Ethnic cleansing of Thamils in the Northeast

Ethnic cleansing of Thamils in the Northeast

V.Thangavelu

On the heels of the decimation of the LTTE comes the news that the flood gates of further Sinhala colonization of Manal Aru will break open with a vengeance. For more than 25 years the government attempt to move the borders of Manal Aru was successfully thwarted by the LTTE but the situation has dramatically changed since May 19.

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 colonization schemes in the Trincomalee district and Maduru Oya in the Batticaloa district colonization schemes 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 US67.2 million dollars to build the infrastructure and settle the colonists.

All these schemes could easily be described as the single most ‘accomplishment’ of Sinhalese governments since independence in 1948 meant to destroy the concept of Thamil homeland.

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 government created a new administrative district called Amparai out of the then existing Batticaloa district which sharply increased the tempo 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 rise by leaps and bounds as the following Table shows.

 

Table 1: Changes in  Ethnic  composition of Amparai District (1911-1981)

 

Year Sinhalese Thamils Muslims
Number % Number % Number %
1911 4702 7.0 24733 37.0 36843 55.0
1921 7285 25207 37901
1953 26450 39985 29.0 69376 51.0
1963 62160 29.0 49220 23.5 97990 45.6
1971 82280 30.0 60519 22.0 126365 47.0
1981 146371 38.01 78315 20.0 126365 47.0
INCREASE
1911-1981 141669 3012% 53582 216% 124638 338%

 

In the Trincomalee district an entire electorate called Seruwila constituting an area of 574 sq. miles (Total1, 048 sq. miles) was created for the Sinhalese in 1977.

Please take a few minutes to read three of my articles I wrote earlier at URL http://www.nakkeran.com/colonizationeast.htm

http://www.nakkern.com/Colonizationnorth.htm

http://www.nakkeran.com/colonization3AA.htm


 

 

Sinhala colonization is the biggest and perhaps the foremost challenge facing the Thamil Diaspora  today.

 Thangavelu

Sensitive colonization in Manal Aru (Weli Oya) area in Mullaithivu district

[ Friday, 17 July 2009, 10:54.26 AM GMT +05:30 ]

Manal Aru renamed Weli Oya is only one of several state-aided Sinhalese colonization schemes launched in the traditional homelands of the Tamils since independence. It is hemmed between Anuradhapura, Mullaitivu, Trincomalee and Vavunia Districts. It is called the “border village” (s) since the territory north  of Weli Oya is peopled by Tamils.

A total of 13,288 Tamil families living in 42 villages for generations including  Kokkulai Grama Sevakar Division (1516 Tamil families), Kokku –Thoduvai Grama Sevakar Division (3306 Tamil families), Vavunia North Grama Sevakar Division (1342 Tamil families), Other Divisions of Mullaitivu District including Naiyaru and Kumulamunai ( 2011 Tamil families) were asked to vacate their homes and farmlands within 48 hours on pain of eviction  by force in case of default.  This threat was issued by the army over the public address system.

Simultaneously  land  given to 14 Tamil entrepreneurs, including Kent Farm and  Dollar Farm,  on 99 years lease was also  cancelled and taken over by the government.  Settlements in the Weli Oya began in 1984 as a dry zone farmer colony under the land Commission, but it was later acquired by the Mahaweli Economic Agency in 1988 and declared as the Mahaweli ‘L’ zone.

The Mahaweli ‘L’ zone was established specially for coconut cultivation and each Sinhalese family was given 5 acres of land consisting of ½ acre for residence, one-acre  of irrigated land and 3 ½  acres for coconut.

The Mahaweli Economic Agency  (MEA) financed all development projects while   Mahaweli Engineering and Construction Agency (MECA) handled all the construction works such as roads, electricity,  houses etc. In 1998 alone Rs. 72 million was allocated for construction of roads.

In the late 1950s, Pihimbiyagollewe Dhammaloka Thero, a young Buddhist monk who had settled in Padaviya blocked Tamils being settled in the Eastern parts of the Padaviya colony with the auspices of the Sinhala politicians. Entire Padaviya settlement was tuened to a Sinhala colony and later in 1980s the traditional Tamil villagers like Thennamaravadi in the Eastern coast off Padaviya were also wiped out. Through this process, a wall of Sinhala villages was erected in between the Northern and Eastern Provinces. It can be observed that the colonization process in the age of the D.S. Senanayaka aimed at undermining the separatist trends among the minorities. But the late colonization were attempts to spread Sinhala chauvinism.

Herman Malinga Bandara, a civil servant engaged in colonization in Welioya has clearly hinted in his book ‘For a sovereign State’ that Sinhala chauvinist interests were behind the setting up of Welioya colony in the northeastern parts of Sri Lanka. Before Welioya colony was set up, this area was dominated by the farms like Dollar, Kent and Ceylon Theaters Farm etc. that were set up in long leased crown land. An NGO called Gandhiyam Movement had settled some Tamils that had been displaced from the southern parts of the island due to ethnic violence in the abandoned land of these fams.

Militant groups like PLOTE led by Uma Maheswaran were also active among these displaced persons. Ill-famous Dollar and Kent Farm massacres of Sinhala settlers and the retaliatory massacre of Tamil villagers in nearby Othiyamale were a beginning of a new era of bloodshed in this zone that took hundreds of lives of Sinhala and Tamil peasants. Welioya was later earmarked as Mahaweli L-zone. Under the original plan, 39,000 hectare land belonged to Anuradhapura, Vavuniya and Mullaithivu administrative districts were divided into six zones. They include Sampathnuwara, Janakapura, Kokilai, Nedunkarni and Nayaru areas but only two zones were developed so far, say the Mahaweli Authority. The other zones could not be developed due to the unsafe conditions. There are settlements in Nikaweva, Ehetugasweva, Kiribbanweva, Janakapura , Kalyanipura, New Monaraweva and New Gajabapura areas. People were settled in some other areas of Gajabapura, Monaraweva, Helambaweva, Kambiliweva, Konweva, Veheraweva and parts of Kalyanipura but they vacated those areas due to security concerns.

Mahaweli Authority says that 5000 families were settled in Welioya area during the past 22 years. 3364 of them were settled in legally allocated land and the others were squatters. They were leaving and coming back time to time due to security issues.


At Manal Aru ( Weli Oya ) Sinhalese State Ethnically Cleansed Thamils

By V.Thangavelu

The Island newspaper published in Colombo is well known for its pro Sinhala-Buddhist racist views. Recently the Asian Human Rights Commission described The Island newspaper as “A Sri Lankan newspaper well known for its racist propaganda.” AHRC was responding to two editorial comments by The Island newspaper criticising AHRC’s call for UN intervention in the civil war in Sri Lanka. So much for the credibility of The Island as a ‘national’ newspaper.

Sri Lankan army’s worst debacle in Vanni, where it lost 9 strategic towns, 1,000 Forward Defence Lines (FDLs), 1000 sq. kms of territory, which took the army two years to capture, to the LTTE in less than five days of fighting, had sent shivers down the spines of Sinhalese –Buddhist chauvinists. Especially they are jittery at the prospect of the numerous army camps dotting Weli Oya falling into the hands of the LTTE entirely. This had led to outbursts of anger against the Sri Lankan government itself. And the Island newspaper is in the fore-front leading the yellow brigade!

In an editorial titled “Don’t abandon the displaced! Don’t abandon the displaced” The Island ( November 11,1999) gave vent to its frustration bemoaning the ‘fate’ of the ‘poor’ ‘homeless’ and ‘ fleeing civilians’ at Weli Oya. Extracts from the editorial follows:

“Thousands of people according to press reports are fleeing areas like Weli Oya, Janakapura and Gajabapura fearing the LTTE artillery fire in the aftermath of the debacles suffered by the army over the past two weeks. About 8000 of them are said to have so far taken refuge in Padaviya and the number of the displaced is said to be increasing.

“The Maha Sanga has rightly called for public contributions to provide humanitarian assistance ….. those who opposed to terrorism … should take the cue from the Sanga and rush to help the victims…           

“Chasing the Sinhalese from the Weli Oya area is what the LTTE had been planning for a long time as the area is of crucial strategic importance to them.

” Most areas of the north have already been ethnic-cleansed of the Sinhalese and Muslims by the LTTE and its sinister plan of eliminating the Sinhalese settlements in the Weli Oya area has to be defeated by all possible means.”

Who “ethnically cleansed” Whom?

The Island newspaper was nowhere to be seen when tens and thousands of Tamils fled their homes when state terrorism was unleashed by the Sinhala army in Vanni during 1997/98. To The Island when Tamils get displaced by the Sinhala army it is ‘nationalism’! When illegal Sinhalese settlers get displaced from villages which once belonged to the Tamils it is ‘terrorism’! This amounts to warped logic on the part of The Island , but then it comes as no surprise. Only when Sinhalese get ‘displaced’ The Island newspaper beats its chest, sheds tears and laments about “ethnic cleansing” of Sinhalese civilians.

A casual observer who reads The Island newspaper’s editorial will be left with the impression, quite rightly, that Weli Oya is peopled by the Sinhalese for centuries and the LTTE is now bent on driving them out. So what is the truth and what are the facts? At Manal Aru (Weli Oya) who in fact ethnically cleansed whom?

Manal Aru re-named Weli Oya in Sinhala over night

By an extra ordinary gazette notification dated 16th April, 1988, Manal Aru area in the Mullaitivu and Vavunia Districts was re-named Weli Oya in Sinhala. By the same gazette notification Weli Oya was proclaimed the 26th District of Sri Lanka and for administrative purpose brought under the jurisdiction of the Government Agent, Anuradhapura. However, for election purpose it was included in the Vavuniya Electoral District. It was also declared that Weli Oya area had been included under the Rapid Mahaweli Development Scheme under the Ministry of Lands and Land Development.

This was not the first time that pure Tamil place names were changed into Sinhala names following colonization of traditional Tamil areas. The following list, by no means complete, shows the changes over the years.

Paddippalai Aru – Gal Oya

Pathavikkulam – Padaviya

Muthalik Kulam – Morawewa

Kanthalai- Kandalawa

Periya Kulam – Namal Wewa

Pudavai Kulam – Sangara Pura

Ampal Eri – Amparai

Kumaran Kadavai – Gomarankadawela

Periya Villan Kulam – Maha Divul Oya

Pannikkaddi Murippu – Pannikettiyawa

Thannimurippu – Janakapura

Thampalagamam- Tampalagama

Vaan Aru – Vaan Ela

Sinhalese colonization of Manal Aru (Weli Oya)                          

Manal Aru renamed Weli Oya is only one of several state-aided Sinhalese colonization schemes launched in the traditional homelands of the Tamils since independence. It is hemmed between Anuradhapura, Mullaitivu, Trincomalee and Vavunia Districts. It is called the “border village” (s) since the territory north of Weli Oya is peopled by Tamils.

A total of 13,288 Tamil families living in 42 villages for generations including Kokkulai Grama Sevakar Division (1516 Tamil families), Kokku –Thoduvai Grama Sevakar Division (3306 Tamil families), Vavunia North Grama Sevakar Division (1342 Tamil families), Other Divisions of Mullaitivu District including Naiyaru and Kumulamunai ( 2011 Tamil families) were asked to vacate their homes and farmlands within 48 hours on pain of eviction by force in case of default. This threat was issued by the army over the public address system.

Simultaneously land given to 14 Tamil entrepreneurs, including Kent Farm and Dollar Farm, on 99 years lease was also cancelled and taken over by the government. Settlements in the Weli Oya began in 1984 as a dry zone farmer colony under the land Commission, but it was later acquired by the Mahaweli Economic Agency in 1988 and declared as the Mahaweli ‘L’ zone.

The Mahaweli ‘L’ zone was established specially for coconut cultivation and each Sinhalese family was given 5 acres of land consisting of ½ acre for residence, one-acre of irrigated land and 3 ½ acres for coconut.

The Mahaweli Economic Agency (MEA) financed all development projects while Mahaweli Engineering and Construction Agency (MECA) handled all the construction works such as roads, electricity, houses etc. In 1998 alone Rs. 72 million was allocated for construction of roads.

The Sinhalese army did translate its threat and used force as promised. Thousands of Tamil villagers, some of them Hill country Tamil refugees victims of earlier Sinhalese violence in 1983, were driven out or they on their own fled in terror. Some were murdered by the army. One night alone 29 Tamil villagers were killed at Othiyamalai, a hamlet situated north of the Weli Oya colony.

The evil-minds and the driving force behind the Weli Oya Sinhalese colonization were Messrs. Gamini Dissanayake, Minister for Mahaweli Development, Lalith Athulathmudali, Minister of National Security, Cyril Mathew, Minister of Industries and Scientific Affairs and N.G.P. Panditaratne, Chairman Mahaweli Development Board.

The ‘gang of four’ openly advocated the colonization of the North and East in general and Weli Oya in particular by Sinhalese settlers after driving the Tamils out by using the Sinhalese army.

Industries Minister Cyril Mathew diverted millions of rupees allocated to various Corporations under his Ministry to finance Weli Oya colonization scheme. In addition institutions like All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, Bhikku Peramuna etc. helped in providing financial and other material aid to the Sinhalese settlers.

From 1988-89 Sinhala colonization of Weli Oya was put on a war-footing. A total of 3364 families, most of them ex-convicts brought straight from prisons, were settled in Weli Oya. A further 35,000 persons comprising 5, 925 families were also settled under the same scheme. It is in recognition of the ‘yeoman services’ rendered by the top elite of the Sinhala army, especially that of Major General Janaka Perera, the Tamil village of Thannimurippu was re-named Janakapura in his honour!

Military and strategic importance of Weli Oya

Currently the Sri Lankan government has deployed around 25,000 SLA troops and Home Guards to defend the strategic settlement complex, the so-called “border villages” of Weli Oya.

There are in all 15 villages in Weli Oya, but only 12 are occupied leaving Kambiliwewa, Konwewa and Weherawewa vacant. The villages in the ‘L’ zone of the Mahaweli Project are Gajabapura (since over-run by the LTTE), Nikaweva South, Nikaweva North, Ethawetuwewa, Ehetugasweva, Kalyanapura, Monaraweva, Kiri Ibbanwewa south, Kiri Ibbanweva North, Janakapura and Helambawewa With the capture of Othiyamalai on May 20, 1997 and Nedunkerni in June, 1997 during Jaya Sikurui military operation, the security of these villages were considered safe and cultivation of paddy commenced on a large scale.

Gloating over the capture of the strategic village of Othiyamalai in 1997 Major D.Weerasinghe told the Midweek Mirror –

“Ours was the worst area to come under LTTE attack. But under Brig. Janaka Perera we taught them a lesson or two bearing them at Weli Oya. Now Jaya Sikurui operation has given us more strength, it has boosted our morale. What I am doing now, can be done by a second lieutenant and that speaks a lot about Weli Oya today. We can now relax.”

Brigadier Hiran Halangoda spoke about the military importance of Weli Oya. He told the Sunday Observer dated February 22, 1998)-

“Weli Oya is very important militarily. Our presence will not allow the North-East merger. Terrorists cannot win Eelam as long as we stay here. If we go, there will be a threat to Padavia, Kebitigollewa and eventually Anuradhapura.”

What is the military importance of Weli Oya? It effectively bifurcates the territory between the North and East by driving a wedge between them! Any movement between North- East and East of Vavunia is not possible by land.

Sinhala colonies turned into army camps

The Sinhalese dominated ( 98% Sinhalese) Sri Lankan army, navy and air-force had been used as instruments of state terror against the Tamil people since 1956. Although the armed forces are paid out of the common exchequer, the government does not conceal the fact that their mission is to subjugate the Tamils and provide security to the Sinhalese colonists in ‘border villages’. Out of over 300 army camps dotting the North-East, more than half are meant to provide such security to Sinhalese colonists like in Weli Oya, Gal Oya, Allai-Kanthalai etc. No where else in the world, not even in Israel, a ‘national’ army is deployed for such blatantly racist objectives!

SLA troops as a matter of policy provide arms and military training to Sinhalese colonists in the border villages including Weli Oya. Recently 3,000 Colonists in Gonagala in the Amparai district were provided with arms and given weapons training despite the fact most of them have criminal records. The irony of it is these Sinhalese are farming in land owned by the Tamils after driving them out with the help of the armed forces! Yet The Island newspaper has the temerity to claim that Sinhalese are being ‘ethnically cleansed’ by the LTTE!

The truth, as anyone can see, is diametrically the opposite. The Sinhalese army ethnically cleansed 13, 288 Tamil families from their traditional villages in Manal Aru within 48 hours in April, 1988! (NamNadu-2000)

 


 

Pirapaharan, Chapter 40

by T. Sabaratnam

(Volume 2)

Operation Green Arrow

In mid- September 1985, the ENLF told the media in Chennai that Sri Lanka had launched a military onslaught code-named Operation Green Arrow in the Trincomalee district in total violation of the ceasefire then in operation.  The ENLF told RAW officials, who were pressurizing the the coalition to extend the 3-month ceasefire which would lapse on 18 September, that Jayewardene was trying to deceive all.

The ENLF accused the government of implementing a plan to clear the Trincomalee district of the Tamils.  It said Tamil villages were being evacuated and that it reserved the right to “take appropriate action to protect the Tamil people.”

National Security Minister Lalith Athulathmudali, who personally supervised the operation from the Navy Camp in Trincomalee, told the media the areas “infested by terrorists are being cleared.”  In another statement, he spoke of “flushing out the terrorists.”

Athulathmudali said the areas around Trincomalee and the northern parts of the North Central Province, which included dozens of traditional Tamil villages, were also being cleared of Tamil “terrorist infiltrators,” the ruse he used to drive away Tamil villagers.

Establishing armed Sinhala settlements along the border of the Northern Province was the new twist the Jayewardene government gave to the old policy of state-aided Sinhala colonization of the Tamil homeland which has been implemented by all Sinhala governments since the 1940s.  The objective continued to be the same: the weakening and marginalization of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Home Guards near Padawiya, 1999

At the start, in the 1940s and thereafter, the strategy was to settle landless Sinhala farmers in the irrigable fertile land in the Eastern Province and the southern border of the Northern Province.  This process of land grabbing commenced on a major scale with the Gal Oya project in the then Batticaloa district, the Allai and Kanthalai schemes in the Trincomalee district and the Padaviya scheme in the Vavuniya district.  The land grab was gradually expanded, as the years rolled on, despite the protests of the Tamil people. (see Introduction to Volume 1 and Chapter 22 of Volume 2 for a detailed account.)

Jayewardene, who came to power with the support of the Tamils promising them that he would end the Sinhala colonization of Tamil majority areas, began his period of power by unleashing a series of attacks on the Tamil people.  The first communal assault by his government was in August 1977, which displaced hundreds of families of plantation Tamils who lived in the midst of the Sinhala people.  Some of them migrated to the NorthEast, where they had relatives or friends, seeking safety and security.  Some sympathetic Tamil professionals, social workers and Tamil government servants helped them to settle down in border areas in Vavuniya and Batticaloa.  They settled the plantation refugees in the border areas to prevent the expansion of Sinhala settlements into the heart of the Tamil homeland.  This process went on until 1982.

By 1982, Tamil militancy had grown.  Sporadic attacks on the army had escalated.  The demand for the creation of a separate state of Tamil Eelam had strengthened.  By the end of November that year, police and the army reported to Jayewardene that Tamil militant activity had increased in the Vavuniya district.  They complained to him that “terrorist activity is noticed in the settlements of plantation Tamils started by the Gandhiyam Movement.”  They recommended that plantation Tamil settlers be evicted to destroy the hideouts of Tamil militants and to allow the overcrowded Sinhala settlements to expand northwards.

President Jayewardene, the Minister of Defence and Plantation Industry, and Gamini Dissanayake, Minister of Mahaweli and Lands, in their inimitable style, prepared the ground through systematic propaganda to flush out the plantation Tamils from the northeast.

Media Strategy

Here I wish to depart from the main story to point out the media strategy adopted by President Jayewardene and his confidants Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali.  They used the Sun and the Island and their sister Sinhala dailies to prepare the people for any drastic action they wanted to take.  I once asked Lalith Athulathmudali about their making use of the opposition newspapers for this purpose.  His reply was: the Daily News is our paper. When the Daily News or Dinamina carry this type of stories people will know that we gave them. So we make use of the Sun and the Island.”

During this period they made use of Peter Balasuriya of the Island and its weekly Sunday Island and Jennifer Henricus, Ranil Weerasinghe and Anura Kulatunga, of the Sun and its weekly Weekend, all highly respected journalists, for this purpose.

On 28 November 1982, a Sunday, Sunday Island, Weekend and their sister Sinhala papers, led with similar stories charging the Gandhiyam Movement of establishing border villages using ‘stateless persons’ and using them as ‘terrorist training grounds and hideouts.’  They also said ‘Tamil terrorists were building a ‘human fence.’

The story prepared the ground for the police and the army to conduct cordon and search operations and to carry out ‘forced evictions.’  Combined army-police operations became the order of the day by March 1983.  The method used was: the Army cordons off the farms where the plantation Tamils live.  The police march them to the road, force them into buses and drop them on the streets in the hill country.

On 14 March 1983, the operation was given an added dimension.  Police burnt 16 huts belonging to the plantation Tamils at Pankulam, 25 km west of Trincomalee.  I was with Thondaman when the news reached him.  He fumed.  He knew that the police was acting on the orders of Jayewardene.  But he was helpless.  All he could do was to issue a press statement, which he did.

In April 1983, the Gandhiyam office in Vavuniya was sealed and its founders, Dr. Rajasundaram and David were arrested under the PTA and remanded in the Welikada Prison.  Dr. Rajasundaram was killed in the prison on 25 July.  David escaped.  He had been transferred to the Batticaloa jail and escaped from there during the Batticaloa jailbreak.  He went to Tamil Nadu with other escapees.

Welikada Prison, 2002

By the beginning of July 1983, the harassment of plantation Tamil settlers intensified.  Most of them had been evicted.  The conditions for mass settlement of Sinhala peasants had been created, but the July anti-Tamil pogrom intervened.

A more vicious plan to destroy the claim for a separate state of Tamil Eelam was hatched during March 1983 at the Mahaweli Ministry.  The plan was to knock off the bottom of the Tamil Eelam claim by splitting the Tamil homeland into three pieces through the establishment of Sinhala settlements.  The settlements planned were: Maduru Oya settlement, the Weli Oya settlement and the Malwattu Oya settlement.  Oya is the Sinhala word for river.  The plan was to settle Sinhala farm families in the three river basins.

The Maduru Oya is the boundary between the Tamil majority Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts.  A Sinhala settlement in the Maduru Oya river basin would break the land link between Batticaloa and Trincomalee.  Weli Oya lies between Trincomalee and Mullaitivu districts.  A Sinhala settlement there would sever the land link between those districts.  The Malwattu Oya runs south of Mannar.  A Sinhala settlement there would rip off the Southern part of Mannar from the Northern Province.  When these settlements were completed the Tamils would be left with a truncated Northern Province comprising the whole of Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts and the northern portions of the Mannar, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu districts.

Weli Oya irrigation canal

The Maduru Oya settlement plan was put into operation soon after the 1983 July holocaust.  It was abandoned later because Mahaweli Ministry officials messed it up.  They were completely open about their justification for the project, resulting in Indian protest and adverse international publicity.  An embarrassed Jayewardene was compelled to distance himself from the settlements.  However, the plan to implement the Weli Oya project was intensified.

The Weli Oya scheme was revived after the 90-minute visit of US Defence Secretary Casper Weinberger who had tea with Jayewardene in 1983.  Weinberger stopped over in Colombo – he called it a refueling halt – on his way from Beijing to Islamabad on 30 September 1983.  According to Indian intelligence reports, military assistance to Sri Lanka was the main topic of discussion.  Weinberger, those reports said, explained to Jayewardene the difficulty his government faced in providing direct assistance to Sri Lanka.  He told Jayewardene that assistance could be arranged through Israel and Pakistan.

In return, Weinberger wrested three concessions: re-establishment of a diplomatic link with Israel; the signing of the Voice of America Agreement; and lease of the Trincomalee oil tanks to an American company.  Weinberger told Jayewardene that President Reagan’s troubleshoote, Vernon Walters, would be sent to negotiate those matters.

Weinberger told the media a different story.  He said the US viewed the ethnic conflict as a political dispute which require a political solution.  He said he had advised President Jayewardene to make use of Indian good offices to work out a political solution.

Emboldened by the US assurance, Jayewardene leapt into action.  He directed the Defence Ministry the next week, first week of October 1983, to form a new organization called the Joint Services Special Operation Command (JSSOP).  It brought together the three armed services and the police under one command structure.  Navy Commander Asoka de Silva was appointed Coordinator and D. J. Bandaragoda, Additional Secretary, Mahaweli Development, his deputy.  Bandaragoda was specially selected for that post because of his role in promoting Sinhala colonization in the Trincomalee district when he was its Government Agent.

Asoka de Silva announced the formation of the JSSOP to the media and said two tasks had been set for it.  The first, he said, was to “coordinate anti-terrorist activities in the districts of Vavuniya, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee” and the second was to “to oversee civil affairs such as land settlement.”

In the same media briefing, in which Bandaragoda also participated, Asoka de Silva announced that JSSOP’s first activity would be to carry out a “flush out” operation.  He did not elaborate when media sought clarification, taking cover under the mask of ‘military secrecy.’  But the propaganda buildup carried out through the Sun and the Island provided the necessary indication.

Peter Balasuriya’s story that appeared in the Island of 7 October 1983 was headlined, “Gandhiyam Movement’s Squatters to be evicted.”  The story said that action would be taken to evict the 50 plantation Tamil families settled by the Gandhiyam Movement two years ago in a land of about 500 acres in the Mullaitivu district earmarked for the settlement of landless villagers under the World Bank scheme.  It added that landless peasant families selected by the Government Agent, Vavuniya to be settled in this land were unable to move there due the encroachment by plantation Tamils.

Gamini Dissanayake, staunch supporter of Jayewardene’s effort to defeat the Tamils and his Sinhala colonization policy, defended and furthered Jayewardene’s JSSOP project.

Dissanayake sent his confidant, T. H. Karunatilleke, on 10 October 1983 to report ‘on the extent of the encroachment in the Vavuniya and Mullaitivu districts.’  Karunatilleke reported that large areas in the Vavuniya and Mullaitivu districts were being colonized by the stateless plantation Tamils.  The report said they posed a security threat.  (see Malinga Gunaratne’s For a Sovereign State for the full report).

The Sun and the Island and their Sinhala sister papers were used for the buildup for the flushing out operation. The Sun screamed on 17 October 1983: Stateless persons encouraged to encroach on state land in the N-E.’  Nearly a quarter of the first page was filled with the decked headlines: Forces and police fear grave security threat – Organized attempt to form Eelam boundary of humans – NGOs pumping money to establish settlements.’

The report, date-lined Vavuniya, charged that hordes of stateless persons of Indian origin were moved into the northeast with the connivance of Thondaman’s Ceylon Workers Congress and taken over by the TULF and the NGOs like Gandhiyam and TRRO which had ‘terrorist’ connections and settled in the border areas to ‘form a human buffer zone enveloping the districts of Batticaloa and Jaffna.  The report accused that about 10,000 persons had been thus moved and NGOs like the Norwegian Redd Barna, German GTZ, SEDEC run by the Roman Catholic Church and Sarvodaya were funding the operation.

Tamil Ministers Differ

This report infuriated both the Tamil ministers in the cabinet.  Thondaman issued a strongly worded statement and Devanayagam held a press conference in his ministry the next day, 18 October 1983.  I wrote the story on Thondaman’s statement and covered Devanayagam’s press conference for the Daily News.

Thondaman, in his statement, strongly objected to the charge that a large number of stateless persons had been moved to the border villages and that was being done with the connivance of the Ceylon Workers Congress.  He said plantation Tamils who lived in Sinhala villages had been uprooted during the 1977 riots and some of them migrated to the north and south seeking safety.  He reminded the readers that he had not joined the government at that time, and neither he nor the CWC had been involved in the movement of people to the north or the east.  He said the government did not take care of the refugees and he thanked the NGOs for helping them.  He condemned their recent eviction as inhuman.

Thondaman charged government officials of failure to regularize the settlements in accordance with government policy.  Instead, he added, they were trying to drive the people of Indian origin out of their holdings ‘under various pretexts.’  He also accused the police and the security personnel of setting in motion ‘a wave of terror’.

Devanayagam uncategorically told the media that there was no organized move to form a human buffer zone of stateless persons anywhere in the recent past.  He called the Sun story an ‘irresponsible piece of journalism’ and warned that it would damage the good work of internationally-reputed NGOs.  He accused the press of not showing similar interest in the Sinhala encroachment of Maduru Oya.  Devanayagam was at that time engaged in a battle with his own government to protect his own electorate, Kalkudah, from being colonized by the Sinhalese.  The Maduru Oya project falls within the Kalkudah electorate.

Gamini Dissanayake took up the battle directly and indirectly with the two Tamil ministers.  He was hard on Thondaman because he was his rival in the Nuwara Eliya electorate.  He charged that Thondaman was only interested in the wellbeing of his people and not in national security.  He said the unauthorized settlements in Vavuniya and the Batticaloa districts were covers for ‘terrorist training grounds.’  He added that youths of plantation families were being trained as terrorists.

To answer Devanayagam Dissanayake sought the assistance of his friends in the Sun.  The paper carried a story the next day, 19 October, saying that the people who tried to occupy the Maduru Oya settlements were Sri Lankan nationals who paid taxes.  It said the Tamils who were settled in Vavuniya were stateless people.  It tried to justify the Maduru Oya invasion by propounding a new theory that Sinhala citizens had the right to encroach on state land!

Jayewardene was not bothered about the opposition from his Tamil ministers.  He continued with his plan.  In late October he entrusted the task of making contact with the Israelis to his son Ravi, paving the way for the visit of President Reagan’s roving ambassador Vernon Walters.

Walters arrived in Colombo on 7 November evening and held a lengthy discussion with President Jayewardene over lunch the next noon, 8 November 1983, about military assistance.  Lalith Athulathmudali and Ravi Jayewardene were present.  Parthasarathy arrived on 7 November morning on Jayewardene’s invitation and held a lengthy discussion with him about a political solution.  With Walters, Jayawardene discussed ways and means of obtaining Israeli arms and military expertise to defeat the Tamil revolt.  With Parthasarathy, he discussed strengthening the powers of the District Councils, which he had offered the Tamils as the basis for a political solution.  Parthasarathy at this meeting pressed Jayawardene to agree to the merger of two or more District Councils.  Discussing peace the first day and preparing for war the next day, ENLF spokesman Balakumar told the media in Chennai on 9 November, showed Jayewardene’s ‘sincerity.’  “How can we trust a person like that?” he asked.

In Colombo the same evening, Walters evaded answering questions asked by the media about the substance of his talks with Jayewardene.  But he took a swipe at Parthasarathy and the Indian peace effort when he said Sri Lanka was capable of solving her problems and President Jayewardene had “all cylinders firing.”  He also dodged the question whether he discussed Trincomalee harbour with Jayewardene, saying he would not go anywhere near Trincomalee.  Instead, he volunteered, that he, being a ‘history buff,’ visited Kandy.

It was later revealed that Walters did discuss Trincomalee with Jayewardene and obtained his signature on the Voice of America Agreement, the text of which he had brought with him. He had also obtained Jayewardene’s agreement for full diplomatic recognition of Israel.

Encouraged by the shift in the stance in the US’ Sri Lanka policy Jayewardene took action to put his military option into operation. He sent Cabinet Secretary G. V. P. Samarasinghe to a secret destination in Europe to meet top Israeli officials to work out the details about signing an agreement to obtain the services of Israeli intelligence officers.  The agreement was signed later that month in New York during the UN General Assembly Sessions.

Implementation of the agreement with Israel ran into difficulties.  Muslim ministers M. H. Mohammed and Sahul Hameed opposed the agreement when Jayewardene informed the cabinet about it in January.  Muslims launched an agitation against the diplomatic recognition of Israel.  Saudi Arabia and Kuwait suspended their funding for the downstream development of the Mahaweli Project.  India also signified its strong opposition.  Jayewardene was able to bulldoze the local Muslim opposition, but not that of India and the Muslim countries.  He backed out of the promise to accord Israel full diplomatic recognition.  After much haggling, he permitted Israel to open an Interest Section in the American embassy in Colombo.

The Israeli Interest Section was opened in May 1984.  David Matnai was appointed the first head.  In August 1984 six intelligence officers from the Israeli intelligence service MOSSAD came to Sri Lanka to establish a new intelligence network against the Tamils.

Mathew’s Efforts

While Jayewardene and his men were busy doing the spadework to destroy the basis of the Tamil homeland, Cyril Mathew, Minister of Industries and Scientific Affairs, another of Jayewardene’s creations, intensified his efforts to turn the NorthEast into a Buddhist homeland.  A group of rabid intellectuals mainly from the middle level castes badhu (Mathew’s caste) and karawas were busy discovering the ruins of Buddhist temples and restoring them and settling Sinhala Buddhist families around them.  They conveniently hid the well-established fact that those ruins were that of the Buddhist temples of the Tamils.  The Eastern coastal belt of Tamil Nadu was Buddhist from Asokan times till the end of Chola period in the 13th Century.  And eastern Sri Lanka fell under the influence of Tamil Buddhists.  The influence of Tamil Buddhism was present even in the courts of the Anuradhapura kings.  The Mahawamsa had recorded several instances of clashes between Sinhala Buddhist monks and Tamil Buddhist monks, referred to mostly as Chola Buddhist monks.

Buddha, 14-15th century, Pattisvaram, India, in Rajaraja Museum, Thanjavur

Pali being the language of Buddhist scriptures and inscriptions, it was easy for Sinhala Buddhist chauvinists to claim Tamil Buddhist inscriptions as belonging to Sinhala Buddhists.  The contribution of Tamil Buddhists to the growth and enrichment of the Sinhala language, especially the development of its grammar was great.  The influence of the standard work on Tamil grammar Virasolium written by a Tamil Buddhist monk is unmistakably found in the works on Sinhala grammar.

The revival of Saivaism (the Hindu sect that worships Siva) during and after the Chola period resulted in the neglect and destruction of Tamil Buddhist temples and the building of Saivaite temples in their place or premises.  Mathew and his men made a big fuss of this.  They accused the Tamils of wanton destruction of ancient Buddhist temples by Tamil Hindus and used state funds to destroy Hindu temples and restore the Buddhist temples.  They established Sinhalese settlements around the restored Buddhist temples.

Mathew’s campaign backed by Sinhala media gave the ethnic dispute – a Sinhala-Tamil row- a religious dimension.  It turned the dispute into a Buddhist – Hindu clash.  The Sinhala media built a major story out of the trimming of a bo-tree and of how it was done by a Tamil.  The story was often blown up as a Tamil terrorist act of desecration.

The search for Buddhist ruins was the political treasure hunt of that period. That gave another ‘proof’ for Sinhala nationalist to ‘establish’ that the eastern province was the cradle of ancient Sinhala Buddhist civilization.  I feel sad that none of the Sinhala leaders or journalists gave thought about the effect their actions would have on Tamil Hindus.

Tamils were aware of the Sinhala Buddhist strategy.  They were paid.  They were angry.  They were helpless.  The report I give below appeared in the Saturday Review of August 1982.  It reflects the Tamil Hindu sentiments.  And when Pirapaharan led the resistance, they welcomed him.  The Saturday Review report:

Kuranthan Malai is a quiet peaceful spot in Tamil-populated Mullaitivu with ruins of both Hindu and Buddhist places of worship.  It will soon house an exclusive Buddhist vihare and temple and a Sinhala settlement, according to plans drawn up by officials working under the Ministry of Industries and Scientific Affairs.

An ex-Director of a Public Corporation under the Ministry who was also a leading member of the UNP Trade Union – the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya- is spearheading the implementation of the project. He is assisted by several army personnel.

Several employees of the Ceramics Corporation and the Tile factory of Oddichuddan 20 miles away, have been enlisted to help the implementation of the project.  Vehicles and the resources of the corporation which come under the Ministry of Industry are being used for this project.

Hindu statues found in the site have been taken away in Army vehicles, according to the local villagers, as far back as November last year.  Kurunthan Malai situated in the Nagancholai Forest Reserve has long been held in veneration by the Vanni Tamils as the dwelling place of the guardian deity, Kurandoor Aiyanar.  The building of a Buddhist vihare at the site began several months ago, and some employees of the Tile factory have been engaged in this, with orders apparently to do it unobtrusively without attracting public attention to the building activity.

Following this, some local inhabitants had put up a hut and installed a “Choolam” (trident) on the spot, but Army personnel from the Mullaitivu camp had demolished the hut, thrown away the “Choolam”, chased away some of the Tamil families in the area and had taken away some of the youths in the area for questioning.  Since then, a new road has been built through the Nagancholai Forest Reserve, to facilitate accessibility to this site from Oddichuddan.

Three major consequences flow from this move, quite apparently initiated by the Ministry of Industries:

(1) Archaeological sites are being damaged irrevocably, preventing any genuine archaeological research on them in the future; (2) Tamils who have lived in the area for generations are being displaced by new Sinhala colonists. (3) Hindu religious sites are being furtively desecrated thus preventing identification of such sites in the future.

But what seems to be the most vicious attempt – an attempt which might well succeed in the present political circumstances – is a grand strategy to destroy the contiguity of Tamil populations of the Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and the Trincomalee districts.

The Padaviya Sinhala colonies are expanding eastwards in an attempt to connect with the Kokkilai Lagoon area.  It is believed that with the pressures from the Mullaitivu Army camp on the northeast, the Tile factory of the Ministry of Industries at Oddichuddan on the North-west – two powerful repositories of State power – a spill over from the Padaviya settlements is bound to occur, as it has been in other instances in the past.

When that happens, the Tamils in three districts will be effectively cut off from each other, thereby not only losing a slice of their traditional homeland but weakened to a position where they cannot withstand further incursions in times to come….

Mathew used the funds, human and material resources of his ministry, the Ministry of Industries and Scientific Affairs, and the corporations that came under it for his campaign to identify the northern and eastern provinces as ancient Buddhist territory.  But Jayewardene’s massive scheme to build armed border villages needed huge investments and maintenance facilities.  The July 1983 riots had upset the government finances.  The Treasury was virtually bankrupt.  Attempts were made to obtain World Bank funding by showing the settlements as a project to manage social unrest in the south by settling a section of the landless peasants in northeastern Weli Oya.

                      (A typo on the map has Manal Aru written as Manu Aru)

I was aware of the preparation of a project proposal for that purpose.  The services of two Israeli agriculture experts were employed to modify System L of the Mahaweli Scheme into a dry zone agriculture project for the planting of cash crops like cadju and ‘wonder bean.’  One of the experts was a Professor of Agriculture from Jerusalem University.  The other was an agriculture expert involved in the cultivation of the ‘miracle bean’ (jojoba) in Israel’s Negev desert.  The attempt failed due to the unexpected attack on the Kent and Dollar farms by the LTTE on 30 November 1984.

The attack on the Kent and Dollar farms is another story and I have already related the basic facts in Chapter 23.  Lalith Athulathmudali was appointed Minister of National Security on 24 March 1984.  He took over the task of implementing the task given to JSSOP.  He visited Mankulam in the first week of May.  He went with Vavuniya Superintendent of Police Arthur Herath to the areas where plantation Tamils were settled.  I went with the press party.  He visited Kent and Dollar farms, two of the several farms developed by Tamil entrepreneurs.  Within three months of that visit the inhabitants of these farms were evicted.

Ravi Jayewardene and his group had also become active in “protecting the border” by this time.  Ravi Jayewardene visited Israel during 21 June to 1 July.  He visited all the border areas of Israel.  He looked at the Israeli armed settlements in the West Bank.  He studied the strategies Israelis used to establish those settlements and the arming of the settlers to protect themselves from attacks by the Palestinian armed groups.

According to a report published in the Saturday Review a crash land settlement program was launched on the Israeli model in the area north of Padaviya soon after Ravi Jayewardene’s return from Israel.  In August 1984, in accordance with a decision taken at a high-level conference in Colombo, the area, which had under the Vavuniya district was attached to the Sinhala majority Anuradhapura district.  The administration of the area was brought under JSSOP and the region declared a no-go zone for Tamils.

The region was also renamed Weli Oya.  It was not a new name.  It was the Sinhala translation of the Tamil name Manal Aaru.  Manal or meaning sand was translated to weli.  Aaru meaning river was translated to oya.

In the first week of October 1984 Sinhalese government officials and army personnel visited the Tamil settlements in the area and threatened the Indian Tamil settlers to leave.  Soldiers assaulted the settlers who resisted.  They destroyed their crops and damaged their huts.  The Tamil families occupying Dollar and Kent farms were also driven away.

The two farms were taken over by a gazette notification issued on 6 October 1984 and were declared an open-air prison.  Lalith Athulathmudali told the media the next week the Open Air Prison Scheme, which had not been in operation for some time due to the lack of land would be revived.  He spoke highly about the innovate reformation scheme former Prisons Commissioner J. P. Delgoda had introduced.  The scheme was to settle prisoners with a record of good conduct on state land with their families and provide them employment.  The program had been abandoned because the Prison Department had not been able to obtain fresh land to continue. Athulathmudali said Kent and Dollar farms had been cleared of illegal encroachers and the property would be used to reunite 150 prisoners with their families.

Sri Lankan commandos

Tamils saw through the scheme.  They saw it as a Sinhala intrusion into the Tamil heartland.  TULF leader Amirthalingam, who was in Colombo to attend the All Party Conference, reacted with anger.  He told the BBC Tamil Service, “We would have welcomed the Open Air Prison Scheme if the prisoners were settled somewhere in the south.  Here it is being used as a cover to hide naked Sinhala colonization of the Tamil homeland.”

Thondaman was also angry.  He issued a statement condemning the eviction of innocent Tamil civilians.  He recorded his protest at a cabinet meeting.

Tamil anger was widespread.  “This is pure and simple aggression,” EROS chief Balakumar said in a statement issued in Chennai.  Other Tamil militant groups also issued angry statements.  But Pirapaharan was quiet.  He trained his fighters to give an armed reply.

A TULF delegation led by Amirthalingam and Sivasithamparam met with Jayewardene and Athulathmudali on 13 November 1984 and protested against the government action.  They urged Jayewardene to drop the program.  They informed them that the Tamils were feeling hurt.  The TULF’s standing among the Tamils was being eroded, they complained.  “They are asking us: Why are you talking to these people?” Amirthalingam told President Jayewardene.

The TULF followed up the meeting with a strongly worded letter.  In that they informed President Jayewardene that prisoners and jail guards who had been moved into the Kent and Dollar farms were harassing the people in the neighbouring villages.  They pointed out that the prisoners were indulging in thefts, robbery and rape.  Specific instances of rape were also pointed out.

Jayewardene ignored the TULF pleas.  And his ministers increased the Tamil fury further with the announcement that 1,000 houses would be constructed along the Mullaitivu coast to settle Sinhala fisher families.  Kokkilai and Nayaru were the fishing villages where the majority of the houses would be built, Fisheries Minister Festus Perera said.

The government’s scheme became very clear with Festus Perera’s announcement.  Through the Weli Oya scheme, the government wanted to grab the agricultural and forest wealth of the Tamil people.  Through the fishing villages network it wanted to gobble the wealth of the ocean adjoining the Tamil areas.

The Armed Reply

And on 30 November 1984, Pirapaharan delivered the armed answer.  About 50 specially trained fighters armed with automatic weapons and grenades sped in two buses to the Kent and Dollar farms.  One group attacked the Kent Farm and the other the Dollar Farm.  They killed 29 in the Kent Farm and 33 in the Dollar Farm, a total of 62 civilians, including three prison guards.

Next night, 1 December, LTTE fighters, led by Captain Lawrence, hijacked the Elf passenger van that plies twice daily to Kokkilai and drove into that fishing village.  The time was around 6.30 pm.  Some fishermen were standing in groups and talking among themselves.  Wives with children joined their husbands in some groups.  LTTE fighters fired at them indiscriminately.  Manuel Anthony, his wife and their nine-year-old son were in one group.  Anthony was hit.  He collapsed and died.  His son was also hit.  His wife picked up her son and ran to a boat. The boy died in the boat.  In all 13 were killed and four injured. The Tiger fighters then set off for Nayaru, 15 kilometers away, in the same Elf van.

They reached Nayaru around 8.30 pm.  They drove straight to Magailin Costa’s grocery shop firing their automatic weapons.  Magilin was the leader of the thugs of the village and a terror to the Tamils.  The fighters jumped off the van opposite the shop and flung a hand grenade into it.  They searched for Magalin, but she had run away.  They shot her daughters Mary Theresa and Mary Margaret.  Four were killed and two injured.

At Kokkilai, the people ran towards the sea and hid themselves behind or inside the boats.  They came back, according to the evidence led at the inquest proceedings, around midnight.  Some of them walked six kilometers south to Pulmoddai in the Trincomalee district to report the incident to the army.  The army patrol that rushed to the area was ambushed by the Tigers.  They set off landmines and blasted culverts.

At Nayaru, the people fled into the jungle from where the army fetched them the next morning.  The injured from both incidents were transported to Anuradhapura and Kurunegala hospitals.

Kokkilai and Nayaru form the northernmost points in the string of Sinhala fishermen’s settlements established along the coast from Trincomalee to Mullaitivu.  Most of the fishing families were from Negombo and Chilaw.

I gave a detailed account of this civilian killing by the LTTE, listed as the first Tamil massacre of Sinhala civilians, even in the government-compiled documents (see Massacres of Civilians presented to Parliament by Deputy Minister for Defence Anuruddha Ratwatte on 6 February 1996. It is a document which lists incidents in which nearly 2,900 mostly Sinhalese civilians were killed during the period 1984 to 1996), and the reaction of Thondaman, one of the two Tamil ministers in the Jayewardene cabinet, in Chapter 23.  I am repeating these events for two reasons.  Firstly, to record the events in their sequence and context and secondly, and more importantly, to record the Tamil reaction to the massacre.

Thondaman welcomed the killing.  So did every other Tamil I know of.  They did not view that as the killing of innocent civilians.  They viewed the murder as the riddance of the torturers of innocent Tamil civilians.  More importantly, they viewed it as a fitting reply to Jayewardene, Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake, Ravi Jayewardene and their ilk.

The Dollar and Kent farm killings fortressed, psychologically, the growing conviction among the Tamils that they constitute a different nation.  They have to stand up to the Sinhalese if they are to survive as a people.  And, Pirapaharan is the only person who can do that.

Index to previous chapters

Next

Chapter 41. The Massacres

To be posted April 15


 

தமிழீழத்தின் இதய பூமியான மணலாறு மீட்டெடுக்கும் நாளே நமது திருநாள்!

தமிழீழத் தாயகக் கோட்பாட்டைத் தகர்த்தெறிய சிங்கள-பௌத்த ஏகாதிபத்தியம் கையில் எடுத்த ஆயுதம் சிங்களக் குடியேற்றமாகும்.

தமிழர்களின் பாரம்பரிய பூமியில் சிங்களவர்களை அரச செலவில் குடியேற்றுவதன் மூலம் வட-கிழக்கு மாகாணத்தின் குடித்தொகையில் படிப்படியான மாற்றத்தை ஏற்படுத்தஇ தமிழ் மக்களை அவர்களது சொந்த மண்ணில்இ அவர்களது தந்தையும் – தாயும் மகிழ்ந்து குலாவி ஆயிரம் ஆயிரம் ஆண்டுகள் வாழ்ந்து முடிந்த மண்ணில்-சிறுபான்மையர்கள் ஆக மாற்றுவதே சிங்கள அரசுகளின் குறிக்கோளாக இருந்து வருகிறது.

திட்டமிட்ட சிங்களக் குடியேற்றம் காரணமாகவே செந்தமிழ் மணம் கமழும் பட்டிப்பளை ஆறு கல்லோயா எனப் பெயர் மாற்றம் பெற்றதுஇ அல்லை கந்தளாய்இ அல்ல-கந்தளாவ ஆக மாறியதுஇ முதலிக்குளம் பதவியாக உருவெடுத்ததுஇ தமிழீழத்தின் இதயபூமியான மணலாறு இரவோடு இரவாக வெலிஓயாவாக மறு அவதாரம் செய்தது.

இலங்கையின் முதல் பிரதமர் டி.எஸ். சேனநாயக்காவின் நரிமூளையில் உருவாகிய நச்சுத் திட்டமே இந்தத் திட்டமிட்ட சிங்களக் குடியேற்றங்கள். அவரே பட்டிப்பளை ஆறு கல்ஓயாவாக மாறியதன் சூத்திரதாரி.

ஐம்பதின் முற்பகுதியில் கல்லோயா ஆற்றுக்குக் குறுக்கே இங்கினியாகல என்ற இடத்தில் பாரிய அணைக்கட்டு நிர்மாணிக்கப்பட்டு சேனநாயக்க சமுத்திரம் உருவாக்கப்பட்டது. 67.2 மில்லியன் டொலர் செலவில் அமெரிக்க கம்பனிகளின் உதவியுடன் கல்ஓயாவில் நிருர்மாணப் பணிகள் மேற்கொள்ளப்பட்டன.

நாற்பது கொலனிகள் உருவாக்கப்பட்டு ஒவ்வொன்றிலும் 150 குடும்பங்கள் குடியேற்றப்பட்டன. ஒவ்வொரு குடும்பத்திற்கும் மூன்று ஏக்கர் வயல் காணியும் ஒன்றரை ஏக்கர் மேட்டுநிலக் காணியும் வழங்கப்பட்டது. முதற் கட்டமாக இருபதாயிரத்திற்கும் மேலான சிங்களக் குடும்பங்கள் குடியேற்றப்பட்டன.

திட்டமிட்ட சிங்களக் குடியேற்றத்தின் மூலம் எம் செந்தமிழ் நிலமான தென்தமிழீழம் எவ்வாறு மெல்ல மெல்ல சிங்களவரின் ஆக்கிரமிப்புக்கு உள்ளாக்கப்பட்டது என்பதைக் கீழ்க்கண்ட அட்டவணை துல்லியமாகப் படம் பிடித்துக் காட்டுகிறது.
அட்டவணை
கிழக்கு மாகாண மக்கள் தொகை (1881-1981)

சிங்களவர் தமிழர்
முஸ்லிம்கள்
ஆண்டு தொகை விழுக்காடு தொகை விழுக்காடு தொகை விழுக்காடு
1881 5947 4.5 75408 61.35 43001 30.65
1891 7512 4.75 87701 61.55 51206 30.75
1901 8778 4.7 96296 57.5 62448 33.15
1911 6909 3.75 101181 56.2 70409 36.0
1921 8744 4.5 103551 53.5 75992 39.4
1946 23456 8.4 146059 52.3 109024 39.1
1953 46470 13.1 167898 47.3 135322 38.1
1963 109690 20.1 246120 45.1 185750 34.0
1971 148572 20.7 315560 43.9 248567 34.6
1981 243358 24.9 409451 41.9 315201 32.2

1881 ம் ஆண்டில் 4.5 விழுக்காடாக இருந்த சிங்களவர் தொகை 1981ம் ஆண்டு 24. 9 விழுக்காடாக அதிகரித்தது. அதே சமயம் தமிழர்களுடைய விழுக்காடு 1881ம் ஆண்டு 61.35 ஆக இருந்து 1981ல் 41.9 ஆக வீழ்ச்சியடைந்தது.

இந்த வீழ்ச்சிக்கு மட்டக்களப்பு மாவட்டத்தில் கல் ஓயா, மதுறு ஓயா, திருகோணமலை மாவட்டத்தில் அல்லை-கந்தளாய், பதவியா (முதலிக்குளம்), யான் ஓயா போன்ற பாரிய சிங்களக் குடியேற்றத் திட்டங்களை சிங்கள பேரினவாத அரசுகள் கொண்டு வந்து நிறைவேற்றியதே காரணமாகும். இவற்றிற்கும் மேலாக அரச அனுசரணையுடன் தமிழர்களது காணிகளிலும், கோவில் காணிகளிலும் சட்ட விரோதமாகச் சிங்களவர் குடியேறியதும் காரணமாகும்.

இந்தச் சிங்களக் குடியேற்றங்களில் எல்லாம் மிகவும் மோசமான அதே சமயம் ஆபத்தான குடியேற்றத் திட்டம் வெலிஓயா ஆகும்.

எண்பது முற்பகுதியில் ஆரம்பிக்கப்பட்ட இந்தத் திட்டம் 1988ம் ஆண்டு அசுர வேகத்தில் முடுக்கி விடப்பட்டது. இதற்காக ஸ்ரீலங்காவின் முழு அரச இயந்திரமும் பயன்படுத்தப்பட்டது.

1988ம் ஆண்டு சித்திரைத் திங்கள் 16ம் நாள் ஒரு சிறப்பு அரசதாள் மூலம் முல்லைத்தீவு மாவடத்தின் மணலாற்றுப் பிரதேசம் வெலிஓயாவாக பெயர் மாற்றம் செய்யப் பட்டது. அது மட்டும் அல்லாது ஸ்ரீலங்காவின் 26வது மாவட்டமாகவும் அது பிரகடனப் படுத்தப்பட்டது.

முல்லைத்தீவு, வவுனியா மாவட்டங்களைச் சேர்ந்த 42 கிராமங்களில் காலம் காலமாக வாழ்ந்து வந்த 13,288 தமிழ்க் குடும்பங்கள் 48 மணித்தியாலக் காலக்கெடுவுக்குள் அவர்களது வீடுவாசல்களில் இருந்து வெளியேறுமாறும், வெளியேறத் தவறினால் பலவந்தமாக அவர்கள் வெளியேற்றப் படுவார்கள் எனவும் சிங்கள இராணுவம் ஒலிபெருக்கி மூலம் மிரட்டியது. பின்வரும் கிராமங்களைச் சேர்ந்த தமிழ்க் குடும்பங்கள் இந்த பலவந்த வெளியேற்றத்திற்கு உள்ளாக்கப் பட்டன.

வவுனியா மாவட்டம்

அரியக்குண்டசோலை – 118
வெடிவைத்தகல்லு – 89
ஏனையவை – 85

முல்லைத்தீவு மாவட்டம்

கொக்குத் தொடுவாய் கிராமசேவகர் பிரிவு

கொக்குத் தொடுவாய் – 861
கருநாட்டுக்கேணி – 370
ஏனையவை – 66

கொக்குளாய் கிராமசேவகர் பிரிவு

கொக்குளாய் – 508
மரியமுனை – 04
முதத்துவாரம் – 1004
ஆலடிக்குளம் – 05
ஆறுமுகத்தான்குளம் – 69
நாயாறு – 465
தண்ணிமுறிப்பு – 243
ஆண்டான்குளம் – 49
குமுழமுனை – 1164
புளியமுனை – 16

வவுனியா வடக்கு கிராமசேவகர் பிரிவு

புதுக்குடியிருப்பு – 351
காட்டுப்பூவரசங்குளம் – 91
கற்குளம் – 101
கோவில்புளியங்குளம் – 81
சொரியல் – 6448

இவற்றைவிட ஒவ்வொன்றும் 1000 ஏக்கர் கொண்ட பின்வரும் 14 குத்தகைக் காணிகளில் (99 ஆண்டுக் குத்தகை) குடியிருந்த தமிழ்க் குடும்பங்களும், பெரும்பாலும் மலையகத் தமிழ்க் குடும்பங்கள், வெளியேற்றப் பட்டன. இந்தக் காணிகள் சொந்தக்காரர்களால் பெரிய பொருட் செலவில் பண்படுத்தப் பட்டு அதில் கமம் செய்யப்பட்டது என்பது குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது.

றேடியோ கண்ணன்
டொலர் பாம்
ஆனந்தா றேடிங் கொம்பனி
செகசோதி அன்ட் கொம்பனி
எஸ். இராசரத்தினம்
எஸ. செல்லத்துரை
எஸ். அம்பலவாணர்
த.நடராசா
கென்ட் பாம்
சிலோன் தியேட்டர்
அரியகுண்டன்
கார்கோ போட் கொம்பனி
றெயில்வே குறூப்
போஸ்டல் குறூப்

குருவிக் கூட்டைக் கலைப்பதென்றாலே அது பாவம் என்று மனிதர்கள் நினைப்பதுண்டு. உணவு மறுப்பதை விட உறையுள் மறுப்பது பெரிய பாவமாகும். ஆனால் 13, 288 குடும்பங்கள் தாங்கள் பிறந்து வளர்ந்து மண்ணில் இருந்து துரத்தப்பட்டாhர்கள் என்றால், அதுவும் அவர்கள் தமிழர்களாகப் பிறந்த ஒரே குற்றத்திற்காக துரத்தியடிக்கப்பட்டார்கள் என்றால் இதைவிடக் கொடுமை, மனிதவுரிமை மீறல் வேறு ஏதாவது இருக்க முடியுமா?

ஆனால் சிங்கள-பௌத்த ஏகாதிபத்தியவாதிகள், அன்பு>  அகிம்ச> கருணை போதித்த புத்தரின் சீடர்கள் அந்தக் கொடுமையை எந்தவித துக்கமோ வெட்கமோ இன்றிச் செய்தார்கள்!

கல்ஓயா சிங்களக் குடியேற்றத் திட்டத்தின் சூத்திரதாரி டி.எஸ். சேனநாயக்கா என்றால் வெலிஓயா மற்றும் மதுறு ஓயாக் குடியேற்றத் திட்டங்களின் சூத்திரதாரி அன்றைய விவசாய, துரித மகாவெலி அபிவிருத்தி அமைச்சராக இருந்த காமினி திசநாயக்கா ஆவார்.

அமைச்சர் காமினி திசநாயக்காவும் அவரது அமைச்சு அதிகாரிகளும் சேர்ந்து மிக இரகசியமாக திருகோணமலை, மட்டக்களப்பு, வவுனியா மாவட்டங்களில் யான் ஓயா, மதுறு ஓயா, மணல் ஆறு போன்ற குடியேற்றத் திட்டங்களை எப்படி நடைமுறைப் படுத்தினார்கள் என்பதை துரித மகாவெலி சபை அதிகாரிகளில் ஒருவரான கேர்மன் குணரத்தின சண்டே ரைம்ஸ் (26-08-90) பத்திரிகையில் எழுதிய கட்டுரை மூலம் வெளிச்சத்திற்குக் கொண்டுவந்தார். அவர் எழுதியிருந்ததாவது-

“All wars are fought for land…The plan for settlement of people in Yan Oya and Malwathu Oya basins were worked out before the communal riots of 1983. Indeed the keenest minds in the Mahaweli, some of whom are holding top international positions were the architects of this plan. My role was that of an executor…

We conceived and implemented a plan which we thought would secure the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka for a long time. We moved a large group of 45,000 land hungry (Sinhala) peasants into the Batticaloa and Polonaruwa Districts of Maduru Oya delta. The second step was to make a similar human settlement in the Yan Oya basin. The third step was going to be a settlement of a number of people, opposed to Eelam, on the banks of the Malwathu Oya.

By settling the (Sinhala) people in the Maduru Oya we were seeking to have in the Batticaloa zone a mass of persons opposed to a separate state…Yan Oya if settled by non-separatists (Sinhala people) would have increased the population by about another 50,000. It would completely secure Trincomalee from the rebels…”

‘நிலத்தைப் பிடிக்கவே எல்லா யுத்தங்களும் மேற்கொள்ளப் படுகிறது……..யான் ஓயா மற்றும் மதுறு ஓயாப் பள்ளத்தாக்கில் (சிங்கள)க் குடியேற்றத்தை அமுல் படுத்துவதற்கு வேண்டிய திட்டம் 1983ம் ஆண்டு நடந்த இனக் கலவரத்துக்கு முன்னரே தீட்டப் பட்டுவிட்டது. உண்மையில் இந்தத் திட்டத்தின் சிற்பிகள் மகாவலியில் பணியாற்றிய மெத்தப் படித்த அறிவாளிகள் ஆவர். இவர்கள் இப்போது அனைத்துலக மட்டத்தில் பெரிய பதவிகளில் பணியாற்றுகிறார்கள். இந்தத் திட்டத்தில் எனது பாத்திரம் அதனை நடைமுறைப் படுத்துவதே.

”இந்தத் திட்டத்தை நாம் சிந்தித்து நிறைவேற்றியதின் காரணம் ஸ்ரீலங்காவின் பிரதேச கட்டுமானத்தை நீண்ட காலத்துக்கு உறுதிப்படுத்துவதே. மதுறு ஓயா பள்ளத்தாக்கை உள்ளடக்கிய மட்டக்களப்புக்கும் பொலநறுவைக்கும் நாங்கள் காணிக்கு அந்தரித்த 45,000 மக்களைக் கொண்டு சென்று குடியேற்றினோம். அடுத்ததாக இதேபோல் யான் ஓயாவில் (சிங்களவர்களை) குடியேற்ற நடவடிக்கை எடுத்தோம். மூன்றாவதாக ஈழத்துக்கு எதிரானவர்களை மல்வத்து ஓயாவின் கரைகளில் குடியேற்ற முடிவுசெய்தோம்.

‘மதுறு ஓயாவில் சிங்களவர்களைக் குடியேற்றுவதன் மூலம் மட்டக்களப்புப் பிரதேசத்தில் தனியரசுக்கு எதிரான ஒருதொகை மக்களை உருவாக்கினோம். யான் ஓயாவில் பிரிவினைக்கு எதிரானவர்களைவர்களை குடியேற்றுவதன் மூலம் மக்கள் தொகை 50,000 ஆகக் கூடியிருக்கும். இதன் மூலம் போராளிகளிடம் இருந்து திருகோணமலையை முற்றாகக் காப்பாற்றி விடலாம்.’

1988-89ல் வெலி ஓயாவில் முதல் கட்டமாக 3,364 குடும்பங்கள் குடியேற்றப்பட்டன. இவர்களில் பெரும்பாலானோர் கிறிமினல் குற்றவாளிகள் ஆவர். இரண்டாம் கட்டமாக 35,000 பேர் குடியமர்த்தப் பட்டார்கள். இந்தக் குடியேற்றங்களைப் பாதுகாக்க சிங்கள இராணுவ முகாம்கள் ஆங்காங்கே நிர்மாணிக்கப்பட்டன. இதில் இராணுவத் தளபதிகளில் ஒருவரான மேஜர் ஜெனரல் ஜானக பேரராவின் சேவையை ‘மெச்சி’ தண்ணிமுறிப்பு ஜானகபுரவாக பெயர் மாற்றம் செய்யப்பட்டது.

சென்ற ஆண்டு பிரிகேடியர் கிரான் கலன்கொட வெலிஓயாவின் கேந்திர முக்கியத்துவம்பற்றிப் பின்வருமாறு கூறியிருந்தது கவனிக்கத் தக்கது.

“Weli Oya is very important militarily. Our presence will not allow the North-East merger. Terrorists cannot win Eelam as long as we stay here. If we go, there will be a threat to Padavia, Kebitigollewa and eventually Anuradhapura.” (Sunday Observer – 22 February, 1998)

இப்போது 11 ஆண்டுகள் கழித்து வெலி ஓயாவில் உள்ள கென்ட் பாம், டொலர் பாம், சிலோன் தியேட்டர், கஜபாகுபுரம் உட்பட ஆறு பெரியதும் சின்னதுமான இராணுவ முகாம்கள் வி.புலிகளின் தாக்குதல்களுக்கு உள்ளாகி அவர்களிடம் வீழ்ந்துள்ளன.

இதை எழுதும் போது ஜானகபுர இராணுமுகாம் வி.புலிகளின் தாக்குதலுக்கு இலக்காகி உள்ளதாகவும் அது எந்த நேரத்திலும் அவர்கள் கையில் விழலால் எனவும் எதிர்பார்க்கப்படுகிறது. வி.புலிகளின் இராணுவ முகாம்கள் மீதான தாக்குதலுக்குப் பயந்து சுமார் 9,000 சிங்களக் குடியேற்றவாசிகள் அண்மையில் உள்ள பதவியாவிற்கும், அனுராதபுரத்துக்கும் இடம் பெயர்ந்துள்ளார்கள். இந்த இடப்பெயர்வை ஒத்துக் கொண்ட சனாதிபதி சந்திரிகா அவர்களுக்கு நிவாரண உதவிகள் வழங்குமாறு உத்தரவு பிறப்பித்துள்ளார்.

எண்பதுகள்வரை சிங்களக் குடியேற்றத் திட்டங்கள் முடிக்குரிய வெற்றுக் காணிகளிலேயே பெரும்பாலும் இடம் பெற்றது. ஆனால் அதன்பின் தமிழர்களைத் துரத்திவிட்டு அவர்களுக்குச் சொந்தமான காணிகளில் சிங்களவர்களை குடியேற்றும் படலம் ஆரம்பமானது. மணலாறு அதில் ஒன்றாகும்.

வெலி ஓயாக் குடியேற்றத் திட்டத்தின் மூலம் இன்னொரு ‘சாதனை’யையும் ஸ்ரீலங்கா அரசு படைத்தது. வட தமிழீழத்துக்கும் தென் தமிழீழத்துக்கும் இடையிலான நிலத்தொடர்வை வெட்டியதே அந்தச் ‘சாதனை’யாகும். இதன் மூலம் தமிழர்களது தயாகக் கோட்பாட்டிற்று வேட்டு வைப்பதே சிங்கள அரசின் அரசியல் – இராணுவ நோக்கமாகும்.

வெலி ஓயாப் பிரதேசத்திலிருந்து சிங்களக் குடியேற்றமும் அந்தச் சிங்களக் குடியேற்றத்துக்கு காவலாகச் செயல்படும் இராணுவத்தையும் எங்கள் மண்ணிலிருந்து விரட்டி அடித்து தமிழீழத்தின் இதய பூமியான மணலாறு மீண்டும் முற்றாக மீட்டு எடுக்கப்பட வேண்டும். அந்த மீட்பு நாளே நமது வாழ்வின் திருநாள்.


எமது மரபுவழித் தாயகத்தை இழப்போமா? அல்லது போராடிப் மீழப் பெறுவோமா?

(நக்கீரன்)

தமிழீழத் திருநாட்டின் தலைநகரான திருகோணமலை சமாதான நகரமாகப் பிரகடனம் செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளது. இரண்டாயிரம் (2000)ஆண்டை அகிலவுலக சமாதான ஆண்டாக ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் அவை பிரகடனப் படுத்தியுள்ளது. இதனை ஒட்டி 87 உலக நாடுகளின் நகரங்கள் சமாதான நகரங்களாக யூனெஸ்கோ முன்மொழிந்துள்ளது.

உருசியாவின் மொஸ்கவ், வியட்நாமின் ஹனோய், யப்பானின் ஹிரோசிமா, ,ஸ்ரேலின் ஜெரூசலம், லெபனாவின் பெயிரூட் போன்று தமிழீழத்தில் திருகோணமலை சமாதான நகரமாக யூநெஸ்கோவினால் முன்மொழியப் பட்டுள்ளது.

திருகோணமலை நகரின் சமாதான துவக்க விழா போன வாரம் மிகவும் ‘கோலாகலமாகக்’ கொண்டாடப்பட்டுள்ளது.

அன்புவழிபுரம் சந்தியில் எழுதப்பட்ட அலங்கார வளைவை தகவல் தொலைத் தொடர்பு அமைச்சர் மங்கள சமரவீர திரை நீக்கம் செய்து வைத்திருக்கிறார். அத்தோடு திருமலைக் கடற்கரையில் அமைச்சர் மங்கள சமரவீர ‘சமாதான நகர் நினைவுச் சின்னம்’ ஒன்றை நிறுவுவதற்கான அடிக்கல்லையும் நாட்டியுள்ளார்.

சமாதான நகர் துவக்கவிழா திருகோணமலை புனித மரியாள் கல்லூரியில் நடந்தேறியிருக்கிறது. இந்த விழாவில் உரையாற்றிய அமைச்சர் மங்கள சமரவீர திருகோணமலையை வர்த்தகத் துறைமுகமாக அபிவிருத்தி செய்யத் திட்டமிட்டு செயல்பட்டுவருவதாகக் குறிப்பிட்டார். ஆரம்பக்கட்டமாக யப்பான் உதவியுடன் திருகோணமலை துறைமுக அபிவிருத்திக்கென 150 மில்லியன் (15கோடி) ரூபாயை ஒதுக்கியுள்ளதாக அமைச்சர் மங்கள சமரவீர மேலும் தெரிவித்தார்.

‘இலங்கையில் மூன்று இனங்கள் வாழும் திருகோணமலை சமாதான நகரமாக பிரகடனப்படுத்தப் பட்டுள்ளது. எமது அரசாங்கம் நிரந்தர சமாதானத்தை இந்த நாட்டில் ஏற்படுத்துவதற்கு உறுதியுடன் உழைத்து வருகிறது. திருகோணமலை இலங்கையில் சமாதானத்தைப் பேணும் ‘மாதிரி’ நகரமாக மாறும். இலங்கையின் வர்த்தக நகராக திருகோணமலை நகரம் அபிவிருத்தி செய்யப்படும்” இப்படி அமைச்சர் மங்கள சமரவீர வயிற்றுப் பிள்ளை கீழே நழுவி விழுமாறு அந்த விழாவில் பேசியிருக்கிறார்.

சனாதிபதி சங்திரிகா குமாரணதுங்கா இந்த துவக்க விழாவையொட்டி ஒரு வாழ்த்துச் செய்தி அனுப்பியிருந்தார். அந்தச் செய்தியை வட-கிழக்கு மாகாண ஆளுநர் அசோகா ஜெயவர்த்தன வாசித்தார். அந்தச் செய்தியில் குறிப்பிடப் பட்டிருப்பதாவது –

‘திருகோணமலையை சமாதான நகராகப் பிரகடனம் செய்யும் யூனெஸ்கோவின் முன்மொழிவை எனது அரசாங்கம் மிக மகிழ்ச்சியுடன் ஏற்றுக் கொண்டிருக்கிறது. நாட்டில் சமாதானம், இயல்பு நிலைமை ஏற்படுத்த நாம் உறுதி பூண்டு செயல்பட்டு வருகிறது. அதில் நாம் வெற்றியடைவோம் என்பதில் எமக்கு நம்பிக்கை இருக்கிறது.”

திருகோணமலை நகரை சமாதான நகராகப் பிரகடனப் படுத்த யூனெஸ்கோ உண்மையாக தன்பாட்டில் முன்வந்திருந்தால்; இந்த யோசனையை முன்மொழிந்த அந்த அமைப்பின் அதிகாரிக்கு விசித்திரமான நகைச்சுவை உணர்வு இருந்திருக்க வேண்டும்.

காரணம் திருகோணமலை நகரம் சமாதானத்தைக் கண்டு, அதன் காற்றைச் சுவாசித்து அரை நூற்றாண்டுக்கும் மேலாகிறது.

திட்டமிட்ட- இடைவிடாத சிங்களக் குடியேற்றம் காரணமாக திருகோணமலை மாவட்டத்தில் சிறுபான்மையராக இருந்த சிங்களவர் இன்று பெரும்பான்மையராகவும் பெரும்பான்மையராக இருந்த தமிழர் சிறுபான்மையராகவும் மாற்றப்பட்டுள்ளார்கள்.

இலங்கைக்கு சுதந்திரம் கிடைத்த காலம் தொட்டு இன்றுவரை திருமலை மாவட்டத்துக்கு தமிழர் ஒருவர் அரசாங்க அதிபராக நியமனம் பெறவில்லை என்பது கவனிக்கத் தக்கது. பரங்கியர் ஒருவர் அரசாங்க அதிபராக இருந்திருக்கிறார். ஆனால் தமிழர் ஒருவர் இதுவரை இருக்கவில்லை. அரசாங்க அதிபர் பதவி மட்டுமல்ல காணிப் பங்கீட்டுக்குப் பொறுப்பாவுள்ள மாவட்ட காணி அதிகாரி (னுளைவசiஉவ டுயனெ ழுககiஉநச) பதவியும் அன்று தொடக்கம் இன்றுவரை சிங்களவராலேயே நிரப்பப்பட்டு வந்திருக்கிறது.

இவை ஒரு தற்செயலான நிகழ்வு அல்ல. இந்த மாவட்டத்தை சிங்கள மயப்படுத்துவதற்கு வசதியாக திட்டமிட்டே பின்பற்றப்பட்டு வரும் பேரினவாதக் கொள்கையாகும்.

வட- கிழக்கு ஆளுநர் பதவியை முன்னைய காமினி பொன்சேகா இராஜினாமா செய்த போது அவரது இடத்துக்கு இன்றைய மேஜர் ஜெனரல் அசோகாவை சந்திரிகா அரசு அவசர அவசரமாக நியமித்தது.

தனது இராணுவப் பதவியிலிருந்து ஓய்வுபெற்ற 48 மணித்தியாலங்களுக்குள் அசோகா ஜெயவர்த்தனா வட- கிழக்கு ஆளுனராகப் பதவியேற்றார்.

வட- கிழக்கு மாகாணத்தில் தமிழ்மொழி பேசுவோரே இன்றும் பெரும்பான்மையராக இருக்கிறார்கள். எனவே ஒரு தமிழர் ஆளுனராக நியமிக்கப் படுவதே நியாயமாகும். ஒத்துழைப்புத் தமிழர்களில் ஒருவரை அந்தப் பதவியில் அமர்த்தியிருக்கலாம். ஒத்துழைப்புத் தமிழர் மீதும் சந்திரிகா அரசுக்கு நம்பிக்கையில்லா விட்டால் குறைந்த பட்சம் ஒரு முஸ்லீமை ஆவது ஆளுநராக நியமித்திருக்கலாம். ஆனால் சிங்கள அரசு ஒருபோதும் அப்படிச் செய்யாது. அப்படிச் செய்வது அதன் எழுதப்படாத அல்லது பிரகடனப் படுத்தப் படாத இனவாதக் கொள்கைக்கு முரணாக இருக்கும்.

மாறி மாறி ஆட்சிக் கதிரையைப் பிடித்த ஐக்கிய தேசியக் கட்சியும் ஸ்ரீலங்கா சுதந்திரக் கட்சியும் தங்களுக்குள் அரசியல் மட்டத்தில் அடிபட்டுக் கொண்டாலும் வட-கிழக்கு மாகாணத்தில் தமிழருக்குச் சொந்தமான பூமியில் சிங்களவரைக் குடியேற்றி அதனைச் சிங்கள மயப்படுத்த பெரும்பாடுபட்டு வருகின்றன. இதில் சிங்கள ஆட்சியாளர்கள் குறிப்பிடத் தக்க வெற்றியும் கண்டுள்ளார்கள்.

ஐ.தே.கட்சி – ஸ்ரீலங்கா சுதந்திர கட்சி இந்த இரண்டு சிங்களப் பேரினவாதக் கட்சிகள் தங்களுக்குள் குத்துப் பட்டு வெட்டுப் பட்டாலும் தமிழ் மண்ணில் சிங்களக் குடியேற்றத்தை முடுக்கி விடுவதைப் பொறுத்தளவில் இந்த இரண்டு கட்சிகளும் அண்ணன் – தம்பிபோல் ஒற்றுமையாகச் செயல்படுகின்றன என்பதற்கு எடுத்துக் காட்டு அம்பாரையில் சென்ற வாரம் நடந்து முடிந்த கல்லோயாத் திட்ட பொன்விழா ஆண்டுக் கொண்டாட்டமாகும்.

இந்தப் பொன்விழாக் கொண்டாட்டத்தில் அரசியலில் கீரியும் – பாம்பும் போல் சண்டை போடும் நீர்ப்பாசன மின்சக்தி அமைச்சரும் துணைப் பாதுகாப்பு அமைச்சருமான அநுருத்த இரத்வத்தையும், ஐக்கிய தேசியக் கட்சியைச் சேர்ந்த எதிர்க்கட்சித் தலைவர் ரணில் விக்கிரமசிங்கவும் ஒரே மேடையில் இராம-இலட்சுமணர் போல் அருகருகே அமர்ந்திருந்தார்கள்.

வட-கிழக்கு மாகாணத்திலும், குறிப்பாக திருகோணமலை மாவட்டத்திலும் திட்டமிட்ட சிங்களக் குடியேற்றங்களினால் ஏற்பட்ட மக்கள் தொகை மாற்றங்களை குடித் தொகை கணக்கீட்டின் மூலம் அறிந்து கொள்ளலாம்.

1881ம் ஆண்டு திருகோணமலை மாவட்டத்தில் எண்ணி 935 சிங்களவரே வதித்து வந்தார்கள். இது மொத்த விழுக்காட்டில் 4.2. ஆனால் ஒரு நூற்றாண்டு கழித்து அதாவது 1981 ஆம் ஆண்டு சிங்களவர்களது தொகை 86,341 ஆக அதிகரித்துள்ளது. இது மொத்த விழுக்காட்டில் 33. 6. பின்வரும் அட்டவணை இந்தத் தலைகீழ் மாற்றத்தை தெளிவாகக் காட்டுகிறது.

அட்டவணை 1
திருகோணமலை மாவட்ட மக்கள் தொகையில் இடம்பெற்ற மாற்றங்கள் (1881-1981)

 

சிங்களவர் தமிழர் முஸ்லிம்கள்
ஆண்டு தொகை விழுக்காடு தொகை விழுக்காடு தொகை விழுக்காடு
1881 935 4.2 14394 64.8 5746 25.9
1891 1109 4.3 17117 66.4 6426 25.0
1901 1203 4.2 17069 60.0 8258 29.0
1911 1138 3.8 17233 57.9 9714 32.6
1921 1501 4.4 18586 54.5 12846 37.7
1946 11606 15.3 33795 44.5 23219 30.6
1953 15296 18.2 37517 44.7 28616 34.1
1963 40950 29.6 54050 39.1 42560 30.8
1971 54744 29.1 71749 38.1 59924 31.8
1981 86341 33.6 93510 36.4 74403 29.0

 

கிழக்கு மாகாண  மக்கள் தொகையில் இடம்பெற்ற மாற்றங்கள் (1881-1981)

 

சிங்களவர் தமிழர் முஸ்லிம்கள்
ஆண்டு தொகை விழுக்காடு தொகை விழுக்காடு தொகை விழுக்காடு
1881 5947 4.50 75408 61.35 43001 30.65
1891 7512 4.75 87701 61.55 51206 30.75
1901 8778 4.70 96296 57.50 62448 33.15
1911 6909 3.75 101181 56.20 70409 36.0
1921 8744 4.50 103551 53.50 75992 39.4
1946 23456 8.40 146059 52.30 109024 39.1
1953 46470 13.10 167898 47.30 135322 38.1
1963 109690 20.10 246120 45.10 185750 34.0
1971 148572 20.70 315560 43.90 248567 34.6
1981 243358 24.90 409451 41.90 315201 32.2

 

1881 ஆம் ஆண்டில் 4.5 விழுக்காடாக இருந்த சிங்களவர் தொகை 1981ம் ஆண்டு 24.9 விழுக்காடாக அதிகரித்தது. அதே சமயம் தமிழர்களுடைய விழுக்காடு 1881ம் ஆண்டு 61.35 ஆக இருந்து 1981ல் 41.9 ஆக வீழ்ச்சியடைந்தது.

இந்த வீழ்ச்சிக்கு மட்டக்களப்பு மாவட்டத்தில் கல் ஓயா (பட்டிப்பளை ஆறு), மதுறு ஓயா, திருகோணமலையில் அல்லை-கந்தளாய், பதவியா (முதலிக்குளம்) போன்ற பாரிய சிங்களக் குடியேற்றத் திட்டங்களை சிங்கள பேரினவாத அரசுகள் கொண்டு வந்து நிறைவேற்றியதே காரணமாகும். இவற்றிற்கும் மேலாக அரச அனுசரணையுடன் தமிழர்களது காணிகளிலும், கோவில் காணிகளிலும் சட்ட விரோதமாகச் சிங்களவர் குடியேறியதும் காரணமாகும்.

1981 ஆம் ஆண்டுக்குப் பின்னர் குடிசன கணிப்பீடு எடுக்கப் படவில்லை. 2001 இல் குடிவரவு கணிப்பீடு எடுக்க இருப்பதாக அரசு அறிவித்துள்ளது. அதன்போது தமிழர்களது எண்ணிக்கையும் விழுக்காடும் இனக் கலவரங்கள், புலப்பெயர்வுகள், இடப்பெயர்வுகள் காரணமாக பெருமளவு வீழ்ச்சியடையும் என எதிர்பார்க்கலாம்.

திருகோணமலையை தமிழர்களிடம் இருந்து கைப்பற்ற வேண்டும் என்பது சிங்கள பேரினவாத அரசுகளின் நீண்ட காலத் திட்டமாகும். ஐம்பதுக் கடைசிகளில் திருகோணமலையை அண்டிய பகுதிகளில் ஸ்ரீமாபுர, அக்போபுர குடியேற்றக் கிராமங்கள் உருவாகிவிட்டன. ‘சம்பந்தர் புரம்’ என்ற பெயரில் தமிழ் மீனவர் வீடமைப்புத் திட்டத்தில் குடியிருந்த தமிழர்களை சிங்களவர்கள் வெட்டிக் கொலைசெய்து எஞ்சியவர்களை கலைத்துவிட்டு அதில் வலோத்காரமாக குடியேறியுள்ளார்கள். இதே போல் இந்து ஆலயங்களின் தீர்த்தத் திருவிழா நடைபெறும் தீர்த்தக் கடற்கரைப் பிரதேசமும் தமிழ் மீனவர்கள் கரைவலை மீன்பிடித்தலுக்குப் பயன்படுத்தி வந்த ‘உயர்ந்த பாடு’ கடற்கரைப் பகுதியும் சிங்களவர்களால் ஆக்கிரமிக்கப் பட்டுள்ளது.

1997 ஆம் ஆண்டு ஐப்பசித் திங்களில் திருகோணமலை கீரித்தோட்டப் பகுதியில் திருமலை நகரசபையால் 60 இலட்ச ரூபாய் செலவில் கட்டி முடிக்கப்பட்ட பொதுச் சந்தை சிங்கள இராணுவம், சிங்கள வர்த்தகர்கள் இவர்களது எதிர்ப்பால் மூடப்பட்டுக் கிடக்கிறது. திருமலையில் வர்த்தகம், குறிப்பாக மீன், மரக்கறி வியாபாரம் நூறு விழுக்காடு சிங்களவர்கள் கையில் இருப்பது இங்கு குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது.

திருகோணமலை சமாதான நகரமாகப் பிரகடனப்படுத்தி அதனை ஒரு வர்த்தகத் துறைமுகமாக அபிவிருத்தி செய்வதன் மூலம் மேலும் அங்குள்ள சிங்களவர்களின் எண்ணிக்கையை அதிகரிப்பதே சந்திரிகா அரசின் அந்தரங்க நோக்கமும் திட்டமுமாகும்.

‘திருகோணமலையை சமாதான நகராக பிரகடனம் செய்யும் யூனெஸ்கோவின் முன்மொழிவை எனது அரசாங்கம் மிக மகிழ்ச்சியுடன் ஏற்றுக் கொண்டிருக்கிறது. நாட்டில் சமாதானம், இயல்பு நிலைமை ஏற்படுத்த நாம் உறுதி பூண்டு செயல்பட்டு வருகிறோம். அதில் நாம் வெற்றியடைவோம் என்பதில் எமக்கு நம்பிக்கையுண்டு’ என்று சனாதிபதி பேசியிருப்பதன் அர்த்தம் திருகோணமலையை கைப்பற்றுவதில் அரசாங்கம் வெற்றிபெறும் அதில் தனக்கு நம்பிக்கையுண்டு என்பதுதான்.

நமது மரபுவழித் தாயகத்தின் பெரும்பகுதியை நாம் இழந்து விட்டோம். கிழக்கு மாகாணத்தில் மூன்றில் இரண்டு நிலப்பரப்பை சிங்களக் குடியேற்றத்திற்குப் பறிகொடுத்து விட்டோம்.

மட்டக்களப்பு மாவட்டத்தில் இருந்து 1961 இல் அம்பாரை மாவட்டம் உருவாக்கப்பட்டதும், இதே காலகட்டத்தில் அம்பாரைத் தேர்தல் தொகுதியும் (1960) சேருவில தேர்தல் தொகுதியும் (1977) சிங்களவர்களுக்காக உருவாக்கப்பட்டதும் அதனை உறுதி செய்கிறது.

திருகோணமலை நகரம் சமாதான நகரமாகப் பிரகடனம் செய்யப்பட்டதை நாம் போர்ப் பிரகடனமாகவே அர்த்தம் கொள்ளல் வேண்டும்.

முடிவாக எமது மரபுவழித் தாயகத்தை சிங்களப் பேரினவாத ஆக்கிரமிப்புக்கு நிரந்தரமாக இழப்போமா? அல்லது போராடி அதை மீழப் பெறுவோமா?


Pirapaharan, Chapter 40

by T. Sabaratnam

(Volume 2)

Operation Green Arrow

In mid- September 1985, the ENLF told the media in Chennai that Sri Lanka had launched a military onslaught code-named Operation Green Arrow in the Trincomalee district in total violation of the ceasefire then in operation.  The ENLF told RAW officials, who were pressurizing the the coalition to extend the 3-month ceasefire which would lapse on 18 September, that Jayewardene was trying to deceive all.

The ENLF accused the government of implementing a plan to clear the Trincomalee district of the Tamils.  It said Tamil villages were being evacuated and that it reserved the right to “take appropriate action to protect the Tamil people.”

National Security Minister Lalith Athulathmudali, who personally supervised the operation from the Navy Camp in Trincomalee, told the media the areas “infested by terrorists are being cleared.”  In another statement, he spoke of “flushing out the terrorists.”

Athulathmudali said the areas around Trincomalee and the northern parts of the North Central Province, which included dozens of traditional Tamil villages, were also being cleared of Tamil “terrorist infiltrators,” the ruse he used to drive away Tamil villagers.

Establishing armed Sinhala settlements along the border of the Northern Province was the new twist the Jayewardene government gave to the old policy of state-aided Sinhala colonization of the Tamil homeland which has been implemented by all Sinhala governments since the 1940s.  The objective continued to be the same: the weakening and marginalization of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Home Guards near Padawiya, 1999

At the start, in the 1940s and thereafter, the strategy was to settle landless Sinhala farmers in the irrigable fertile land in the Eastern Province and the southern border of the Northern Province.  This process of land grabbing commenced on a major scale with the Gal Oya project in the then Batticaloa district, the Allai and Kanthalai schemes in the Trincomalee district and the Padaviya scheme in the Vavuniya district.  The land grab was gradually expanded, as the years rolled on, despite the protests of the Tamil people. (see Introduction to Volume 1 and Chapter 22 of Volume 2 for a detailed account.)

Jayewardene, who came to power with the support of the Tamils promising them that he would end the Sinhala colonization of Tamil majority areas, began his period of power by unleashing a series of attacks on the Tamil people.  The first communal assault by his government was in August 1977, which displaced hundreds of families of plantation Tamils who lived in the midst of the Sinhala people.  Some of them migrated to the NorthEast, where they had relatives or friends, seeking safety and security.  Some sympathetic Tamil professionals, social workers and Tamil government servants helped them to settle down in border areas in Vavuniya and Batticaloa.  They settled the plantation refugees in the border areas to prevent the expansion of Sinhala settlements into the heart of the Tamil homeland.  This process went on until 1982.

By 1982, Tamil militancy had grown.  Sporadic attacks on the army had escalated.  The demand for the creation of a separate state of Tamil Eelam had strengthened.  By the end of November that year, police and the army reported to Jayewardene that Tamil militant activity had increased in the Vavuniya district.  They complained to him that “terrorist activity is noticed in the settlements of plantation Tamils started by the Gandhiyam Movement.”  They recommended that plantation Tamil settlers be evicted to destroy the hideouts of Tamil militants and to allow the overcrowded Sinhala settlements to expand northwards.

President Jayewardene, the Minister of Defence and Plantation Industry, and Gamini Dissanayake, Minister of Mahaweli and Lands, in their inimitable style, prepared the ground through systematic propaganda to flush out the plantation Tamils from the northeast.

Media Strategy

Here I wish to depart from the main story to point out the media strategy adopted by President Jayewardene and his confidants Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali.  They used the Sun and the Island and their sister Sinhala dailies to prepare the people for any drastic action they wanted to take.  I once asked Lalith Athulathmudali about their making use of the opposition newspapers for this purpose.  His reply was: the Daily News is our paper. When the Daily News or Dinamina carry this type of stories people will know that we gave them. So we make use of the Sun and the Island.”

During this period they made use of Peter Balasuriya of the Island and its weekly Sunday Island and Jennifer Henricus, Ranil Weerasinghe and Anura Kulatunga, of the Sun and its weekly Weekend, all highly respected journalists, for this purpose.

On 28 November 1982, a Sunday, Sunday Island, Weekend and their sister Sinhala papers, led with similar stories charging the Gandhiyam Movement of establishing border villages using ‘stateless persons’ and using them as ‘terrorist training grounds and hideouts.’  They also said ‘Tamil terrorists were building a ‘human fence.’

The story prepared the ground for the police and the army to conduct cordon and search operations and to carry out ‘forced evictions.’  Combined army-police operations became the order of the day by March 1983.  The method used was: the Army cordons off the farms where the plantation Tamils live.  The police march them to the road, force them into buses and drop them on the streets in the hill country.

On 14 March 1983, the operation was given an added dimension.  Police burnt 16 huts belonging to the plantation Tamils at Pankulam, 25 km west of Trincomalee.  I was with Thondaman when the news reached him.  He fumed.  He knew that the police was acting on the orders of Jayewardene.  But he was helpless.  All he could do was to issue a press statement, which he did.

In April 1983, the Gandhiyam office in Vavuniya was sealed and its founders, Dr. Rajasundaram and David were arrested under the PTA and remanded in the Welikada Prison.  Dr. Rajasundaram was killed in the prison on 25 July.  David escaped.  He had been transferred to the Batticaloa jail and escaped from there during the Batticaloa jailbreak.  He went to Tamil Nadu with other escapees.

Welikada Prison, 2002

By the beginning of July 1983, the harassment of plantation Tamil settlers intensified.  Most of them had been evicted.  The conditions for mass settlement of Sinhala peasants had been created, but the July anti-Tamil pogrom intervened.

A more vicious plan to destroy the claim for a separate state of Tamil Eelam was hatched during March 1983 at the Mahaweli Ministry.  The plan was to knock off the bottom of the Tamil Eelam claim by splitting the Tamil homeland into three pieces through the establishment of Sinhala settlements.  The settlements planned were: Maduru Oya settlement, the Weli Oya settlement and the Malwattu Oya settlement.  Oya is the Sinhala word for river.  The plan was to settle Sinhala farm families in the three river basins.

The Maduru Oya is the boundary between the Tamil majority Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts.  A Sinhala settlement in the Maduru Oya river basin would break the land link between Batticaloa and Trincomalee.  Weli Oya lies between Trincomalee and Mullaitivu districts.  A Sinhala settlement there would sever the land link between those districts.  The Malwattu Oya runs south of Mannar.  A Sinhala settlement there would rip off the Southern part of Mannar from the Northern Province.  When these settlements were completed the Tamils would be left with a truncated Northern Province comprising the whole of Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts and the northern portions of the Mannar, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu districts.

Weli Oya irrigation canal

The Maduru Oya settlement plan was put into operation soon after the 1983 July holocaust.  It was abandoned later because Mahaweli Ministry officials messed it up.  They were completely open about their justification for the project, resulting in Indian protest and adverse international publicity.  An embarrassed Jayewardene was compelled to distance himself from the settlements.  However, the plan to implement the Weli Oya project was intensified.

The Weli Oya scheme was revived after the 90-minute visit of US Defence Secretary Casper Weinberger who had tea with Jayewardene in 1983.  Weinberger stopped over in Colombo – he called it a refueling halt – on his way from Beijing to Islamabad on 30 September 1983.  According to Indian intelligence reports, military assistance to Sri Lanka was the main topic of discussion.  Weinberger, those reports said, explained to Jayewardene the difficulty his government faced in providing direct assistance to Sri Lanka.  He told Jayewardene that assistance could be arranged through Israel and Pakistan.

In return, Weinberger wrested three concessions: re-establishment of a diplomatic link with Israel; the signing of the Voice of America Agreement; and lease of the Trincomalee oil tanks to an American company.  Weinberger told Jayewardene that President Reagan’s troubleshoote, Vernon Walters, would be sent to negotiate those matters.

Weinberger told the media a different story.  He said the US viewed the ethnic conflict as a political dispute which require a political solution.  He said he had advised President Jayewardene to make use of Indian good offices to work out a political solution.

Emboldened by the US assurance, Jayewardene leapt into action.  He directed the Defence Ministry the next week, first week of October 1983, to form a new organization called the Joint Services Special Operation Command (JSSOP).  It brought together the three armed services and the police under one command structure.  Navy Commander Asoka de Silva was appointed Coordinator and D. J. Bandaragoda, Additional Secretary, Mahaweli Development, his deputy.  Bandaragoda was specially selected for that post because of his role in promoting Sinhala colonization in the Trincomalee district when he was its Government Agent.

Asoka de Silva announced the formation of the JSSOP to the media and said two tasks had been set for it.  The first, he said, was to “coordinate anti-terrorist activities in the districts of Vavuniya, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee” and the second was to “to oversee civil affairs such as land settlement.”

In the same media briefing, in which Bandaragoda also participated, Asoka de Silva announced that JSSOP’s first activity would be to carry out a “flush out” operation.  He did not elaborate when media sought clarification, taking cover under the mask of ‘military secrecy.’  But the propaganda buildup carried out through the Sun and the Island provided the necessary indication.

Peter Balasuriya’s story that appeared in the Island of 7 October 1983 was headlined, “Gandhiyam Movement’s Squatters to be evicted.”  The story said that action would be taken to evict the 50 plantation Tamil families settled by the Gandhiyam Movement two years ago in a land of about 500 acres in the Mullaitivu district earmarked for the settlement of landless villagers under the World Bank scheme.  It added that landless peasant families selected by the Government Agent, Vavuniya to be settled in this land were unable to move there due the encroachment by plantation Tamils.

Gamini Dissanayake, staunch supporter of Jayewardene’s effort to defeat the Tamils and his Sinhala colonization policy, defended and furthered Jayewardene’s JSSOP project.

Dissanayake sent his confidant, T. H. Karunatilleke, on 10 October 1983 to report ‘on the extent of the encroachment in the Vavuniya and Mullaitivu districts.’  Karunatilleke reported that large areas in the Vavuniya and Mullaitivu districts were being colonized by the stateless plantation Tamils.  The report said they posed a security threat.  (see Malinga Gunaratne’s For a Sovereign State for the full report).

The Sun and the Island and their Sinhala sister papers were used for the buildup for the flushing out operation. The Sun screamed on 17 October 1983: Stateless persons encouraged to encroach on state land in the N-E.’  Nearly a quarter of the first page was filled with the decked headlines: Forces and police fear grave security threat – Organized attempt to form Eelam boundary of humans – NGOs pumping money to establish settlements.’

The report, date-lined Vavuniya, charged that hordes of stateless persons of Indian origin were moved into the northeast with the connivance of Thondaman’s Ceylon Workers Congress and taken over by the TULF and the NGOs like Gandhiyam and TRRO which had ‘terrorist’ connections and settled in the border areas to ‘form a human buffer zone enveloping the districts of Batticaloa and Jaffna.  The report accused that about 10,000 persons had been thus moved and NGOs like the Norwegian Redd Barna, German GTZ, SEDEC run by the Roman Catholic Church and Sarvodaya were funding the operation.

Tamil Ministers Differ

This report infuriated both the Tamil ministers in the cabinet.  Thondaman issued a strongly worded statement and Devanayagam held a press conference in his ministry the next day, 18 October 1983.  I wrote the story on Thondaman’s statement and covered Devanayagam’s press conference for the Daily News.

Thondaman, in his statement, strongly objected to the charge that a large number of stateless persons had been moved to the border villages and that was being done with the connivance of the Ceylon Workers Congress.  He said plantation Tamils who lived in Sinhala villages had been uprooted during the 1977 riots and some of them migrated to the north and south seeking safety.  He reminded the readers that he had not joined the government at that time, and neither he nor the CWC had been involved in the movement of people to the north or the east.  He said the government did not take care of the refugees and he thanked the NGOs for helping them.  He condemned their recent eviction as inhuman.

Thondaman charged government officials of failure to regularize the settlements in accordance with government policy.  Instead, he added, they were trying to drive the people of Indian origin out of their holdings ‘under various pretexts.’  He also accused the police and the security personnel of setting in motion ‘a wave of terror’.

Devanayagam uncategorically told the media that there was no organized move to form a human buffer zone of stateless persons anywhere in the recent past.  He called the Sun story an ‘irresponsible piece of journalism’ and warned that it would damage the good work of internationally-reputed NGOs.  He accused the press of not showing similar interest in the Sinhala encroachment of Maduru Oya.  Devanayagam was at that time engaged in a battle with his own government to protect his own electorate, Kalkudah, from being colonized by the Sinhalese.  The Maduru Oya project falls within the Kalkudah electorate.

Gamini Dissanayake took up the battle directly and indirectly with the two Tamil ministers.  He was hard on Thondaman because he was his rival in the Nuwara Eliya electorate.  He charged that Thondaman was only interested in the wellbeing of his people and not in national security.  He said the unauthorized settlements in Vavuniya and the Batticaloa districts were covers for ‘terrorist training grounds.’  He added that youths of plantation families were being trained as terrorists.

To answer Devanayagam Dissanayake sought the assistance of his friends in the Sun.  The paper carried a story the next day, 19 October, saying that the people who tried to occupy the Maduru Oya settlements were Sri Lankan nationals who paid taxes.  It said the Tamils who were settled in Vavuniya were stateless people.  It tried to justify the Maduru Oya invasion by propounding a new theory that Sinhala citizens had the right to encroach on state land!

Jayewardene was not bothered about the opposition from his Tamil ministers.  He continued with his plan.  In late October he entrusted the task of making contact with the Israelis to his son Ravi, paving the way for the visit of President Reagan’s roving ambassador Vernon Walters.

Walters arrived in Colombo on 7 November evening and held a lengthy discussion with President Jayewardene over lunch the next noon, 8 November 1983, about military assistance.  Lalith Athulathmudali and Ravi Jayewardene were present.  Parthasarathy arrived on 7 November morning on Jayewardene’s invitation and held a lengthy discussion with him about a political solution.  With Walters, Jayawardene discussed ways and means of obtaining Israeli arms and military expertise to defeat the Tamil revolt.  With Parthasarathy, he discussed strengthening the powers of the District Councils, which he had offered the Tamils as the basis for a political solution.  Parthasarathy at this meeting pressed Jayawardene to agree to the merger of two or more District Councils.  Discussing peace the first day and preparing for war the next day, ENLF spokesman Balakumar told the media in Chennai on 9 November, showed Jayewardene’s ‘sincerity.’  “How can we trust a person like that?” he asked.

In Colombo the same evening, Walters evaded answering questions asked by the media about the substance of his talks with Jayewardene.  But he took a swipe at Parthasarathy and the Indian peace effort when he said Sri Lanka was capable of solving her problems and President Jayewardene had “all cylinders firing.”  He also dodged the question whether he discussed Trincomalee harbour with Jayewardene, saying he would not go anywhere near Trincomalee.  Instead, he volunteered, that he, being a ‘history buff,’ visited Kandy.

It was later revealed that Walters did discuss Trincomalee with Jayewardene and obtained his signature on the Voice of America Agreement, the text of which he had brought with him. He had also obtained Jayewardene’s agreement for full diplomatic recognition of Israel.

Encouraged by the shift in the stance in the US’ Sri Lanka policy Jayewardene took action to put his military option into operation. He sent Cabinet Secretary G. V. P. Samarasinghe to a secret destination in Europe to meet top Israeli officials to work out the details about signing an agreement to obtain the services of Israeli intelligence officers.  The agreement was signed later that month in New York during the UN General Assembly Sessions.

Implementation of the agreement with Israel ran into difficulties.  Muslim ministers M. H. Mohammed and Sahul Hameed opposed the agreement when Jayewardene informed the cabinet about it in January.  Muslims launched an agitation against the diplomatic recognition of Israel.  Saudi Arabia and Kuwait suspended their funding for the downstream development of the Mahaweli Project.  India also signified its strong opposition.  Jayewardene was able to bulldoze the local Muslim opposition, but not that of India and the Muslim countries.  He backed out of the promise to accord Israel full diplomatic recognition.  After much haggling, he permitted Israel to open an Interest Section in the American embassy in Colombo.

The Israeli Interest Section was opened in May 1984.  David Matnai was appointed the first head.  In August 1984 six intelligence officers from the Israeli intelligence service MOSSAD came to Sri Lanka to establish a new intelligence network against the Tamils.

Mathew’s Efforts

While Jayewardene and his men were busy doing the spadework to destroy the basis of the Tamil homeland, Cyril Mathew, Minister of Industries and Scientific Affairs, another of Jayewardene’s creations, intensified his efforts to turn the NorthEast into a Buddhist homeland.  A group of rabid intellectuals mainly from the middle level castes badhu (Mathew’s caste) and karawas were busy discovering the ruins of Buddhist temples and restoring them and settling Sinhala Buddhist families around them.  They conveniently hid the well-established fact that those ruins were that of the Buddhist temples of the Tamils.  The Eastern coastal belt of Tamil Nadu was Buddhist from Asokan times till the end of Chola period in the 13th Century.  And eastern Sri Lanka fell under the influence of Tamil Buddhists.  The influence of Tamil Buddhism was present even in the courts of the Anuradhapura kings.  The Mahawamsa had recorded several instances of clashes between Sinhala Buddhist monks and Tamil Buddhist monks, referred to mostly as Chola Buddhist monks.

Buddha, 14-15th century, Pattisvaram, India, in Rajaraja Museum, Thanjavur

Pali being the language of Buddhist scriptures and inscriptions, it was easy for Sinhala Buddhist chauvinists to claim Tamil Buddhist inscriptions as belonging to Sinhala Buddhists.  The contribution of Tamil Buddhists to the growth and enrichment of the Sinhala language, especially the development of its grammar was great.  The influence of the standard work on Tamil grammar Virasolium written by a Tamil Buddhist monk is unmistakably found in the works on Sinhala grammar.

The revival of Saivaism (the Hindu sect that worships Siva) during and after the Chola period resulted in the neglect and destruction of Tamil Buddhist temples and the building of Saivaite temples in their place or premises.  Mathew and his men made a big fuss of this.  They accused the Tamils of wanton destruction of ancient Buddhist temples by Tamil Hindus and used state funds to destroy Hindu temples and restore the Buddhist temples.  They established Sinhalese settlements around the restored Buddhist temples.

Mathew’s campaign backed by Sinhala media gave the ethnic dispute – a Sinhala-Tamil row- a religious dimension.  It turned the dispute into a Buddhist – Hindu clash.  The Sinhala media built a major story out of the trimming of a bo-tree and of how it was done by a Tamil.  The story was often blown up as a Tamil terrorist act of desecration.

The search for Buddhist ruins was the political treasure hunt of that period. That gave another ‘proof’ for Sinhala nationalist to ‘establish’ that the eastern province was the cradle of ancient Sinhala Buddhist civilization.  I feel sad that none of the Sinhala leaders or journalists gave thought about the effect their actions would have on Tamil Hindus.

Tamils were aware of the Sinhala Buddhist strategy.  They were paid.  They were angry.  They were helpless.  The report I give below appeared in the Saturday Review of August 1982.  It reflects the Tamil Hindu sentiments.  And when Pirapaharan led the resistance, they welcomed him.  The Saturday Review report:

Kuranthan Malai is a quiet peaceful spot in Tamil-populated Mullaitivu with ruins of both Hindu and Buddhist places of worship.  It will soon house an exclusive Buddhist vihare and temple and a Sinhala settlement, according to plans drawn up by officials working under the Ministry of Industries and Scientific Affairs.

An ex-Director of a Public Corporation under the Ministry who was also a leading member of the UNP Trade Union – the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya- is spearheading the implementation of the project. He is assisted by several army personnel.

Several employees of the Ceramics Corporation and the Tile factory of Oddichuddan 20 miles away, have been enlisted to help the implementation of the project.  Vehicles and the resources of the corporation which come under the Ministry of Industry are being used for this project.

Hindu statues found in the site have been taken away in Army vehicles, according to the local villagers, as far back as November last year.  Kurunthan Malai situated in the Nagancholai Forest Reserve has long been held in veneration by the Vanni Tamils as the dwelling place of the guardian deity, Kurandoor Aiyanar.  The building of a Buddhist vihare at the site began several months ago, and some employees of the Tile factory have been engaged in this, with orders apparently to do it unobtrusively without attracting public attention to the building activity.

Following this, some local inhabitants had put up a hut and installed a “Choolam” (trident) on the spot, but Army personnel from the Mullaitivu camp had demolished the hut, thrown away the “Choolam”, chased away some of the Tamil families in the area and had taken away some of the youths in the area for questioning.  Since then, a new road has been built through the Nagancholai Forest Reserve, to facilitate accessibility to this site from Oddichuddan.

Three major consequences flow from this move, quite apparently initiated by the Ministry of Industries:

(1) Archaeological sites are being damaged irrevocably, preventing any genuine archaeological research on them in the future; (2) Tamils who have lived in the area for generations are being displaced by new Sinhala colonists. (3) Hindu religious sites are being furtively desecrated thus preventing identification of such sites in the future.

But what seems to be the most vicious attempt – an attempt which might well succeed in the present political circumstances – is a grand strategy to destroy the contiguity of Tamil populations of the Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and the Trincomalee districts.

The Padaviya Sinhala colonies are expanding eastwards in an attempt to connect with the Kokkilai Lagoon area.  It is believed that with the pressures from the Mullaitivu Army camp on the northeast, the Tile factory of the Ministry of Industries at Oddichuddan on the North-west – two powerful repositories of State power – a spill over from the Padaviya settlements is bound to occur, as it has been in other instances in the past.

When that happens, the Tamils in three districts will be effectively cut off from each other, thereby not only losing a slice of their traditional homeland but weakened to a position where they cannot withstand further incursions in times to come….

Mathew used the funds, human and material resources of his ministry, the Ministry of Industries and Scientific Affairs, and the corporations that came under it for his campaign to identify the northern and eastern provinces as ancient Buddhist territory.  But Jayewardene’s massive scheme to build armed border villages needed huge investments and maintenance facilities.  The July 1983 riots had upset the government finances.  The Treasury was virtually bankrupt.  Attempts were made to obtain World Bank funding by showing the settlements as a project to manage social unrest in the south by settling a section of the landless peasants in northeastern Weli Oya.

(A typo on the map has Manal Aru written as Manu Aru)

I was aware of the preparation of a project proposal for that purpose.  The services of two Israeli agriculture experts were employed to modify System L of the Mahaweli Scheme into a dry zone agriculture project for the planting of cash crops like cadju and ‘wonder bean.’  One of the experts was a Professor of Agriculture from Jerusalem University.  The other was an agriculture expert involved in the cultivation of the ‘miracle bean’ (jojoba) in Israel’s Negev desert.  The attempt failed due to the unexpected attack on the Kent and Dollar farms by the LTTE on 30 November 1984.

The attack on the Kent and Dollar farms is another story and I have already related the basic facts in Chapter 23.  Lalith Athulathmudali was appointed Minister of National Security on 24 March 1984.  He took over the task of implementing the task given to JSSOP.  He visited Mankulam in the first week of May.  He went with Vavuniya Superintendent of Police Arthur Herath to the areas where plantation Tamils were settled.  I went with the press party.  He visited Kent and Dollar farms, two of the several farms developed by Tamil entrepreneurs.  Within three months of that visit the inhabitants of these farms were evicted.

Ravi Jayewardene and his group had also become active in “protecting the border” by this time.  Ravi Jayewardene visited Israel during 21 June to 1 July.  He visited all the border areas of Israel.  He looked at the Israeli armed settlements in the West Bank.  He studied the strategies Israelis used to establish those settlements and the arming of the settlers to protect themselves from attacks by the Palestinian armed groups.

According to a report published in the Saturday Review a crash land settlement program was launched on the Israeli model in the area north of Padaviya soon after Ravi Jayewardene’s return from Israel.  In August 1984, in accordance with a decision taken at a high-level conference in Colombo, the area, which had under the Vavuniya district was attached to the Sinhala majority Anuradhapura district.  The administration of the area was brought under JSSOP and the region declared a no-go zone for Tamils.

The region was also renamed Weli Oya.  It was not a new name.  It was the Sinhala translation of the Tamil name Manal Aaru.  Manal or meaning sand was translated to weli.  Aaru meaning river was translated to oya.

In the first week of October 1984 Sinhalese government officials and army personnel visited the Tamil settlements in the area and threatened the Indian Tamil settlers to leave.  Soldiers assaulted the settlers who resisted.  They destroyed their crops and damaged their huts.  The Tamil families occupying Dollar and Kent farms were also driven away.

The two farms were taken over by a gazette notification issued on 6 October 1984 and were declared an open-air prison.  Lalith Athulathmudali told the media the next week the Open Air Prison Scheme, which had not been in operation for some time due to the lack of land would be revived.  He spoke highly about the innovate reformation scheme former Prisons Commissioner J. P. Delgoda had introduced.  The scheme was to settle prisoners with a record of good conduct on state land with their families and provide them employment.  The program had been abandoned because the Prison Department had not been able to obtain fresh land to continue. Athulathmudali said Kent and Dollar farms had been cleared of illegal encroachers and the property would be used to reunite 150 prisoners with their families.

Sri Lankan commandos

Tamils saw through the scheme.  They saw it as a Sinhala intrusion into the Tamil heartland.  TULF leader Amirthalingam, who was in Colombo to attend the All Party Conference, reacted with anger.  He told the BBC Tamil Service, “We would have welcomed the Open Air Prison Scheme if the prisoners were settled somewhere in the south.  Here it is being used as a cover to hide naked Sinhala colonization of the Tamil homeland.”

Thondaman was also angry.  He issued a statement condemning the eviction of innocent Tamil civilians.  He recorded his protest at a cabinet meeting.

Tamil anger was widespread.  “This is pure and simple aggression,” EROS chief Balakumar said in a statement issued in Chennai.  Other Tamil militant groups also issued angry statements.  But Pirapaharan was quiet.  He trained his fighters to give an armed reply.

A TULF delegation led by Amirthalingam and Sivasithamparam met with Jayewardene and Athulathmudali on 13 November 1984 and protested against the government action.  They urged Jayewardene to drop the program.  They informed them that the Tamils were feeling hurt.  The TULF’s standing among the Tamils was being eroded, they complained.  “They are asking us: Why are you talking to these people?” Amirthalingam told President Jayewardene.

The TULF followed up the meeting with a strongly worded letter.  In that they informed President Jayewardene that prisoners and jail guards who had been moved into the Kent and Dollar farms were harassing the people in the neighbouring villages.  They pointed out that the prisoners were indulging in thefts, robbery and rape.  Specific instances of rape were also pointed out.

Jayewardene ignored the TULF pleas.  And his ministers increased the Tamil fury further with the announcement that 1,000 houses would be constructed along the Mullaitivu coast to settle Sinhala fisher families.  Kokkilai and Nayaru were the fishing villages where the majority of the houses would be built, Fisheries Minister Festus Perera said.

The government’s scheme became very clear with Festus Perera’s announcement.  Through the Weli Oya scheme, the government wanted to grab the agricultural and forest wealth of the Tamil people.  Through the fishing villages network it wanted to gobble the wealth of the ocean adjoining the Tamil areas.

The Armed Reply

And on 30 November 1984, Pirapaharan delivered the armed answer.  About 50 specially trained fighters armed with automatic weapons and grenades sped in two buses to the Kent and Dollar farms.  One group attacked the Kent Farm and the other the Dollar Farm.  They killed 29 in the Kent Farm and 33 in the Dollar Farm, a total of 62 civilians, including three prison guards.

Next night, 1 December, LTTE fighters, led by Captain Lawrence, hijacked the Elf passenger van that plies twice daily to Kokkilai and drove into that fishing village.  The time was around 6.30 pm.  Some fishermen were standing in groups and talking among themselves.  Wives with children joined their husbands in some groups.  LTTE fighters fired at them indiscriminately.  Manuel Anthony, his wife and their nine-year-old son were in one group.  Anthony was hit.  He collapsed and died.  His son was also hit.  His wife picked up her son and ran to a boat. The boy died in the boat.  In all 13 were killed and four injured. The Tiger fighters then set off for Nayaru, 15 kilometers away, in the same Elf van.

They reached Nayaru around 8.30 pm.  They drove straight to Magailin Costa’s grocery shop firing their automatic weapons.  Magilin was the leader of the thugs of the village and a terror to the Tamils.  The fighters jumped off the van opposite the shop and flung a hand grenade into it.  They searched for Magalin, but she had run away.  They shot her daughters Mary Theresa and Mary Margaret.  Four were killed and two injured.

At Kokkilai, the people ran towards the sea and hid themselves behind or inside the boats.  They came back, according to the evidence led at the inquest proceedings, around midnight.  Some of them walked six kilometers south to Pulmoddai in the Trincomalee district to report the incident to the army.  The army patrol that rushed to the area was ambushed by the Tigers.  They set off landmines and blasted culverts.

At Nayaru, the people fled into the jungle from where the army fetched them the next morning.  The injured from both incidents were transported to Anuradhapura and Kurunegala hospitals.

Kokkilai and Nayaru form the northernmost points in the string of Sinhala fishermen’s settlements established along the coast from Trincomalee to Mullaitivu.  Most of the fishing families were from Negombo and Chilaw.

I gave a detailed account of this civilian killing by the LTTE, listed as the first Tamil massacre of Sinhala civilians, even in the government-compiled documents (see Massacres of Civilians presented to Parliament by Deputy Minister for Defence Anuruddha Ratwatte on 6 February 1996. It is a document which lists incidents in which nearly 2,900 mostly Sinhalese civilians were killed during the period 1984 to 1996), and the reaction of Thondaman, one of the two Tamil ministers in the Jayewardene cabinet, in Chapter 23.  I am repeating these events for two reasons.  Firstly, to record the events in their sequence and context and secondly, and more importantly, to record the Tamil reaction to the massacre.

Thondaman welcomed the killing.  So did every other Tamil I know of.  They did not view that as the killing of innocent civilians.  They viewed the murder as the riddance of the torturers of innocent Tamil civilians.  More importantly, they viewed it as a fitting reply to Jayewardene, Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake, Ravi Jayewardene and their ilk.

The Dollar and Kent farm killings fortressed, psychologically, the growing conviction among the Tamils that they constitute a different nation.  They have to stand up to the Sinhalese if they are to survive as a people.  And, Pirapaharan is the only person who can do that.

Index to previous chapters

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Chapter 41. The Massacres

 

முல்லைத் தீவில் திட்டமிட்ட சிங்களக் குடியேற்றங்கள்  தொடக்கம்

ஒரு புறத்தில் ராஜபக்ச சமூகவிரோத ஆட்சியாளர்கள் மர்ம மனிதர்கள் என்ற போர்வையில் மக்களை தொடர்ச்சியான அச்சத்திற்கு உள்ளாக்கி வருகின்றனர். மக்களின் தன்னெழுச்சியான போராட்டங்களைத் தலைமை தாங்க வாக்குப் பொறுக்கும் கட்சிகள் தயாராகவில்லை. போராட்டங்களை திசைதிருப்பிப் பேச்சுவார்த்தை, சமாதானத் தீர்வு என்று மழுங்கடிக்க முனைகின்றனர். இதன் மறு புறத்தில் பேரினவாத அரசு திட்டமிட்ட சிங்களக் குடியேற்றங்களை மேற்கொண்டு வருகின்றது. முல்லைத் தீவில் புதிய திட்டமிட்ட சிங்களக் குடியேற்றங்களையும் அதற்கான நிர்வாக அலகையும் இல்ங்கை அரசு தயார் செய்து வருகின்றது. எவ்வித எதிர்ப்புமின்றி இக் குடியேற்றங்கள் நிறைவேற்றப்படும் நிலையிலேயே காணப்படுகின்றது.

குடியேற்றப்படும் சிங்கள மக்களுக்கான அரச அதிபர் பிரிவு உருவாக்கப்பட்டு வருகின்றது.

முல்லைத்தீவு மாவட்டத்தில் அமையப்போகும் உதவி அரசாங்க அதிபர் பிரிவிற்கான எல்லையை நிர்ணயம் செய்யும் பணியினை அனுராதபுரம் மாவட்ட அரசாங்க அதிபர் பணிமனை மேற்கொண்டுள்ளதாகத் தெரிகிறது. புதிதாக அமையவிருக்கும் உதவி அரசாங்க அதிபர் பணிமனைக்கு வெளிஓயா பிரதேசம் மட்டும் போதாது. எனவே, மேற்கொண்டு சில தமிழ் கிராமங்களும் முல்லைத்தீவின் கரைதுறைப்பற்று உதவி அரசாங்க அதிபர் பிரிவிலிருந்து பிரித்தெடுக்கப்பட்டு புதிய அலுவலகத்துடன் சேர்க்கப்படவிருப்பதாகத் தெரியவருகிறது. குறிப்பாக கொக்குளாய் கிழக்கு மேற்கு, கருநாட்டுக்கேணி, கொக்குத்தொடுவாய் கிழக்கு, மேற்கு, மத்தி, வடக்கு, நித்தியாகுளம், குமுளமுனை, முந்திரிகைகுளம், தண்ணீர்முறிப்புகுளம், கடற்கரை எல்லைப் பிரதேசம், தென்னமரமாவடி, டொலர் பண்ணை, கென்பண்ணை போன்ற பல பூர்வீக கிராமங்கள் புதிதாக அமையவுள்ள சிங்கள பிரதேச செயலகத்துடன் இணைக்கப்படவுள்ளது. இது அப்பட்டமான தமிழரின் நில அபகரிப்பு நடவடிக்கையாகும்.

மக்களின் அவல நிலை குறித்தும், சிங்களக் குடியேற்றங்கள் இனச்சுத்திகரிப்பை அடிப்படையாக கொண்டது என்பது குறித்தும் இலங்கை தழுவிய விழிப்புணர்வை ஏற்படுத்த வேண்டும். இலங்கையில் சூறையாடப்படும் மக்களின் அவலங்களை வெளிக்கொண்டுவரும் போர்க்குணம் மிக்க புதிய அரசியல் தலைமை அவசியமானது.

 

 

About editor 1221 Articles
Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist

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