Tamil-speaking aborigines face existential threat in Moothoor, Trincomalee

[TamilNet, Friday, 10 November 2017, 22:27 GMT]
The officials of the Wildlife Department of occupying Colombo have threatened Tamil-speaking aborigines, who had resettled in their traditional lands in Chantha'na-veddai located near Kal-malai in Moothhoor DS Division of Trincomalee district, to vacate their huts. The aborigines who have been residing in the area for centuries were provided with documents proving their ownership to lands as far back as 1972. During the times of war, they were uprooted from Chantha'na-veddai. After 2009, the people resettled back and have constructed huts. Their livelihood is cultivating finger millet and jowar since 2009. Sinhala Wildlife Department officials are now claiming the area as coming under their domain and have instructed the Tamil aborigines to vacate the lands, civil sources in Trincomalee said.

SL Wildlife Department guards, who came to Chantha'na-veddai on Wednesday, have also detained three native farmers for ‘encroaching’ into ‘State’ lands.

The move comes after the aborigines requested Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan to provide permanent houses as they have been marginalised without proper assistance.

At the same time, stone quarrying Muslim traders, currently camped at Kal-malai area, have also been influencing the SL officials to chase away the aborigines, the sources further said.

An aborigine tribe of the island, living in forests, caves and rock shelters, and moving from place to place subsisting on hunting and gathering honey etc. until recent times, is called Veadar in Tamil and Wædda in Sinhala. The tribe is referred to as Veddah in English writings.

Considered as belonging to an Austro-Asiatic stock and as surviving descendants of the prehistoric populations and cultures of the island, the Veddahs have lost their language and speak either Tamil or Sinhala depending on the region they live in. However, their separate identity and culture are often recognized.


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