A Visit to Rebel – Held Area in Asia

We started our journey towards Kilinochchi and reached the Omanthai Military Check Point, the Northernmost Frontier of the Sri Lanka Army in the mainland and stopped for clearance.

Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene spoke to the Military Officials and we were cleared after a few procedures and set on our journey towards North. In a few minutes’ time by passing the No Man Zone, we reached the LTTE Check Point. I spoke to an LTTE member who questioned me about our mission. I explained our mission and introduced the German team and others there. I told we had already informed the Political wing of the LTTE about our mission.

They were highly concerned about our mission as we were about to visit the Mulaitivu region which is an LTTE stronghold. The German Television crew had come with satellite equipment for direct transmission of disaster immediately from the spot. We thought whether we would be facing any difficulties because of the security issues. But we had been cleared and were on our way to Kilinochchi.

While we were traveling we found both sides of the highway were a blend of dense forests and the paddy lands created a lot of excitement within me. Peacocks were everywhere, busily foraging in the paddy lands.

After two hours of our journey we reached Murukandy, a stopover for passengers where a small Hindu temple is found. It has become a tradition for passengers to stop there and worship the God, which was enshrined in that small temple especially if they were Hindus. Others too used to stop there as a pastime and buy a variety of foodstuff available there. We too stopped for a while but not very long, as we were already late according to our schedule to reach Kilinochchi. We had to arrange accommodation for more than twenty-five persons. I was highly worried as there were fifteen German nationals, and they would expect reasonable accommodation for the night. When we reached Kilinochchi it was early night.

We went to meet LTTE’s media spokesman who was coordinating our mission in the LTTE-controlled areas. He was startled at the number of people on our mission. He asked his subordinates to look around for places to accommodate us. Visiting NGO members and the media people had already occupied the available places. We were stalled for a couple of hours.

The German T.V. crew and the German Praktikum (Internship) students were in their vans for hours and it was sad to see their situation. Some of the youths who came with us from a local T.V. channel started to scold me, as I was the coordinator in those areas. But I had to pacify them saying after all it’s a relief mission, and we were prepared to bear the hardships.

Some how or other the LTTE’s Political Wing found accommodation and I had to take some of the German students to the lodgings, which had been arranged for them. My responsibility had been narrowed down. The German Television crew had also been assigned a place.

Some of the students were asking whether their rooms were equipped with mosquito nets. I had to find rooms with mosquito nets for them. But one room with nets, I had to reserve for a Sinhalese couple as promised. I had taken some extra care that they should not feel that they had been discriminated in a Tamil area. I had told the students I had to keep that room for the couple. All the students got rooms with mosquito nets in that complex except two students. Then I went to the LTTE’s Political Wing office to check what was happening there.

AGSEP’s Director Dietmar Doering said he would be staying where the female students and some of the AGSEP staff were staying for their safety and went with them. The young Sinhalese couple got a room at the LTTE’s Political Wing office. The incident might be as surprising as an Israelit couple taking night shelter at the office of the Palestinian rebels.

I returned to one of the lodgings, where the students were staying and got into the room, which had a mosquito net, which became available, as the couple had found room at the Political Wing. I was a little worried staying in my room because of my German friends. Would they have any misgivings about me? So, I knocked at their room doors, but got no response from them.

The exhausting day-long journey had overcome them with deep slumber.