By M.A. Sumanthiran MP
· Every activity that takes place in the North and East first requires approval by the Presidential Task Force and the military.
· Lists of beneficiaries for projects in the north now have to be sent to the military. Incidents have been reported of the military altering these to include as beneficiaries individuals they want assistance to go to.
· Several families are unable to return to their homes due to the official and unofficial High Security Zone (HSZ) restrictions in areas in the North and East (Eg: Large areas of land have been taken by the military for camps and ad hoc HSZs in Thirumurigandi, Shanthapuram and Indupuram, covering the district of Mullativu and Killinochchi). These HSZs also prevent/severely restrict access to livelihood (Eg: Access to paddy and grazing land in Vattamadu in the Akkaraipattu Division)
· Churches and private property are being occupied by the military in Jaffna, Mannar, and Mullaitivu.
· Regular checking by the military takes place in many areas in the Jaffna, Killinochchi and Mullativu districts.
Militarization / security issues:
A list was tabled earlier this year on the killings, attacks and abductions in Jaffna. Recently, a 30-year-old male from Jaffna was found beaten and hanged to death at a playground in Achchuveali Thoappu in Valikaamam East, 20 km northeast of Jaffna city. The victim had been harassed by the Sri Lanka Army intelligence operatives 2 years ago, residents in the area said. So far no suspect has been taken into custody.
· Attack on TNA MPs at local government election meeting:
On 16th June 2011 armed army personnel in full uniform attacked a meeting of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in Alaveddy relating to the upcoming local authority elections at which 5 TNA MPs were present. This was an internal party meeting that did not require police permission and in any case both the army and police had already been informed of the meeting. Several MSD personnel of the MPs were also assaulted. Major General Walgama, who initially met the MPs soon after the incident, requested that the MPs refrain from lodging a complaint with the police, and further, that they ensure that the incident was not reported through the media. The MPs, however, did not agree to this and proceeded to make statements to the Police.
The incident also was reported to both Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe and the President. Major General Hathurusinghe initially issued a statement that this was a minor incident involving the army and the MSD personnel, but later claimed that he had been misquoted and assured the TNA MPs that if this was done by the army, he would take stern disciplinary action. On 20th June, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse confirmed in an interview to the Island newspaper, that in fact the army had stopped the meeting. No action has been taken thus far.
· Forcible Registrations:
In February 2011 Jaffna district five TNA Parliamentarians filed a fundamental rights violation petition seeking to stop forcible registration of residents of Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts by the Security Forces. The Attorney General gave an undertaking to the Supreme Court to suspend immediately the forcible registration of residents of Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts by the Security Forces and Grama Niladharis.
However, as early as 14th March TNA Parliamentarians brought to the notice of the Supreme Court that registrations of residents was continuing in contempt of Court. Following the recent attack on a TNA meeting at Alaveddy, Major General Hathurusinghe again assured TNA MPs that registrations in area would be stopped. Subsequently however, registrations continue to take place, and Major General Hathurusinghe denied giving any such undertaking, despite clearly doing so in the presence of no less than 5 MPs. Currently, the military is using the ongoing census as a ploy to continue with these illegal registrations.
The creation of settlements
· Most advertisements/signboards on the A9 road from Omanthai to Jaffna are in Sinhala.
· 28 Buddhist statues were brought into the Palaly High Security Zone.
· A significant number of Buddhist stupas/temples have come up on the A9 road (Paranthan, Kilinochchi, near the 561 division, next to Iranamadu tank etc.) http://onlineuthayan.com/News_More.php?view=essay_more&id=4374017202178354
Livelihood issues / The creation of settlements
· Sinhalese fishermen are occupying padus belonging to Tamil fishermen in Vadamaarachchi East, thus denying them access to it.
· Tiles and door frames of houses belonging to those who have been resettled in them in Vadamaarachchi East after the conflict have been taken and used in Navy camps.
Militarization / land grabs
· The navy is occupying lands in Mullikulam, Vidathaltivu, Silavathurai, and Sannar, preventing people from resettling there. Approximately 200 families are affected due to this in Mullikulam alone. 3524 Acres of land has been taken for the Army camp at Sannar.
· The other places where Army has taken over land are, Paapamoddai, Parappukkadanthan, Nindavil, Kalliyadi, Savarikulam and Kovilkulam.
· Similarly, the Police has taken over lands in Iluppaikkadavai, Adampa, Vidathaltivu, Paapamoddai, Vellikulam and Paaliyaru.
The creation of settlements
· Name boards with new Sinhala names have been fixed in several streets in Kilinochchi. When travelling from Jeyapuram to Pallavaraayankattu, near the Jayapuram junction, there are 2 streets named ‘Mahinda Rajapakse Mawatha’ and ‘Aluth Mawatha’.
These are only 2 examples of several such name boards. Police posts are situated near these boards to ensure they are protected. These boards are situated in the back streets of Kilinochchi to prevent the media from being alerted to this trend.
· Buddhist symbols were buried in the area in which the Kilinochchi market used to be. Claims are now being made that they are archeological finds from over 2000 years ago.
· There have been several attempts to both create various ‘societies’ and to stage Sinhala cultural events in the area.
Land grabs/ The creation of settlements
· 300 Tamil families who lived and owned land in the Irunatheevu islands have been prevent from accessing their land by the Navy. The Navy now occupies this land. Thus, these families have moved to Iranamahanagar where the GA has given them land.
· The military is in occupation of several areas in Pooneryn. This includes the Pooneryn hospital.
The creation of settlements / Livelihood issues
· Tamil fisherman face severe restrictions regarding fishing in the areas from Kokkilaai to Chundikkulam in Kilaakaththai, Maathirikkiraama, Uppumaaveli, Thoondai, Alambil, Semmalai, Naayaaru, Kokkuththoduvaai, and Karunaattukkernee. This severely impact on their livelihood, especially as several Sinhala fishermen in the area receive direct permission to fish in this area from the Ministry of Defence. Sinhala fishermen are also engaged in fishing for prawns in Nanthikkadal.
· Tamil farmers are being denied access to their farming land. These lands are now being taken over by Sinhalese farmers.
· Tamil families have not been resettled in the area bordering Trincomalee and Mullativu. Measures are being taken to settle 10,000 Sinhala families in this area.
The creation of settlements
· There are attempts to build a Buddhist statue in the Vauniya Thamil Maha Vidyalayam
· The formerly Tamil village of Kokkachchaankulam is being changed to ‘Kalapovaseva’:
Kokkachchaankulam is a Tamil village in the Vavuniya district. Tamil residents who lived here were displaced by war and the village was indicated to be “abandoned” in Vavuniya district official reports. After a survey by the Mahaweli Authority personnel in March 2010 a plan was implemented to reconstruct the village and settle Sinhalese there.
The settlement scheme was brought under the Vavuniya South Sinhala division and temporary land permits were issued to 165 Sinhala families. These families were settled in Kokkachchaankulam with the help of the military and without officially informing the Vavuniya District Secretary.
The village of Kokkachchaankulam is to be renamed “Kalabowasewa”. The new road that is being built will be called the “Mahakachchankodi – Kalabowasewa” road
· Land has been allocated in Pampaimadu for the Jaffna’s University’s Department in Vavuniya. Amidst great difficulties, the work is only now progressing extremely slowly. The activities of the university are currently taking place very haphazardly in rented buildings.
Clear signboards were fixed in the area indicating that the land was allocated for the University. However, attempts are now being made to take over the land by one ‘Munaf’, Head of the ‘Janasamooka’ centre in Saalambaikkulam. The workers there have made complaints regarding this to the Security forces and TNA MP for the area, S. Aananthan.
The creation of settlements / land grabs
· There are attempts to take over land belonging to individuals in Kankaraayan and use it build a Buddhist temple there.
· The Army is attempting to take over approx 1500 acres of land in Chettikulam from government officials.
· Encroachments of land are taking place in the following DS divisions:
Almost 3000 acres of land are being utilized by home guards and other individuals for cultivation. It is understood that the Eastern Provincial Council has provided assistance to these attempts.
The government has allocated some land in the above D.S. divisions for home guards for their use, including for purposes of cultivation.
During the war, the longtime residents of the village Kevliamadu were displaced to other areas. Individuals of the majority community, including home guards, are presently encroaching on this village. Almost 50% of these encroachers are still living in this village, despite efforts by the Divisional Secretary (DS), Paddipalai. These encroachers have built strong huts and houses for themselves in the village.
· Almost 1050 acres of land belonging to the Sri Lanka Cashew Corporation is being utilized for the purpose of establishing a naval base.
· The Army is attempting to secure State and private lands in Vellaveli, Vavunathivu, Karadiyanaru, and Pulipanchakal to set up permanent camps. The military had asked the Divisional Secretaries to register both public and private lands to it and put pressure on civilians living close to the camps to give their consent.
· There are efforts to settle 170 Sinhala families in Tamil lands in the Batticaloa District including in Kevuilyamadu, and 230 Sinhala families in Kachchakkodi Chuvaami Malai. The issue has been brought to the notice of the President and district level actors but no action has been taken to deal with these encroachments.
Livelihood issues / land grabs / The creation of settlements
· Access denied to farming land (Muttur):
Access has been denied to over 800 acres of land at Paddukadu in Kanguvelli owned and cultivated by Tamil farmers from the villages of Kanguvelli, Pulliadicholai, Mallikaithivu, Paddithidal, Menkamam, Bharathipuram, Kiliveddy, Manalchenai, Periyavelli, the Muslim farmers of Muthur, and 20 acres of land owned by the Agasthiyar Sthapanam Sivan Temple. Some of these farmers had settled in these areas from as early as the 1950s and received permits, some from as early as 1972.
They had to stop cultivating due to hostilities. In 2008 they found families from Dehiyattakandiya farming there. Last year, they had difficulty accessing their land as it was in the possession of some Sinhala homeguards and farmers. Police complaints have been filed regarding the issue almost every year since 2008.
A decision was made following a meeting between responsible officials in 2010, that anyone with permits before 1985 could cultivate the lands in the area during the next season – April 2011. Farmers who tried to access the lands in April were warned off by the Sinhala farmers. In May 2011 the Dehiwatta priest told the farmers not to come to the Padukadu land.
Soon after, this Priest’s brother began demanding money from the farmers claiming that he had cultivated the land and had spent money on irrigation. He threatened to destroy the crop unless this money was paid.
· Kanguveli tank:
The Kanguveli tank irrigates 300 acres of paddy land. Young persons of the majority community in Dehiwatta have drained out the water in it and begun cultivating the tank bed. Farmers of the Kanguveli village who depend on this water for cultivation have been badly affected, as have cattle from the village which depend on this water.
· Proposed Raigam saltern (Kuchchavelli, Trincomalee):
Objections relating the above project was expressed to the President by Hon. Sampanthan in December 2009, in the presence of the Hon. Basil Rajapakse, then Special Adviser to the President and now Minister for Economic Development. The proposal was to allocate 1805 acres of Karachi land for the above saltern. Hon. Sampanthan protested that this proposal was entertained without any consultation with him – the MP of the area.
Both the President and the Hon. Basil Rajapakse assured Hon. Sampanthan that no such proposal was entertained and no such proposal would be implemented. However, the project was advertised en route to Trincomalee and Kuchchavelli. Thus, Hon. Sampanthan wrote to the President on 29th May 2010, placing on record the following objections:
– Implementation of this project would adversely affect livelihoods of over 2500 families.
– The project would lead to changes in the demographic composition of the area and would be resented by people in the area and not contribute to reconciliation amongst different peoples.
This is especially so as the Kuchchavelli DS division is now the only predominantly Tamil speaking division of the four DS divisions carved out from the predominantly Tamil Kaddukulampattu DRO (Vanniyar) Division that existed when the country gained independence. The other 3 are Sinhala speaking divisions, 2 of them becoming such by reason of demographic changes through land settlement.
· The proposal to allocate 51 blocks of state land, ostensibly for Tourist Development (Kuchchavelli, Trincomalee):
By letter dated 16th May 2010 to the President, Hon. Sampanthan stated that he was informed that steps were being taken by the Central government officials to allocate land as per the above proposal. He expressed concerns that:
– No public notification was made of this, denying people entitled to apply for such land the opportunity to do so.
– the process adopted deliberately attempts to circumvent constitutional provisions pertaining to state land.
– All persons chosen to receive such valuable state land are from the majority community, while over 95% of the population in the Kuchchavelli DS division, who are Tamil speaking, have long been requesting that these lands be made available to them to facilitate their own residence and occupation. Many of these people are landless.
– There is a strong perception that efforts are being made to industrially colonize the majority community in areas in Trincomalee that are yet Tamil speaking and that such efforts should be resisted.
· Although those with homes situated in the HSZ in Sampur have been able to return to their districts of origin they haven’t yet been able to return to their own lands due to HSZ restrictions.
· Irakkandy is a largely Muslim village located a few miles North of Nilaveli, in the Kuchchaveli Division, Trincomalee. Some of the land in the village is privately owned while other residents have secured permits from the Government. Due to the conflict, the Sinhalese village began to ﬂee to Sinhala majority areas.
During the ceaseﬁres, some of the Sinhala residents visited their village and attempted to secure financial arrangements over their land with their Muslim and Tamil neighbours. This resulted in the current land conflict in Irakkandy-Valaiuttu, where the Muslim and Tamil residents claim that the Sinhalese sold their lands.
· To date, no action has been taken by the Government with regard to the widespread unlawful occupation of State land by members of the majority community. This is taking place
(i) on both sides of the Trincomalee-Horowpothana Road between the villages of Vepankulam and Mudaliyarkulam up to Pomkulam within the Morawewa-Muthalikulam DS’s Division;
(ii) on both sides of the newly constructed Seruwila-Polonnaruwa Road within the Seruwila DS’s Division;
(iii) several areas along the Tricomalee-Habarana Road, up to Kithuluthu, the district boundary within the Thampalakamam and Kanthalai DS’s Divisions; and
(iv) on valuable land by the beach in the villages of Irakkandy and Kumburupiddy within the Kuchchaveli DS Division. Sinhalese have attempted to evict the current occupants and in some instances, such eviction has occurred. Such efforts by the members of the majority community are supported by certain sections of the Government.
This is happening in:
(i) Villankulam within the Trincomalee Town and Gravets DS’s Division;
(ii) at Irakkandy within the Kuchchaveli DS’s Division;
(iii) at Palampodder-Pathinipuram within the Thampalakamam DS’s Division.
Threats to language, religion and culture
· Damage/defacement of ancient Lord Shiva temple at Agasthyar Sthapanam in Kanguveli (Muttur, Trincomalee):
On 29th November 2009 worshippers who went to the temple found certain relics damaged/removed. This matter was brought to the attention of the President on 2nd December 2009 by Hon. Sampanthan, who was later informed that the Government Agent/ District Secretary had instructed the Divisional Secretary, Muttur to conduct an investigation, and that a report would be sent to the President.
No further information was received regarding this matter. In May 2010, Hon. Sampanthan wrote to the President, again expressing his concern regarding this issue and stating that he had been informed that the Sri Lanka Naval forces were preventing the public from access to the temple.
· Seven hot wells in Kinniya and the Pilliyar temple situated nearby:
This is a place at which for centuries, Hindus have performed certain religious ceremonies. By letter dated 20th July 2009, Hon. Sampanthan informed the President that he had been informed that a statue of the Lord Buddha had been secretly brought into the area and was likely to be installed.
A complaint was made by Hon. Sampanthan to the Deputy Inspector General of Police and following prompt action by him the statue was removed. Hon. Sampanthan has received information that the priest of the Vilgam Vihara Buddhist temple wants to proceed with his actions. It would seem that commercial benefit is behind these motives – the hot wells are visited by a large number of visitors
· Kalmunai Hospital
The issue regards a hospital with a 120 year history in the Tamil area in Kalmunai. Attempts are being made to reduce the quality of its services/ make it a part of the Ashraff Memorial Hospital, which was established recently and comes under the control of the Central government. This has been done with full knowledge of the fact that Tamil-Muslim rivalry is rife in the area.
The Muslim individual now in charge of the hospital is considered to be biased towards Muslims and serious questions have been raised regarding his work ethics/suitability to hold the position, and the manner in which he obtained the post.
Resettlement / militarization / land grabs
· No one has been properly resettled in Thangavelayuthapuram and Kanchikudiyaru after the war. About 150 families have voluntarily gone back to the said two villages and are living there without any kind of housing, infrastructure development or other assistance.
Schools and other buildings are still in a state of devastation and school children are forced to travel several miles to Thirukovil. Thus, many seem to be staying away from school. These people do not even receive food stamps. They must officially be resettled in those places along with the others of the area and adequate assistance granted to them.
· Around 300 families have not yet been resettled in Kanagar Kiramam (Urani) at the 60th mile post. Although the ‘30 houses scheme’ which was intended to benefit the people of that area is supposedly being implemented there, these families are prevented from access to the area by the military and the STF.
People from other areas have now started to come there and make claims on these lands. The families originally from this area must immediately be resettled there, in their original area of residence, and the houses from the said scheme allocated to them.
· 300 families have not yet been resettled in Selvanayagapuram (Kottukal). These families were engaged in the cultivation of the highland agricultural areas. They must be resettled without further delay.
· 200 families have not been resettled yet at Rottai (Kilanguchenai) and need to be resettled as soon as possible.
· 200 families have been prevented from resettling at Thamaraikulam (Kaliiyapattai).
· Around 4 miles outside Amparai town is the area of Malwatte, in which are the villages of Mallikaitivu and Kanapathipuram, which are ancient habitats. Several private lands and houses there are being occupied by the Police and security forces.
· The people of Sagamam have been prevented from resettling there by the declaration of a new wild life sanctuary.
· Villagers in Panama, Kumana, Helawa and Ragamwela were prevented from resettling after the war by the Sri Lanka Navy. It is believed that the Navy is trying to to acquire this land in order to establish a new camp