Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A FIFTEEN YEARS OF AGONY




By Syed Bazeer

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"It is 15 years today since the entire Muslims in the Northern Province were “ethnically cleansed” by the LTTE from their historical habitat. The systematic ethnic cleansing of about 75,000 Muslims form the Northern provinces in Sri Lanka was part of the LTTE’s mono ethnic Eelam project. The people who had lived for centuries in the Northern provinces were ruthlessly up rooted from their lands and chased out of the boarders of the Northern Province within 48 hours only for the reason that they were not Tamils.
On the 30th of October 1990 the LTTE forcibly evicted every single Muslim irrespective of their age or gender and expropriated their belongings. No mercy was shown on their elders, children and women. The Tamils of the Northern Province stood voiceless and helpless when their Muslim brothers and sisters were evicted from their settlements at gun point by the LTTE." 


                                            http://www.asiantribune.com/show_news.php?id=15971

Published in the Asian Tribune: 29/10/2005 
  

A fifteen years of agony : Ethnic cleansing


 Seyed Bazeer


“George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque blunder.”

                                Clerihew Bentley


Ethnic Cleansing of Northern Muslims


It is 15 years today since the entire Muslims in the Northern Province were “ethnically cleansed” by the LTTE from their historical habitat.  The systematic ethnic cleansing of about 75,000 Muslims form the Northern provinces in Sri Lanka was part of the LTTE’s mono ethnic Eelam project. The people who had lived for centuries in the Northern provinces were ruthlessly up rooted from their lands and chased out of the boarders of the Northern Province within 48 hours only for the reason that they were not Tamils. On the 30th of October 1990 the LTTE forcibly evicted every single Muslim irrespective of their age or gender and expropriated their belongings. No mercy was shown on their elders children and women. The Tamils of the Northern Province stood voiceless and helpless when their Muslim brothers and sisters were evicted from their settlements at gun point by the LTTE. The LTTE supremo simply justified the expulsion of the Muslims as a tactical move whereby he avoided a racial tension between the Tamils and Muslims. He acknowledged that he had “requested” the Muslims to leave the North temporarily. He also indicated that he would invite them to return once the situation was back to normal. The LTTE supporters abroad went further and accused that there were army informants and radicals among the Muslims and justified the action of the LTTE as the appropriate action. This rumour was widely circulated among the Diaspora Tamil community. Those who were forcibly expelled have been languishing in the Refugee camps in Puttalam and some other parts of South, with a hope that they will return to their homes one day. 


It was believed by long awaited evacuees that the Ceasefire agreement in February 2002 had brought normalcy in the North and East and the “conditions” for their return set by Pirbakaran had been created in the North. To their dismay the LTTE never invited the Muslims but claimed that their reason for expulsion was a political blunder and they simply apologised for the tragic events.  Some years ago the late Mr. Sivasithamparam, former TULF leader publicly declared in an SLMC Convention, that he would not go back to Jaffna until the Muslims were resettled in the North. He died later in Colombo without stepping into his house in Jaffna.  Thousands of the Muslim evacuees also died in the refugee camps and elsewhere without “going home”. The writer recalls how an Irish man Mr.Sean from UK, wept at the Puttalm Mosque in 2003 when he heard the sad accounts of those who were expelled from the North. He promised to the people who rallied round him that he would speak to the LTTE about their plight and seek cooperation from the LTTE to resolve the problems that returnees had faced on their return and about their security.  However, no one could persuade the LTTE to adopt any changes as to the resettlement of the Northern Muslims. The writer could observe that the Northern refugees in Puttalam did not consider that they were a people of Puttalam rather they were anxious to return to their lands where they were born and bred. Their serious concern is their security. Those who ventured to return had come out with stories of intimidation.

Dr,Hasbullah , a senior University Lecturer and  a native of Mannar has documented all the losses and assets of the Northern Muslims by his extensive research and he lamented in 1996  that “ The refugee problem was not given prominence at the national and international levels because the community was numerically insignificant to make a political impact. Also their problems have not been even taken up in the peace negotiations” (Refugee are people1996 –Dr.S.H.Hasbullah ). It appears that the Refugee issues have yet to make a political impact as their problems are slowly forgotten by the perpetrators and the government of Sri Lanka. As Mr. M.A.C.Iqbal , the president of North Muslims welfare organisation , says that although the LTTE expelled the Muslims from Jaffna the Muslims had no hatred towards their Tamil brothers as they once nominated the late Mr. M.M.Sultan, to be the Mayor of Jaffna and the bottom line is that Tamils of the North are not responsible for this expulsion but they will also fail in their duties if they do not show their solidarity in any effort that is aimed at early resettlement and compensation . In Ramayana Raman had to live in exile for fourteen years to regain his reign   but the Muslims have lived in exile for more than 14 years to resettle in their lands. It can not be also forgotten that the late Mayor Sultan was opposed to a resolution being passed by the All Ceylon Mayors’ Meeting in Colombo, that that Sinhalese should only be the Official language. When he returned from Colombo he was treated with respect. It can not equally be forgotten that “Communist Karthigesu “was instrumental in consolidating the political relationship of the Muslims and Tamils in Jaffna and made a history by nominating the first Muslim Mayor in Jaffna in 1955. In this part of the land of unity, how could the LTTE attempt to obliterate the history of the Muslims from the entire North.  

When writing this the writer understands that a petition campaign is initiated in order to take the plight of the Northern Muslim Refugees with Koffi Annan , the Secretary general of UNO.        

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