Sampanthan canvasses in LTTE held region
[TamilNet, Friday, 16 November 2001, 19:09 GMT]
Mr. R. Sampanthan, the secretary general of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) returned to Trincomalee Friday after two days of campaigning for the Tamil National Alliance in the villages of Mutur south which are held by the Liberation Tigers. He said that he had obtained due permission from the Sri Lanka army's 22 Division in Trincomalee to visit and hold propaganda meetings in the hinterland of Mutur which is under the control of the LTTE. "The electioneering in the LTTE held areas was very satisfactory and a large number of people came for our propaganda meetings with much interest," the secretary general of the TULF said. Mr. Sampanthan is the first Tamil parliamentarian to visit an LTTE held area in the northern or eastern part of the island with the SLA's permission.
Mr. R. Sampanthan said that during his tour of the region he visited Soodaikudah, a coastal village near Foul Point on the southern part of the Trincomalee bay, which has long been afflicted by frequent and indiscriminate shelling by the SLA and the Sri Lanka Navy.
"The lives of more than five hundred families in Soodaikudah are under constant threat, as they do not know when artillery shells fired by SLA or the SLN might hit them or destroy their houses".
"The people there told us that several artillery shells fired by Sri Lankan security forces had hit the village minutes before our arrival," said.
The people of Soodaikudah engage in farming and fishing.
About one thousand acres in the village's hinterland are under paddy cultivation. About twenty-five minor tanks (reservoirs) in the area provide irrigation for the fields. Most of these reservoirs have been renovated with the assistance of international non-governmental organizations such as OXFAM, GTZ and under the NorthEast Integrated Agricultural Programme (NEIAP) which is implemented by the Northeast Provincial Council, funded by the World Bank.
"We saw several fishing boats which had been damaged due to shelling by gun boats of Sri Lanka Navy. We were shown several houses in Soodaikudah destroyed by artillery shells fired indiscriminately by the Sri Lanka Army," said Mr. Sampanthan.
Villagers face harsh difficulties in leading their normal life due to regular artillery fire and attacks by SLN gunboats, he said
"I obtained permission of the 22 Division of the Sri Lanka Army at Plantain Point in Trincomalee to campaign in the areas that are not under the control of the Sri Lankan armed forces. However we spent half an hour at the Kaddaiparichchan SLA camp checkpoint to obtain clearance to enter the Tiger controlled area", Mr. Sampanthan said.
Mr.N. Sri Kantha, Leader of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) and several candidates of the Tamil National Alliance contesting the Trincomalee district also accompanied Mr. Sampanthan.
Mr. Sampanthan said he visited several Tamil villages in the Mutur south to campaign for the Tamil National Alliance.
Election meetings were held at Sampur, Chenaiyor, Soodaikudah and Kaddaiparichchan on Thursday. Meetings were held at Malaimunthal, Pattalipuram and Santhoshapuram on Friday. All these villages are in the region controlled by the Liberation Tigers.
Mr.Sampanthan further said:
"We have decided to get down European Union election monitors to Mutur south to monitor the polls. Tamil voters in this region have been deprived of facilities provided to voters of other communities in the Trincomalee district. We have decided to bring this matter to the notice of the Election Commissioner and foreign monitors.
After a lapse of several years, Tamil voters in Mutur south have got an opportunity to cast their votes in a general election.
But arrangements made by election authorities to help Tamil voters in Mutur south are unsatisfactory.
We have decided to request the security forces to do away several unnecessary security procedures to minimize delay. Tamil voters from Mutur also have been asked to not carry any bags with them when they go through SLA checkpoints in order to help the security forces carry out their duty without much hassle".