Displaced refugees ask to go home
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 28 April 1999, 20:11 GMT]
(News Feature) Representatives of the Akkaraipattu south Citizen's Committee and several leaders of Tamil village committees from the hinterlands of Sri Lanka's south-eastern coast met Minister for Ports, Shipping, Rehabilitation, Mr. M.H.M Ashraff today in Kalmunai to urge him that more than 1200 Tamil families evacuated forcibly by the Special Task Force Commandos (STF) in 1990 be allowed to resettle in their traditional places of habitation.
The civilian representatives from the villages of Thirukkovil and Thmbiluvil told the Minister that the 1200 families who were forcibly removed from the interior villages of Thangavelayuthapuram, Kanjikudichcha Aaru, Thaamaraikkulam, Udumbankulam, Kombaikarachchi, Kanjirangkudah etc, by the Special Task Force (STF) commandos in 1990 have to eke out a living on a monthly government dole of 1200 rupees (17 USD) per family.
The pointed out to him that the majority of these have no means of finding employment or securing extra-income and that their shelter and sanitation facilities are in ruins.
The meeting was at the Kalmunai Mahmood Girl's School.
Mr.M.H.M Ashraff told the delegation that he would help the families resettle if the Ministry of Defence gives security clearance for these people to resettle in their villages.
The community leaders of the affected population pointed out to the minister that the farmers who were driven out from the hamlets on the edge of the Kanjikudichcha Aaru jungles in 1990 have lost their cattle and agricultural implements and that their once fertile lands are useless today as they have lain fallow for nine years.
The minister was also told that the STF had destroyed all the boats and nets of inland fishermen living in the Kanjikudichcha Aaru region and that these fisherfolk need assistance in kind to restart life in the home areas.
More than two thousand families from the interior Tamil hamlets lying on the island's south-eastern coast between Thirukkovil and Pottuvil were driven out by the STF in 1990 for the ostensible purpose of depriving the Liberation Tigers in the region of material and popular support.
A massacre of about forty civilians by the Sri Lanka security forces in the village of Udumbankulam was reported by human rights activists in the east at the time when the forcible evacuation was underway.
The 1991 report of the human rights body, Amnesty International, said that between June and October 1990 alone at least 3,000 Tamil people were killed by government security forces in Amparai.
The STF has stubbornly refused to let these families resettle in their villages or let cultivation resume in the region since 1991.
A social worker in the area said that the STF is not keen to let people resettle although it regularly claims that it has neutralised the Liberation Tigers in the Kanjikudichcha Aaru jungles.
Thirukkovil, the ancient Tamil village, is 78 kn. south of Batticaloa by the sea coast. The village derives its name from its Chola period temple.
The Kanjikudichcha Aaru jungles are six km. further south west of Thirukkovil.