Dialogue workshop at Matara, Hakmana (20-08-2017)

Group 1 presented their experience in the following manner.
1: “… This is something I personally experienced. During the 1989 JVP insurrection I was a kid. And one day while we were travelling to school in a bus, a JVP gang stopped our bus and threw us out. Then they set the bus on fire…”
2: “…This is an experience of one of our group members. He said during the 1989 JVP unrest their neighbors’ house was set on fire by the JVP rebels because they were working in the government sector…”
3: “… This story was told by another member. His neighbor has fallen in to the well and has passed away…”
4: “… Our young member said when he was doing advanced levels when he and one of his friends were riding a motorbike to get some notes. They were struck by another vehicle and his friend was severely damaged and even couldn’t face exams due to the fatal wounds…”
5: “…This is another story by one of our friend here. His house is located near the main road. So during the 1989 JVP unrest he has faced endless harassment from the JVP gangs as well as from the army. He said that the harassments often came at night and the threatening and intimidation were severe…”

Group 2 illustrated their experiences with the folowing comments
1: “… This incident was a memory of our youngest member. She said the closest thing she experienced as shocking was when one of her school friend drowned in the river and died…”
2: “… One of our group member’s brothers had been at war. He was a MIA until they found out he was severely wounded and in a hospital far away. His family has been worried so much when they didn’t know what happened to him…”
3: “… I was in army even during the 1989 JVP unrest. Me and five of my friends faced open fire from a JVP gang. Four of us managed to cover from a tree but one killed right in front of my eyes…”
4: “… Since I was in army I have lot of experiences in war. I was wounded permanently as a result of this war. You must remember when two aura planes were hit by the LTTE in Jaffna. I saw them both with my own eyes. The planes were catching fire and falling from above with black rots of smoke. I only drew one here. In the final humanitarian operation to rescue civilians from the LTTE, I was active in the Rivirasa operation while accompanying a media team to capture the scenes from above. We were above the area of the rescued zone and the media team was capturing the scene. Suddenly the LTTE gunmen who disguised as civilians open fired at our helicopter. We took a huge hit and that’s why I’m still wounded to this day…”
5: “… This is an experience of another. He said that during the 1989 JVP unrest they faced numerous sufferings from both the army and the JVP. They were forced to take part in rallies by the JVP and the army has thrown out them away. Often the JVP and the army had skirmishes while they were stuck in the middle. They have run miles when the fighting, firing of weapon started while ending up stranded in jungles or paddy fields so far away from home with cuts and wounds…”

Group 3 explained a variety of experiences with the use of the following commentaries
“…This experience was explained by one group member. During the 1989 JVP insurrection his wife was due on labor of their first born child. They have started to drive from home around 7am and only could have made to Yatiyana around 5pm evening. Due to the roadblocks made by both the army and the JVP they have faced so many difficulties in reaching to the hospital. The wife had suffered a great deal due to the arduous journey. They have seen how new born babies died when they haven’t met the necessary medical assistance at birth. Some infants died due to shortage of water. They have been scared to death but now are very happy to see their boy have grown up to become a successful man…”
2: “…When the JVP unrest started I might have been only 6 or 7 years old. I remember awful things happening and hearing stuff. But I remember one incident clearly. Two families, altogether 14 members were killed by the JVP in our village. I remember how the bodies were piled up in a yard. And this incident I have drawn here is not an unfamiliar story to us in this area. One gentleman’s pregnant wife was killed along with the unborn baby in his house. The gang had slashed her belly and killed the unborn child in a dreadful manner. It was horrible. The gentlemen went through such an ordeal but managed to survive. He built the grave inside of his house to honor the memories of the dead wife and the child…”
3: “…This is an experience of our female member. She said this incident still has a grip on her memory. Her dearest uncle who was a painter had been gunned down during the 1989 political campaign in Nawalapitiya. Her uncle had been painting a banner in Nawalapitiya urban council when some armed STF soldiers came and fired on him. Two of the onlookers were also shot dead and they have fled the scene. She says that the blood marks are still visible there and she lost her dearest uncle in this incident…”
4: “…This was explained by another member. He said how he saw slashed bodies of a mother and a child on a bed near to his house in Kongala. The people have been peeping through the window to take a look at the crime scene. They later found that the JVP gang was looking to kill someone else but on a personal revenge plan the gang has done this…”
5: “…This was shared by the youngest in our group. He said to us that he doesn’t have any experience but he had one from his mothers. During 1989 JVP unrests, his mother happen to be travelling home from Malinbada one day when she was surrounded by a JVP gang. One from the gang recognized her and even provided travel facility to her home. The gang member has warned the driver not to take a single penny from her. But his mother has given some money for the driver for his troubles. The JVP gang later found the driver and discovered that he took money, they have thrown him in the car and had set fire to the car while he was alive…”

Following is the commentary made by group 4 in relation to their experiences
“… This incident has happened to the brother of one of our members. He was driving a taxi and when a guy asked to drop him on the way he has refused. In the heat of the argument the man has attacked the driver with a knife killing him. This has happened in Hakmana…”
2: “… During the 1989 JVP insurrection we saw how the JVP gangs set fire to the Hakaman regional office…”
3: “…This here is the Hakmana Water supply station. This was also destroyed by setting fire on to it by the JVP gangs back in 1989…”
4: “…I was going to school back in the days of 1989 JVP Unrests. I saw how two dead bodies were lying in a paddy field while I was on my way to school…”
5: “…This is the Massacre of Buddhists monks by the terrorists in Aranthalawa…”
6: “…And this is the destruction caused by the Tsunami in Matara in 2004…”
7: “…This is also happened during the 1989 JVP unrests. One member has seen how the JVP has killed men in the road…”

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