'Thiriyai destruction deliberate' - Sampanthan

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 June 2002, 15:47 GMT]
"The destruction of the Thiriyai Tamil village appears to have been deliberate: there were no attacks and counter attacks in the village in the course of which the destruction could have occurred. The destruction has also been total. Such a deliberate attack should have had a clear objective. It appears to me that the objective was to prevent the displaced Tamil people returning to Thiriyai," Mr.R.Sampanthan, TNA parliamentarian from Trincomalee, told the Prime Minister Wednesday morning at a discussion between the delegations of the TNA and the United National Front government.

Mr.Sampanthan at the commencement of the discussion handed over a five-page report to the Prime Minister Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe regarding the destruction of the historically Tamil village, Thiriyai in Trincomalee. The report also discusses the obstacles from the Sri Lankan Navy in resettling the displaced in the village.

Mr.SampanthanĖs report included details from his fact-finding visit to Thiriyai village last week with a group of displaced Tamil families and several local heads of government departments.

Mr.Eero Ittilainen, the SLMM monitor in Trincomalee, is seen going through the memorandum submitted by the people of Thiriyai Wednesday regarding their resttlement. (Photo: TamilNet)
"Tamil people dislocated by the offensive of the armed forces from their historical village in which they have lived for generations and centuries, are not able to return and resettle-they cannot even go and see in what state their village is," the report said.

"About half a kilometer away from the entrance to the village, the Naval Officer informed me that we could not proceed beyond that point, as the school buildings of Thiriyai Maha Vidiyalayam at the entrance to the village, were being used by the SLN as a camp and that we could not pass the camp. Consequent to my insistence, having contacted his high authorities, the Government Agent, the Divisional Secretary, the representatives of the UNHCR, the SLMM and three representatives of the displaced persons and myself were taken up to the navy camp.

"All the existing school buildings are being used as the camp. One house in front of the camp also forms a part of his complex. Not a single other house in the village exists, which means that all other houses have been destroyed. Over a thousand houses existed in Thiriyai when the residents fled in 1990; around 500 of them--some large, some small-- were permanent brick built houses with permanent roofs, and the others were semi-permanent The Naval officer in charge of the camp acknowledged to me that there were no other buildings in the village other than buildings they are in occupation."

Mr.Prakash, head of the LTTE's political division for Tampalakamam receivs a copy of the memorandum from a representative of the displaced Tamil people of Thiriyai. (Photo: TamilNet) )
At the meeting, the Prime Minister is said to have assured Mr.Sampanthan that the main Sri Lanka Navy camp located in the destroyed village in a school building would be shifted by the second week of July. Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe that a high-powered committee would be set up to go into the question of reconstructing the destroyed village. He handed over the responsibility in this regard to his advisor Mr.Bradman Weerakoon, TNA sources said.

Meanwhile, a group of displaced Tamil people from Thiriyai handed over a memorandum to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in Trincomalee Wednesday morning regarding the resettlement of their village. The memorandum states that the SLN detachment, which is stationed at the Thiriyai school building, is preventing the displaced from getting back to their historical lands where they have been living for generations. Hence the assistance of the SLMM is urgently needed for our resettlement in Thiriyai. Mr.Eero Ittilnainen, the SLMM monitor who accepted the memorandum, told the delegation that he would inform the head of his mission in this regard.

The delegation also handed over a copy of the memorandum to the LTTEĖ s Trincomalee district political office, where it was accepted by Mr. Prakash, the LTTEĖs political secretary for Tampalakamam.

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