Army presence leads to social problems - report
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 08 December 1998, 12:35 GMT]
The presence of the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) in the Sinhala border areas of the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka has created massive social problems, said the commissioners of the Fact Finding Citizen's Commission on the Border Villages in the Northeast Affected by the War.
The commissioners were addressing a press conference today in Colombo to release their interim report.
They said that SLA soldiers in the conflict zones sexually harass and intimidate women and that there are a large number of children in these areas who do not know their fathers because soldiers move from one camp to another.
Physical relationships with soldiers arise as a consequence of a great number of girls in these areas being single mothers the commissioners pointed out.
They said SLA soldiers give false hopes to young women in these border areas and make phony marriage proposals.
The independent Commission had recorded evidence from more than 192 civilians in border villages affected by the war for three months in the districts of Anuradhapura, Polannaruwa, Monaragala, Ampara, Puttalam, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Vavuniya.
The press conference at Sasakawa Hall in downtown Colombo was addressed by the eminent English Lit. scholar of the university of Colombo, Dr.Arjuna Parakrama, Ms.Nimalka Fernando, Ms.Leela Issac and Mr.S.Sivagurunathan of the Movement for Inter Racial Justice and equality (MIRJE).
They said that the situation is such in the Sinhala border areas that young girls are forced to befriend soldiers of the SLA stationed in or near their villages.
They said that the problem is particularly acute in the (Sinhala) villages of Puliyankulama in the Puttalam district and Sinhapura in Weli Oya, (the latter is a village cum military camp in the large Sinhala settlement established by the SLA on the southern extreme of the Mullaithivu district after Tamils living in the area were forcibly evicted by the army in 1984).
Some press persons at the conference asked whether the Commission had not received any complaints about such misdemeanor on the part of the Liberation Tigers.
To this the members of the Commission present replied in the negative.
According to them, young (Sinhala) males in these villages have no employment opportunities and hence they either have to join the army or the home guard militia.
The young men who join up thus are not interested in ideals such as saving the nation etc., and people in the (Sinhala) border areas only want peace and water they added.
In some area where the government has established army camps near Sinhala villagers, people had wanted the SLA to move out.
They observed that the town of Vavuniya and its suburbs was like one large detention camp and that the Sri Lankan security forces are engaging civilians in forced labour in the Tamil villages of Valaichenai, Vakarai (Batticaloa district) Sangamankandy, Pottuvil (Ampara district) and Trincomalee.