Resettlement remains a far dream for uprooted Tamils from Vidaththal-theevu

[TamilNet, Thursday, 24 December 2015, 13:11 GMT]
Eezham Tamil fisher families, who were uprooted from the strategic coastal village of Vidaththal-theevu in Mannaar mainland during the times of war, are again facing pressure from Mannaar District Secretariat officials to vacate from Koanthaip-piddi jetty and their temporary settlement at Thoadda-ve’li, situated in Mannaar island, where they have been residing for 16 years since their displacement. Meanwhile, the naval officers of the occupying Sri Lanka Navy, which has already seized 90% of their jetty in Vidaththal-theevu, claimed in November this year that the SLN would be seizing more coastal lands at Vidaththaltheevu. The navy of genocidal Sri Lanka is transforming the naval installation at Vidaththal-theevu into a full-fledged naval cantonment.

Only around 10% of the coastal strip of occupied Vidaththal-theevu is accessible to resettled fishermen
The houses of uprooted Tamils at Vidaththal-theevu. Photographed in November 2015
The Tamil people were uprooted from Vidaththal-theevu in large numbers in mid 1999. They displaced to Mannaar island through Pa’l’li-munai jetty by boats as Colombo launched a military operation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Bishop of Mannaar Rt Rev Rayappu Joseph facilitated temporary settlement to these families at the lands that belonged to Bishop’s House at Thoaddave’li, located at 5th Mile Post on Mannaar – Thalaimannaar Road near Erukkalam-piddi.

The fisher families from Vidaththal-theevu were later provided access to a jetty at Koanthaip-pidi in 2001. The fishing jetty at Koanthaip-piddi belonged to Tamil-speaking Muslims, who had been evicted from Mannaar in 1990. It is situated in Uppukku’lam South GS division of Mannaar DS division.

When the Muslims returned during the times of peace talks and later, a dispute arose regarding the jetty. The civil officials were engaged in making alternative arrangements.

However, Rishard Badurdeen, a Muslim politician from Mannaar, who became a cabinet minister of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime after defecting Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, was creating disharmony between the communities in Mannaar using the dispute.

Instead of facilitating resettlement at their native coastal village, the uprooted families from Vidaththal-theevu were asked to relocate to a place near Tha’l’laadi military base in the mainland, where SL Navy, Air Force, Army and Police have their bases next to each other.

Some of the families who accepted the offer went to Tha’l’laadi. But, they were chased away by the SL military.

Northern Provincial Council or the Tamil National Alliance having a say in the SL Parliament as the main opposition party have been powerless in facilitating the resettlement of the uprooted families at their own village of Vidaththal-theevu.

If the SL Navy proceeds with seizing more lands behind the Vidaththal-theevu jetty, even those who have managed to resettle there risk losing the the remaining 10% of their accessible coastal strip and their fishing jetty at their native village.

The reconstructed building of fisheries association of Vidaththal-theev West

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