Mannar HSZs discussed as re-settler loses arm

[TamilNet, Saturday, 29 March 2003, 19:12 GMT]
The Bishop of Mannar said Saturday that High Security Zones (HSZs) are necessary only during war and that displaced people should return to their homes as there is peace now. The armed forces should understand this and leave the HSZs at least in stages, Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph said, speaking at a seminar in Mannar Saturday.

The seminar ‘Resettlement and High Security Zones’ was organised jointly by the Catholic Church’s Valvuthayam centre in Mannar and the Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies in Colombo.

Representatives of the Sri Lankan security forces, the Catholic Church, the deputy leader of the LTTE’s political division in Mannar and some prominent members from the local community took part in the seminar.

Problems facing resettling refugees, including their safety, were discussed. It was suggested that dry rations should be given to resettling refugees without further delays. The fact that the inability of parents to resettle in their homes located in HSZs is affecting the education of their children was pointed out.

Mr. Sinnathamby Ponnaiah, a civil society leader from the village of Nagathaalvu, east of Mannar town, said that he had written many letters to the Prime Minister, urging him to free his village located in the Thallady HSZ. He lamented that he is still unable to return to his village and cultivate his lands because the area continues to remain inside that zone.

Representatives of the Sri Lankan security forces, however, agreed to allow devotees to hold the annual feast of the St. Thomas Church in Nagathaalvu on 16 April.

Dr. Mario Gomes represented the Berghof Foundation and Rev. S. Jesurajah, Valvuthayam.

Mr. K.W.E Karaliyadde, additional secretary to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence Major. General Nanda Mallawarachchi, SLA’s Deputy Commander for Vanni Brigadier T. G Thilakaratne, commander Vavuniya, Brigadier K. S Fernando, commander, Mannar and Sri Lanka Navy’s Northcentral Naval area Commodore W. Tennekoon took part.

Meanwhile, a re-settling refugee, Mr. J. P Pieris, 36, lost his right arm Saturday in a land mine explosion while clearing his homestead in an HSZ in Vangalai, south of Mannar, which was vacated by the Sri Lankan armed forces after the ceasefire. He received serious injury in his left eye too, Mannar Base hospital sources said.

The SLA and Police had been encamped in a HSZ in Thomaspuri in Vangalai. Homes in this area, including that of Mr. Pireis were taken over by the Sri Lankan armed forces for setting up the HSZ, his relatives said.

 

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