STF resumes forced labour
[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 May 1999, 23:01 GMT]
Special Task Force (STF) commandos of the Sri Lankan Police announced Saturday that all males of the village of Aaraiyampathi should report at the STF camp on Sunday morning at 6 a.m. with axes, knives and other implements. The announcement was made over loudhailers at the Aaraiyampathi Sivan Temple.
Aaraiyampathi is 6 km south of Batticaloa on the Batticaloa-Kalmunai road.
The Sri Lankan security forces in the East have been accused by human rights groups of forcing villagers surrounding its camps to do work such as cleaning toilets, shrub jungle and build defences, in and around their camps.
The STF had been forcing local males, both adults and school going boys of Puthukkudiyiruppu band Kirankulam to engage in hard labour every Sunday.
However, the practice has been curtailed for the last month after the Human Rights Commission in Colombo took up the issue of forced labour with the authorities.
The Batticaloa MP, Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham has also protested several times over the practice.
Sources said the cleaning of jungles and shrubs in and around the camps can be dangerous due to unexploded ordinance.
Last month a youth cleaning the Peythaalai camp's premises on the Kalkudha road in Valaichenai, was wounded in both eyes when a bomb exploded. He was been admitted at the Colombo hospital with severe facial injuries.
Meanwhile four inebriated Sri Lankan Policemen from the Kalkudha police station had gone to the fishing hamlet of Paasikudha, about 37 km. north of Batticaloa, around 4.30 p.m. Saturday and attempted to molest women.
The women had however, managed to escape by screaming, following which the enraged officers had destroyed the womenís huts.
Later the villagers went to the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) camp to make a complaint.
But the SLA had told them that the matter should be reported to the Police as it was a civil matter.
The villagers, fearing reprisals, had not gone to the police station to complain.
Two policemen had gone to the village later and told the villagers that they would provide material needed to repair the huts.
Three days ago the Kalkudha police raided several illicit liquor brewers and arrested nearly 50 men and women. The police have filed cases against 10 of them.