Mannar fishermen woes spotlighted
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 11:15 GMT]
In a memorandum issued to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), Wednesday, the Mannar District Fisheries Community highlighted the deprivation of their livelihood due to the ban and restriction imposed by the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) on fishing, and urged human rights organizations to take efforts to improve the livelihood of fisher families, sources from Mannar said.
In the four-year ceasefire period, since October in the year 2005 fishermen in Mannar district are undergoing untold hardships in the hands of the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) who have banned night fishing and have restricted fuel for fishing boats.
Mannar fishermen have not experienced such ban and restrictions even during war time, said the memorandum which was handed over to the Mannar district head of the SLMM Wednesday morning, sources said.
Copies of the memorandum were also sent to envoys of Co-Chairs in Sri Lanka, Peace Secretariats in Colombo and Killinochchi, President Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse, Swedish Embassy in Colombo, Mannar Government Agent, Mannar Bishop and Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka in Mannar.
Fishing period is only for six months in a year in the Mannar Sea. But due to restriction and ban imposed by the Sri Lanka Navy fishermen are unable to go to sea freely and earn for their livelihood. SLN soldiers are purposely delaying fishermen from going to sea in the name of checking and other security measures. SLN soldiers during their patrol stop fishing boats in middle of the sea and harass them for no reason. Such intimidation is shortening the period fishermen spending in sea and also forcing them return shore without enough catch, the memorandum said.
"Since the day the ceasefire agreement was signed, four years ago, we were able to fish with minimum conditions and restrictions. But from October last year fishermen are being harassed, arrested, abducted and disappeared when they go for fishing. These atrocities should be stopped forthwith. The Geneva peace talks should ensure normal life for fishermen and innocent people," the memorandum urged.