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Bridget Anton - Refugees in Own Land

My name is Bridget Anton, and I came to Canada in May 1987. Before that I was living in France from 1984 to 1987. In July 1983, I was a Teacher in Mullaitivu and I was doing external studies in Peradeniya Campus. I was taking my classes in Jaffna. One Sunday, after my classes in Jaffna, I was travelling with my husband towards Mullaitivu. All of the sudden, we heard the firing and the screams of people. When we passed Punkankulam Railway station, we saw a body hung on a tree. I was shivering. It reminded me of the 1977 riots,

when thugs entered our house in Negombo and threatened us with death if we did not to leave. We were refugees in our own home town. All the way to Jaffna, stones were thrown to the train. Luckily, we were all safe but left with nothing.

Until that day, I had almost forgotten the 1977 terrifying riot. Passing Kaithady, we saw more bodies. People who had been riding bikes, motorcycles, and even the mini buses were shot. Our mini bus driver was panicked, but wanted to take chance because most of the people were from Mullaitivu. When we went to Elephant pass, we were stopped for hours. Many men were questioned and some of them were even tortured. Since I had my ID from the University and also knew Sinhala, I was able to get back into the bus. After a long wait, they let our bus go. On the way to Paranthan, we saw more dead bodies and wounded people were screaming for help. But, no one stopped to help. The only thoughts that raced through everyone’s mind was to save their own lives. When we approached Paranthan, we heard firing, and most of the stores in Paranthan junction were burnt. We saw flames all over. The place was deserted. There was a well, and around it we saw men and women’s bodies covered with blood.

Worse of it was when we were about to turn from Paranthan Junction to Mullaitivu road and we saw a line of Army trucks firing all the way as they travelled towards to the Elephant pass. Then, we realized that this is why they held all the buses for long time at Elephant pass so that they can kill us all at once on their way to the Elephant pass. Our driver quickly drove the minibus into the fields and we didn’t know where we were going. When we came near a farm house, he said that he cannot go any further. We were lost. We didn’t know where we were. After a while, a few of us started walking towards the road. Then we found out we were in Murasu Moddai which is on Mullaitivu Road near Paranthan. It was getting dark and there was no one on the road. I was really afraid of the army would find us. I started crying and my husband said, “God is with us.” We started praying. It was about 7 pm and almost dark. There was a girl who came towards us and started talking to my husband. She knew my husband and offered to help us by taking us to their home in Murasu Moddai. We had to walk for more than an hour. It was pitch dark when we got to their house. They imposed the curfew for three days. So for three days, we were in the middle of nowhere. Our parents were looking for us all over. They even went to the police station and complained. After three days, we got home and everyone was very happy to see us. But I still have flashbacks. It’s horrible and terrifying. We were in fear for our safety. My husband left the country to France near the end of 1983 and I followed him in 1984 to live a peaceful, fearless life.

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