Feature Article

Hathurusinghe, Imelda, deny existence of ‘High Security Zone’

[TamilNet, Sunday, 19 December 2010, 10:48 GMT]
Addressing media in Jaffna Friday, the Jaffna Government Agent (GA) Mrs Imelda Sugumar said that according to the briefing she had from Sri Lanka’s military commander in Jaffna Maj. Gen. Mahinda Hathurusinghe, the nomenclature High Security Zone (HSZ) is inappropriate in the present context. According to the General, in the past as there was war between the LTTE and the SL government, people were evacuated from that area in order to save the public from getting trapped in the war, and as the SL government was providing security to that area it was called High Security Zone. Now it is only a zone ‘restricted to the public,’ the GA said. Meanwhile, the GA also said in the same press meet that it would take another 10 years to clear mines in the HSZ and resettle people there. But a map obtained from mine clearing agencies show a different picture.

HSZ Jaffna
A map revealing the status of mine clearing within the High Security Zone obtained by TamilNet in December 2010

According to the mapping of mine clearing agencies, large tracts of land in the HSZ have already been cleared of mines but people were not resettled there. In another part, the government has stalled mine clearing. Yet another part is occupied by installations of the military of Sri Lanka.

Mines have been cleared in Nakuleaswaram, Kollan-Kaladdi, Maaviddapuram South, Thanthai Chelvaa Puram, Thurkkaapuram, Thellippazhai, Kadduvan West and Vasaavi’laan East. But people were not permitted to resettle. The military doesn’t even allow people to visit.

In the eastern part of the HSZ, up to Tho’ndaimaan-aa’ru, mine clearing has been stalled.

Even in the small patches where people were allowed to resettle, such as I’lavaalai North, I’lavaalai, Northwest and Viththakapuram, only 3,518 people of 989 families were allowed to resettle. The remaining 9,345 people of 2,898 families, even in the permitted patch were not allowed to resettle.

A total number of 70,423 people of 14,993 families were uprooted from the HSZ of Valikaamam alone by the Sri Lanka military, 20 years ago.

At present, 66,905 people of 14,004 families from the HSZ live in camps and in relative’s houses, the GA for Jaffna said.

Meanwhile, new orders have come to stall mine clearing, informed circles said. Excuses said in public range from rains to New Year holidays.

The HSZ now exists for 20 years depriving people of their traditional villages, houses and property. Highly sinister motives are suspected in delaying the resettlement of people. Colombo and India want that land for military establishments, harbour, and for a new demography. If 10 more years go, then the present generation that actually lived in the land and have memories of that land would cease to exist. In the mean time, all colonial activities of the Colombo-New Delhi partners could be carried out, uprooted people’s activists said.

The Jaffna GA repeatedly tells that no High Security Zone exists in Jaffna. On Friday, when the media asked her to clarify, she said when she had assumed duties as Jaffna GA, she had been briefed so by Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe, and her interview to foreign visitors and media were based on that understanding.

To the question whether any timetable exist with the GA’s office to resettle people in the HSZ, the GA replied in negative. She said that she was unaware of any timetable even existing either with the SL government or with its military.

She said that she was informed by the humanitarian agencies involved in de-mining that it would take another 10 years. But she admitted that it would drive the people further into frustration. She said that she had requested the SL government to plan resettlement to go hand in hand with de-mining.

But the Government Agent is not telling the truth. She only shields Colombo and its colonial military that don’t want to handover HSZ to the rightful owners of the land, media circles in Jaffna said.

While every day is refugee life for the people uprooted for the last 20 years, the Government Agent Mrs Imelda Sugumar has no respect for the pulse and sufferings of the people but cares only the pulse and needs of the military, accuse the organisations of uprooted people from Valikaamam.


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