Feature Article

Keappaa-pulavu protesters denounce compromises, demand all their lands released

[TamilNet, Monday, 24 April 2017, 23:16 GMT]
The occupying Sinhala military and the so-called ‘Resettlement’ Ministry in Colombo are giving confusing, and often contradicting, information on the release of lands in Keappaa-pulavu, say uprooted Tamils, who have been waging a continuous protest outside the so-called ‘security force headquarters in Mullaiththeevu’ for more than 2 months now. Last week, there was yet another deceptive move by the SL Resettlement Ministry and the SL military. The role being played by the ITAK hierarchy has also come under fire from the uprooted people on the ground. The proposal of releasing only 30 acres of their 482 acres of original lands along with additional 90 acres of jungle lands, is not going to put an end to the protest, the protesting people say. The protesting families have vowed to intensify their campaign despite the harsh conditions prevailing at the site of protest.



The protesters say their noses and throats tingle as they are exposed to road dust and April heat. Children are suffering a lot.

“Even if we die here, our remains will be kept until our village is released for the remains to be buried there,” says 49-year-old Saraswathy Alagarasa, who has been taking part in the struggle for 50 days now.

The SL military and the SL Resettlement ministry have been providing confusing information. The GS is yet to receive any information on which lands are going to be released. Whatever being released first, the protest will go on until all the lands are released. The protest will in fact take more intensive forms as the protesting people now find themselves in a stage of trauma caused by their long protest, 58-year-old Rasiah Paramewaran told TamilNet in a video interview recorded last week.

The military can shift itself to another locality, not the people who have been living in Keappaa-pulavu for more than 7 generations, say the villagers who were uprooted from their village in 2009.

50-year-old Arumugam Velauthapillai, who has been protesting with his villagers, said the villagers have been deceived with alternative solutions twice, once when some lands at Vattaap-pazhai were released and when Pilavuk-kudiyiruppu were released. “We are not prepared to give up the protest until all our lands are released,” he told TamilNet.

60-year-old Selvarasa Vivekananthan, who has been protesting for more than 2 months and who has been outspoken in several video interviews earlier, reiterated that the protesting families would not enter any compromise of alternative lands or money.

They villagers have lost their fertile lands and access to the lagoon, which were their main source of livelihood.

66-year-old Parameswary Amarasingam says that the livelihood in the village was mostly self-sustained.

They were able to exchange resources among themselves and sustain their lives. Now, everything has to be bought. Once, having their own coconut, mango and jack trees, fishing, chili peppers and onion, they were able to exchange these with each other without paying money (pa’nda-maattu). Now, they have to go to Vattaappazhai temple to collect coconuts, which are being cracked by devotees at the temple. Otherwise, the families have to use coconut oil instead of coconut milk, she says in an emotional narration on the plight of Keappaa-pulavu villagers. The poverty was entirely caused by the military land grab, she adds.

Some of the protesters have been taking part in the protest for 79 days while others joined the protest when they witnessed their lands were not released together with the lands of Pilavuk-kudiyiruppu.

Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, SL President Maithiripala Sirisena and SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe are responsible for the languishing condition of the protesting villagers, says Mr Parameswaran.


Chronology:

 

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