Will fast to death says Jaffna refugee

[TamilNet, Sunday, 11 January 2004, 11:28 GMT]
Mr.Sellakili Anandaraja, a refugee in Jaffna whose home and fields are occupied by the Sri Lanka amy said Sunday he would fast to death if he and more than 600 diplaced families in the Thenmaradchi divison of Jaffna are not permitted resettle in their villages before the end of January 2004.

Mr. Anandarajah,42, is the President of the Maravanpulavu Central Barathy Community Centre.

"We had to leave our villages on 12 December 1999 when the Sri Lanka army started military operations here. The army has been occupying our homes and lands since then", he told TamilNet.

More than 600 families that were driven out of their villages in Thanangkilappu, Navatkuly, Mravanpulavu and Navatkuly have been agitating since Colombo signed a truce with the Liberation Tigers in February 2002 that they be allowed to resettle in their homes.

But the SLA refuses to let them come to their villages, which are enclosed by its large garrisons.

Negotiations between displaced farmers in this are and the SLA to restart cultivation in some parts of this region once considered Jaffna's rice bowl failed to yeild positive results despite initial promises by the military to permit limited access to the lands inside the garrisoned areas.

The families protested in front of the Thenmaradchi Divisional Secretary's office in May last year, urging Colombo to let them go back to their villages.

They have also been petitioning Colombo and senior government officials in Jaffna about their predicament.

"I have had to move from house to house with my family as each one's owners come back to claim their homes and ask us to move out. I had change four houses last year. We cannot lead a miserable life like this when our homes and lands lying derelict out there", Mr. Anandarajah said.

He said he wrote to Sri Lanka's Prime Minister regarding the plight of IDPs in Thenmaradchi.

"I will start my fast unto death on 4 February, Sri Lanka's independence day, if there is no positive response from Colombo before the end of this month", he said.


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