'Systematic Sinhalisation in North' - Tamil politicians

In the name of keeping the security tight in the former war zones, the government of Sri Lanka “is systematically Sinhalising the traditional fishing livelihood of the war-ravaged Tamils in the northern Jaffna and north-eastern Mullaitivu districts”, a top political party leader has said.

Speaking to media after undertaking a fact-finding field visit to the former war zones of Mullaitivu, Vadamaradchchi east, Kokkilai and Naayaru areas, former MP and leader of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam has said that the motive of this systematic campaign was to “eliminate the very existence of the traditional Tamil nation as a whole”.

“While preventing the war-affected Tamil people from carrying out fishing livelihood in their native places, the government and the security forces have established systematic Sinhala settlements in these areas and allowed them to carryout fishing at their will with full protection,” former MP Ponnambalam said.

Recalling that the Tamils have been carrying out fishing traditionally in the seas from Amparai to Vadamaradchchi east as their major livelihood for several hundred years, he said that the government “under the guise of national security, has largely curtailed the routine activities of the people in these areas and purposefully deprived them of their livelihood”.  

Systematic Sinhala colonisations

Giving details of the newly established Sinhala settlements along these coastal areas, he said that over 300 Sinhala fishing families have been permanently settled in the Naayaru area alone.

“As of 1960 Census of population, only 35 Sinhala families were allowed to do fishing temporarily - that too during a specific season of every year in the Kokkilai areas. But during our visit we were able to witness over 300 Sinhalese fishing families being permanently settled along the coastal belt to carryout fishing. Of this, about 200 families have been officially registered as permanent residents of this area.

Calling it “nothing but a systematic campaign to decimate very existence of the Tamil nation,” Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam invited all Tamil political forces to jointly fight for the rights of these “helpless people”.

Commenting on the issue, Jaffna District Parliamentarian of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Suresh K. Premachandran said that the situation was the same even when their party members undertook visits to Kokkilai, Kokkuthoduvai, Chemmalai, Naayaru and Mullaitivu just two months ago.

Erection of Buddha statues and land grabs in North

He said that the issues of Sinhala colonisation, settlement of Sinhala fishing families, land grabs, establishing Buddhist Temples in private lands and further expanding military cantonments are at its peak in these areas,” he said.

“Last week, a statue of Lord Buddha was unveiled in Kanakarayankum. The military can do anything in these areas and they are not answerable to anybody. Those who highlight these issues in the media or take it up with the members of the international community are intimidated and threatened. We don’t see any effort to stop such activities aiming bridge the gab with the Sinhala brethrens,” the Jaffna District MP said.

A new pattern of religion-based violence could be noticed elsewhere in the country with the saffron-robed Sinhala radical Buddhist monks staging violent protests for the removal of Hindu temples and Mosques.

On September 01,  an annual chariot festival of a famous Hindu temple in Dambulla in the Central Matale district was forced to abandon due to a strong protest by the powerful Buddhist clergies in the area. According to reports from Colombo, the local police had told the Hindu devotees they would not be able to guarantee their safety if they were to still go ahead with the planned chariot festival ceremony against protest by the Buddhist monks in the area.

This has come barely a couple of days after President Mahinda Rajapaksa at an election rally in the Muslim predominated Kalmunai town in the eastern province, assured that he would not allow anybody to disrupt or destroy places of worship.

President is well aware

“The President says something for the public consumption, but in practice you could see Lord Buddha statues being unveiled virtually in every few hundred meters in Jaffna. He is encouraging such activities and has not taken any step to stop them. It is a fact that the Mosques are being destroyed and new Buddhist temples are being erected. Lands belonging to Muslims are being grabbed in the East while lands belonging to Tamils are being grabbed in the North”.

“These are open secrets and the President is well aware of what has been going on. It is a complete lie to say nothing of that sort is happening. I reiterate here that this government is working hard on eliminating all the historic and traditional Tamil identities systematically. All Tamil forces should work together to stop this while efforts should be made to mount international pressure on this government to arrest this dangerous trend,” MP Premachandran said.

Photo courtesy: Tamilnet



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