Sirisena’s deceptive PR campaign exposed in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Sunday, 30 April 2017, 23:45 GMT]
67-year-old Pillayan Thavam, a Tamil fisherman who has been uprooted for 27 years from Mayiliddi in Valikaamam North in Jaffna, says SL President Maithiripala Sirisena visited his hut in the so-called welfare camp 16 months ago on 21 December 2015 and promised him resettlement within 6 months. The photos taken at his huts during the occasion were used in the mainstream media in the South and outside the island. Following the PR visit of SL President, the occupying military commanders came and asked to identify the location of his land in Mayiliddi, which he did. But, the land was not released as promised. On the contrary, the SL military has started to exploit his land by scooping sand in large scale, Mr Thavam told TamilNet on Sunday. All the trees that stood there and the remains of his properties are all razed to the ground within the last 16 months.

Thavam, a father of one, is living with his wife, daughter and two grandchildren at Koa'nap-pulam ‘welfare’ centre at Mallaakam.

Showing the little chair on which Mr Sirsena sat during his visit to the welfare camp, Thavam says 16 months have elapsed since then and nothing has changed. In fact, things have worsened, he told TamilNet in a video interview.

The photos of Mr Sirisena visiting Thavam's house were showcased with much publicity in the media in December 2015. The SL President was witnessing how the families were struggling with their day to day life and promised action within 6 months.

Following Sirisena's visit, SL military came and took the uprooted fisherman, who is also a community leader of the uprooted fishermen and asked him to identify the location of his house. Although his house had been razed to the grounds, there were 69 palmyrah trees in his lands and the cement stones he had prepared for the construction of a temple for Vairavar deity were still there.

But, his lands were fenced off by the military and a large-scale scooping of sand has taken place. Now, there are no trees. Almost everything is gone, he says.

There are 108 families stil staying at the camp in Koa'nap-pulam. The land owners of the camp site are demanding their lands back. They have gone to the courts demanding their lands. 125 families have been shifted to alternative places in Keerimalai. The Divisional Secretariat officials are also demanding the families to find alternative lands.

While the SL Government is donating 25 lakhs rupees per family to those affected by landslide in the South, the uprooted families in North, were only allocated 1-2 lakhs rupees and that too is being delayed. The people are deceived to buy alternative lands.

Only a few selected pockets of lands have been released in Oo'ra'ni, Thaiyiddi and Mayiliddi, he laments.

There are at least 4,000 families from Mayiliddi who are uprooted from Mayiliddi. They reside in 34 camps and outside.

“Although the land-owners in Koa'nap-pulam want us to get away from this camp, I am not going to shift my family to an alternative location anymore,” Mr Thavam says.


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