Colombo's Wildlife Department harasses Eezham Tamil villagers in Maanthai West

[TamilNet, Sunday, 23 August 2015, 23:24 GMT]
The occupying Sinhala military and the operatives of Colombo's Wildlife Department, have been harassing the Tamil people to vacate from Kuruvil village, situated in Paalaip-perumaa'l-kaddu GS division in Maanthai West DS division of Mannaar District. The harassment has been going on since SL President Maithiripala Sirisena came to power in January 2015. Around 70 families have already left from the village, where they have been residing since late 60s. More than 35 families are still fighting for their right to live in the village, which is located on the northeast sector of Kadduk-karaik-ku'lam (Giant's Tank). The SL Wildlife Department, claiming the village as coming under Giant's Tank Sanctuary, has filed cases against 6 families at Mannaar District Court. While the case is going on, Colombo's department has put up Sinhalicised name boards at several locations of the village.

Kuruvil, trees
In addition to fishing, the villagers have planted mango, jackfruit and co-conut trees at Kuruvil since their initial settlement in late 60's and early 70's

The resettled people, who were displaced from their village in 2008 and who survived the genocidal onslaught in Mu'l'livaaykkaal, had returned to their village in 2010 after incarceration in barbed wire camp in Menik Farm, Vavuniyaa.

The Tamil villagers, who originally come from the nearby Paalaip-perumaa'l-kaddu and Pallavaraayan-kaddu, have been living in the village for four decades, sustaining their livelihood from fishing in the tanks, which is one of the largest tanks in the island.

Sauriyan Mariyathasan Fernando
Sauriyan Mariyathasan Fernando
60-year-old Sauriyan Mariyathasan Fernando, a father of four, says the wildlife department operatives have been entering their village and harassing them since January this year. The operatives were coming with false accusations that the villagers have caught birds for cooking. “The intention was to drive us away from our village and our livelihood of fishing,” he says.

Mr Mariyathasan is one of the six respondents in a civil case filed by Colombo's Wildlife Department at Mannaar District Court.

Mannaar District Judge has instructed Colombo's operatives not to disturb the villagers until the case is fully investigated.

The operatives of the wildlife department have responded by putting up several name boards in the village.

Yothavaavi nameboard

The Tamil name of the tank, Kadduk-karaik-ku'lam, has been replaced by the Sinhala term ‘Yotha-vaavi’.

Colombo's Wildlife Department and Forest Department have been engaged in de-populating Tamil villages making claim to the territory as coming under Vangkaalai and Giant's Tank sanctuaries.

The occupying SL military has also been involved in chasing away the villagers from their villages.

The wife of Sauriyan Mariyathasan Fernando
The wife of Sauriyan Mariyathasan Fernando
Kuruvil, board 1
Sinhalicised name "Yotha-vaavi” sanctuary is written in Tamil in the name board where the term Giant's Tank is maintained in English
Kuruvil, board 2
Name boards have been put up at several locations within the past 7 days
Kuruvil, abandoned hut
An abandoned hut. Around 70 families have been chased out from their huts in Kuruvil village. 35 families still reside, resisting the harassment by the SL Wildlife Department
Kuruvil, boats
Only a few fishing boats are now seen at the northeast cost of Kadduk-karaik-ku'lam
Kuruvil view of Giant's Tank
A view of Kadduk-karaik-ku'lam (Giant's Tank) from Kuruvil

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