The United Nations has been called upon to intervene in preventing hundreds of Tamil war displaced families from being removed to transit camps away from their homes in northern Sri Lanka.
In an appeal to the UN human rights chief, former parliamentarian Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam says that those remaining in the Chettikkulam war displaced Camp in Vavuniya Menik Farm, have been threatened to be removed on Monday the 24th of September by the military.
The threat by an army officer has been made at a meeting held with the military, government officials and representatives of the war displaced following a demonstration opposing plans to remove the displaced to the Vattrapallai school premises. The demonstration was attended by the war displaced living with host families in Vattrapallai and by representatives of the Tamil National Alliance, Democratic People's Front, Nava Sama Samaja Party and the New Democratic Marxist Leninist Party. Protesters were intimidated by suspected military personnel, and vehicles carrying Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) President and general secretary have been attacked on Friday the 21st of September.
Along with his letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navaneethan Pillai, Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) President Ponnambalam has sent a petition signed by those in the Menik farm who call to be resettled in their native village. The petition ‘would have had more signatories if the Sri Lanka Army had not prevented people from inside the Menik Farm camp, from attending the protest held on Friday' says the TNPF leader in his letter to the UN.
Petition by war displaced
The petitioners from Keppapulavu in the Mullaitheevu district,who have been forced to flee the war, have accused the military of blocking resettlement by grabbing their ancestral land. ‘A huge military base has been built in our village and the Government of Sri Lanka has no intention of resettling us in Keppapulavu,’ their petition says. They have expressed fear that their rations will be discontinued in order to force them to comply with been removed to a transit camp. TNPF leader Ponnambalam has told the UN High Commissioner Pillai that the war displaced ‘are not going to be allowed to return to their original lands in Keappapulavu as the military has begun to build their permanent base in the area that covers the entire village’.
‘Short term diplomatic goals’
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has highlighted the plight of hundreds of thousands of war displaced yet to be resettled in their original homelands. Tamil parliamentarian M Sumanthiran informed Sri Lanka’s Parliament in October last year that over 2,00,000 war displaced removed from the Menik Farm have been forced to live in transit camps or with host families. His findings have not been challenged by authorities.
TNPF leader Ponnambalam says that the Sri Lankan government wants to publicly display that it has closed down the Chettikulam camp before the UNHRC sessions in Geneva in November. The UNHRC is expected to review Sri Lanka’s human rights in its November session.
“I am sure you would agree with me that the people can't be used as pawns by the Government to attain its short term diplomatic goals,” the TNPF leader has told the UN human rights chief Navi Pillai.
Courtesy - JDS