Feature Article

Western, Indian housing schemes used as trump card to weaken uprooted people’s struggle

[TamilNet, Sunday, 01 October 2017, 23:29 GMT]
The poverty-stricken uprooted Tamils from Valikaamam North in Jaffna, residing in more than 34 so-called welfare camps for three decades, are now being lured into buying alternative lands outside their military-occupied villages. Administrative officials deployed by occupying Colombo are giving an ultimatum that if the familes were to ‘qualify’ for housing schemes funded by India, Norway, Switzerland and the EU, they should buy lands elsewhere without delay. The housing schemes would disappear if the beneficiaries were to wait for their original lands to be released by the SL military, the families are being told. The western countries and India, that intentionally avoided demanding de-militarisation of the North-East in the post-war human rights discourse staged in Geneva, seem to be interested in grooming the hostile Sinhala military along the coast of Eezham Tamils in the North-East.

The Indian government in particular, is also risking its security in the long run by abetting the Colombo establishment to continue its Sinhala militarisation of the entire coast of North-East, Tamil political observers in Jaffna said.

The District Secretariat in Jaffna has already convinced 113 recipients to buy lands outside their coastal villages. The families are being encouraged to buy lands near the locations where they have been residing for the last 3 decades.

Many of these 113 recipients have no ownership documents for their original lands in Valikaamam North, the officials at District Secretariat explained. 55 of the recipients have already confirmed the alternative land provision, they added.

However, the Tamil officials admitted that the current project, based on instructions from Colombo, was also aimed at convincing those who own lands inside the military occupied zone to opt for alternative lands in the next phase.

In the meantime, the people who have moved into lands released in Mayiliddi complain that there are no coastal access roads to their houses. They are being structurally and culturally discouraged to live in the released area.

The lifestyle being demonstrated by Sinhala visitors from South and SL military personnel residing at the ‘resorts’ that are visible from the households of the resetted families cause culture shock to their children and the youth in a negative sense, the resettled families in Mayiliddi complain. Therefore, de-militarisation of the remaining areas is crucial if the way of life of native people was to be restored with dignity, they say.

Meanwhile, uprooted fishermen from Palaali who have recently moved into their village said it was critical for them to get their school released. They have gained access to their coastal road.

“We want our school back. We have to get our children to Achchuveali from Palaali in private vehicles. The school at Palaali East is still under military control. Before we were uprooted, there was a government school with 13 teachers and classes up to G.C.E (O/L),” a fisherman from Palaali told TamilNet. “The government has not even arranged a school bus service,” he said.

“The lands up to Palaali Junction should be released. The people who have no boats or engines should be utilised with their own engines and boats so that no one among the resettled fishermen need to be depended on daily wage earnings. It is not possible to ensure the livelihood of the family through daily-wage work anymore,” the fisherman from Palaali further said.

“We have coastal road access from Palaali to Tho’ndai-maan-aa’ru. But, Mayiliddi people have to travel 20 to 30 kilometres through cumbersome one-way road to reach their released lands,” he said.

In the meantime, resettled people also complained that some of the resettled families were being lured into to sell their lands to the occupying military, particularly in Maathakal and Mayiliddi.



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