Mar 20 2007
A group of anti-war and human rights activists in Sri Lanka has alleged that the government is using the on-going military operations against the LTTE in the East to lessen the number of Tamil-speaking people vis-a vis the Sinhalas there.
Addressing the media under the auspices of the multi-party Anti-War Front (AWF) here on Monday, the veteran leftist leader Vasudeva Nanayakkara warned that the move to bring about demographic changes in the East would be “disastrous” as it would take the ethnic conflict to a “dangerous terrain” and further internationalise it.
He recalled that the Tamil-Sinhala problem began in the early decades of Sri Lanka’s independence because the governments at the time implemented schemes to colonise the predominantly Tamil-speaking East with Sinhalas from outside.
The Tamils saw this as a deliberate move to reduce their strength vis-à-vis the Sinhalas, and weaken them politically.
Eventually, Tamil resentment took the form of an internationally supported armed movement for separation, terrorism and war.
“The demographic changes planned are aimed at destroying the Tamil identity and Tamil nationality. This is genocide,” said the Nava Sama Samaj Party leader Dr Wikramabahu Karunaratne.
Suresh Premachandran of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said that the main aim of the incessant shelling in Batticalao district was to displace the Tamils and not to fight the LTTE.
“Lakhs of Tamils have been displaced, but the LTTE is still there,” he said.
The complaint about a bid to change the ethnic ratio in the East has arisen following reports that the government is not going to resettle Tamils in the recently captured Sampur, and is forcing refugees from Vaharai to go to other places.
The government says that Sampur is going to be a High Security Zone. Moreover, there are 348 Sinhala claimants to land there, which it says, were appropriated by the LTTE and handed over to the Tamils illegally.