Carrying irrevocable memories of Mullivaikkal 

In the land of  genocidal war, death fell like rain on mud walls. A makeshift hospital, located in the High School of Mullivaikkal, operated tirelessly. The two permanent buildings were filled to capacity with patients, all of whom required treatment in the ICU. However, due to space constraints, patients were forced to lie in kennels and on the ground.

Unable to support the injured people, the small medical team and the hospital struggled without medicine and equipment. However, it cannot be denied that medical treatment was carried out day and night. Artillery shells fell and exploded all around the hospital. After a long delay, the news came in the middle of the night that the ICRC’s ship will arrive to take the wounded Tamils.

The whole night was hectic. We made arrangements to send the wounded patients at low light. Cries were heard everywhere. On 29.04.2009, the drone of the Sri Lankan army preceded the early morning sunrise. We even prayed to the Gods that no aerial attacks or shelling should occur until the wounded have been taken aboard.

The ICRC’s ship was docked in the morning about a nautical mile off the coast of Mullivaikkal. “They won’t come to the shore, so we have to take them in a small boat. “Load the bed patients first”, was the instruction. People with stomach wounds and other major injuries were laid on the beach and they thrashed in pain as they were loaded into the boat.

Since the arrival of the ship, the army was attacking with countless artillery shells. At about 3:30 in the evening, the number of patients decreased and there was a gap in the makeshift hospital.  A few patients refused to go to the ship even though in was necessary for them to go. It was difficult to treat them. The number of falling artillery shells increased from time to time.

We entered the hospital, bracing ourselves that soon it would be filled again with patients. I need to take some rest. But it is not possible. Both Raghavan and Thiru are re-arranging the empty beds.

Everything changed in an instant and it became a smoke screen as the Sri Lankan Navy launched a serious attack on the makeshift hospital. Air, ground, and sea attacks were also carried out on people’s tents. Some got up and ran away from ICU. We could not control anything.

More than 15 people who were treated there were massacred, and many were wounded again. Additionally, at this location, Suren Karthikesu, who recently published the book “Porin Satsiyam” (witness of war), came to us on 25.4.2009 with a massive neck injury. Despite the lack of customary medical equipment, his life was saved by the diligent action of our medical team.

Within minutes, the makeshift hospital was again filled with injured people faster than a storm wind. The patients were accommodated in tarpaulin tents under the mango trees so that the hospital would be on the ground floor. We provided life-saving emergency treatment to children, women, and the elderly with torn muscles based on the priority of injury.

The Police Department of Tamileelam and The Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) were responsible for transporting the injured people to the hospital, providing food, and handling other tasks.

29.04.2009 – All three forces (Sea, Air, Ground) of the Sri Lankan Army attacked the main makeshift hospital which was operating in Mullivaikkal High school. Words cannot fully describe the targeting of the ICRC hospital and SL army carried out the genocide on Eelamtamils. The passing of time, cannot carry these irrevocable memories from us – as long as we are alive.

– Dr.Kaanavi

(Note: Dr.Kaanavi was a former health professional of the medical corps and cadre of the medical unit of the LTT, she worked on the battlefield, saving civilians and cadres until the last day of the Mullivaikal genocide in 2009)



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