2ND LEAD (Adds video, photos)

New act of structural genocide seeks to uproot 3,500 Tamils from Mannaar islet

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 15 July 2015, 23:39 GMT]
The civil officers working under the SL Government Agent in Mannaar have been exerting pressure on 500 Eezham Tamil families living in three GS divisions within Mannaar DS division to vacate from their coastal villages in the islet and settle in alternative lands 15 km away in the mainland. The war-affected poor families, comprising 3,500 to 4,000 people, are dependent on fishing as their livelihood. They were given land deeds in the three GS divisions in 2008 and 2009. Utilized with land deeds, the families have constructed permanent houses and huts in their villages. The move would severely affect their access to the coast and their livelihood. But, the officials receiving instructions from Colombo's administrative system, are bent upon uprooting the fishing families without any promising alternative arrangements, concerned civil sources in Mannaar told TamilNet on Wednesday.

The Divisional Secretaries receiving instructions from the SL Government Agent, have been harassing the families throughout the last 3 months by extending false promises that the villagers would receive fertile lands and proper housing at newly identified locations near Thirukkeatheesvaram and Chi'ru-naavatku'lam in Maanthai division.

Jim Brown Nakar
A church being built by the people of Jim Brown Nakar situated in Emil Nakar, one of the GS divisions from where the people are to be uprooted.

Jim Brown Nakar
Church, photographed from the backyard
Jim Brown Nakar
A training centre put up by the SL Ministry of ‘Development’
Jim Brown Nakar
Jim Brown Nakar
Jim Brown Nakar
Jim Brown Nakar
Photographs displaying the existing village of Jim Brown Nakar as of 30 June 2015
When the fishing families confronted the DS officers on how they could abandon fishing as their livelihood, they were told they could commute daily between the new settlement and the coast. The families came with strong objections in the meetings staged by the DS officers throughout the last 3 months.

Even though the DS officers conveyed the objections to the SL Government Agent, they have again received fresh instructions to hurry up the eviction, concerned civil sources said.

The affected families live in the GS divisions of Emil Nakar, Panangkaddik-koddu East and South Bar.

The families were initially resettled at these three GS divisions with the promise of constructing a ‘100 Houses’ scheme. Although they were provided land deeds, the promised housing scheme was not provided as promised.

The DS officers are now reiterating their promises of better housing scheme at Maanthai together with ‘fertile lands’ as alternative arrangement. But, there have been no preparation of any such arrangement, the sources told TamilNet.

The civil officials are already struggling to find lands for people who are being instructed to vacate from areas near Thirukkeatheesvaram and Chi'ru-naavatku'lam due to the expanded military occupation and the extended structural occupation in the name of ‘Vangkaalai Bird Sanctuary’.

The officials are also finding it difficult to find lands for Eezham Tamil refugees who are arriving from Tamil Nadu.

The official explanation given for the eviction of people from the above villages is that these places are ‘unfit’ for human settlement as their villages are exposed to floods during the rainy seasons and that they seek refuge at public buildings during the floods.

The villagers say that the SL authorities could easily elevate the level of the low-lying lands above the flood-level than citing it as a reason to uproot them from their native villages. The mothers said they could themselves elevate the level of the ground where their huts are situated on their own if the civil officials could design and construct proper drainage.

In the meantime, informed civil sources told TamilNet that the SL Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiyutheen, was trying to acquire these lands for a so-called ‘development’ project. The notorious SL minister has been causing communal disharmony between Tamil speaking Muslims and Catholics in the district for a longtime now.

The villagers say they have clearly expressed their anguish when they were confronted by the Divisional Secretary of Mannaar DS division at Jim Brown Nakar. The village was named after a Catholic priest, Rev Fr Jim Brown, who has been missing without trace after being taken away by Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) and Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) paramilitary men at Allaippiddi in the islets off Jaffna in August 2006.

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