Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Northern province situation report Feb 2005

Situation Report
Originally published
Observance Of The Ceasefire Agreement/ The Military Situation
There was tension when a clash between fishermen and the LTTE took place in Manner, following an incident where LTTE carder fired at Pallimunai fishermen in the uncleared area of Vidathalthivu causing damage to the boats and injuring some of the fishermen. The LTTE reported that the fishermen were illegally using dynamite for catching fish and the move was to stop them from continuing. Pallimunai fishermen retaliated by storming the LTTE Political office on 18 February at about 10.30am damaging furniture and destroying files etc. The Police and the Bishop of Mannar intervened to bring and end to the violence. (DOs Observation) It was reported that the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has constructed new sentry positions 50 meters from the sea along the coast from Thondamannaru and Katkovalam in tsunami affected area of Vadamarachi, Jaffna. Reportedly, these were set up in new locations whilst repairing old sentry points that had been damaged in the tsunami. (DOs Observation) An anti-personnel mine exploded causing sever injuries to the victim who also lost a limb, the incident took place when the victim stepped on a mine while collecting firewood in a High Security Zone (HSZ). The victim had been aware that the area was a HSZ, but had collected firewood on previous occasions. It was reported that the signs and barbed wire marking the area had been stolen at the time of the incident. [District Mine Action Office at Jaffna Secretariat] Mannar Police are investigating into an incident which took place on 12 February at about 7.45pm, where a youth was killed and two people were injured following a hand grenade attack. It was reported that two youth had visited the Mannar District LTTE Political wing office to make a complaint, when an unidentified person traveling in three-wheeler flung the explosive at the office.

(DOs Observations)

Degree of violence / rebellion

Black flags were seen in public places in the town, a protest march was arranged and a half-day harthal was held in Vavuniya on 11 February following the assassinations of six persons including LTTE Political Wing leader of Batticaloa, Kausalyan and former MP Chandra Nehru. There was a similarly harthal in Jaffna on 12 February, following the assassination. Angry crowds burned down SLA security posts at Kaithady Junction, Puttur Junction, and Meesalai in Chavakachcheri during the incident. Puttalam district Samurdhi officers organised protest campaign against the chairman of Kalpitya on 7 February at Madurankuly Junction. The Protestors condemned the Chairman who attacked a Samurdhi officer in his office premises. The Samurdhi Officers of Mundel Divisional Secretariat, and other authorities also participated in the campaign.

Adherence to or violation of human rights standards

It has been reported that in Jaffna, the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) has not paid rent for 29 houses in Ponnalai, in the Chankanai DS Division. This matter was raised at the coordinating committee meeting held at Chankanai DS Office and the Civil Affairs Officer at Manipay Army Camp who was present at the meeting informed that he would make arrangements with the SLN to ensure the payment was made. The federation of IDP camps staged a protest in front of the DS Office in Tellipalai, Jaffna demanding resettlement to their places of origin, within HSZs. A memorandum regarding resettlement was handed over during the protest.

In Jaffna a workshop on human rights for security forces of the 51 Brigade Division was conducted by the Human Rights Commission and the Institute of Human Rights, Jaffna. A complaint was made by a resident of Pirampady Lane, in Kokuvil against the Principal of Kokuvil Hindu College for not accepting the admission of his son to the 1st Grade, even though they live within 400 meters of the school. During inquiry by the Human Rights Commission, the Principal had stated that proper documents had not been provided, and on doing so the child would be accepted. Following this the correct documents were given and the child was accepted to the school.

It was reported that wards including the maternity ward in the Maruthankerny Hospital have not started to function even after the construction and rehabilitation work that was carried out by the NECORD programme with ADB funding for Rs.12 Million six months ago. Further, the Ministry of Health has not appointed adequate staff to work the Hospital. These issues were pointed out by CBOs of the area to the GA Jaffna when he visited Maruthankerny. There was a public protest and unrest following an incident where a 17-year-old boy was abused by a police officer on 11 February in Thilyupadu, Mannar. The Police had received a complaint from the victim who had been transferred from Mannar to the Vavuniya Hospital. The Magistrate in Vavuniya had ordered an identification parade and the remanding of the Police officer. (DOs Observations) The people of Ninthani Second Division in Puttalam are facing severe environmental issues due to sand excavation carried out in public and private land. It has been reported that the deep excavation may also be a huge threat to the houses in this area.

Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation work

The Chairman of the Central Environmental Authority announced during his visit to Jaffna, that the CEA would be rehabilitating several villages affected by the tsunami. UNICEF has come forward to construct semi-permanent structures for classrooms for the following schools in Jaffna, which were damaged in the tsunami; Manatkadu RC School, Maunai GTM School, Semoiyanpattu RC School, Thalayadi RC School, Aliyavalai CCT School, Vetilaikerny Parameswara Vidiyalayam, Vetilaikerni RC School, Kadaikadu RC School. Following the tsunami the Humanitarian Brotherhood Foundation of Kalpitya in Puttlam conducted several relief programmes in tsunami-affected areas in the Eastern region. These included the cleaning of wells, and debris. The HBF also initiated a micro-credit project where 220 families were paid up to 5,000 rupees in assistance following a needs assessment that was carried out.