The Sri Lankan State is accelerating Sinhala colonization with the aim of permanently wedging the demographic contiguity of the northern and eastern provinces at Kokkuth-thoduvaay, a strategic village situated in Mullaiththeevu district. “Nobody has listened to our repeated pleas for freeing our lands. We went from divisional offices to SL president placing our appeals. We have also done our maximum in mobilising against the demographic genocide,” says civic member K. Sivalokeswaran from Kokkuth-thoduvaay North. Now, the Eezham Tamils, who have resettled in the village are stricken by poverty, similar to what the world has witnessed in Somalia, he says. All the agricultural lands owned by Tamils have been appropriated. The residential areas where Tamils managed to resettle are also being appropriated by Colombo, he says.
Mr Sivalokeswaran is the only elected Tamil member of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at the civic body of Seru-nuwara of the Trincomalee district in the Eastern Province. He hails from Kokkuth-thoduvaay in the Northern Province. Sivlokeswaran narrated the situation Sinhala colonisation and demographic-genocide taking place at the strategic link.
The location of Kokkuth-thoduvaay village and Kokku’laay lagoon. [Satellite map courtesy – Google Earth]
The Tamil villagers were uprooted from their native village for the first time on 23 December 1984 when the occupying SL military seized it. Some of them resettled in 2011 after thirty years of displacement.
Eezham Tamils who returned to their village got some of their residential lands back. But, the Sinhala colonialists had appropriated all the agricultural and farming lands that were owned by Eezham Tamils.
For 30 years, the Eezham Tamils had been blocked from accessing their village, which the SL military claimed as a High Security Zone. However, the Sinhala settlers had been brought in large numbers by the Colombo government providing lands to them under the SL military occupation.
The Sri Lankan State-sponsored Sinhala colonisation has been taking place from the times of former SL presidents J.R. Jeyawardene and R. Premadasa. The process is now being accelerated under the regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The names of the farming lands of Eezham Tamils and the irrigation tanks have been Sinhalicised into Kirikkabeta, Janakapura, Sinhapura and so on.
The Tamil names Munthirikai-ku’lam, Aamaiyan-ku’lam, Adaiyak-ka’ruththaan, Ka’n’naaddi-ve’li and Eringcha-kaadu are no more, even in the official records.
Tamils are now limited to only three villages. Despite the demographic genocide, more than thousand Tamil families had managed to return to the three villages of Kokkuth-thoduvaay, Karunaadduk-kea’ni and Kokku’laay.
In Kokkuththoduvaay alone, there are 167 families in the Northern GS area, 145 families in the Central GS area and 100 families in the Southern GS area.
Before displacement, the livelihood of the people was mainly agriculture. Now, deprived from resuming the agriculture, most of them have become fishermen.
Even during the times of Srimao Bandaranaike, some of the Tamil farmers numbering around 100 families were given land deeds and permits for agricultural lands.
Now, the SL authorities reject these papers. They say that these documents are not valid anymore, Sivalokeswaran told TamilNet. The lands have all come under the ‘development’ scheme of Mahaweli, the SL authorities say.
Further, Colombo is also appropriating residential lands of Eezham Tamils.
“25 Sinhala businessmen from South are given 500 acres of lands at the heart of our residential area in Kokkuth-thoduvaay Centre. Jungles have been cleared for farming near Koaddaik-kea’ni Pi’l’laiyar temple,” Sivalokeswaran said.
“We fear that we will permanently lose our village and get absorbed by the on-going Sinhalicisation.”
When the Tamil families came back in 2011, resettlement assistance was promised for 6 months. But, the people only got it for 5 months, the civic member complained.
Tamils are neglected on all fronts. 25,000 rupees allocated by the UNHCR are yet to reach a section of resettling Tamils. “But, the Sinhala settlers in Weli-Oya are provided dry rations continuously for one year. We have documentary evidence to prove this,” Sivalokeswaran said.
Tamils are only opposing the State and military sponsored colonisation schemes of the Sinhalese in the lands appropriated from Tamils.
“At the same time, the poverty rate has become worse than Somalia among the resettled Eezham Tamils at Kokkuth-thoduvaay,” the civic member said.
The Sinhala settlers who cut the Theakku (Teak) trees that constitute the jungles, for example near Aiyanaar Koayil in Mu’l’liyava’lai on Odduchuddaan Road. Causing destruction to the environment in North, the settlers transport the trees to the South.
But, when the resettling Tamils, who have no roof, cut one or two trees to construct their houses being constructed under the housing scheme provided by India, the Tamils are immediately jailed for two weeks. They get released only after getting slapped huge sums of fines, ranging from 50,000 rupees to 200,000 rupees, Mr Sivalokeswaran further said.