Action Alert Archive
Air force deliberately bombs student workshop, killing 51 schoolgirls
August 20, 2006
There were 51 schoolgirls killed and 129 more were wounded when the Sri Lankan Air Force bombed Chencholai children's home in Mullaithivu district this past Monday. The strike came as students from around the area were attending a workshop focusing on leadership, self-awareness and first-aid. The home is part of a campus of former orphanages consisting of Chencholai, a home for girls; Inniya Valvu Illam, a home for deaf and blind children; Vasanthan, a girls home; Senthair Illam, a home for young children; and Bharathy Illam, another home for girls.
Sri Lankan Government officials have claimed that the site was a military camp, saying that they have "complete proof" and that the accusations were merely a "propaganda exercise". However, the site had been designated a humanitarian zone, and its GPS coordinates were given to the Sri Lankan Government during the last period of conflict as part of an effort to protect humanitarian zones. Head of the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission, Ulf Henriccson, said that monitors who visited the site could not find "any evidence of military installations or weapons." He went on to say, "This was not a military installation." UNICEF Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman, said of the attack, "These children are innocent victims of violence." The Sri Lankan Government, however, has called the children terrorists, justifying their killings by stating, "What matters is not their gender, nor their age but what they do."
The attack has been condemned by international NGO's and other organizations, however, as with the killing of 15 aid workers from the NGO Action Contre La Faim (ACF) earlier this month, no action has been taken to punish those responsible. The investigation into that killing, which relatives have blamed on the Sri Lankan military personnel, has been obstructed by Sri Lankan Government officials.
When a large number of innocent children become the targets of deadly bombings, the sanctity of the right to life of all civilians in Sri Lanka has been violated. Such actions must be stopped immediately, lest they forebear worse things to come. We are calling on you to bring to bear on the Sri Lankan Government to cease the violence that makes victims of the innocent and to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to those that have already been affected.
The mission of People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) is to end the systemic human rights abuses against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka, and promote equality, rights and justice on the island. PEARL is 501(c)3 non-profit organization led by human rights activists concerned about the situation in Sri Lanka.