Colombo uses COVID-19 situation to militarise civil administration in North

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 07 April 2020, 20:19 GMT]
The Community Based Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations involved in assisting the people, who have lost their livelihood due to the long-lasting curfew imposed to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, are complaining about military restrictions hampering their work in Jaffna. The occupying SL military has beefed up its checkpoints on the main highways that connect peninsular Jaffna with the Vanni mainland and the rest of the island. The SL soldiers operating the Elephant Pass (EPS) and Poonakari (Pooneryn) checkpoints are refusing to accept the documents provided to the organisations even though the SL Police has sanctioned such permits at the request of Village (GS) and Divisional Secretaries in the public sector.

Although the papers are accepted for internal transport within the district, one needs SL military authorised special permits to cross the district border of Jaffna, the activists say.

However, the SL Navy is also refusing the humanitarian organisations to access the islets off Jaffna where people are reporting lack of essentials, including the supply of potable water.

The SL military is suppressing community engagement of assisting those in need.

In the meantime, around 3,000 persons from other districts of the North and East are stranded in Jaffna.

The SL military was overtly controlling all civil affairs from 1996 to 2015 in the Jaffna peninsula, especially during times of war and after 2009.

Due to mounting international criticism and increased field visits by UN treaty bodies and special rapporteurs, the militarisation of civil administration took a covert form, especially after the 2015 regime change.

The Maithiripala-Wickramasinghe government deployed the notorious Special Task Force (STF) to maintain military control through the SL Police Department. The STF is a full-fledged military commando force, administratively organised under the SL Police Department.

At the same time, the ministries and departments coming under the SL unitary state mechanism in Colombo started to outsource the contracts related to infrastructure and resettlement housing construction to the SL military.

Despite the regime change in 2015, the SL military was also allowed to proceed with operating the so-called Civil Security Department (CSD), employing 10,000 enslaved former LTTE associated persons to run the farms in Ki'linochchi and Mullaiththeevu districts without handing over the facilities to the Northern Provincial Council. The SL military continued to operate the controversial ‘pre-schools’ for the children of the families of enslaved Eezham Tamils.

Now, the SL military is starting to control almost all the civil affairs using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse.


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