Sri Lankan Military Intelligence Threaten Protesting Tamil Fishermen

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While hundreds of fishermen from Maathakal were staging a silent protest on Monday morning in front of the Indian consulate in Jaffna, Sri Lankan military intelligence brought a group of their men, numbering around 100, posing as fishermen, said TamilNet.

The group marched from Naga Vihara Buddhist temple through Palaali Road to the Indian Consulate and attempted to create a violent episode outside the mission, around 10.00am.

The representatives of the Maathakal fishermen society, grasping the sabotage attempt by the occupying Sri Lankan military intelligence, handed over the appeal to Mr Mahalingam, the Consul-General of India, and left the site peacefully.

Sri Lankan intelligence operatives clad in civilian clothes were leading the group of men who were carrying Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s photos in their march from Naga Vihara posing as fishermen from Kurunakar, Paasaiyoor, and Naavanthu’rai.

The group attempted to break into the Indian consulate.

The silent protest by Maathakal fishermen was scheduled to take place till 9.00am.

However, as Mr Mahalingam was not present at the mission, the fishermen were waiting till 10am to hand over their appeal to him.

As the military intelligence-led group was approaching the site, Maathakal fishermen hurriedly handed over the appeal and left the site.

The move has exposed the level of sabotage being deployed by the Sri Lankan military intelligence in using the situation created by intruding Indian fishermen into the territorial waters of Eezham Tamils.

Around 400 Eezham fishermen and their families from Maathakal in Jaffna, led by parish priest S M P Anandakumar, took part in the protest to demand security for themselves and assurance against poaching by Indian fishermen.

Their mouths tied in black cloth, they carried placards, damaged fishing nets and empty pots.

There was a heavy presence of occupying Sri Lanka military to provide security to the Indian mission.

According to the fishermen, the Indian Consul General, Mr Mahalingam had dodged assurances when fishermen representatives met him some days ago.

Since he secured the release of the poaching Indian trawlers and fishermen, he is also now responsible for stopping poaching and providing security in the seas to the affected Eezham fishermen, the demonstrators said.

Fishermen of Kurunakar in Jaffna also plan a similar demonstration.

The Indian method of fishing or rather sweeping the seabed is internationally banned.

It causes serious damage to the future of fishing industry.

The Indian fishermen cause unbearable material losses by cutting off nets laid at sea and even stealing them.

The material losses of Maathakal fishermen alone are over 1,15,00,000 SL rupees, said a letter written by Rev Fr Anandakumar to the Indian envoy in Jaffna.

The Indian fishermen also cause terror in the sea as they carry long swords for cutting the nets and intimidating, said Rev Anandakumar writing the letter on behalf of the fishing community of Maathakal and Maathakal Social Service Centre of St Thomas’ Church.

The priest demanded a ban on trawler fishing and poaching.

‘We wish to point out that this intrusion is not accidental but intended and done quite openly and regularly with perhaps the undercover (agreement) of the authorities in India,’ Rev Anandakumar said in the letter adding that satellite images show trespass further inside the fishing grounds of the island.

l Australian citizen and senior Sri Lankan diplomat Dr Palitha Kohona has been accused of complicity in the murders of three surrendering Tamil Tigers in an application to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands.

Kohona is currently attached to the United Nations Sri Lanka Mission in New York.

TamilNet has obtained the document filed with the ICC prosecutor.

The public copy, spokesperson for the US-based activist group, Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), said, ‘does not include the detailed deposition given under oath by a senior Sri Lanka’s Army Commander who is in hiding in the US.’

The omitted parts of the deposition include a statement which ‘authenticates the fact that commands from higher officials were given to front line commanders to shoot dead surrendees’, the spokesperson said.

The deposition, however, is part of the original filing, the spokesperson added.

The request, filed by the Swiss Council of Eelam Tamils and the US group Tamils Against Genocide, alleges Dr Kohona had been involved in the trio’s (Mahindran Balasingham, Seeveratnam Pulidevan and a man known only as Ramesh) surrender in the days before their death, the paper noted.

A spokeswoman for Australian Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O’Connor, would not comment on the case except to say: ‘Australia is a party to the Rome Statute and, as such, supports action by the court to prosecute crimes falling within its jurisdiction.’

l Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for South Asia of the British Government, Alistair Burt, arrived in Colombo on Monday morning on a two-day official visit.

This is the first ministerial visit to Sri Lanka under the current UK administration, the British High Commission in Colombo in a press release said.

Burt was also scheduled to visit Jaffna, according to the High Commission.

‘During his two-day visit, Minister Burt will meet with the Minister of External Affairs, the Secretary of Defence and the Minister of Economic Development among other key local political figures; representatives of civil society groups; important members of the business community; and staff members of the British High Commission and the British Council in Colombo.

‘He will also be visiting Jaffna,’ the High Commission press release said.

Political observers said the visit is the first visit by a high-level political official from Britain after the Oxford University fiasco where Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s speech was cancelled, and the President’s contingent had to make a quick exit fearing arrest of an ex-Army commander in the group for alleged war-crimes.