Linganagar Tamils complain army harassment

[TamilNet, Thursday, 16 May 2002, 05:08 GMT]
The residents of Linganagar, a crowded suburb of Trincomalee town have submitted a memorandum to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in the eastern port city that the Sri Lanka Army has not changed its routine checking and has not relaxed the ban on taking materials such as bricks, cement, tin sheets, poles and cadjans for repairing their houses even months after the permanent ceasefire came into effect.

According to the memorandum handed over to the head of the SLMM they pointed out that the army check point in the midst of civilian population has been functioning for the last six years.

The memorandum further states:

"The SLA personnel manning the checkpoint are not allowing close relatives to visit residents living in Linganagar which has been occupied by more than one hundred families for several years. After eight in the night no one is allowed to enter the Linganagar through the army checkpoint. If those residing in the area wanted to leave for emergency purposes they must show their national identity cards to the army check point and obtain permission. If an inmate is suddenly fallen sick, no permission is granted to bring a vehicle into the area controlled by the army. Relatives have been forced to bodily carry the patient out of the camp area and transport him or her to the hospital in a vehicle. A ban has been imposed from obtaining any assistance from the non-governmental organizations.

linganagar_2.jpg"We consider these acts such as harassment and intimidation violate the spirit of the MoU signed between the government and the Liberation Tigers in February this year.

"Therefore we appeal to the SLMM to consider our complaint as a violation of the ceasefire agreement and render assistance to run our normal life without unwanted army interference."

Ms Victoria Lund, head of the SLMM associated with monitor Mr. Pontius Westrom told the delegation that their grievances do not come under the ambit of ceasefire agreement. However the SLMM head promised that she would brief the army authorities about their complaint.

These residents of Linganagar were directed by the SLA to quit their residences in the Linganagar area to make way for an army camp and firing range in the midst of the densely populated civilians residential area.

Responding to representations made by these people the then Governor of the northeast province Lt.General Nalin Seneviratne in writing on 21st September 1991 directed the Army Co-coordinating Officer, Trincomalee to refrain from establishing a camp or firing range as it is situated in the expanding city limits and to look elsewhere for a place in the jungle.

Despite the governor's directive and representations made by the residents to the President and other government authorities through their elected representatives, the Sri Lanka Army took further action to oust these Tamil people from the area.

The matter is now pending in Trincomalee Magistrate's court awaiting an order in cases filed against these residents on quit notices issued by the State through the Divisional Secretariat.


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