organization
and the two doctors had an extensive observation of the medical
technology of the Norwegian Government during their visit from October
2004 till January 2005.
“We were basically focusing on learning latest technologies of
endoscopes, echocardiograms and the other factor was technology transfer
for the rehabilitation of disabled LTTE cadres,” he explained further.
The Ponnambalam Memorial Hospital had an OPD as well as in ward
facilities. “The wards could accommodate 50 patients and every day there
were 100 - 200 patients for the OPD. The OPD was run by LTTE Medical
wing members,” doctor Sivapalan added. In a very organized manner the
hospital was carrying out maternity clinics and other such
clinics.Doctor Sivapalan was the only permanent doctor attached to this
hospital while an elderly doctor T. Gnanadaran visited and was taking
care of the maternity ward. Doctor Weerakathipillai Shanmugarajah was
working as a visiting physician.“During the Ceasefire period in 2002 -
2006 we managed to develop the Intensive Care Unit with the assistance
from the Tamil Diaspora,” he said.
“The LTTE had their camps located in a 100 - 200 metres vicinity of
the Mullaitivu hospital where I was working. My quarters was damaged and
my wife and son received minor injuries due to an artillery shell in
2008. I don’t know from which side it was launched. It is very difficult
to guess. Later the ICRC asked the LTTE to move their camps away from
the hospital,” doctor Shanmugarajah said.
All five doctors clearly stated in unison to the media crowd cramped
in side the auditorium that it was under the pressure of the LTTE we had
to give exaggerated numbers of civilian deaths and casualties.
“The LTTE even quoted us in their web sites without our consent or
knowledge giving exaggerated figures of civilian deaths and casualties,”
doctor Sathiyamoorthy said.
Quoting Doctor Thangamurthy Sathiyamoorthy, the Kilinochchi Regional
Director of health services and doctor Thurairajah Varatharajah the
Mullaitivu Regional Director of Health Services, reports were published,
especially in the international media that several civilians have been
killed in the No Fire Zone (NFZ) on the Mullaitivu coast on April 8,
2009 alleging that the deaths have been caused due to shelling by the
Sri Lanka Army.
In another statement made by doctor Varatharajah on March 4, 2009 he
mentions that he had recorded deaths of 13 people due to starvation and
certain media reported quoting doctor Sathiyamoorthy, states that 69
percent of children below the age of five in the NFZ, show signs of
malnutrition on March 5 the Ministry of Healthcare and Nutrition proved
it as a false with their data and statistics done on the Internally
Death due to starvation could only be established medically after
performing an autopsy on the body of a dead person and in this instance
it was conclusively established that doctor Varatharajah had issued this
statement without carrying out autopsies on the 13 bodies.
Moreover, according to a report carried by the BBC on April 9, 2009,
quoting doctor Varatharajah, 60 civilians are said to have died in the
shelling on a health facility in Ambalavanapokkanai area, whereas in a
letter dated April 9, 2009 by the same official to the Healthcare and
Nutrition Ministry Secretary, he has stated that only 10 civilians had
died in the alleged shelling. In the BBC report, doctor Varatharajah has
claimed that the shells came from an area dominated by the Security
Forces, whereas in the letter to the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry,
he has remained silent about its source. According to a news report
published in a Colombo daily on this contradiction stated that when the
Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry Secretary contacted doctor
Varatharajah and doctor Sathiyamoorthy between 9 and 10 pm on April 9,
2009, who were residing in the same location at Puthumathalan, he was
given conflicting figures of the dead and the injured. Doctor
Varatharajah had said 50 deaths of civilians had occurred on April 8,
2009 and doctor Sathiyamoorthy had said, when contacted soon afterwards,
only 25 deaths were reported in the same incident.
Gun shot injuries of civilians due to LTTE firing while the civilians
were trying to escape were never mentioned in these reports.
Notwithstanding this kind of baseless and malicious propaganda, the
Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry remained fully committed to continue
the provision of medical services and healthcare to the civilian
population trapped in the NFZ, amidst numerous logistical difficulties.
“Their strategy was to keep the civilians around them and survive.
That was why they came along with the civilians once the safe zones were
demarcated for the civilians by the military,” doctor Shanmugarajah
“They (LTTE) shouldn’t have brought the war into the ‘No Fire Zone’,
doctor Sivapalan added.The doctors were clear in their answers about the
total civilian deaths which were around 700 to 800 since January till
May 2009. At the press conference doctors dismissed the reports about
civilian deaths due to starvation.
“The LTTE grabbed a major part of the food stocks for the use of
their cadres which was sent by the Government through the ICRC ship,”
doctor Shanmugarajah confirmly said since he perfectly knew the LTTE
‘modus operandi’ with his association with the LTTE over a long period
According to doctor Varatharajah, eight times the Government sent
medicines and related supplies after the NFZ was declared and the LTTE
grabbed all this from the doctors to treat their injured cadres and
forced the doctors to state that there is a shortage on medical
Did they believe?
“We choose to stay in for the sake of our families and the other
civilians,” doctor Shanmugarajah said.
Doctor Sivapalan said, “During the initial stages I believed the LTTE
would bring liberation to their brethren. My First appointment was to
the Jaffna general hospital and when thousands of people reached the
Wanni soon after the ‘Riviresa’ operation of the Army I moved in to
Kilinochchi with my family. Later I could not get my transfer arranged
to Wanni since I had no easy contacts with the authorities and I took in
to private practice. That is how I joined the Ponnambalam Memorial
“Even during the 2002 ceasefire I strongly believed LTTE would be
genuine and bring a final solution to the misery of their own people but
they broke the promise. Though I wanted to come to the Government
controlled areas with my family the suffering people underwent made me
stay back,” he added.
“After 2006 LTTE recruited more and more children forcefully in to
military activities and at that moment I felt really pathetic. That was
not right. I have treated many such young children and their suffering
made me stay back,” he said with great regret.
As doctor Sivapalan explained they managed to crossover only after
the LTTE structure got collapsed in the last few days. “If I tried to
escape before that they would have definitely executed me,” he said. “By
the time we (civilians) reached the last LTTE bunker line towards the
Mullaitivu causeway was abandoned - the LTTE had already fled from the
area on May 16,” the doctor said.
“On May 16 I reached close to this bunker line around ten in the
night with my wife, two sons and daughter and there were thousands of
people gathered waiting either for their escape or for the Army to come
and rescue them. I saw three dead bodies of civilians in the bunker line
and the people told me that the LTTE shot them as they tried to escape
to the cleared areas,” he added.
Around 2 a.m. next day the crowd have realized the bunker line was
empty and after walking nearly one kilometre - carrying the elderly, the
wounded and the sick and their meager belongings - these innocent people
reached the safety of the security forces.
Saving the family
Doctor Illancheliyan, the youngest of the five doctors, while serving
in Gampaha General Hospital got to know that his brother living in
Mullaitivu and who was a second year University student in Bio Science
was forcefully conscripted by the LTTE.
The brother escaped from the LTTE went in to hiding in the jungle and
later the father was arrested. Leaving away his dreams to successfully
finish his Postgraduate Degree in Surgery, doctor Illancheliyan leaves
to Mullaitivu and after giving himself in to the LTTE promising to
support them with his profession he manages to save his dear father and
“The only hope I have is to finish my PG become a surgeon and serve
every citizen equally wherever I will be posted,” doctor Illancheliyan
“We are meeting our families once a week and we must admit that we
are very well taken care of and even for a slightest sickness they would
let us get medical treatment. We don’t suffer anymore,” doctors said.
All five doctors, graduated from the University of Jaffna during
different years, have served as general practitioners in many Government
Hospitals and later posted to higher official levels. After becoming
free citizens of the country clearing all the allegations against their
names and start serving the country soon, is their only hope.
|When inquired from
the Ministry of Health and Nutrition care ....
“If these doctors are proven not guilty by
the legal authorities they will be posted back in the
Government service under the Ministry. They can serve as
normal doctors anywhere in the country. Since their posts
were basically in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu areas, until
these areas are cleared and restored back to normal
functioning, they can be posted to suitable positions either
in Jaffna or Vavuniya.