Forced labour builds SLA defences

[TamilNet, Saturday, 09 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) is using forced labour to strengthen the Sri Lanka Army - Police checkpoint at Ottamavadi Bridge 36 km north of Batticaloa, following an attack on the position by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) last Tuesday May 5, said sources in Batticaloa.

The SLA got refugees from the neighbouring villages of Peythalai, Kalmadu and Pandimadu, who earn their daily bread by chopping firewood in the shrub jungles west of Valaichenai, to cut trees and build bunkers from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. yesterday.

These refugees make a living out of chopping firewood in the scrub jungles around Poonani and Vakaneri west of Valaichenai, 30 km north of Batticaloa and their forced labour for the SLA deprived them of their livlihood, said sources.

The army permits them to chop firewood in these parts to clear the undergrowth in the vicinity of its camps.

Tamil villagers in the Batticaloa and Amparai districts are used regularly by the SLA and the Special Task Force (STF) as forced labour.

Joseph Pararajasingham, MP (Tamil United Liberation Front, Batticaloa District) in a fax he sent recently to Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, complained about the persistence of this practice at Eruvil, Makiloor and Kurumanveli villages in the Batticaloa District despite his having brought it to her notice in the past.

 

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