Muslim fishermen complain of attack

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 12 November 2002, 16:36 GMT]
About seventy five Muslim fishermen entered the conference hall of the Trincomalee district secretariat Monday evening, interrupting the meeting of the District Co-ordinating Committee (DCC) which was in progress, and lodged complaint to the parliamentarians and security officials that they had been assaulted by a group of persons backed by members State armed forces and police personnel in civil uniform, sources said.

The fishermen said that they were fishing in Trincomalee sea Saturday around noon when the incident happened and they were taken to Trincomalee police station and released on Sunday morning after being kept in custody throughout the night.

When the fishermen entered the well of the conference hall, members of the Sri Lanka Army, Police, Navy and Air Force were present. All officials were taken aback when they saw the angry fishermen showing injuries on their bodies, which they claimed they sustained during the attack on them in midsea Saturday morning. They removed their shirts to show the injuries at the request of parliamentarian Mr.K.M.Thowfeek who is one of the co-chairmen of the DCC

The fishermen alleged that a group of persons known as " Korea gang," were all Sinhalese fishermen from Samudragama, an unauthorized settlement where Sinhalese who sought refuge inside the Trincomalee Fort Frederick when the Indian Peace Keeping Force first arrived in the east port town in 1987, now live.

One of the police officers attending the DCC meeting told the parliamentarians that the fishermen were arrested for using prohibited nets for fishing. Trincomalee district parliamentarian Mr.K.M.Thowfeek showed a fishing net to the participants whether it was prohibited for fishing. The police officer replied "no." Mr.Thowfeek then produced a copy of the directive issued by the Fisheries Department in regard to the use of fishing nets.

Mr.Thowfeek told the DCC that Sinhalese fishermen are allowed to fish in prohibited zones in Trincomalee including the harbour area. But Muslims and Tamils are not allowed. The Sri Lanka Navy does not allow even bringing patients for emergency treatment from Muttur to Trincomalee by boat through their security zone, Mr.Thowfeek charged.

"Before the ceasefire agreement came into force, security forces alleged members of LTTE were harassing fishermen. But now our State armed forces and police harass fishermen," Mr.Thowfeek complained.

The police officer present at the DCC meeting at the conclusion told the Muslim fishermen to lodge their complaints at the police station and to get back the fishing nets and gear from the Police station.

 

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