Sinhala colonization in Mannar and large scale militarization of civil administration

Staff Correspondent | Published on August 22, 2013 at 2:38 am

REPORTS FROM THE GROUND

 

Some staff members of the Sri

Mannar

Residents of Musali in the Mannar District have raised concerns over a ‘special resettlement’ programme in their area, under which 1,300 Sinhalese families from Anuradhapura are to be ‘resettled’ in a four-kilometre stretch between Kondaachchi and Kokupadayan (close to Mullikulam).
According to sources, a jungle area spanning approximately 400 acres has been cleared and land flattened for this purpose. Each of these families is to be provided with half an acre of land and a house, which will be constructed soon.
The villagers alleged the people, who arrived in busloads, were brought from Mahavilachchiya and Nochchiyagama villages in Anuradhapura to Musali, in order for them to be registered before the upcoming Provincial Council (PC) elections.
However, Ceylon Today learned the people, on being taken to the Divisional Secretariat, were refused registration on grounds that residents of Anuradhapura are neither war victims nor Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and therefore cannot be ‘resettled’ in Musali.
Sources further revealed the Divisional Secretariat has requested the Presidential Task Force to cancel the existing residential registration of these individuals in Anuradhapura, before they are registered in Musali. The request has, however, been rejected by the authorities.
Divisional Secretary (DS) Ketheeswaran has refused to comply, putting the registration process on hold. The DS has subsequently been notified of a transfer, as a result of his dispute with the officials.
Mannar Government Agent (GA), M.Y.S. Deshapriya, when contacted by Ceylon Today, denied the allegations, declaring this to be a part of the ‘usual’ resettlement programme being conducted in haste.
The GA also denied the people from Anuradhapura were brought in buses to Musali and assured the present DS has not been given a transfer. However, Ceylon Today understands the previous DS, Sarath Raveendran, who vehemently opposed a ‘special resettlement’ system of this kind, has already been transferred.
The residents of Kondaachchi claim regions close to the seashore have been earmarked to resettle the Sinhalese families.
What used to be the Kadju Watte (cashew plantation), but was shut down during the war, will be reopened and the newly resettled families will be employed there, sources stated.
In addition to that 2,500 Muslim families, who were displaced in the 90s due to the civil war, have now returned in multiples and the number of Muslim families in the area has now increased to 6,000. The Musali Muslims claim they have been deprived of land because, a part of the land allotted to them, about five acres, is now being allocated to resettle the Sinhalese families. Thus, a tense situation prevails among different communities in the area.
Several churches and mosques in Musali have also affirmed the people have been brought there from Anuradhapura for registration and the land has been cleared for resettlement purposes. (Text courtesy Ceylon Today)

Lanka Telecommunications had told Women’s networks working in Mannar that many i thier offices and especially those from the deep South have been offered relocation option with housing, relocation allowance and government job opportunities in the north.

Attached in this article is a letter sent by the new Government Agent (GA) of Mannar Mr. M.Y.S. Deshapriya, a former Vanni military commander, a few days after his deployment as GA. He has copied the letter  to the Presidential Task Force, the Planning Secretariat of Mannar and the Civil Affairs Officer and the Brigade Commander demonstrating the complete militarisation of civil administration.

Mr. Deshapriya signs the letter as both the GA and the District Secretary. All land distribution is directly under the District Secretaries(DS).

Sources have said the DS of Musali (Mannar South Main land) was reprimanded  for not expediting the relocation of Sinhalese. The previous GovernmentAgent of  Mannar who was a Sinhalese but had refused to undertake Sinhala colonisation before the completion of resettlement of those displaced from these areas quoting from the recommendations of the LLRC had within a few days  been transferred.

Mr. Deshapriya who was perceived as more compliant was brought in as his replacement with his most important and immediate assignment being to send this letter (attached below)  to settle 500 Sinhala families in Musali.

In Musali before 1990 eviction of the Muslims only about 250 individuals lived as workers of Kaju Watta (Cashew plantations). Muslim leaders have taken this matter  up with the Rajapaksa hierarchy since Musali is the only northern divisional secretariat that is predominantly Muslim. They are also disillusioned as the government is not helping to return and resettle the Muslims.

With elections due the GA had apparently told his colleagues that this mission of bringing 500 families has been postponed temporarily. Perhaps this is in order for the government coalition to win Muslim votes in the NPC election.

Written by researchers on the ground:-

“I also wanted to update you on a rather disturbing piece of information I gathered today. I am currently in Hambantota doing some field work. I was in one village and heard from some people by chance that people from that village have been offered free land and a Rs. 600,000 housing allowance if they moved to Vavuniya. Apparently Namal Rajapakse has said this – I am not sure in what forum. The catch is that they needed to relinquish their residency status in Hambantota and take up permanent residency in Vavuniya. They had been informed that a form is available at the Divisional Secretariat which needed to be completed and then once the necessary signatures were obtain in Hambantota, they could travel to Vavuniya and hand the forms over to the military reps up there to be assigned their land.”

From this particular village, 4 individuals had already made the journey and one woman reported that one of these four had got a prime piece of land with high quality timber.

You will agree that this is a profoundly disturbing turn of events which I heard of for the first time. So when I went to the next village I asked them about this and they were all aware of the option, but confirmed that none from their village had taken up the offer since they were hesitant to relinquish their status in the village. They were fully aware that the option was open and the necessary papers could be obtained from the District or Divisional Secretariat.

– end report-

Second report

 

“A Women’s action group has been informed of the possibility of recalling the LDO permits given to returnees in Musali Mannar (Kondaachchi, Palakkuli and Karadikkuli).

The government (military) has accused the AGA of Musali for giving land to Muslims without settling the Sinhalese first. Previously a list of about 920 Sinhala names have been sent to the Musali DS but he and the GA refused to register on the ground that they can’t find any evidence that these are displaced families from Mannar.

The Government  has also transferred the GA Mannar and put someone who can be their agent of this colonization. Even though the previous GA was a Sinhalese he did not support the govt. Sinhala settlement in Mannar.

Now with the leadership of the new GA with the military, environment ministry and forest Dept. the President has formed a committee to look into settling Sinhalese quickly.

AGA Musali (Mr. Ketheeswaran) has been vocal and has been articulating the need first to resettle the displaced Tamils and Muslims. He has also spoken against new settlement since it can jeopardize the initial efforts of bringing normalcy in the north among displaced communities and implementation of LLRC recommendation. Now he is not part of this new committee and fears the govt. will issue a circular on canceling the LDO deeds given to returnees. He also feels that he will be transferred soon.

There have been rapid colonization by the government in Vavuniya (Thalabosgama and Namal gama ) and in Mullaitivu (Weli oya ). Over 10,000 families have been settled in the last few months and there have been huge infrastructure development taking place in these new Sinhala settlement areas . Now they are targeting Mannar. The govt wants to settle as many as Sinhalese possible before the NPC election. While both the Tamil National Alliance and Rishard Badurdeen parties are busy picking on each other and fighting over clearing lands and sharing housing assistance etc..for returning Tamils and Muslims, the military is bringing Sinhalese by the bus loads (with the help of the governor) and giving them land permits over night without even informing the govt. administration.”

-End report –

For letter by Mr. Deshapriya click the link below

resettlement of Sinhalese in Mannar

 

 

 

NOTE:

The above are credible reports from Sri Lankan activists and researchers who need to remain anonymous for their safety  

 


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Sinhala colonization in Mannar and large scale militarization of civil administration

REPORTS FROM THE GROUND   Some staff members of the Sri Residents of Musali in the Mannar District have raised concerns over a ‘special resettlement’ programme in their ...