Thousands Of Tamil Families Are Denied The Right To Return

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Demonstrators in London last June condemn the Sri Lankan regime’s ‘Nazi-style concentration camps’ for detained Tamils
Demonstrators in London last June condemn the Sri Lankan regime’s ‘Nazi-style concentration camps’ for detained Tamils

CIVILIANS uprooted from Valikaamam in Vadamaraadchi 20 years ago by the occupying Sri Lanka Army (SLA), who converted their lands into a High Security Zone (HSZ), have lost all hopes of return, reports TamilNet.

This is despite repeated promises and announcements made by government ministers, officials and the Jaffna SLA Commander as SLA authorities continue to deny permission for resettlement, according to A C Nadarajah, one of nearly a hundred thousand uprooted people in the Jaffna peninsula.

Mr Nadarajah, a former principal, social activist and the present manager of ‘Yarl Thinakural’ in Jaffna, leads one of the welfare organisations for uprooted civilians in the area.

‘It is obvious that the main reason for this predicament is the refusal of the SLA to hand over the lands and properties confiscated from thousands of families in the Jaffna peninsula,’ Nadarajah told journalists.

As a last course of action in the face of broken promises Nadarajah and his fellow activists are to gather in Thellippazhai today to seek a final decision in the issue of resettlement. They expect the newly elected Jaffna parliamentarians and government authorities including ministers to be present.

Jaffna GA (Government Agent) official, K Ganesh, however, is attempting to block the above gathering by refusing permission for the Monday meeting, to which a hundred uprooted civilians have been invited to take part, Nadarajah said.

During the recent Sri Lankan presidential and parliamentary elections, the hopes of the uprooted had been kept raised by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his brother and advisor Basil Rajapaksa, SL Minister Douglas Devananda, Northern Province Governor Major Gen G A Chandrasiri and Ganesh (the GA for Jaffna) with promises of speedy resettlement in their properties that they were thrown out of by the SLA.

A special committee including a Jaffna High Court judge, GA’s and Jaffna SLA Commander was set up according to the directive of the Colombo Supreme Court to expedite resettlement of Valikaamam North residents by the SLA, in their own lands.

But this special committee has done nothing so far to resettle the uprooted civilians.

Meanwhile, SLA authorities and key government officials have informed the uprooted civilians that they will be allowed to resettle in twenty-five villages in the first stage.

Three weeks ago, Jaffna GAs announced that only ten villages have been earmarked for resettlement.

Local media, believing these announcements, had published the news raising the hopes of the uprooted civilians.

But, so far not a single uprooted civilian has been allowed to resettle anywhere, Nadrajah said.

Nadarajah, himself one among the many uprooted who expected the promises of the above persons of authority to be fulfilled, is disappointed and frustrated at being repeatedly refused entry to his own properties in Valikaamam North by the SLA.

He has been addressing the issues of the displaced and uprooted since 1987 when he played a leading role in the resettlement of the people of his own village, Kurumpasiddi.

Evicted by the SLA twenty years ago, Nadarajah continues to live with his friend who had offered him shelter in Urumpiraay.

• The former caretaker of the Uduppiddi LTTE Heroes Resting Home has been found dead in Jaffna.

His body was discovered on Saturday evening near the cremation grounds in Veampadi area in Thunnaalay South, Karaveddi, Vadamaraadchi, sources in Jaffna said.

He was naked and his hands had been bound, he also had many assault injuries.

The victim was identified as Nallaiah Baskaran, 44, the father of four children.

On Saturday morning he had gone to the area where his body was found to attend a relative’s funeral, but he had not returned home.

Baskaran, who was serving as the caretaker of the said Heroes Resting Home in Uduppiddi, had fled Jaffna due to Sri Lanka Army (SLA) harassment and sought refuge in a camp in Vanni.

He had been permitted to return to Jaffna recently.

l Nearly one thousand seven hundred families from traditional Tamil villages (such as Navaratnapuram, Koonitheivu, Champoor, Soodaikuda, and Kadatkaraichchenai in Moothoor east in Trincomalee district) uprooted since April 2006 in the military operation launched by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) will not be resettled immediately.

The decision to resettle them should come from the Government of Sri Lanka, Eastern Provincial Governor Mohan Wijewickrema told a delegation of the Association of Champoor Uprooted Tamil Families that met him in the Governor’s office in Trincomalee last Friday, sources said.

The delegation was led by its President K Nageswaran. Moothoor Divisional Secretary N Selvanayagam also attended the discussion.

The delegation told the Governor that a government politician, Susantha Punchi Nilame, had visited the uprooted Tamil families now being sheltered in welfare centres in Killiveddy, Manalchenai and Pattithiddal during the electioneering, and promised them that if he won in the general election that was held on April 8th, they would be resettled in their villages, although they come under the so-called High Security Zone declared by the SLA.

Punchi Nilame was elected for Trincomalee district and has been appointed a Minister. But his promise has not been kept.

The Association requested the Governor whether he would take steps to implement the assurance given by the government minister. But the Governor said he was not in a position to implement the assurance given by the minister.

The delegation of the Association then brought to the notice of the Governor the plight of the uprooted Tamil families now being held in huts made up of tin sheets who have been suffering due to a heat wave and diseases. People don’t have enough space to sleep or to maintain privacy, the delegation told the Governor. The families also suffer due to shortage of drinking water and water for their day to day activities.

l Despite government publicity that all facilities have been restored to Jaffna peninsula the present power cut continues to be enforced in rotation and is likely to remain indefinitely due to shortage of electricity production in the peninsula, Sri Lanka Electricity Board (SLEB) Jaffna office sources said.

The failure of the Chinese firm ‘Northern Power, which is alleged to be a shadow company of Basil Rajapakse, the brother of President Mahinda Rajapakse, that had entered into a contract with the government three years ago to supply electricity for the entire peninsula, is the basic cause for the shortage, the sources added.

Presently, a power cut is being enforced for two to three hours a night in a rotation system covering all parts of the Jaffna peninsula.

The SLEB Jaffna authorities are hesitant about taking legal action against Northern Power for not living up to the contract, as they fear pressure from higher authorities as Northern Power enjoys the support of the politically powerful Basil Rajapakse, an official who wished to remain anonymous said.