Jaffna forces expand positions

[TamilNet, Saturday, 25 May 2002, 00:04 GMT]
The Sri Lankan armed forces in the Jaffna peninsula are building new camps and bases close to homes and schools, press reports said this week. The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has begun constructing a new artillery base in Idaikurichchi, Varani, the Thinakural newspaper reported. The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) set up a new camp Suruvil, Kayts, the Uthayan reported. Meanwhile the military has declared new areas in Chavacachcheri as ‘military zones’ the Virakesari reported.

The SLA is constructing a new base in a 60-acre plot in Idaikurichchi, Varani, the Thinakural reported. Currently the SLA’s 52 Division has another artillery base close to the Varani Maha Vidyalayam (school) which may move into the new base also. This artillery base has been in place for six years.

There is a government housing scheme in the area and the residents have protested that the tanks and other water resources used by the public are also being taken over by the SLA.

Residents of areas close to the new base complain of harassment by soldiers. An order prohibiting the climbing of tall trees amongst other measures by the Army is affecting their livelihood residents of the war-devastated area say. They harvest produce from coconut and palmyrah trees.

The Navy set up a new camp in the building housing the Samurdhi Development officer's in Suruvil, Kayts last Monday. The building was also home to Suruvil's Village Administrative Officer (Grama Sevakar).

The new naval camp is in a location surrounded by temples and schools. The new military presence has raised anxieties amongst residents, especially as people from the area are only now beginning to resettle after being displaced by the war.

Meanwhile, the SLA has declared the area to the south of Kachchai road in Kovilkudiyiruppu, Chavakachcheri as a 'high security zone' the Virakesari reported. Barbed wire fences have been erected in the area, stretching from Chavakachcheri yarn factory to Allaarai thumpu thottam. The two-kilometre long fence has gaps in places to allow people to visit their homes.

Civilians from Thanankilappu, Maravanpulo, Kaithady, Navatkuli and Koilakandy have submitted a petition to the Jaffna office of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) appealing to be allowed to resettle in their homes. Representatives of the displaced people from the four villages met SLMM officials in Jaffna last Tuesday.

"People from various parts of Thenmaradchi have been allowed to resettle following the ceasefire agreement signed between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lanka government. But families from our four villages have been refused permission to resettle. These families fled with only what they were wearing on December 12, 1999. The families that relied on agriculture, fisheries and manual labour have undergone untold misery during the past two-and-a-half years," the petition said.


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