NorthEast shuts down against de-merger

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 October 2006, 07:38 GMT]
The entire districts of NorthEast Wednesday came to a standstill following a shut down protest expressing Tamil opposition to Colombo's move to de-merge the NorthEast. Very few vehicles plied the streets, shops remained closed, businesses and private institutions remained closed and the Tamil towns in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) controlled areas, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Mannar and Jaffna were deserted, despite the threats by the SLA and paramilitaries.

Batticaloa town
Shops remained closed in Batticaloa opposing NE de-merger

The shut down Hartal protest was called by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) last Friday.

Armed troopers of the Sri Lanka Army entered the shops in Jaffna district Tuesday and warned the business owners not to shut down their businesses Wednesday when Tamils in NorthEast were to protest against Colombo's move to de-merge the NorthEastern Province (NEP).

The soldiers have warned that the shop owners would not be allowed to open their shops again if they supported the protest campaign against Colombo's move to de-merge the NorthEast.

Hartal was observed in Vavuniya despite threats posed by Sri Lanka forces to keep the shops opened

Meanwhile, paramilitary Karuna group operatives who burned more than 10 000 copies of Virakesari newspapers in Batticaloa Monday, have threatened civil service officials and business owners Tuesday and instructed them not to voice against the de-merger that has existed for more than 18 years.

"All public offices must work. Transportation must flow as usual," according to a leaflet allegedly issued in Tamil by paramilitary operatives under the pseudonym "Theendum Padai" (Biting Force). The leaflet had warned Tamil business owners that the shops being shut down on the protest day would be confiscated.

Civil servants in Batticaloa also complained that they had received threatening telephone calls from paramilitary operatives who instructed the officials to be present at work on Wednesday.

The de-merger campaign, launched by the Sinhala natioanlist JVP and the extremist all monks party, the JHU, received a legal recognition by the five-bench Sri Lankan Supreme Court ruling on 16 October.

The northern and eastern provinces, constituting the traditional homeland of Tamils, were merged according to the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement signed in 1987 by the then Sri Lankan President, J.R.Jayawardene, and the then Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

Vavuniya town at standstill

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