The Jaffna diaries

Ben Bavinck, a Dutchman born in Indonesia, lived in Jaffna from 1954 until 1972, as a missionary and a staff member of Jaffna College. In 1988, two years before fighting resumed between the LTTE and government forced, he returned to Sri Lanka at the behest of the National Christian Council (NCC) of Sri Lanka, for which he oversaw relief and rehabilitation. Six years later, in 1994, he again returned to Jaffna, then under the control of the LTTE; he stayed, in several capacities, until September 2004. The following are slightly edited excerpts from the diary, translated from the original Dutch, that Bavinck kept during this latter period, being published here for the first time.

Writer's introduction: The Tamil Tigers started the war again on 11 June 1990, by attacking police stations in the Eastern Province. The Sri Lankan Army recaptured the districts of Batticaloa and Amparai, and drove the Tigers back behind the lagoon, which runs parallel to the east coast. While doing so, the army indulged in many atrocities against Tamil civilians. On 3 August, the Tamil Tigers attacked two mosques in Kattankudi, a largely Muslim town, killing 120 worshippers. After this, Kattankudi remained disturbed for a long time.

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Himal Southasian