Protests force Minister to cancel Jaffna visit

[TamilNet, Friday, 31 January 2003, 11:25 GMT]
Minister of Rehabilitation Reconstruction and Resettlement, Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene, cancelled his visit to Jaffna as residents and members of peoples organizations announced in advance to hold black band demonstration in protest to his visit.

Instead his secretary Mr.A.Jeyaretnam attended the conference and briefed officials about the steps to be taken to resettle the displaced in the peninsula, Jaffna District Peoples Forum (JDPF) sources said.

Residents, students and public were seen around the Jaffna district secretariat with black bands tied in their hands. They held this protest campaign demanding that the displaced should be allowed to resettle in the high security zones. JDPF sources said they reject Indian defence expert Nambiar's report on HZS issue, as it was one sided in favour of the Sri Lanka security forces.

The sources said they would hold black band demonstration if ministers visit Jaffna without solving HSZ issue.

Meanwhile the Vadamarachchi Peoples Organization Front (JPOF) Friday afternoon handed over a memorandum to the Jaffna Government Agent that had been addressed to Minister Jayalath Jayawardene as he failed to turn up at the conference held at Jaffna district secretariat Friday, sources said.

Excerpts from the memorandum are given below:

"Since the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam no concrete steps have been taken to provide relief to war affected people.

"Civilian homes and fertile agricultural lands are still occupied by State armed forces. Displaced are not allowed to resettle in the high security zones.

"Victims of the war are not paid compensation. Bunds put up by the Sri Lanka Army in several areas in the peninsula have not been removed.

"Hence we request the government to allow resettlement of displaced in HSZ and to remove landmines from cultivable lands. Action should be taken to release all Tamil youths now languishing in Kalutara jail without trial for several years.

"We further request you to take consolidated action to trace whereabouts of several hundred disappeared youths during military operations between 1996 and 2001.

"Point Pedro-Maruthankerni road should be opened through Nagarkovil enabling affected people who are displaced in Vadamarachchi to resettle in their villages without much difficulties.

In conclusion we appeal to you to take immediate steps to remove these sufferings."


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