Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

After Colonizing the East the Sinhala Government is Now Colonizing the North!

by Veluppillai Thangavelu, August 25, 2010

Although, the war with the LTTE has ended and there is no danger of another LTTE insurgency appearing on the scene in the foreseeable future, yet the government is hell-bent to colonize and militarise the North. For this purpose, the government has allocated a whopping 201.3 billion rupees, 35 billion rupees higher than the defence allocation in the 2009 budget. The lion’s share of the defence budget will be spent on salaries, uniforms, boots and feeding of the oversized Sri Lankan defence forces and police which altogether now number nearly 500,000. That also explains why Sri Lanka has the highest per capita military personnel (18.5 to 1000} in South Asia. The defence budget is so massive that it dwarfs the allocation of just Rs.30 billion (1%) for the Ministry of Resettlement. No wonder the government says the owners of houses destroyed during the war have to rebuild themselves!

After the military defeat of the LTTE the Sri Lankan government has opened the flood gates of state-sponsored Sinhala colonization of the Northeast, especially Trincomalee and Vanni districts. Not a single day passes without news of lands belonging to the Thamils being forcibly grabbed.  For more than 25 years the government's attempt to move the border of Manal Aru was successfully thwarted by the LTTE, but the situation has dramatically changed since May 19th, 2009. 

Even before independence D.S. Senanayake as Minister of Agriculture and Land used state-sponsored Sinhala colonization as an instrument of state policy to change the demography of the Northeast provinces. Gal Oya (originally called Paddippalai Aru in Tamil) Allai-Kanthalai and Yan Oya in the Trincomalee district and Maduru Oya in the Batticaloa district were the major colonization schemes launched by D.S. Senanayake and his successors.  

In 1949 the government under D.S. Senanayake enacted Act No. 51 under which the Gal Oya Development Board was established. It was officially inaugurated by Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake on August 28, 1949 at Ingniyakala. A dam was built at Ingniyakala to divert the Gal Oya river waters. This water reservoir was appropriately named Senanayake Samudra – the biggest man made tank in the whole of Ceylon.  Gal Oya Development Board spent a staggering US 67.2 million dollars to build the infrastructure and settle the colonists. 

All these schemes could easily be described as the single biggest ‘accomplishment’ of Sinhalese governments since independence in 1948 meant to reduce the Thamil majority in the East.    

While the government is preventing  thousands and thousands of Thamil IDPs to settle down in their own homes, it is grabbing swathes of cultivable land in Vanni to build military bases, cantonments and houses for the armed forces.

Two cantonments with schools, hospitals, living quarters and ten military bases have been constructed in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu under an agreement signed by Basil Rajapaksa, Head of Presidential Task Force with China. About 5,000 acres have been acquired for the purpose. China is also constructing   60,000 houses costing $110 million for families of the armed forces in Jaffna, Kankesanthurai, Mullaitivu and Pooneryn. About 1,000 houses in Vanni have already been completed.  Chinese Defence Ministry has offered a loan of $ 20 million loan for purchasing equipment needed for building military-related installations in the North.

China is underwriting these ventures with liberal credit. The Exim Bank of China has agreed to provide a preferential credit facility of over $1 bn for roads and rail projects and construction of military housing projects in the North. 

Other Chinese projects, including Hambantota port, a Special Economic Zone, a 1,000 acre Tapioca farm, the 900 MW coal-fired Norochcholai power plant, the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway, an oil bunkering facility, the Palai-Kankesanthurai rail-line, a Performing Arts Centre in Colombo and a host of other projects, make the Chinese portfolio the envy of export economies in meltdown.

China remained Sri Lanka’s biggest source of foreign funding in 2009, providing $1.2 billion or nearly triple the $424 million given by the number two overseas lender, the Asian Development Bank. In March, 2010 China pledged another $290m for a new airport and to upgrade the island’s railways.

Although, the war with the LTTE has ended and there is no danger of another LTTE insurgency appearing on the scene in the foreseeable future, yet the government is hell-bent to colonize and militarise the North. For this purpose, the government has allocated a whopping 201.3 billion rupees, 35 billion rupees higher than the defence allocation in the 2009 budget. The lion’s share of the defence budget will be spent on salaries, uniforms, boots and feeding of the oversized Sri Lankan defence forces and police which altogether now number nearly 500,000. That also explains why Sri Lanka has the highest per capita military personnel (18.5 to 1000} in South Asia. The defence budget is so massive that it dwarfs the allocation of just Rs.30 billion (1%) for the Ministry of Resettlement. No wonder the government says the owners of houses destroyed during the war have to rebuild themselves!

Unfortunately, India seems to be oblivious to the Chinese geo-strategic   involvement in Sri Lanka so close to the Indian shores. The de facto Thamil Eelam kept the China threat via Sinhala Sri Lanka at bay until May 2009.  But, China is now well placed to reduce India's regional dominance, supported by Sri Lanka and without the Eelam Thamil deterrence. India’s foreign policy of”over appeasement" of Sri Lanka has led to increased Chinese political and economic dominance. 

A  Sinhalese think-tank has advised the government to speed up the colonization of the North to deny Thamils' claim to the concept of a homeland. Tamils have been already reduced to a minority in the East through massive state-sponsored Sinhala colonization schemes.  

Since May the tempo of settling Sinhalese in Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts has increased. In Kevu’liyaamadu in Paddippazhai Division huts have been constructed to house 170 Sinhalese families.   Another 230 Sinhalese have been slated to be settled in this area extending from Kevu’liyaamadu to Kachchakkodi Suvaami Malai. The rule by emergency regulations and Anti-Terrorism law makes legal recourse very difficult. (http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=30967)

In Trincomalee, Sinhalese are settled on both sides of the road from Habarana to Kanniya with a sprinkling of Buddhist vihares in between. Busloads of Sinhalese are arriving daily from the south for settlement. The government has asked the Asst. Government Agent of Thiriyai to demarcate 3000 acres of land for the Thiriyai Buddhist temple. 

The Sri Lankan Navy is clearing 1050 out of a total of 1400 acres of cultivated land in Kajuwatta, Vakarai in Batticaloa district to establish a camp resulting in hundreds of people in the east losing their income. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2010/07/100711_cashew_navy.shtml)

The havoc wrecked by state sponsored colonization of the Northeast can be seen from the demographic changes in the Northeast. 

The Eastern Province is 3,839 sq. miles in extent. Originally Trincomalee (1,016 sq. miles) and Batticaloa (2,823 sq. miles) were the districts in this province. According to the 1921 census, the Sinhalese were 4.4% of the population in the Trincomalee District and 4.5% in the combined Batticaloa and Amparai District. The Sinhalese were less than 5% in the whole of the Eastern Province.

By 1960 an entirely new electorate called Amparai (now called Digamadulla) was carved out for the Sinhalese colonists on the recommendation of the De-limitation Commission appointed in 1959.  On 10th January 1961 the Batticaloa District was divided into the present Amparai District (1,775 sq. miles) and Batticaloa District (1,048 sq. miles) which sharply escalated the pace of Sinhalese colonization.  

The Sinhalese population in the undivided Batticaloa district in 1911 was only 4702. In 1921 it was 7,243.  But after the Gal Oya scheme was launched the Sinhalese population began to increase by leaps and bounds as the following Table 1 shows. 

Table 1

Population of Amparai District by ethnic group 1963 to 2007

Year

Sri Lankan Moor

Sinhalese

Sri Lankan Tamil

Indian Tamil

Others

Total

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

1963 Census

97,621

46.11

61,996

29.28

49,185

23.23

1,312

0.62

1,618

0.76

211,732

100

1971 Census

126,365

46.35

82,280

30.18

60,519

22.20

1,771

0.65

1,670

0.61

272,605

100

1981 Census

161,568

41.54

146,943

37.78

77,826

20.01

1,411

0.36

1,222

0.31

388,970

100

2001 Census

244,620

41.25

236,583

39.90

109,188

18.41

715

0.12

1,891

0.32

592,997

100

2007 Estimate

268,630

43.99

228,938

37.49

111,948

18.33

58

0.01

1,145

0.19

610,719

100

Source:2007 Estimate - Department of Census & Statistics Special Enumeration 2007

 

Trincomalee is one of the districts in which the Tamils have been reduced from a majority of   81.76% in 1827 to just 28.75  in 2007 (Estimate).   The district has 10 Assistant Government Agent (AGA) divisions and out of that 5 have a clear Sinhala majority, 3 mixed and one each Thamil and Muslim majority as the following Table 2 shows.

Table 2
Trincomalee District

No

 AGA Division  

Demography

%

1

Padawisiripura

Sinhalese

99.7

2

Gomarankadawela

Sinhalese

98.9

3

Morawewa

Sinhalese

55.8

4

Kuchchaveli

Mixed

5

Town & Gravets

Thamil

58.6

6

Tampalagamam

Mixed

7

Kinniya

Muslim

92

8

Mutur

Mixed

9

Kantalai

Sinhalese

81.7

10

Seruwila

Sinhalese

55.3

Source: Ministry of Defence

 

Table 3
Population of Trincomalee District by ethnic group 1827 to 2007

Year

Sri Lankan Moors1

Tamils2

Sinhalese

Others

Total

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

1827

3,245

16.94

15,663

81.76

250

1.30

0

0.00

19,158

100

1881 Census

5,746

25.89

14,304

64.44

935

4.21

1,212

5.46

22,197

100

1891 Census

6,426

24.96

17,117

66.49

1,105

4.29

1,097

4.26

25,745

100

1901 Census

8,258

29.04

17,060

59.98

1,203

4.23

1,920

6.75

28,441

100

1911 Census

9,700

32.60

17,233

57.92

1,138

3.82

1,684

5.66

29,755

100

1921 Census

12,846

37.66

18,580

54.47

1,501

4.40

1,185

3.47

34,112

100

1946 Census

23,219

30.58

33,795

44.51

11,606

15.29

7,306

9.62

75,926

100

1953 Census

28,616

34.10

37,517

44.71

15,296

18.23

2,488

2.96

83,917

100

1963 Census

40,775

29.43

54,452

39.30

39,925

28.82

3,401

2.45

138,553

100

1971 Census

59,924

31.83

71,749

38.11

54,744

29.08

1,828

0.97

188,245

100

1981 Census

75,039

29.32

93,132

36.39

85,503

33.41

2,274

0.89

255,948

100

2001 Census3

2007 Estimate

152,019

45.47

96,142

28.75

84,766

25.35

1,436

0.43

334,363

100

Source:2007 Estimate - Department of Census & Statistics Special Enumeration 2007


The Eastern Province has an area of 9,996 square kilometers (3,859.5 sq mi) and is surrounded by the Northern Province to the north, the Bay of Bengal to the east, the Southern Province to the south, and the Uva, Central and North Central provinces to the west. The province coast is dominated by lagoons, the largest being Batticaloa Lagoon, Kokkilai Lagoon, Upaar Lagoon and Ullackalie Lagoon.

The following Table 4 illustrates the demographic changes that took place in the Eastern Province after massive state-sponsored Sinhalese colonization by   the successive Sinhalese governments since independence.

Table 4

Population of Eastern Province by ethnic group 1881 to 2007

Year

Tamils

Moors

Sinhalese

Others

Total

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

1881 Census

75,318

58.96

43,001

33.66

5,947

4.66

3,489

2.73

127,755

100

1891 Census

86,701

58.41

51,206

34.50

7,508

5.06

3,029

2.04

148,444

100

1901 Census

96,917

55.83

62,448

35.97

8,778

5.06

5,459

3.14

173,602

100

1911 Census

101,181

55.08

70,395

38.32

6,909

3.76

5,213

2.84

183,698

100

1921 Census

103,245

53.54

75,992

39.41

8,744

4.53

4,840

2.51

192,821

100

1946 Census

136,059

48.75

109,024

39.06

23,456

8.40

10,573

3.79

279,112

100

1953 Census

167,898

47.37

135,322

38.18

46,470

13.11

4,720

1.33

354,410

100

1963 Census

246,059

45.03

184,434

33.75

108,636

19.88

7,345

1.34

546,474

100

1971 Census

315,566

43.98

247,178

34.45

148,572

20.70

6,255

0.87

717,571

100

1981 Census

410,156

42.06

315,436

32.34

243,701

24.99

5,988

0.61

975,251

100

2001 Census

2007 Estimate

590,132

40.39

549,857

37.64

316,101

21.64

4,849

0.33

1,460,939

100

Source:2007 Estimate - Department of Census & Statistics Special Enumeration 2007

 

The above demographic statistics show that Thamils have been gradually but systematically reduced from a majority to a minority in the East.  The same fate will befall the Thamils in the North if Tamils and the rest of the world do not wake up to the ominous PERIL posed by a government steeped in a chronic Mahavamsa mindset that says the whole island belongs to the Sinhales!

The de-merger of the Northeastern Province has made gibberish the  provision in the Indo - Ceylon Accord signed in 1987  that the "northern and the eastern provinces have been areas of historical habitation of Sri Lankan Thamil speaking peoples, who have at all times hitherto lived together in this territory with other ethnic groups."

Thamil officials have been informed that the northeast is a conquered territory by the Sinhala army at the cost of losing thousands of soldiers in the battlefront. Therefore, they should take instructions from the Sinhala army generals who hold key positions in the Northeast like Governors, Government Agent, Trincomalee, Chief Secretary and Secretary of Education Eastern Province.  Though arcane and facile argument, these facts show that the so-called 'liberators' have become predators! 

---------------------

Political Violence in Sri Lanka, Gamini Samaranayake, 2008, p. 341

In addition to the growth of the security forces, the Ministry of National Security in 1985 created a special ‘Naval Surveillance Zone’ under the purview of the Sri Lankan Navy within Sri Lankan waters encompassing the north western, northern and eastern coasts.  The purpose of this surveillance zone was to curb the activities of the Tamil guerrillas who were receiving training and equipment from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu [150].  Another significant step was the formulation of a new government policy on peasant resettlement in 1985 within the boundaries of the Tamil-dominated procivines.  Its main objective was to confine the Tamil guerrillas to Jaffna [151].  The policy initiated the programme to resettle 200,000 peasants, including 150,000 Sinhalese and 50,000 peasants of mixed descent in the Northern Province.  The settlement of these peasants was a security-cum-development strategy which aimed at creating a security cordon across the North.**  What the Sri Lankan Government did not foresee, however, were the fierce attacks inflicted upon these migrants by the Tamil guerrillas.  The attacks not only halted any subsequent resettlement but drove away those who had already recolonized the area.

Table 7.7 The Security Strength of Sri Lanka

Forces

1983/1984

1983/1984

1987/1988

1987/1988

Regular

Reserves

Regular

Reserves

Police

14, 500

21,000

28,000

Army

11,000

14,000

40,000

Navy

2,950

582

4,000

Air Force

2,600

1,000

3,700

Home Guards

5,000

Special Task Force

1,500

Volunteer Force

5,000

Total

31,582

75,200

28,000

Source: IISS, The Military Balance, 1983-1984, p.99 and The Military Balance, 1987-1988, p.172

**emphasis added here