School girls killed in the incident
|Location||Mullaitivu, Mullaitivu District, Sri Lanka|
|Date||August 14, 2006 (+6 GMT)|
|Target||Suspected Sri Lankan Tamil rebels|
|Perpetrators||Sri Lankan Airforce|
Chencholai bombing (also spelt as Sencholai) took place on August 14, 2006 when the Sri Lankan Air Force bombed what it said was a rebel LTTE training camp, killing 61 girls aged 16 to 18.The LTTE, UNICEF, SLMM and UTHR all said those in the compound were not LTTE cadres.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), originally known as the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 11 December 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children and mothers in countries that had been devastated by World War II. The Polish physician Ludwik Rajchman is widely regarded as the founder of UNICEF and observed as its first chairman from 1946 to 1950, when he had to flee the United States in the wake of McCarthyism. Rajchman is to this day the only person that served as UNICEF's Chairman for longer than 2 years. On Rajchman's suggestion, the American Maurice Pate was appointed first executive director, serving from 1947 until his death in 1965. In 1950, UNICEF's mandate was extended to address the long-term needs of children and women in developing countries everywhere. In 1953 it became a permanent part of the United Nations System, and the words "international" and "emergency" were dropped from the organization's name, though it retained the original acronym, "UNICEF".
The Sri Lankan government claimed to be monitoring the site since 2004 and claimed that it was a training camp and clearly stating that it was not mistaken or wrong target.
The Tamil Nadu state assembly in India passed a resolution termed the Chencholai orphanage bombing as 'uncivilized, barbaric, inhumane and atrocious'.
Tamil Nadu, formerly Madras State, is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian subcontinent and is bordered by the union territory of Puducherry and the South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. It is bounded by the Eastern Ghats on the north, by the Nilgiri Mountains, the Meghamalai Hills, and Kerala on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait on the southeast, and by the Indian Ocean on the south. The state shares a maritime border with the nation of Sri Lanka.
The human rights organisation UTHR reported that LTTE had organized this first aid class and that these children were not Child Soldiers. It further claimed that this camp was used by LTTE but not as a training camp.
United Nations spokeswomen 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.
The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization tasked with maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international co-operation, and being a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. It was established after World War II, with the aim of preventing future wars, and succeeded the ineffective League of Nations. Its headquarters, which are subject to extraterritoriality, are in Manhattan, New York City, and it has other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna and The Hague. The organization is financed by assessed and voluntary contributions from its member states. Its objectives include maintaining international peace and security, protecting human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, promoting sustainable development, and upholding international law. The UN is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. At its founding, the UN had 51 member states; there are now 193.
Mullaitivu is the main town of Mullaitivu District, situated on the north-eastern coast of Northern Province, Sri Lanka. A largely fishing settlement, the town in the early twentieth century grew as an anchoring harbour of the small sailing vessels transporting goods between Colombo and Jaffna. The town has a District Secretary's office, many other government institutions and schools located in and around the area.
Tamil National Alliance condemned the airstrike: "This attack is not merely atrocious and inhuman - it clearly has a genocidal intent. It is yet another instance of brazen state terrorism,”
The Tamil National Alliance is a political alliance in Sri Lanka that represents the country's Sri Lankan Tamil minority. It was formed in October 2001 by a group of moderate Tamil nationalist parties and former militant groups. The alliance originally supported self-determination in an autonomous state for the island's Tamils. It supported negotiations with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to resolve the civil war in Sri Lanka. The TNA was considered a political proxy of the LTTE which selected some of its candidates.
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. Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director, stated that "These children are innocent victims of violence" while UNICEF's Joanne Van Gerpen said "At this time, we don't have any evidence that they are LTTE cadres".
Ann Margaret Veneman was the Executive Director of UNICEF from 2005 to 2010. Her appointment was announced on January 18, 2005 by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Previously, Veneman was the United States Secretary of Agriculture, the first, and as of 2018 the only, woman to hold that position. Veneman served as USDA Secretary from January 20, 2001 to January 20, 2005, leaving to become the fifth executive director of UNICEF. She served in this position from May 1, 2005. A lawyer, Veneman has practiced law in Washington, DC and California, including being a deputy public defender. She has also served in other high level positions in U.S. federal and state government, including being appointed California's Secretary of Food and Agriculture, serving from 1995 to 1999.
Retired major general of the Swedish Army, Ulf Henricsson the Head of the Nordic truce monitors SLMM said that his staff had not finished counting the dead and that they couldn’t find any sign of military installations or weapons.
Sri Lanka government spokesmen Keheliya Rambukwela and Brigadier Athula Jayawardene told the media in Colombo that the orphanage was in fact a training and transit camp for the LTTE's military cadres. The camp, Jayawardene pointed out, did not look like an orphanage at all or any civilian structure for that matter. Rambukwela and Jayawardene argued that, even if the victims were minors (under 18 years of age) and girls, they were soldiers or soldiers under training. The Sri Lankan refused to condemn the incident or order any inquiry. The government also showed journalists, as Reuters reported, what appeared to be satellite footage of Tigers fleeing a training camp shortly after Kfir jets bombed it.
However, a journalist who viewed the tapes stated,
|“||there was nothing in the footage that reporters could see to suggest any military activity except that the location was secluded and had lush green trees in the neighbourhood.||”|
On September 1, Sri Lankan police said they arrested three young women -aged 18, 19 and 20 - whom they said were injured in the airstrike and were subsequently brought to a hospital in central Sri Lanka for treatment. Inspector General of Police Chandra Fernando said the three young women all claimed that they were taken by a member of the Tamil Tigers to a camp deep within rebel territory for first aid training but when they reached the camp, they were forced to undergo weapons training.
In the Senchcholai 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.
A further three of the injured girls were sent by the Mullaithivu hospital to Kandy for treatment. Sri Lankan Terrorism Investigation Department (TID) immediately put the three injured girls under arrest. The three girls were eventually cleared and were brought to Vavuniya hospital to return to their homes in Vanni when one of the injured girls died. The other two girls were immediately taken back Kandy hospital. Eventually the whereabouts of the two girls Kasthuri Sripathy and Sumithra Balasingham became mysterious except that their parents were permitted to meet the girls at prearranged locations. The parents of the girls remain at a loss as to the detention of the two girls without charges for almost two years.
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