Archive for August 2009
SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem’s reply to Eastern Province Governor’s Statement on resettlement of Muslim familie
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem MP wishes to clarify the true situation with regard to the resettlement of Muslim families in Upparu village, Verugal, Trincomalee district.
The denial of the Governor is unfounded because eighty families were taken to and resettled in Upparu, Verugal on August 13 by Minister Najeeb A Majeed, the Divisional Secretary for Verugal in Eechchalampattu and a local Hindu priest. This was reported in the media with photos in which the Minister and others are appearing. We believe the “Governor was not given the true picture on this resettlement by certain arrogant and high handed government officials. When I raised the question of their eviction on August 18 after resettlement, Minister Najeeb told me of the efforts he made to resettle them and said the problem would be sorted out soon.
We possess documentary evidence to establish that the families had lived in Upparu for generations. They are in possession of copies of complaints lodged with the police on their forcible eviction in 1990, ICs issued by the security forces. There are records in the seruwila Divisional secretariat, Serunuwara about their domicile in the village which earlier came under the Seruwila Division.
We are also in possession of copy of a letter the Divisional Secretary Seruwila (Serunuwara) wrote on 15/10/2008 to the District Secretary Maj. Gen. T. T. Ranjith De Silva requesting permission for these families to cultivate their lands abandoned after 1987 and the Dist. Secretary had endorsed it with a comment that they be allowed if they possessed the deeds/permits. Consequently, the Divisional secretary had made a minute to the Commanding Officer, Thoppur that the families then living in Selvanagar would have to be resettled in their original village Upparu on 01/11/2008.
We understand that the village has been brought under the Administration of the Verugal Divisional Secretariat, Eechchilampattu. The then SLMC Parliamentarian for Trincomalee M. S. Thowfeek had protested against the decision to bring the Upparu village under proposed Verugal Pradesheya Sabha and insisted that consent of the people of the village should be obtained beforehand. He expressed his protest at the Trincomalee Kachcheri before a special Commission that was to submit a report on creating a new Divisional Secretariat.
We are also in possession of memos issued by the assistant Land Commissioner Trincomalee nominating chairmen for –lands of those who had died in Upparu Grama Sevaka Division.
On August 17-18 the resettled families were chased away without even being allowed to eat the meals they had cooked and their makeshift huts were demolished by the police on a complaint made by the Divisional secretary stating that they did not belong to the village. The inhuman and atrocious displacement of the families just a few days after their resettlement has once again reduced them to the state of helpless IDPs.
These, we believe, are authentic documents to establish the fact that they are original settlers of Upparu village and not encroachers as claimed by the misinformed Eastern Province Governor. The villagers are in possession of more documents to prove their claim.
We request the Government to take immediate steps to remedy the injustice done to these innocent families and to counter allegations that organized efforts are underway to change the demographic composition of the eastern province.
Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa called on the Muslim community to place trust in him as he is their friend and relative said while addressing a highly attended National Congress Party meeting which was held in Akkaraipattu on last Saturday.
President Rajapaksa stressed that the East is cleared from the LTTE and a Provincial Council for the province was set up for easy administration process and now, the time has come to convert those military victories and political changes for a meaningful freedom.
He, speaking in Tamil for a while, said that a background has been created to forget political rivalries. Further, he added that ineffective institutions and misinformation should not be allowed to drive innocent people for disasters reiterating that the word minorities is no more in the vocabulary and it should not be given a least chance for ethnicity issues reins the politics of the country.
National Congress Leader Minister A.L.M. Athaulla addressing in the public meeting said that the pledges given by the President before the Presidential election have now been almost fulfilled.
He further said that massive developments projects are under way to make their lifestyles easy. The National Congress Leader also presented a memento to the President on behalf of the Eastern fraternity for liberating the country from terrorism.
Social Service and Social Welfare Minister Douglas Devananda and Labour Minister Mervyn Silva and Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan and several other politicians were also among those present on the occasion.
Akkaraipattu is in the Ampara district and located along the eastern coast of the Island.
– Asian Tribune –
The All Ceylon Muslim Congress which contested the last Jaffna Municipal election, as one of the constituent parties of the ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance, demands the Deputy Mayor slot to one of their candidates.
Jaffna Municipal election, held on last 8th August, UPFA won 13 seats and out of those, 4 seats belong to All Ceylon Muslim Congress.
Speaking to Asian Tribune, Y.L.S. Hameed , Secretary General of the All Ceylon Muslim Congress said as Tamil speaking Muslims, the Deputy Mayor position has to be allotted to us. He said that they were only allotted with 4 candidates to contest in the Municipal election and all their candidates won handsomely.
He added that there were earlier numerous instances where Muslims were Mayor as well as Deputy Mayors of the Jaffna Municipality.
He said, in fact if the Tamils wish to embrace the Tamil speaking Muslims, then they have to seriously consider our genuine aspiration.
It was in 1990 October, Muslims of the Jaffna were driven out of the district on the diktat of terrorists’ leader Prabhakaran. A total of more than 100,000 Muslims were driven out of the Northern Province and all of us are still languishing as refugees in the Puttalam districts, Hameed said.
Hameed further emphasized that majority of the Muslims were earlier resident in the Jaffna Municipal area.
“We had our own Muslim Maha Vidyalaya, mosques and other Muslim cultural centers within the Jaffna Municipal limits. Therefore, we Muslims have to return with honor and dignity. This will be only possible in case the Tamils of Jaffna come forward to offer the Muslims the position of the deputy mayor and display friendship and brotherly affections towards the Muslims, Hameed pointed out.
Secretary General of the All Ceylon Muslim Congress told Asian Tribune that already they have made representation regarding the position of the Deputy Mayor with the EPDP leader Minister Douglas Devananda, Sri Lanka President’s Senior Advisor Basil Rajapaksa MP and also to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa and awaiting for their responses.
– Asian Tribune –
A surge in tourist traffic from the oil rich Arabian countries has offered new hope of opening up a relatively non-traditional yet lucrative front of high spending visitors to boost Sri Lanka’s battered hospitality industry.
The restoration of peace in the country has seen the volume of tourists from countries in the Middle East grow steadily as the war with the now defunct LTTE had largely kept away these affluent travelers from that part of the globe, a senior industry official said last week.
“Yes, we had scores of Arabs visiting Sri Lanka over the past few weeks”, says Tourism Ministry Secretary George Michael.
These visitors came from many Gulf States, including Dubai and Iran, he noted. “These were the high spending segment of tourists”.
Asked whether he could offer a figure on arrivals, Michael said the number of Arabian visitors was considerable, but the statistics are still being worked out.
“We have already had an encouraging response from the Middle East”, he pointed out. “This goes a long way to give an impetus to the tourism industry”
The Arabs had fanned out visiting many places of interest in various parts of Sri Lanka. As high-spenders they found accommodation in some of the best hotels”.
“Sure, we had a full house with large groups of Arabian tourists descending on Nuwara Eliya”, said Palaka Perera, the General Manager of the legendary Grand Hotel.
These visitors spend more on life and living as they travel with their families and seek the best of comforts, he pointed out. “We should develop the Middle East market as they are high spenders”.
The Arabs made a bee-line to salubrious climes in the central highlands at a time Nuwara Eliya was in full swing with the ongoing “mini season”, which coincides with the August school vacation.
All the key hotels got their fair share as the scores of Arabian tourists needed to be comfortably accommodated, the Grand Hotel GM said. “So, it was beneficial all around”.
The visitors from the Middle East enjoyed the cold weather so much that they were seen stretching out on the lawn and didn’t budge even when there was a thin drizzle, another hotelier said.
“It was interesting to see the women seated under umbrellas beside the men enjoying the cold weather and the rain”, he said.
With scores of local merry-makers also streaming in to have fun, this fascinating tourist destination in the hills, aptly dubbed “Little England”, saw record crowds, he noted. “It was a welcome change”.
Muslim refugees who went on a fact finding mission to their deserted village called Uppooral at Eachchilampattai DS division in Trincomalee district were chased out by natives of this area with the connivance of officials of the Divisional Secretariat. These Muslim refugees have been living in Uppooral, since 1888 and some of them have land title deeds dated 1933.
According to another source, 81 Muslim refugee families were taken on 13th of this month to be resettled in their original village Uppooral which they abandoned two decades back due to terrorism. This move was facilitated by Minister of Co-operatives and MP for Trinco Mr. Najeeb A Majeed. However, this resettlement program was not properly coordinated by civil and defense authorities. As a result the returned refugees were asked to return to their refugee camps.
The disappointed refugees were assured that they would be resettled soon with properly coordinated resettlement plan. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem also criticized the manner in which this resettlement was handled at a press conference held in Colombo.
“It is clear from this issue that there are Muslim refugees awaiting resettlement not only in North for the last 19 years but also in the East. Forcibly evicted Muslims from the North and the Muslims IDPs in the East need equal attention by the govt. All attention is focused on recent IDPs in Vanni. It is high time all refugees are treated equally”, lamented a dejected refugee.
Eastern Province Governor Mohan Wijewickrema responding to allegations made by SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem at a press conference recently that 70 displaced Muslim families who had been resettled in Verugal had been chased out, said a misrepresentation of facts had occurred.
The response stated:
a) As reported no families referred in your News Papers were resettled in the Verugal DS Division by the Divisional Secretary or by any person from the District Administration.
b) None of the Divisional Secretary, District Secretary or the Ministry of Re-Settlement has approved the re-settlement of the said families in Verugal DS Division as yet.
c) The said families who had come to settle without ‘proper approval were living in Selvanagar and Thoppur villages in the Serunuwara and Muthur DS Divisions respectively in the Trincomalee District. It is not correct to conclude that these families had become helpless without a place to live when they were not permitted to settle in Verugal.
d) The Muslim families referred however claim that they have been residing in the referred area before they were displaced. This matter is being further investigated by the District Administration and by a Parliament Advisory Committee which has been set up for this purpose.
After the liberation of the Eastern Province, approximately over two hundred thousand (200,000) Internally Displaced Persons were resettled in their own lands. There had been few instances of some people trying to illegally encroach in the guise of resettled people. District Secretaries and Division Secretaries with the assistance of the Police have taken necessary action to evict such persons whenever such instances were found. In a Province which have the three Major Communities living side by side, land has become a very sensitive issue and arbitrary resettlement such as the one which has been referred in Verugal cannot be permitted without satisfying all criteria required for eligibility for resettlement.
When re-settling of displaced persons in the east, the authorities do not act as per the race or religion only by their status as Internally Displaced Persons.
Techno 2009’ exhibition, one of the foremost exhibitions in the field of Engineering and Technology will be held from October 9-11 at the BMICH.
This exhibition is organized by The Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka for the 24th consecutive year.
This exhibition will showcase multi-faceted talents and skills in the fields of engineering.
Exhibition will comprise the IESL Engineering Pavilion, a robot competition organized by the IESL’s IT Sectional Committee, and others.