Demonstration over cuts in relief

[TamilNet, Monday, 29 June 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Over one thousand people demonstrated in Jaffna today, protesting at the Sri Lankan Government's decision to cut relief for displaced people. The demonstration was organised by an organisation calling itself the 'Movement campaigning for Human Justice'

The march began at Rekka road and proceeded to the Jaffna Kachcheri where demonstrators handed over a memorandum to the Government Agent of Jaffna, to be sent to the Sri Lankan President, Mrs. Chandrika Kumarathunge..

The Divisional Secretary for Jaffna, Mr. S. Senthilnathan, received the memorandum on behalf of the Jaffna GA.

Mr. Senthilnathan told demonstrators that the cut in relief for the displaced people is a serious problem. The consequences of this will be an increase in thefts, black market dealing and other social problems. He promised the demonstrators that the memorandum would be sent to the President.

Members of the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), Eelam People's Revelutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and theTamil United Liberation Front (TULF) also participated in the demonstration.

Following is the translation of the Tamil text of the memorandum sent to the President:

"The Commissioner of Essential Services has decided to cut relief to the displaced people in the Kilinochchi, Mullaitheevu, Mannar and Jaffna districts following your instruction. This will lead to starvation among the people in the northern province.

Large parts of the Jaffna are not suitable for resettlement due to security reasons. Fishermen who have been allowed to settle are allowed to go for fishing only up to 500 metres to one kilometre, and in some of these areas there is even a ban on fishing.

The farmers are unable to market their products and many cultivating areas are minefields.

Continuing war has resulted in further increase in number of refugees. People are not allowed to settle in parts of Kilinochchi that are not controlled by the Army. Furthermore, thousands have become refugees due to military operations launched to open Vavuniya-Mannar road. Many more have become refugees following the ongoing operation Jayasikurui to open the Vavuniya- Jaffna road.

The announced cut in the relief at this point is regrettable.

Maddam President!

Four percent defence tax is levied from the people. Money is collected for the war from the rich and the poor. 50,000 million rupees (approximately 793 million US dollars) are spent on defence annually. But you hesitate to spend 2880 million rupees (approximately 46 million US dollars) on relief for the refugees that the war has produced.

The Sinhala refugees in the border villages and the Muslim people who were expelled by the Tigers get their relief without any disruption. At the same time, the decision has been taken to cut relief to the displaced Tamils.

This makes make us doubt your policy of 'one nation one people'.

It is not necessary for us explain the prevailing situation here. We urge to approach this problem in a humane way, and to revoke your decision.

 

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