Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Eastern province situation report Mar 2005

Conflict and Peace
Observance of the ceasefire agreement / The Military Situation

Meanwhile in Amparai, although in general the situation was normal, there was some tension following the shooting of 'Kuveni' (the head of the LTTEs Political Division -- Women, Batticaloa-Amparai) on February 28. (Field Report -- Amparai DO) With the many shooting incidents reported in the Batticaloa district, there is an over-riding sense of fear and tension among the public that there will be a resumption of hostilities. This was following the twelve fatalities that were reportedly carried out by unidentified persons in Polonnaruwa, Welikanda, Mannampitiya, and Sevanapitiya. Both the Police and the Army have been conducting 'spot checks' on vehicles in these areas. On 28 February, 'Kuveni' the head of the Political division (women) Batticaloa-Amparai was shot at in Thambattai, in the Thirukkovil DS Division. Thirukkovil Police apprehended a suspected on 1 March, who was allegedly a member of the Karuna Faction. Police suspect him to be a "Karuna" Group member. (Field Report -- Amparai DO) 2 March - Police are investigating an incident where a 25-year-old man was injured and admitted to hospital, when two unidentified persons on a motorcycle shot at him at about 6.45 in the evening in Arayampathy. (Field Report -- Batticaloa DO)

6 March - At about 8.30pm a 26-year-old man from Arayampathy was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Ollikulam, 5Km away from the Batticaloa Town. (Field Report -- Batticaloa DO)

7 March - A 20-year-old man from Polonnaruwa was shot and wounded seriously while he was at the bus-halt in Valachchenai. He was transferred to the Polonnaruwa hospital for intensive treatment. (Community Protection Network- Batticaloa) 7 March - A 25-year-old man from the Thalayai village in the Eravur Police Division was forcefully taken by an armed group, shot and killed. The man allegedly, had connections with the army and was working another armed group. (Community Protection Network- Batticaloa) A 37-year-old man from Kadukamunai, Kokkadichcholai was shot dead in the town. The victim was purported to have been a member of the PLOT Organisation, who had been out of the country for employment. He had returned to visit his family, which had been affected by the tsunami, when he was killed. (Field Report -- Batticaloa DO) 8 March - A 30-year-old taxi driver from Oddamavadi was kidnapped and murdered by unidentified persons while he was taking two passengers to Vaharai at about 6.30pm in Valachchennai. Following this incident, there was a harthal in Oddamavadi the next day.

(Field Report -- Batticaloa DO)

9 March - A man was shot outside his residence in Periya Uppodai, near the town, around 7pm by unidentified gunmen. The victim was taken to Batticaloa teaching hospital where he underwent surgery and appeared to be out of danger. (Field Report -- Batticaloa DO)

11 March - The PLOTE (People Liberation Organization of Tamil Elam) office in Batticaloa town came under a grenade attack at around 2pm, wounding four PLOTE members who were at the office at that time. (Field Report -- Batticaloa DO) 14 March - There was a grenade attack on the Arasady LTTE office at about 7.30pm. No one was injured in the attack. (Field Report -- Batticaloa DO)

15 March - Unidentified gunmen shot dead a youth from Chenkalady on the Batticaloa-Kalmunai highway. The young man, who was visiting Chettipalayam on work as a mason, was allegedly a para-military sympathizer. (Field Report -- Batticaloa DO) On 4 March, an attack on the residence of the Acting Vice Chancellor of the South Eastern University was reported. It was said that many opposed his appointment in the absence if the vice-chancellor who was traveling overseas at the time. On 3 March, Thirukkovil police, who received reports that a man was suspected of possessing hand grenades, arrested the resident of Thambiluvil. On inspection, the police confirmed the report and he was taken into custody. However, while in court, the accused stated that the grenades had been washed into his home by the tsunami. (Field Report -- Amparai DO) On 16 March a youth from Vinayagapuram, was reported to have been abducted by LTTE carders. The youth's mother made a written complaint regarding this and this was forwarded by the CHA District officer in Amparai, to the SLMM office in Akkaraipattu and the HRC Zonal office in Kalmunai. The youth was said to have been returned four days after the complaint was made.

Degree of violence / rebellion

Persons who objected to the encroachment of land adjoining the Mc Heyzer stadium held a demonstration on 3 March in Trincomalee. This land was being used to build temporary shelters. Mr. R. Sampanthan TNA MP brought the matter to the attention of the deputy Inspector general and superintendent of Police. Following this, several persons including local government authorities, the LTTE and the SLMM took steps to prevent the encroachment. It was said that several Sinhala families were trying to settle in the areas and this was opposed by some of the Tamil community, resulting in the protests and demonstrations. (Thinakural newspaper report 04.03.2005)

Police investigations and legal action followed an incident that took place on 13 March at 8am. A crowd of approximately 300 to 400 people gathered around the office of the District Secretariat, protesting that the office had hoarded relief supplies that had been sent to those affected by the tsunami. The protesters claimed that these items were buried on the premises of the office. Police came on to the scene to stop any violence as the crowd grew. The police were forced to disperse the crowd with teargas, when they began to stone the office as well as the police officers. The crowd dispersed only after MPs were called to assure the people that their concerns would be looked into and that an investigation would take place. (Field Report -- Batticaloa DO) 8 March - A protest was organized by those affected by the tsunami, against the Government in Maruthamunai. Protesters claimed that they had not received sufficient assistance by the Government and were appeased only when the GA stated that he would look into the matter.

(Field Report -- Amparai DO)

10 March - A protest and harthal by tsunami-affected people living in welfare centers brought civil administration to a standstill in Kalmunai, Periyaneelavanai, Maruthamunai, Pandiruppu Sainthamaruthu and Karaitivu. Government institutions, Schools and banks were closed and transport was disrupted, when affected people gathered on the main road to protest and demand for the government to take immediate measures to provide them with permanent houses. (Field Report -- Amparai DO) 14 March - People affected by the tsunami held a harthal in Trincomalee. They complained that there had been improper distribution of relief items. (Field Report -- Trincomalee DO)

Tsunami-related activities

A disturbing situation that has arisen in the months following the tsunami is that there is no collaboration or coordination among the many I/NGOs that have started work along the Eastern Coast of the island. Duplication of work and concealment of activities are reportedly common among these organizations, and as such, relief assistance sometimes has failed to reach the affected people. (Field Report -- Amparai DO)

A force of 1,000 volunteers from the Sri Lanka Red Cross has been in service helping tsunami-affected people by providing water from the water-purification plant in the Batticaloa area as well as cleaning debris. It has further plans to build 1,500 permanent homes sponsored by the Swiss Red Cross. (Field Report -- Batticaloa DO) EHED has plans to construct transitional shelters at a cost of 40,000/- each. They will work with funding provided by CARITAS for this project. (Field Report -- Amparai DO) Tsunami victims who now live in tents and welfare centers are subjected to various inconveniences due to inadequate toilet or health facilities. Although, I/NGOs have undertaken the responsibility of looking after these welfare centers, adequate sanitation and drinking water facilities do not exist and the drinking water problem is very acute. It was also reported that some agencies providing assistance, lack sensitivity to those who have been affected. This complaint was made at the Trincomalee NGO Consortium meeting. Further, the rains are making it extremely difficult for people living in tents. The lack of clean drinking water is another concern. Due to the lack of basic sanitation facilities, there is a threat of the spreading of infectious diseases. The lack of shelters to those affected, and the quality if the transititional shelters provided are also causing concern among affected persons. The shelters do not provide adequate protection from the sun or from the rains. Many camps are within schools, thus making the return to school, impossible to children. (Field Report -- Trincomalee DO) The Kaliyanthivu welfare center in Thirukkovil is having serious problems with water and sanitation. Although there are welfare workers visiting the area everyday, the problem persists. They complain that although there are temporary latrines that have been built, those in the shelters are not used to these and use the surrounding scrub and bushes instead.

(Field Report -- Amparai DO)

Police are investigating an incident where 12 generators that were gifted by the Indian Government for the use of tsunami-affected people in camps, went missing and were discovered by persons who were collecting firewood near the Kachcheri building. The generators were discovered, hidden under a pile of firewood. It has been reported that in Trincomalee, the 'Tsunami Task Force' has not met in two weeks. It is thought that this is due to a delay caused by discrepancies in the MoU to be signed between the Government and I/NGOs who are constructing transitional shelters. As a result of these inconsistencies, the Urban Development Authority has returned the documents without signatures, causing the delay. However, certain I/NGOs have reportedly begun construction without the MoU in Place. (NGO Consortium Trincomalee) The floating hospital from Greece, which has completed its mission in serving those affected by the tsunami, had discussed with the GA regarding the handing over of medical equipment as well as the remaining medicines to the Government. However, it has been reported that the GA has informed the authorities from Greece, that he is not responsible for receiving these items and has directed them to the Department of Social services. This has lead to complications and delays. (Chairmen -- NGO Consortium Trincomalee)

Prince Charles, who is also the President of the British Red Cross, was recently in Batticaloa. He visited several of the areas affected by the tsunami and was involved in obtaining a water purification plant costing 1.3 Billion rupees. The plant is capable of purifying 50,000 litres of water; the Italian Red Cross and Red Cross of Batticaloa are responsible for it's functioning. On 17 March, a Canadian parliamentary delegation team visited Sri Lanka and a discussion was held with Mr. R. Sampanthan, the parliamentary group leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in Trincomalee.

Societal Processes and Values

In Amparai, as a result of the 'tsunami' assistance that is being provided by the Government and I/NGOs, there is steady supply of food, money and other essential commodities. Labourers therefore, do not need to search for work, which has lead to farmers being unable to find labourers for gathering the harvest. Labour charges have risen from 3,000/- to astounding 6,500/-. There is currently a great demand for labour and the issue of high wages to pay for it. (Field Report -- Amparai DO)