News In Brief
[TamilNet, Friday, 03 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The Sri Lankan military is restricting the amount of food allowed into the islands off the Jaffna peninsula. In Trincomalee district, the LTTE has released 12 detainees and the Sri Lankan navy has arrested 98 Tamil fishermen - for fishing.
Islanders' food supplies restricted
The Sri Lankan army and navy have imposed severe restrictions on the transport of food and other commodities to the islands off the Jaffna peninsula.
Small businessmen in the islands of Punguduthivu, Nainathivu and Nedunthivu have been severely affected as a result of these measures.
The punitive restrictions were imposed after a fire-fight between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers on the island of Punguduthivu on September 17.
Tamil civilians from these islands who come in large numbers to Jaffna to buy provisions are permitted by the pre-dominantly Sinhalese Sri Lankan army to take only two kilograms of rice and another two of vegetables on each visit.
The restrictions are causing great difficulties for the people living in the islands, as it is impossible for them to travel to Jaffna everyday to buy provisions.
LTTE releases 12 detainees
The Liberation Tigers released eleven Muslim fishermen and a Sinhalese who they had detained at the coastal village of Irakkakkandy north of Trincomalee in July.
They were arrested by the LTTE amid reports they had been involved in attacking and capturing a Sea Tiger unit which had sought assistance in Irakkakkandy following an accident at sea. The LTTE said that those detained would be released if they were not involved in the incident.
The leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, who is the cabinet minister for ports and shipping, thanked the Liberation Tigers in a press release on Wednesday. He also stated that this would help strengthen the relationship between the Muslim ands the Tamils.
Tamil fishermen defy ban
Tamil Fishermen in Mutur defied a government ban on fishing in sea on Wednesday, saying that they would have to face starvation if they were to stay at home.
Last week 98 fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy for also defying the ban in sea off the Mutur coast. Among the arrested were two boys who are less than twelve years old.
Relatives of the arrested fishermen who came to Trincomalee on Tuesday said "We can hope to have at least one square meal a day only if our men folk go out to sea. This is why they have no option but to risk arrest and other dangers, to go fishing in the waters where our people have found their livelihood for generations".
The Navy's action has created tension amongst the civilians in the Mutur area. The Sri Lankan government has banned fishing by Tamils, citing security concerns, but encourages Sinhalese fishermen to put to sea (without competition).
The ban has exacerbated the impoverishment of the large Tamil fishing population on the island.