SLA forces civilians to cleanup checkposts, military bases in Thenmaraadchi

[TamilNet, Monday, 24 March 2008, 02:48 GMT]
More than 600 men of all ages were rounded up Sunday around 7:00 a.m. by Sri Lanka Army (SLA) troopers in Vara'ni, Kudamiyaan and suburbs in Thenmaraadchi and taken away in military vehicles to be deployed for clean up and restoration work within and outside the military bases, sources in Jaffna said. The civilians were forced to work the whole day at gun point in and around the army bases, check posts and shrub lands along Kodikaamam – Point Pedro road, officials from Thenmaraadchi District Secretariat confirmed.

The civilians, most of whom are casual labourers and farmers were not released even after 4:00p.m., according to local families.

The men were forced to clean a five-mile stretch along Kodikaamam–Point Pedro road from Mu'l'li up to Chuddipuram in Vara'ni, where several mini camps and check points are located, in the presence of large number of armed soldiers.

Recent complaints made to higher officials of SLA for using civilians in forced labor have gone unheeded, local residents said.

The area located on the far end of Thenmaraadchi Forward Defence Lines (FDL) is under the control of SLA, and most civilians residing along the main road have already abandoned their homes which are at present used by SLA as mini camps.

Already Kodikaamam – Point Pedro road has been closed for traffic as well as for pedestrian use citing security concerns for the 52nd Division of SLA located in the area occupying a large area including part of this main route.

After the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2002, the road was opened for public use by court order.

However, with recent commencement of clashes between SLA and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the road has once again been closed and the people are forced to use an alternative sandy gravel road.

Due to the recent torrential rains the road has turned muddy with several puddles of water, causing great inconvenience.

SLA though aware of the hardships of the public, has refused to open the normal road.


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