Feature Article

Tamil fishers rise against Colombo's exploitation, activists threatened by SL Navy

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 30 May 2018, 16:06 GMT]
Fisheries traders from South have deployed more than one thousand sea cucumber poachers along the coast of Vadamaraadchi East with the backing of the occupying Sinhala Navy of genocidal Sri Lanka and the SL Ministry of Fisheries during the last two weeks. The intruders have put up more than one hundred huts and brought in thousands of oxygen cylinders and lighting equipment to exploit the entire coast of Vadamaraadchi East from Chaalai in Mullaiththeevu to Thaa'laiyadi in Jaffna district for the catch of sea cucumbers. The native Tamil fishers have risen against the exploitation as it directly affects their livelihood and the fishing ecosystem. The Tamil fishermen staged a protest on Sunday. Now, the intelligence wing of the SL Navy has issued death threats against the organisers of the rally.

46-year-old Nimalan Vimalathas, who spearheads the peaceful protests against SL military and SL State-backed poaching of sea cucumbers, told TamilNet Tuesday night that the activists in the forefront of the protests have received anonymous phone calls reminding them of the days of white-van abductions and 4th-floor torture.

The latest death threats have come as the Tamil protesters gave an ultimatum to the intruding poachers and their backers to dismantle their huts and leave the area by Monday.

Vadamaraadchi East, protest against poaching


The behind-the-scene traders who deploy poor fishers from Negombo, Udappu and Puththa'lam have also bribed some of the native fishermen who own lands along the coast to secure land rights to put up their huts.

The sea cucumber poaching is an export-oriented big business, and they are prepared to bribe the poverty-stricken people causing conflicts among the fishers along the coast of Vadamaraadchi East.

However, the majority of the people and the fisheries societies are united against the illegal poaching.

Vadamaraadchi East, protest against poaching


Tension prevails in Vadamaraadchi East, and Tamil politicians are also facing criticism for their inaction.

Tamil fishermen from Thaa'laiyadi, Chempiyan-pattu, Maruthang-kea'ni, Kaddaik-kaadu villages say that the fishing beds along their coast would be gone due to the destruction of sea cucumbers, illegal means of poaching using banned methods and illumination of the coast during the nights.

The direct impact is felt by the native fishermen who are unable to sustain their livelihood as fish stocks from the deep sea that use to visit the coast keep them away from the coast. They are also afraid that their livelihood would be permanently affected as the fishing ecosystem would be entirely changed by the exploitation.

Mr Vimalathas alleged that intelligence operatives attached to SL Navy and SL Police have resorted to terror tactics of death threats to contain their protest.

Vadamaraadchi East, protest against poaching


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