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Saturday, May 8, 2021

No protection in sea or land: Kilinochchi fishers were tortured by Sri Lanka Navy

File photo of Sri Lanka Navy.

Fishers of Valaipadu fisher village of Pooneryn Division of Kilinochchi District have been tortured, punished and humiliated by the Sri-Lankan navy in mid sea and at the Valaipadu navy camp for hours. These undignified and brutal atrocities have happened on 9th April 2020 from 2:30 am to several hours against seven fishermen of this village. These fishers are members of the “Annammal Fisheries Cooperative Society” and they usually fish in the sea area between Iranaitivu and Paalaithivu.

According to the affected fishers, on 8th of April mid night around 12:00 o’clock (i.e. 9th am) seven of them had gone to sea to catch sea cucumbers. As at that time Indian trawlers had encroached and catching fish in Valaipadu sea area, these fishers couldn’t get anything and decided to return. While they were returning to the coast at around 2.30 am a fishing boat approached them and they saw there were two navy personnel in that boat and they were in their uniform and with weapons and batons. They further stated that the navy men got into their boat and started to beat up the fishers with the batons and kicked them by the boots’ legs. Once they reached the land, the Valaipadu beach, again navy beaten them up.

From the beach, all the seven fishers were taken to the Nagamunai Valaipadu navy camp. At the camp, the fishers were subjected to various types of atrocities for hours. Each of them explained what had happened to them in the navy camp:

“ I am 29 years old. They hit me with a baton. Made me to do push ups for 20 times and made me to walk like a duck up to 100 meters two times and more than 50 times I was told to sit down on the ground and standup”

“ I am 28 years old. They hit me with a baton. Made me to do push ups for 25 times and made me to walk like a duck up to 100 meters two times and more than 40 times I was told to sit down on the ground and standup”

“ I am 30 years old. They kicked me by the legs of their boots and hit me. Made me to do push ups for 25 times and made me to walk like a duck up to 100 meters two times and more than 50 times I was told to sit down on the ground and standup”

“ I am 49 years old. They hit me with the big diving shoes for five times. Made me to do push ups for 20 times and made me to walk like a duck up to 100 meters two times and more than 50 times I was told to sit down on the ground and stand up. Now I am suffering with fever and unable to walk”

“ I am 33 years old. They hit me with a baton. Made me do pushups 25 times and made me walk like a duck up to 100 meters two times and more than 50 times I was told to sit down on the ground and standup”

“ I am 33 years old. They hit me with a baton. Made me do pushups 20 times and made me walk like a duck up to 100 meters two times and more than 50 times I was told to sit down on the ground and standup”

“ I am 35 years old. They hit me with a baton. Made me to do pushups for 20 times and made me walk like a duck up to 100 meters two times and more than 50 times I was told to sit down on the ground and standup”

“ I am 19 years old. They hit me with a baton. Made me do pushups 20 times and made me walk like a duck up to 100 meters two times and more than 50 times I was told to sit down on the ground and standup”

The affected fishers said, that they were in fear and did what the navy had told them to do. Around 9.30 am the fishers were taken to Kilinochchi courts by the navy and filed a case against the fishers. The charges leveled against the fishers were that they had caught sea cucumbers at nighttime and thrown it in the sea when they saw the navy. The navy also submitted the fishers’ boat, boat engine, and all of the seven fishers’ goggles, booties, torch lights to the court. Fishers stated as Indian trawlers were there they were able to collect only one cucumber which is nearly worth just 150 rupees (less than one US dollar).

According to the fishers, that they depend on the sea for livelihood and from that incident, they have lost the income as they are unable to go to sea. Their case will be heard in May again.

 

– by NECC, SriLanka

 

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