Fishermenís pass restriction to stay
[TamilNet, Thursday, 20 June 2002, 01:28 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Navy has refused to implement an agreement on passes for Tamil fishermen announced after a recent conference between the latter's representatives and the Defence Ministry officials in Colombo, sources said.
In a meeting at the Jaffna Secretariat Monday , the Navy has said that the current pass system for fishermen would not be removed as had earlier been agreed. This would only happen if the Ministry of Fisheries and Ocean Resources provided new identification cards to the fishermen, the Navy said.
The meeting at the Jaffna Secretariat was chaired by the Government Agent, Mr. K. Shanmuganathan. Participants included Northern Navy Commander Sarath Wijesekara, Senior Navy Officer Wickremasinghe, Commanding Officers of the Sri Lanka Army's 51 divisions (T.T.Ranjith.de Silva) and 52 division (Wijetunga), President of the Federation of Fishermen's Societies Mr. S. Thavaratnam, and representatives from the Fishermen's societies in the peninsula.
At the meeting, the Navy reiterated the condition that though night-day fishing is nominally allowed, the fishermen can return to the shore only at day. The Navy said that if the fishermen go to the checkpoints in their areas, provide photos and other details to the Navy, they can get permission to fish in the sea.
Meanwhile, the senior Navy officers in the meeting said that they planned to visit Columbuthurai and the Kachchai Licoria Church area later to conduct an inspection and send detailed findings to the Defence Secretary on the possibility of allowing fishermen in these areas to resume their livelihoods.
The Navy said at the meeting that the fishermen's societies could contact the local security forces officers through the divisional secretaries regarding day-to-day problems linked to fishing.