Poya day sweetmeat at SLA camp turns sour
[TamilNet, Saturday, 01 May 1999, 23:34 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) at Nagar kovil asked all the civilians in Maamunai who had been ordered by it on April 24 to cut the mangroves by the road to Eluthumadduvaal from Vadamaradchi east to report to the camp yesterday.
Many went to the camp expecting handouts of sweetmeats and other gifts in connection with the religious observations for the Poya full moon day, sacred to the Sinhala Buddhists. (The SLA is 90 percent Sinhala Buddhist).
The Nagar Kovil army had, however, told them that they had to sign letters claiming categorically that they had cut the mangroves voluntarily and not under any coercion by the SLA.
Eighteen residents of Maamunai who went ahead of the others to the Nagar Kovil army camp yesterday were made to sign the letters.
Others who were summoned by Nagar Kovil SLA turned back home when they came to know what had transpired at the camp from those who had signed the letters claiming that they had voluntarily engaged in the clearing of the mangroves on April 24.
Sources said that those who did not go to sign the letters at the Nagar Kovil camp are apprehensive that they might be harassed or punished.
24.04.99 SLA accused of using forced labour