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Unabated structural genocide in East reminds Tamils of Dudley's betrayal in 1965

[TamilNet, Monday, 27 April 2015, 19:51 GMT]
Resettled Tamils in Paddith-thidal village in Moothoor divion in Trincomalee, recently made a fresh attempt to engage in agriculture in their lands after the ‘new’ regime came to power in Colombo. However, the latest effort, made with the assistance of the ‘Legal Aid Commission’ has also proved futile, says Velayutham Velmaran, the chairman of Paddith-thidal Sri Vinayaga Agricultural Society in an interview to TamilNet on Monday. A Sinhala-Buddhist extremist monk from Samagipura, which is situated in the bordering Seruwila DS division, has been blocking the resettled Eezham Tamil landowners for several years from engaging in agriculture in their land. The Sinhala colonisers from Seruwila have seized around 1,500 acres of the agricultural lands of Eezham Tamils in the villages of Kangku-veali, Padukaadu and Muthalai-madu , Mr Velmaran said.

Tamil activists who represent the poverty-stricken resettled Tamil farmers in Moothoor division say that the current state of affairs in the East, particularly the plight of uprooted Tamils from Champoor, reminds the nation of Eezham Tamils of the times of mid-60's when the so-called National Government of Dudley Senanayake betrayed the Tamils.

It was a Buddhist monk from Serunuwara, who protested a move by the collaborating ITAK parliamentarian Mr Thiruchelvam, who was trying to declare the site of Trincomalee Temple a protected zone. The protest spearheaded by the mighty monk resulted in Mr Dudley Senanayake dissolving the committee appointed by Mr Thiruchelvam. As a result, Mr Chelvanayakam was forced to leave the ‘National Government’. Mr Senanayke had already ditched the Dudley - Chelva Pact.

Similarly, Buddhist priest Mahinagamage Premaratne from the same Seruwila division has now taken the extremist cause against Eezham Tamils into his hands. Armed Sinhala home guards assisted by the occupying Sinhala military and the civil officials under the control of the Colombo government are assisting the Sinhala colonisation of the lands of Tamils in Moothoor, complain the representatives of Tamil farmers in Moothoor division.

The affected Tamil families, who are dependent on the lands for their livelihood, were forced to stage a protest in front of the Divisional Secretariat of Moothoor last week. After the protesting Tamil farmers confronted Ven. Mahinagamage Premaratne, the Buddhist chief priest (Viharadhipathi) from Samagipura, the DS intervened to contain the situation.

The issue has been going on for several years now. Farmers from the Tamil villages of Paddith-thidal, Ma'nat-cheanai, Periya-ve'li, Mallikaith-theevu, Kangku-veali, Meankaamam, Ki'li-veddi, Paarathi-puram, Munnampodi-veddai, and Paalaththadich-cheanai were doing cultivation in these lands since 1956. They were issued with ‘temporary’ land permits in 1972. These Tamil villagers were having 3-4 acres of lands per family in Padu-kaadu and Muthalai-madu. Only one Sinhala farmer from Neelap-pola owned 10 acres of cultivation lands at Padukaadu and 30 acres of lands belonged to Tamil-speaking Muslims from Moothoor, Velmaran said.

The Sinhala settlers seized these lands following anti-Tamil pogroms in 1985. However, Tamil farmers were able to access these lands for rice cultivation during the presence of IPKF in 1987-1990 and during the Norwegian mediated peace process in 2002-2006 despite the prevailing threats by the Sinhala settlers.

But, after 2009, violent Sinhala ‘home guards’ from Seruwila confronted Tamil villagers who attempted to access their lands. The SL military, SL police and the chief monk from Samagipura have been backing the encroachers.

Mahinagamage Sumanasiri, a brother of the above mentioned monk and four members of his family were also among the encroachers of the lands at Padu-kaadu, Mr Velmaran said adding that Tamils have only managed to access 197 acres of their lost lands.

Two years ago, six Tamil farmers were admitted to hospital after being assaulted by the Sinhala settlers on 28 November 2013, when they attempted to engage in agriculture.

Since the new regime was talking about good-governance, the Tamil farmers, who were deprived from accessing their lands, made a fresh attempt with the officials belonging to ‘Legal Aid Commission’ on 25 March. With the assistance of the officials from the LAC, the Tamil farmers lodged a compliant with Moothoor police before proceeding to their agricultural lands.

Within two days, armed Sinhala goons have started to threaten the Tamil farmers. The SL police from Seruwila ‘intervened’ to instruct the Tamil farmers to come to their police station on 02 April.

When the Tamil farmers went to the police station as instructed, the police officers there told them to approach Seruwila Divisional Secretariat to resolve the ‘dispute’.

The officials at Seruwila DS were telling the Tamil farmers that they could not do anything as the lands in question came under the domain of Moothoor DS division.

Finally, the Tamil farmers chose to protest in front of the Moothoor DS after informing the LAC officials. As they saw the Buddhist monk coming to the DS office, they staged a protest blocking the entrance of the Moothoor DS office.

As soon as the new regime came to power in Colombo, a section of uprooted Tamils from Champoor attempted to enter their lands. But, the SL military and police chased them away while the TNA was ‘politely’ requesting them to be patient and give time to the new regime.

Now, 100-days have passed. Nothing has happened since the last assurance made by the new regime that it would resettle Champoor Tamils before 30th April, Mr Velmaran told TamilNet.

“It is the plight of Champoor Tamils that hurts us most,” Mr Velmaran said adding that the uprooted Tamils from Champoor who are now residing in the so-called welfare camps at Ki'liveddi and at Paddith-thidal, were earlier living with all facilities doing agriculture in their own lands. It is a pity to see them languish in the mud during the rainy season, Mr Velmaran said.

“The new regime's promise to resettle Champoor Tamils has gone with the wind,” Velmaran further said.

There was no Seruwila electorate in Trincomalee district when the island gained ‘independence’ in 1948. Seruwila electorate in the Trincomalee district was carved out in 1970 after the state aided Sinhala colonization scheme carried out by the United National Party government.

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