Champoor Tamil Families Demand To Return To Their Own Homes!

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Champoor residents at the protest demanded that they be allowed to resettle in their own lands in Moorthoor East
Champoor residents at the protest demanded that they be allowed to resettle in their own lands in Moorthoor East

A SECTION of uprooted Tamil families from Champoor, now staying at one of four so-called welfare centres in Trincomalee, staged a protest on Saturday.

They carried slogans that demanded justice for genocide and urged global attention on the continued refusal by the Colombo government in allowing them to resettle in their own lands in Moorthoor East.

On Friday, a day before the protest, the occupying Sri Lankan military intelligence operatives, went on a house-to-house and camp-to-camp round instructing the Tamils not to take part in any protest during the ‘Sri Lanka CHOGM’.

Subsequently, the protest was held in the premises of Ki’liveddi camp.

The SL police who came to the Ki’liveddi camp on Saturday confronted the protesters and said they should not carry any placards with slogans.

However, the uprooted people were firm in staging their protest with the presence of Tamil politicians.

The Tamil councillors present at the protest told the media that they backed the event amidst the prevailing harassments to pass a message to the global community that Eezham Tamils are languishing in the East while the heads of the Commonwealth meeting in Colombo was giving undue recognition to a State that has committed genocide on Eezham Tamils.

The uprooted people have not even provided refugee relief allowance for the last several months, the TNA councillors told local media.

When events of global significance, such as the CHOGM meet in Colombo or the Human Rights Council Sessions in Geneva, a few uprooted people were hurriedly relocated from camps or elsewhere to some of their occupied villages, but they were not provided any meaningful assistance to resettle or resume their livelihoods, the Tamil councillors said.

During the recent Geneva session, 89 families were brought to Kooniththeevu, 139 families to Navaratnapuram and 87 families to Choodaik-kudaa. Now, eight months have passed, the families are still languishing as before. The people have no means to travel to their village as the road runs through Champoor, which is occupied by the SL military.

‘This is a systematic structural genocide. Without justice for the Tamil genocide, there will be no permanent solution.

‘Now, with Sri Lanka CHOGM in Colombo, the international community and even the visiting journalists to Colombo have completely forgotten the East,’ a councillor of the Eastern Provincial Council said.

Seven Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians and most of the Tamil councillors in the opposition of the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) from the three districts of Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampaa’rai came together to the protest led by the opposition leader S Thandauthapan.

TNA Parliamentary Group Leader R Sampanthan was present there with TNA parliamentarians from East Pon Selvarasa, P Ariyanethiran, and S Yogeswaran and the MPs from other districts S Sritharan, Selvam Adaikkalanathan together with the national list MP MA Sumanthiran.

Former MPs Thuraratnasingam and K Thurairasasingham (now a councillor in the EPC) were also present at the protest with EPC members of TNA from Trincomalee, K Nageswaran and J Jegatheesan and from Batticaloa G Karunaharan, N Indirakumar (Prasanna), R Thurairetnam, and M Nadarasa and M Irajeswaran and T Kalaiyarasan from Trincomalee.

Champoor uprooted Tamils are now held in four camps, Manat-cheanai, Paddith-thidal, Ki’liveddi and Kaddaipa’richchaan since 2006.

There are more than 2,500 families consisting of at least 6,500 people, who are forced to stay in camps or elsewhere with their relatives and friends, a TNA MP told TamilNet on Saturday.

The SL militarisation and so-called ‘economic zone’ of occupation has rendered the people of 22 villages in Moothoor East in a worse situation than during the times of the war, the MP further said.

‘The people are denied of the freedom of expression. Just a few hours before Ms Navanetham Pillay was about to visit these camps, vociferous persons in these camps were taken into custody by the military, a TNA councillor reminded.

On Saturday, the TNA leader R Sampanthan present at the site told the SL police that there was no need for the organisers to seek prior permission to stage peaceful gatherings of religious nature.

The special squad of the occupying Sri Lanka Police trying to block the gathering was arguing that the protesters should not hold placards publicly. The SL Police OIC MA Naufer was claiming that the uprooted people were standing in ‘state land’ while protesting.

However, the presence of TNA parliamentarians provided the space for the people to raise their slogans despite their criticism that TNA MPs only visit them on occasions of global significance apart from when they visit them seeking votes.

•Lee Rhiannon, a Greens Party Senator from New South Wales, during a debate in the Australian parliament following her return from Sri Lanka on the eve of the Commonwealth meeting (CHOGM), said that the situation in the NorthEast under the Mahinda Rajapakse regime is dire.

She added that the Sri Lanka army’s involvement in civilian life is pervasive and Australia is turning a blind eye to credible allegations of continuing torture, rape and crimes against humanity reported by respected Rights groups and by several video documentaries from Channel 4.

Rhiannon pointed out the increasingly voiced broad consensus from several countries for an international investigation into the war-crimes by the Rajapakse regime, and praised the CHOGM boycott of several Prime Ministers in spotlighting Sri Lanka’s continuing dismal rights record and lack of accountability for war-crimes.

Rhiannon described the boycott of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mauritius Prime Minister, Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, and also Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, were brave acts that have exposed the inevitability of Sri Lanka having to account for the crimes committed during the war.

l The Sri Lankan state as well as Britain, India and the USA will be accused of orchestrating genocide on the Tamil people by the International Human Rights Association Bremen (IMRV) and the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka (IFPSL).

The charge will be heard by a Tribunal held under the aegis of the Rome based ‘Permanent Peoples Tribunal’ (PPT). The ‘People’s Tribunal’ relies on a high profile panel of judges that has been selected by the PPT to invoke a robust moral opinion.

A press statement issued jointly by IFPSL and IMRV on Thursday follows:

‘Despite public calls from Canada not to hold the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Sri Lanka and protests within India forcing Manmohan Singh to join the boycott, Britain has succeeded in assembling 50 out of the 53 commonwealth countries in Colombo to ‘engage’ the Sri Lankan state – precisely at the time when the terrible crimes that were committed against the Tamil people are beginning to be internationally acknowledged.

‘Next month, in Germany, the Sri Lankan state as well as Britain, India and the USA will be accused of orchestrating a genocide on the Tamil people by the International Human Rights Association Bremen (IMRV) and the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka (IFPSL).

‘These charges that are being put forward by the IMRV and the IFPSL will be heard by a Tribunal held under the aegis of the Rome based ‘Permanent Peoples Tribunal’ (PPT). The PPT continues in the spirit of the Jean-Paul Sartre/Bertrand Russell’s Tribunal on Vietnam. The ‘People’s Tribunal’ relies on a high profile panel of judges that has been selected by the PPT to invoke a robust moral opinion. The PPT has invited representatives of the four accused countries to Germany to answer charges put forward by their accusers the IMRV and the IFPSL. The Tribunal will take place in Bremen – during 7th-10th December 2013.

‘This hearing continues a previous‚ ‘People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka‚’ that was held in Dublin in January 2010‚ – just seven months after the military operations were concluded by the Sri Lankan armed forces. In that instant, the Panel of Judges assembled by the PPT had found the Sri Lankan state guilty of ‘war crimes’ and ‘crimes against humanity’.

‘It also held that pressure from the UK/USA governments contributed to the breakdown of the 2002 peace process between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Government of Sri Lanka, precipitating the war. Though the charges put forward by the IFPSL and the IMRV at that time did not contain the accusation of genocide, the Dublin panel, due to the character of the evidence put before them, recommended that further investigation may be necessary regarding the question of genocide.

‘Speaking for IFPSL – one of the organisations preparing the charges for the follow up Tribunal to be held in Bremen – Dr Jude Lal Fernando stated: ‘The fact that substantial, quantitative and qualitative new evidence has become available is one of the reasons that compels us to call upon the PPT once again to assemble a panel to examine the charge of genocide against the Tamil people’.

‘Mr Nicolai Jung from the IMRV stated that the follow up Tribunal is called upon to not only investigate whether a genocide of the Tamils has and is taking place in Sri Lanka but also to examine the extent to which countries like Britain, USA and India are involved in this crime. He went on to say that this will help to throw light as to why Britain is showing such determination to try to use its commonwealth to underwrite the Sri Lankan state.’