Civilians warned not to return

[TamilNet, Thursday, 26 March 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The Sri Lankan army's 22 Brigade commander who is also the Co-ordinating Officer for the Trincomalee district said that anyone attempting to cross the Uppaaru lagoon will be shot at sight. He was responding to a query by TULF MP for Trincomalee Mr. R. Sampanthan about the forcible evacuation of Tamil and Muslim civilians from Uppaaru and other villages in Muthur at the District Co-ordinating Committee meeting held at the Trincomalee Kachcheri this week.

Trincomalee Brigade commander, Col. Sanath Karunarathna was asked to permit the people of Uppaaru who were recently driven out of their village by the SLA to go back to their villages at least for the purpose of finding out the fate of more than ten thousand head of cattle owned by them and their cultivated paddy fields on the other side of the Uppaaru river which they had to abandon when they were ordered to leave their village by the SLA.

The TULF MP and government officials of the area pleaded with Colonel Karunarathna that these people were solely dependent on their paddy fields and cattle for their livelihood and hence should be shown some clemency.

The Brigade commander said that he would not permit anyone under any circumstances to enter the Uppaaru village and that anyone who attempts to reach the village by crossing the Uppaaru river would be shot dead.

So far the army has driven out Tamil civilians from the villages of Uppaaru, Iththikkulam, Pattalipuram, Sinnakkulam and Periyakulam.

The civilians, who fled only with their basic belongings, have sought refuge in schools buildings in Pallikudyiruppu and Srinivaasapuram said Tamil Parliamentarians from the Trincomalee district.

Colonel Sanath Karunarathna said that no development work or income generation projects would be permitted in areas that are not under the Sri Lankan army's control.

Meanwhile the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation issued a statement to the press today condemning the forcible evacuation of civilians from their traditional villages in Muthur.

The TELO charged that this is an attempt to colonise Sinhalese in these areas.


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