Eviction is not A?a??E?winning hearts and mindsA?a??a??

When did uroxatral go generic By Shakuntala Perera
Nationalist politics invariably crossing over to various levels of extremism have always been the bane of Sri Lanka. Such opportunist politics have always beein in the way of the country reaching its development goals. It has more importantly been the biggest obstacle in the way of minorities receiving their due. But, never in the history of this country has the situation dropped to the depths that they have today.

Allegations of attempts to change the demography of the country, especially with regard to the contentious Eastern and Northern provinces, increase at an alarming rate. Several development plans of the government especially in the East is showing strong moves to this end.

The newly A?a??E?liberatedA?a??a?? Eastern province is today a volcano awaiting eruption. The political agendas of various nationalist groups are threatening the peace of the province as never before. More seriously, they are threatening the lives of innocent people caught in between.

The Mavil Aru debacle and the consequent military engagements are increasingly viewed as further alienating the minority communities in the East. Such feelings have left suspicions on the Northern exercise that has now begun.
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Following the first movement of displaced persons, 6,000 families, approx 30,000 persons, took place in April 2006 from the Trincomalee District to the Batticaloa District after the Mavil Aaru clashes between the Government and the LTTE. The IDPs first moved from Trincomalee to Vaharai in the Batticaloa district, then in late 2006 from Vaharai to Batticaloa. The third movement of persons was from West Batticaloa to Batticaloa East.

The resettlement plans of the government are accused of attempts to A?a??E?SinhaliseA?a??a?? the province. The allegation is strongly contributed to by clear moves to cement the demands by religious foundations.

Both humanitarian agencies operating in the areas and the people left destitute confirm that there were clear moves by certain political organizations to settle Sinhala families within Muslim villages have only poured fuel to the sensitivities of the area. The anger rising out of the Muslim community is not to be ignored. Such anger has the potential to grow in to militancy as we experience with the LTTE. The frustrations growing out of the situation are not to be ignored.

The government by Gazette notification No 1467/3 Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Law No 40(1978), declared a new High Security Zone covering Sampur and Muttur East on 16 February 2007. The declaration of HSZ for an Economic Zone will lead to the displacement of thousands. The government has reportedly already taken action to acquire land for relocation of said displaced families. Eastern Security Forces Commander Parakrama Pannipitiya has been appointed as the Competent Authority for the implementation of the regulations.

There are suspicions that A?a??E?a new and trustworthy work force and new communities, most likely Sinhala will be moved into Trincomalee, A?a??E?dramatically impacting on the demography and the ethnic balance in the Trincomalee District.A?a??a?? Already local communities are expressing fears that their areas are being marginalized and their needs and rights are being ignored in the proposed development plans.

Moves under the BOI Trincomalee Development Plan, to establish a nature park and in Seenanveli, north of Illankaiturai Muhattuvaram, a HSZ and a special fishing zone are not without their questionable implications. The residents, most of them Tamils of Veddha descent, from about 8 villages, have been transported and virtually dumped in the open. A?a??E?They are prevented from going home on the pretext of landmines while their meagre possessions have been reportedly looted by A?a??E?SinhaleseA?a??a?? from the Mahindapura colony, acting allegedly in cooperation with the ArmyA?a??a??. The army is also engaged in constructing a Buddhist Temple, Samudragiri Vihara, in Seenanveli.

The Coalition of Muslims and Tamils for Peace and Coexistence (CMTPC) maintain the allegations have a sound basis. They allege that the current development plan for Trincomalee or the soon to be unveiled Eastern Development Plan has elements contributing to the mistrust. A?a??E?This concern of minority communities needs to be addressed and their fears allayed as speedily as possibleA?a??a?? they maintain.

Certainly the eviction of 251 resettled farmers from Arafa Nagar on 10th, August, without prior notice by the military, demonstrates that it is not purely security concerns that keep the Tamils out of their lands. Such actions and in some instances obstacles placed in the way of resettlement are prompted more by ethnic considerations than by security safeguards. These Muslim families who earlier received the green light to rebuild their lives and continue farming from the security forces were suddenly evicted. All hopes of bringing some normalcy to their hopeless lives were short lived, they found. Five months to be exact.

A board declaring it a High Security Zone was erected on August 10, with a warning issued against trespasses. Trespassers were threatened with death. It is such harsh decisions by the State that are pushing the minority communities further and further awy from the Centre. These are far from the ambitious plans that the government spoke about to A?a??E?win hearts and mindsA?a??a?? of the liberated people. In effect these and many other similar examples are pushing the people towards the LTTE. There are serious questions raised if the demands of the LTTE are not justified. Pertinent questions are being asked on the intentions of the government policy in this regard. The people want to know if liberation from one terror group was only going to push them towards another dictatorial rule.

South Asians for Human Rights last week charged against the moves to Sinhalise the area. A?a??E?Appointment of numerous Sinhala government officials to the Provincial Council in the East after the de-merger of the Northern and Eastern province; establishment of Sinhala resettlements in Ampara; and building Viharas in Pottuvil, a predominantly Muslim area. The Muslim people, correctly, viewed themselves as being stuck between Sinhala and Tamil nationalisms,A?a??a?? they allege.

The concern of international communities canA?a??a??t be ignored in this scenario. Human rights violations, what ever form they take must remain the necessary concern of the international stakeholders. Attempts to antagonize them would not help the government in any way. The fact remains that all democratic governments are accountable at some point. It is irrelevant what their interpretation of liberation is. There is simply no justification for the human cost of the most A?a??E?nobleA?a??a?? of causes.

Daily Mirror

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