Feature Article

Structural genocide against Tamil fishermen reaches all-time high in Mullaiththeevu

[TamilNet, Monday, 23 January 2017, 23:38 GMT]
The structural genocide being waged by the Colombo Establishment, particularly against the Eezham Tamil fishermen in Mullaiththeevu district, has reached an all-time high in the history of the district, says Mariyathas Anthonipillai, the chairman of the Federation of Fisheries Associations in the district, told TamilNet on Monday. More than 50% of the coastal stretch with access to fish has been taken over by the intruding fishermen from South. “If the SL Fisheries Ministry gives permission to put up 20 different sites along Mullaiththeevu coast for fishermen from South, the intruders go to the extent of putting vaadis at 80 places. The native fishermen are not even allowed to have their huts at one single place between Nallatha'n'nith-thoduvaay in the north of the district to Kokkuth-thoduvaay and Mukaththuvaaram in the south of the district,” Mr Mariyathas said.

The intruding Sinhala and Muslim fishermen stay camped for 6 months in Karai-thu'raip-pattu division throughout the year exploiting all available seabeds. Their activities are destroying the fisheries ecosystem. The intruding fishermen deploy all possible illegal techniques, which are not allowed in their native places in Wennappuva, Kalpiddi, Puththa'lam and Negombo. They use banned monofilament nets (thangkoosi-valai), chemicals, lights and engage in bottom trawling, an affected Tamil fisherman from Kokkuth-thoduvaay said in an interview taken already in October 2016. He was describing the situation of occupation going completely against the interests of Tamil fishermen.

The latest complain coming from the chairman of all the fisheries societies in Mullaiththeevu, Mr Mariyathas, was a shocking message to fishermen in Jaffna and Mannaar, who are also being affected by the encroachment, not only from the Sinhala South, but also from the intruding fishermen from India.

In the video interview, Mr Sivaraman says that Tamils “kadal-nilam” (coastal stretch), “ka'lappu-nilam” (lands adjacent to the lagoons) and “vayal-nilam” (agricultural lands) are all gone.

The so-called ‘protection’ of Tamils in the dictionary of the SL State is suppression and exploitation, says the father of five, narrating the structural genocide along the coast of Mullaiththeevu.

“The war-ravaged Tamils are exploited like the disabled. The ‘disabled’ are needed [to the SL government] to bring the aid money, which is then spent for the benefit of the occupiers, not Tamils. We are treated like chickens becoming eagles’ diet,” he went on.

The SL military and police are blocking Tamil civilians, their civic representatives and even the public Tamil servants to enter the occupied stretches. The intruding fishermen and their backers would not allow Tamil journalists to go and document the exploitation. “It is not worth publishing my interview. Go and record what is taking place along the coast even if they attack you. Only then the world can realise our plight. There have been more than enough interviews in the past. They didn't help,” Sivaraman says.

The location of Kokku'laay village and lagoon. [Satellite map courtesy: Google Earth]

Shown within the box is the target area of Colombo discussed in the feature
Eastern Naval Area
‘Eastern Naval Area’ as defined by the occupying SL Navy [Image courtesy: navy.lk]
In addition to deploying illegal means of fishing, they have fully occupied the lake with their motorboats that bottom-trawl everything in the lake. While we struggle to fish 500 grams of shrimps using proper and legal means, they capture Can you imagine that 800 boats are being deployed in the lake alone?, the father of five struggling to make a living through fishing, asks.

Large number of juvenile fish are dumped out every day at Mukaththuvaaram. You can't enter the area due to the prevailing smell there. Sinhala fishermen have brought in pigs in large numbers. And these pigs come and destroy our agriculture.

“Apart from raising pigs, they also introduce alcohol and narcotics among the weak sections of our people,” Sivaraman says.

“I survived a violent attack from a Sinhala fisherman. The police say they would not entertain our complaints. If there is any dispute, only we get arrested and jailed regardless of where the aggression originates,” he says.

Although the laws of genocidal Sri Lanka block fishing by illegal means, the colonists fish in Mullaiththeevu deploying poisonous, explosive or stupefying substance (including dynamite), other noxious and harmful material.

Whole villages such as Karunaadduk-kea'ni have been completely seized by the intruding fishermen. Their tractors are plying even our burial grounds while dragging nets along the coast, Sivaraman says.

Mr Mariyathas, who represents the federation of fisheries societies on Monday said a director of SL Fisheries Department, was harassing the Tamil fishermen who had put up their huts at one locality. The Director General has filed a case against Tamil fishermen at Mullaith-theevu courts.

More than 4,500 fishing families are struggling to make a living on fishing. But, they are being completely outmanoeuvred by the intruding fishermen from South, he says.

The intruding fishermen, backed by the politicians in Colombo regime and the occupying military, have also put up permanent buildings (not vaadis) with illegal electric supplies and ice storages in their vaadi area, Mariyathas says.

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