Jaffna fishermen's woes discussed in SLN, civil society meet

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 01 March 2006, 00:54 GMT]
A meeting between Northern Region Commander of Sri Lanka Army (SLA), Major General Chandrasiri and a delegation of civil society members held at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Kankesanthurai command of the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) to explore solutions to hardships faced by fishermen in Jaffna district, ended inconclusively, sources in Jaffna said. Maj.Gen Chandrasiri told the civil society delegation that responses will be provided within two weeks after consultations with higher authorities in Colombo.

In addition to Maj.Gen.Chandrasiri, several commanders of SLN including SLN commander from Punguduthivu SLN base participated in the meeting. Additional Government Agent Mr Sivasamy, Jaffna district Regional Coordinator of the Human Rights Commission, Rohitha Priyadharshana, Human Rights Attorney, M Remedius, Investigative Officer Surendrarajah, Representative of Jaffna Attorneys Union, Ms Santha Abimannasingham, President of Jaffna Human Rights Consortium, Mr S Paramanathan, and President of Jaffna fisheries Consortium, S Thavaratnam represented the fisher families in the meeting.

The SLN harassment of Vadamaradchy North fishermen, difficulties faced by fisher families who traditionally worked along the shores from Mathakal to Valvettiturai who have been denied permission to earn a living by the SLN imposed ban on fishing, and struggle of fisher families in the Jaffna Islets to earn a living were pointed out to the SLA Commander and SLN officers by the civil society members, a meeting attendee told TamilNet.

When the recent incidents where Vadamaradchy North fishermen were attacked and their fishing accessories including nets were destroyed in high seas by SLN soldiers, the SLN commanders told the civil society delegation that they will investigate these incidents and will take prompt action.

On fishing ban around the KKS harbor areas, between Mathakal to the west to Valvettiturai to the east, the military commanders said they have to discuss security issues with Colombo command before deciding on relaxing the ban.

The Civil society members pointed out that in Punguduthivu fisher families are given passes for one every fourteen days and that have endangered livelihoods of several families. Military commanders said there were incidents near their command posts that resulted in such strict measures. Civil society delegation told the Commanders that fishermen are not connected to any security related incidents and that the SLN should allow the fishermen to fish without much restrictions. Maj.Gen.Chandrasiri assured the delegation that he will give a response within two weeks on relaxing security measures in Jaffna islets.

Another meeting between the parties have been scheduled for 15th March.


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