STF assaults resettlement program masons

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 11 September 2002, 18:19 GMT]
Six masons working on a World Bank funded resettlement project in Saakamam, an interior Tamil village on Sri Lanka’s southeastern coast, were assaulted by commandos of the elite Special Task Force, a village official said Wednesday. Work on the site has been halted because the masons are scared to go back to Saakamam, said C. V. P Manikkam, the President of the Rural Development Society of the area.

The masons were constructing a multi purpose building in Saakamam under the World Bank funded North East Irrigation Agriculture Program (NEIAP) to assist families which were driven out of this agricultural village by the STF in 1990 rebuild their homes and resettle in their lands.

The people who were evicted from Saakamam by the STF 12 years ago have been living as refugees in Thambiluvil and Thirukkovil, about 10 kilometres northeast of the village.

They were banned from cultivating their fertile rice fields, irrigated by the ancient Saakamam water reservoir.

The STF occupies the Irrigation Department offices and the local co-operative society building in the centre of Saakamam.

Seven masons were returning to Thirukkovil after work on Monday on their bicycles when they were accosted by STF commandos who had demanded a ride to the local camp. One of the masons told the commandos there was not enough air in his bicycles tires and had kept riding on.

This angered the commandos who had opened fire and had severely assaulted the six masons who had got off their bicycles.

Mr. Manikkam said no action has been evident since he lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission about the STF assault. “We will take up the matter with the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission now”, he said.

 

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