Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

IDP Resettlement & Colonization

There is much discussion in government, INGO and NGO circles of IDPs in the East being unwilling to resettle because of insecurity. There is outrage that the IDPs are being forced to resettle when they are unwilling to.

There seems to be almost no discussion of WHY there is insecurity for Tamil IDPs upon their return home. To those with a long perspective, this insecurity is manufactured to prevent the resettlement of Tamils in areas where a 'land grab' is to take place. The point is to impoverish one community and to change the demographics of Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Amparai. -- Ed. Comm.

Sinhalese settled in areas emptied of Tamils

by LTTE Peace Secretariat, December 26, 2007

Kadatkaraichenai in Trincomalee was a thriving Tamil village less than a year ago. The Sri Lanka military onslaught on 2006 forcefully displaced the Tamil from this and the surrounding areas.

 

Hundreds of Tamils were killed and injured by deliberate military artillery shelling in 2006 as the international community looked on.

Once the area was emptied of Tamils by such ethnic cleansing, the Sri Lanka Government declared the area as High Security Zone and prevented the original Tamil residents of the area from returning to their homes in their villages.

Over the last week, 25 Sinhalese families were settled in Kadatkaraichenai, the so called High Security Zone.

This development has all the hallmark of earlier Sinhala settlements in the east where by a Tamil village is emptied of Tamils through violence and then small number of Sinhala settlements is first created with minimal facilities. This settlement then gradually expands unnoticed.

In the earlier times Tamil people were chased out by large scale massacres carried out by the military. The massacre of Tamils in the Thiriyai a village in Trincomalee in 1985 and the subsequent conversion of the area in Sinhala settlement exemplifies this tactic of Sri Lanka Government.

On 8 June 1985, Sri Lanka military came in vehicles to Thiriyai and told the people to leave the area before they begin shooting. After the people left, 1100 houses were burnt down. Following this incident, displaced people stayed in schools. Again on 8.August 1985, the Sri Lankan military attacked the displaced in the schools killing ten civilians. Again on the 14 August six civilians were pulled out of a bus in Thiriyai and hacked to death. Tamils gradually moved out of the area by the constant threat of violence by the military. The area thus emptied of Tamils was then gradually settled with Sinhalese.

No longer able to carry of such blatant ethnic cleansing, Sri Lanka Government is carrying out the ethnic cleansing under the pretext of fighting terrorism as the world looks on.

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Hakeem explains why SLMC quit government

By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai, FederalIdea, December 13, 2007

"The Government is actively giving patronage to the armed groups in the East, and allowing them to act with impunity. Many Muslim civilians have gone missing in several months" said Rauff Hakeem, the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

Rauff Hakeem at "Thaarusalaam" on Dec 13, 2007

The leader of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Rauff Hakeem met the journalists in Colombo at "Thaarusalaam"-party headquarters on Thursday after crossing over to the Opposition in Parliament on Wednesday. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress has taken a decision to resign from the government and quit their ministerial portfolios over a slew of issues. Sri Lanka Muslim Congress has decided to support the Government from January 28th 2007 onwards.

The three members who crossed over along with the leader Rauff Hakeem were General Secretary of the party Hasan Ali, Chairman Bashir Segudawood and Ampara District Member of Parliament Faizal Cassim. Two other members and Deputy Ministers K. A. Baiz and M. Nijamudeen remain in the Government. The four members of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress were welcomed to the Opposition by thumping the desks and shaking hands by the Members of Parliament of the United National Party and Tamil National Alliance. United National Party Member of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella offered his front row seat to Rauff Hakeem.

He further clarified his party's stand on crossing over to the journalists:

"My great leader used to say that, our party makes things happen. We like to see a paradigm shift in solving the national problem, not only the Muslim issue: and also of those Tamils. The issues pertaining to Northern and Eastern Muslims remain unresolved. There are huge issues pertaining to land, security, economic interest and our rights to exercise our religious freedom. The Government is trying to change the demography of the East through settlements and land grabbing.

We resigned from the government with dignity. People who have mandated us are happy about our decision. We will not join the Government again; we are ready to face any challenge. Truth is the first victim in a war.

Stamped as traitors

We were called nationalists when we were with the Government, the moment we withdrew our support we are stamped as traitors. The Tamil National Alliance Members of Parliament are threatened. Recently relatives of the three Tamil National Alliance Members of Parliament went missing. My security was withdrawn soon after I resigned along with my fellow members. When I was in the Government I had 14 guards from Ministerial Security Division with vehicles, and 6 Special Task Force personnel. It was reduced to two few hours after I crossed over to the Opposition. I made a complaint and I have 5 guards from Ministerial Security Division. Each of my fellow members who resigned from the Government is provided with only two Police constables. Removing the security is a violation of human rights.

Muslims have to go back to Saudi Arabia

It's noted with deep regret that a Venerable Buddhist monk made a statement recently stating that the Muslims are not citizens of this country. And we Muslims have to go back to Saudi Arabia.

Today, I stand before you to tell the truth about the doubts that I and members of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress had been entertaining during the past twelve months, as ministers and members of the ruling coalition.

Parted ways on principles

However I should emphasize the fact that it is with no malice or acrimony that I present my case and that my party will continue to maintain very healthy ties with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his ministers and members of the Government even in the future despite our decision to leave the Government. There are no hostilities between us. We have only parted ways on principles.

We behaved in the most diplomatic manner in the process of leaving the Government. As we promised, we have given adequate advance notice on our decision to quit expect the Government too to respond to our departure in a similar mature manner and take it in the spirit that we made the move.

All of you are aware the circumstances under which we became part of the Government. The decision was more to do with keeping the unity of the party than out of conviction that there would be room within this Government with its assortment of parties for us to get the basic demands of the Muslim community met.

As the leader of the party I had serious misgivings about the capability of this Government with its far right wing slant to address the grievances of minorities both Muslims and Tamils from the very outset.

Doubts and dilemmas shared

My friends in Parliament and outside are witnesses to the fact that even on the day that I joined the Government-January 28th 2007 to be precise, I shared my doubts and dilemmas with them. I told them that my stint in this Government is not going to last long and it is to prevent a split in the party that I was joining the Government. If one peruses the media interviews given by me during the last twelve months it will become clear that I have been maintaining this stance in almost all my media comments.

Despite all these uncertainties about the manner the Government would approach Muslim grievances we were dignified enough to abide by the collective responsibility. We defended the Government in the House and outside throughout our stint even putting the party's credibility at stake on many occasions. Finally at the second reading of the Budget we kept our word and voted for the Budget.

While we were dutifully playing our part as an ally of the Government we were very much conscious of the growing restlessness among our own constituents. The delicate politics in the East is such that everyday new issues keep cropping up. There is slew of issues pertaining to land, security, and economic interest. In the case of land issues our people are facing problems that they have never faced before, making them feel that they are outcasts in their own lands.

Fear psychosis

On the other hand the Northern Muslims who have been languishing in Puttlam and neighbouring areas fro 17 long years are now expected to return to their places of origin without any security guarantees due to a fear psychosis among some members of the Government that a long term presence of my people in Puttlam would disturb the traditional demographic pattern of the area.

Besides the infringement of religious rights in the form of new noise pollution regulations is becoming a rancorous issue. The interpretation by my community was that the regulations were in violation of the core traditions of Islam. Our repeated request to remedy the situation have fallen on deaf ears.

No sympathy towards the minorities

My party was coming under tremendous pressure from my community to withdraw our support to the government. There was absolutely no hope in the horizon for the community under the present regime. The unpalatable reality about the Government is that its composition and power alignment are such it can make a very little progress in addressing the grievances of the minorities. Not only Muslims equally those of Tamils. Even though a few make some genuine efforts to
resolve some of the issues those moves too are doomed to fall apart due to the imbalanced configuration."

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem made a statement to the House on Wednesday Dec 12th, announcing the reasons which led to his party's decision to resign from the Government. He quoted a famous American writer Mark Twain "when in doubt tell the truth".

Raising a privilege issue in Parliament today regarding reducing the security entitled to him and three of his fellow members, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem vowed to go international on the matter if the security is not restored. "The government is sponsoring illegal militant groups in East and the withdrawal of security has put the people's representatives' lives in jeopardy" Rauff Hakeem said.

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Srilankanisation Must Follow Military Victories

by Dilrook Kannangara, Lankaweb, December 29, 2007

This nation has gone through so many changed over the past three decades. The most gruesome of all such changes is the creation of a mono-ethnic North. As a result, the security forces found it very difficult to establish their presence in the North. Although the Palali defences housed around 40,000 soldiers at the Northern tip of the island, it was not sufficient to overcome the mono-ethnic nature of the North. There are severe dangers of ethnic isolation. It leads to growing intolerance and hatred among the isolated community towards the other communities. It also gives them the false impression that they can survive without the co-operation and help from the other communities. These dangerous tendencies must be handled skillfully. The best cause of action that the government can take in this regard is to launch a srilankanisation program that closely follows military victories.

It is important to understand the struggle for Tamil Elam. It has both militants and cowards. While the LTTE is the main militant group fighting for Tamil Elam, never forget that there are many more coward groups aspiring for the same Tamil Elam. They know very well that the only way to cheat the government to give in to demands depends heavily on the mono-ethnic nature of the North. While weapons may be used against the militant Tamil Elamists, other legal remedies must be used against the cowards who work tirelessly for Tamil Elam.

Racial-federalism is their favorite tool to win their Tamil Elam without undergoing any hardships and making no sacrifices. There is a great danger that after the Sri Lankan soldiers have won the war, these cowardly elements will try their best to disintegrate the little island of Sri Lanka along ethnic lines. Already there is a massive campaign launched by them to promote racial-federalism. These attempts must be defeated. Best counteract for these attempts is to launch a vigorous srilankanisation campaign. The end result of the srilankanisation campaign is to ensure that there are no significant pro-disintegration forces at work throughout the country. In order to do this it is essential that the North is transformed into a multi-ethnic community. Fortunately for Lanka, the Northern Province offers the best development potential among all provinces of Sri Lanka. It has abundance of minerals, arable land, fisheries and many more industrial inputs that can propel it once again to a business hub. However, in order to reap these benefits the North needs people of all communities.

Muslims who were evicted by the LTTE in 1990 as part of their ethnic cleansing acts must be resettled in the North. Sinhalese who comprise the majority of Sri Lanka must be settled in the North with adequate business opportunities. As a start, immediately following a military victory, a large number of army garrisons must be set up in the North. These should also have their supply sources in the North itself that can provide almost all food and beverage needs of these garrisons. These farming communities within large military garrisons can be the founding stones of an expanding multi-ethnic community in the North. Their industries must be expanded to include mining, shipping, forestry, etc. soon thereafter. Profit earned from these industries can be reinvested to develop the war ravaged North. This type of an action plan would achieve multiple purposes and would ensure that both short term and long term security concerns are well addressed.

This campaign helps the nation in another way. Economic underdevelopment was excused by the people for too long as their leaders always cited terrorism and war as the biggest stumbling blocks for prosperity. When the war ends, these excuses will not be valid anymore. However, all the other provinces have achieved significant development and the absence of war cannot in no noteworthy way further develop these provinces. Therefore, the engine of economic growth in a post-war situation must be the North-East provinces that had meager economic contribution for the nation during the past three decades.

Race-based federalism must be stopped in order to integrate Sri Lanka once again. Race-based demands (other than cultural and religious demands) should not be tolerated and should be made illegal. It should be noted that it was race-based demands in 1918-1949 that eventually boiled downed to federalism and separatism. In this regard it is worth the while to note that the most number of Tamil and Muslim votes are cast to race-based political entities. This is not so among the Sinhalese. Instead Tamils and Muslims should be integrated into the main political parties without entertaining race-based demands. The biggest obstacle to do so is yet again the mono-ethnic North and highly fragmented East.

Some racist elements are making a big fuss about settling Sinhala people in the East. Why can’t they settle down in the East? Is it because they are Sinhalese? This type of despicable allegations must be condemned. People of all races can live in any part of Sri Lanka and there is nothing anybody can do about it; that is the law.

Just because Tamils have lived in an area does not mean that no one else can live there. All unused land must be put to productive use; race is completely irrelevant.

It was this type of racist allegations that costed the country dearly when its two main development projects were abandoned thanks to these mean elements and terrorists working together. The 1940-60s resettlements projects and the 1970-1988 Mahaweli project failed due to the acts of these nasty elements. Had these projects succeeded, Sri Lanka would be much more developed than now. These same elements are back in action to retain the North-East for the sole use by the Tamils. Their campaign must be vehemently busted for the sake of Sri Lanka through a process of srilankanisation.

Tissa Vitharana is back in action to please Manmohan Singh this time. How ridiculous that Sri Lanka changes its own destiny to satisfy Indians! It is pathetic that Lankan leaders fail to learn a lesson after the 1987 debacle that further aggravated the issue. Cannot they understand that integration is the best defence against disintegration?

The government and Tissa Vitharana in particular must study alternative models in proposing a solution for the so-called ‘ethnic problem’. The highly successful Malaysian model is the best candidate in such a consideration. Peoples’ support would only be forthcoming for such a solution, not for a solution that further divides the nation. What we need is srilankanisation, not disintegration of this land.

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Sinhalese Colonization of Trincomalee District

by V. Thangavelu, TamilCanadian, June 3, 2005

The Government took up the restoration of Allai Kulam (Kulam in Thamil means - tank) in the Trincomalee district. Also, they restored the Kanthalai Kulam in the Trincomalee district, which was an ancient irrigation tank that had silted up and fallen in disuse during the centuries of colonial rule. Another was the Pathavik Kulam (Sinhalese - Padaviya) where lay the fertile lands of West and North of Trincomalee. These three tanks were restored; forests were cleared and blocked into units to settle Sinhalese colonists brought from the south under the cloak of giving land to landless peasants. Both Allai and Kanthalai colonization schemes changed the demographic map of Northeast province irrevocably.

The Allai Scheme was inaugurated by constructing an anicut across the Verugal river, a tributary of the Mahaweli Ganga. The entire region that received irrigation waters from this scheme was called the Koddiyar AGA’s division. Today, in its place, there are three AGA’s Divisions viz the Muthur AGA’s Division, the Seruvila AGA’s division, which was created in the late eighties when W. Dahanayake was the Minister of Home Affairs under Dudley Senanayake (1965-1970) government). The third is the Verugal AGA’s Division, located at Ichchilampattai. This last AGA’s division was created in the mid 198O’s when K.W. Devnayagam was the Home Minister.

Under Allai colonization scheme 65% of the allotments were given to Sinhalese, 35% to Muslims and Thamils none. Under Kanthalai colonization scheme the intake was 77% Sinhalese and 23% Thamil speaking. Several new Sinhalese villages sprung up swallowing many ancient Thamil villages. The AGA’s division of Seruvila is located at Serunuvara which was originally called Arippu. The old village of Kallar is now called Somapura. The Thamil village of Neelapalai is now called Neelapola. Part of Poonagar is called Mahindapura.

Thirumangalai is now called Srimangalagama. Dehiwatte, Lankapatuna and Pulasthigama are some of the other new Sinhalese villages in the present Seruvila AGA’s division. This AGA’s division has a population of 20,187 with 17 Grama Sevaka officers divisions. It could be said without contradiction that 99% of the 11,665 Sinhalese living in this division were brought from the south and colonized by the government.

Muthalikulam (Morawewa) tank became the centre of a colonisation scheme in the 1960s. Under this scheme though initially allotments were made on a proportionate basis, subsequent violence directed against Thamil settlers on a regular basis by Sinhalese forced many Thamils to evacuate. A new AGA’s division was created in the early 1970s for Morawewa, bypassing the priority list originally sent by the Government Agent, Trincomalee, for the creation of AGA’s divisions in the district. The proposal to create an AGA’s division at Nilaveli got shelved as a result of this move.

The Morawewa AGA’s Division has a population of 9271 and 10 Grama Sevaka officers divisions. The Sinhalese constitute 56% of the total population while the Thamils constitute 37%. A considerable percentage out of the present population of 5101 Sinhalese in the Morawewa is outsiders. Periya Vilankulam (Mahadiulwewa) colonisation scheme in the Morawewa AGA’s Division was undertaken in the 1980s. Funds received from the European Community were utilised by D.J Bandargoda, Govt. Agent, Trincomalee and Gamini Dissanayake, then Minister of Lands, Land Development and Mahaweli Development, to launch this scheme. Pathavikkulam (Padaviya) scheme was another major colonisation scheme undertaken by the state to settle Sinhalese in the traditional Thamil homeland. This scheme was executed when C.P.de.Silva was the Minister for Land and Irrigation in S.W.R.D. Bandaranayake government (1956-1959). This scheme played a key role in the 1958 riots and the activities of the Land Development Department employees during the riots had been vividly described in the book “Emergency ‘58 “, by Tarzie Vittachi.

Colonization of Padavia resulted in the creation of an AGA’s division called Padavi Sripura, with a population of 11,804, almost all of them Sinhalese.

This writer was attached to the Trincomalee Kachcheri (1957-59) when some of these schemes were in full swing. Kumaresan Kadavai (Gomarankadawela) and Mudalikkulam (Morawewa) were originally Katukulampattu West and Katukulampattu East, which included the present Kuchaveli division.

In the late 60s the government started the Air Force farm near the head-works at Morawewa with a commanding position over the use of water. From that time Thamils became subject to small scale attacks by air force men and Sinhalese hooligans. The largest number of killings of Thamils took place along the Anudharapura Road and the matter was raised in parliament. This was the first instance in the island history of stationing forces permanently in the middle of an agricultural scheme. As a result the proportion of Thamils kept falling.

More Sinhalese were brought in under the Mahadivulweva (Periyavilankulam) scheme and their proportion rose to 56%. With the violence of the 8Os the gradual displacement of Thamils became a total retreat. The AGA’s office, since the outbreak of war has been shifted to the Sinhalese town of Mahadivulwewa.

In 1972 Nochchikulam was re-named Nochiyagama and Sinhalese were settled down in 5,000 acres of land forcibly acquired from Thamils living in Kappalthurai and Paalampoddaru. The brain behind this scheme was no other than K.B. Ratnayake, M.P. and the then SLFP Organizer for Anuradhapura District. In 1973 during Srimavo Bandaranaike’s rule a total of 10,738 Sinhalese families were illegally settled in the Trincomalee District.

Sinhalese colonists were planted all along the Thamil coastal villages like Kuchchaveli, Pulmoddai, Kumburuppiddi, Thiriyai, Thennamaravadi etc. For example in 1983 hundreds of Sinhalese illegally encroached and occupied the land adjoining Pulmoddai Agricultural Development Society.

On December 2, 1984 these Sinhalese colonists attacked Thennamaravadi village situated North of Pulmoddai, and burnt down 165 houses and 7 shops belonging to the Thamils. This resulted in the displacement of 749 Thamils constituting 147 families who were forced to irk out existence as refugees in adjoining villages.

During the sixties and seventies many Sinhalese villages sprouted in and around Trincomalee town. Srimapura (Named after Srimavo Bandaranaike), Mud Cove or Sumedhankarapura , Abayapura, Mihintapura and Pattispura were some of the Sinhalese villages thus created often after driving the Thamils away. In 1984 Thamils living in China Bay and Kavathikuda were uprooted and Sinhalese took their places with the help of the armed forces.

These settlements were established with the express intention of choking the Thamils in the district by hemming them from all sides and laying siege of the town.

In late seventies and eighties feverish attempts were taken to Sinhalise Trincomalee under the cloak of development. Gigantic tracts of state and private lands were acquired by or were vested with state corporations or boards. The projects for which these lands were earmarked were intended to bring in a large influx of Sinhalese. About 500 acres of state land in China Bay was released to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. The entire extent of land from Maddikali to Palampoddaru (Monkey) Bridge on the eastern side of the Trinco - Kandy Road was vested in the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. An extent of over 2000 acres of land off Marble - Bay, in the Karumalaiyoothu area in the Town and Gravets AGA’s Division was reserved for the Ceylon Tourist Board for tourist development.

Land acquisition proceedings commenced in the early 80s to take over all the land - both private and state lands - on the eastern side of the Trincomalee - Pulmoddai Road from 3rd Mile Post (Uppuveli) to the Salappai-Aru Bridge, a distance of 11 miles, for tourist development.

These projects deprived Thamils of several thousands of acres of land belonging to them in Sampalthivu, Athimoddai, Nilaveli, Gopalapuram and Irakkandy. An extent of about 500 acres (originally leased to the late R.G.Senanayake) at Kumburupiddy was handed over to the National Youth Services Council to set up a training centre and a farm. About 2000 acres at Thiriyai was earmarked for use by the State Cashew Corporation.

Several state-run industrial projects have been established in the Trincomalee District. Mineral Sands Project at Pulmoddai, Sugar Factory at Kanthalai, Fisheries Harbour Project at Cod- Bay, and Bulk Petroleum Depot at China Bay are some of these projects.

These projects overwhelmingly assisted the inflow of Sinhalese into the Trincomalee district. Development projects not only brought additional Sinhalese into the district, they also resulted in the re-naming or creation of new villages.

There was a proposal to re-name Pulmoddai a traditional Muslim village as Kanijavelipura. Pudawaikadu, another Muslim village, was renamed Sagarapura after settling in a few hundreds of Sinhalese fishing families. There is a model village called Dhanyagama in China Bay. This is an NHDA assisted housing scheme to house Prima Flour Mill employees. A large village called Agbopura has sprung up near the Kanthalai sugar factory.

When Cyril Mathew was the Minister of Industries and Scientific Affairs in J.R. Jayawardene’s cabinet, he embarked on a massive restoration programme of ancient Buddhist temples. The Seruvila, Vilgam Vihare and Thiriyai Buddhist temples were restored with the assistance of the Town and Country Planning Department, the Department of Archaeology and the other state agencies. The powerful minister was the chairman of the restoration committees of these three temples.