October 29, 2020

BLACK OCTOBER SPECIAL ARTICLE ON ETHNIC CLEANSING OF JAFFNA MUSLIMS AND UNSOLVED PROBLEMS


- By: M.S.M. JANSIN -

HISTORY OF JAFFNA MUSLIMS

Jaffna Muslims have been living in Jaffna since the 7th century. First Muslim settlement originated in the Manipallavam present day Nainative where local Naga people and arab traders there embraced Islam as their religion. During 8th century Muslims were living in large number in the Mathakal Sangkanai Area of northern coast. While a substantial number of Muslims were lived in Pungkudutive, Mankumban, Karainagar islands. Due to invasion from indian sub continent Muslims faced displacement and expulsion.

During the invasion of Portuguese Muslims were living as a majority in Jaffna with 22 Masjids out of which 4 Masjids are bigger in size to accommodate 1000 people. Almost 20000 Muslims were living in the Jaffna area who were the majority population of those days.  (Father Queyrose).  During the Portuguese time Muslims were living in the areas of Nallur, Al Panthi, sinnakkadai (Muslim Vaadi), Kolumbuthurai, sundukuli, Mankumban, allaipity, Mandative, Sangkaanai, Maathakal, Keerimalia, Point Petro, Chavakachcheri, Eluthumattuval, Usan, Pachchilaippalli, papparapity,  Ponaryn, Nachikuda and Pallikuda areas.  

However, due to war with Portuguese, a large of  Muslims changed their settlements to Mullaitive, Vavuniya, Mannar, Kurunegala, Matale, Gampola and Kandy administrative divisions.  By 17th century, when Hollanders occupy Jaffna, nearly 5,000  Muslims were living in nallur area. In 1744, tamils put pork parts into the wells of Muslims in order to expel  them from  Nallur so that they can occupy Lands of Muslims and to convert the Masjids of the Muslims to Kovil.  Due to this inhuman act, Jaffna Muslims were forced to go away from Jaffna and Many people moved towards Mullaitive and Vavuniya while nearly 600 people settled in the present day Moor Street near Navanthurai of Jaffna. 

During the later part of Hollandees and during the period of British Occupation no more expulsion were faced by Muslims. Their population grow quickly and in 1990 the population of Jaffna Muslims in the Jaffna District was around 18,000 people consisting more than 3,500 families.  

When tamil youths started their armed campaign against the Sri Lanka government, Muslims were also affected in crossfires. Later armed Tamil youths forced Muslims to pay ransom, taxes etc for their Tamil ealam campaign. 40  Jaffna Muslims were  killed by the LTTE and other armed groups during the period from 1984 to 1990. Further another 40 people killed by gun fires, shell attacks and 12 Muslims were killed by mistaken aerial attack by the forces. 

In 1990 after the withdrawal of Indian Peace Keeping Forces, the war between Sri Lankan forces and LTTE restarted on 11th of June 1990. Due to the hostile situation between LTTE and Muslims  in the east, LTTE faces set backs in many fronts. As a Tit for tat, and collect large amount of money for buying arms, LTTE leadership planned to expel Muslims after looting their properties.  In order to execute their ethnic cleansing plan, LTTE carried out the plan in such a way that local tamils did not oppose their expulsion. 

By end of September 1990 LTTE abducted few Muslims for ransom. But the reason for abduction was told to general public that those abducted Muslims are informants. In Jaffna they abducted 22 Muslims for ransom. At the same time they abducted  few Muslims youths for not helping them in digging bunkers,  hard speech against them , for tailoring works etc. Few Muslims paid ransom and are released later. 

On  October 16, 1990 Chavakachcheri Muslims were asked to leave their homeland leaving behind all their properties, cash and jewelry.  Subsequently Mannar Muslims were announced to leave their homeland. This expulsion was carried out village by village. Ethnic cleansing expulsion of Mannar villages started on October 22, 1990 and ended by October 26, 1990.  Mullaitive and Kilinochchi Nachchikuda Muslims were systematically forced to vacate their homeland at gunpoints by the LTTE cadres on the 23th of October 1990.  Finally Jaffna muslims were forced to vacate their homeland with mere less than 2 hour notice on October 30, 1990.

ETHNIC CLEANSING  OF JAFFNA MUSLIMS BY LTTE

Jaffna Muslim were forcibly chased away  from Jaffna by LTTE Tamil Terrorists on 30th of October 1990. The expelled Muslims have faced a lot of hardship during their transportation and movements from Jaffna to where they are living now. They were threatened at gun point, all person leaving Jaffna were thoroughly body checked up by LTTE terrorist and cash excess of Rs.200/= ($1) ,Cloth exceeding 3 pairs, all jewelry, valuables, watches etc… were robbed by the LTTE. Their Houses were taken under the custody of LTTE. They looted all their moveable’s and immovable as to the value as follows.                                                                                                               

Value of Looted Items from each family (at Present Value)  

Construction cost of a House Rs. 1.4 Million (US$ 10,000)

Household Furniture’s (All 3500 Families) - Rs.260, 000 (US $2000)

Household Electrical - Rs.100, 000 (US $ 800)

Kitchen Utensils    - Rs. 40,000 (US $ 300)

Motor Coaches      - 50 Cars & Vans 


Lorries                       -  30

Buses                          -  2

Bicycles                      -  7000 

Motor Cycles             -  1500 

On average financial and economic losses suffered by each family is amounted to Rs. 2.3 Million Rupees (US$ 13,000) at current replacement cost. Apart from that a large amount of jewelry kept for business , Business items (textiles, grocery, plastic products etc), Cash and jewelry savings of rich people were also taken by LTTE. The grand value of losses suffered by Muslims  in the form of cash, jewelry, moveable and immovable assets that are looted by LTTE is amounted to 30,000 Million Rupees at present value.  

When the brutal expulsion was executed, even ear-rings were removed forcibly from small children leaving their ear lobes bleeding. Finger rings were also forcibly removed from small infants leaving their finger injured. The fleeing Muslims were soaked under the heavy rainy condition prevailed on that day. Starving children, , women some with their infants, elders and sick person walked 130 kilometer to reach Army control area in Vavuniya.

Few families were packed into Lorries and transported around 25 kilometers which is one fifth of the total distance. Starved people with tiredness, psychological shock, reached vavuniya with empty hands. From vavuniya they were transported to Ikirigollawa, Anuradhapura, Puttalam, Madavachi, Negombo and Colombo and temporarily sheltered at government buildings like schools, Mills and certain privately owned lands of well-wishers.

AFTER THE EXPULSION

Initially they were assisted by local Muslims, who gave food, clothes, infant milk powder, etc... Some fleeing Muslims, were settled in refugee camps later. Few settled with friends and relatives in the new area. The male and female family leaders did whatever the odd job available to them to feed their family.

When years passed few families settled themselves in business and they build their own homes. However a large number of families still living without any house. Further, over the last many years their families have expanded from 3500 in 1990 to 7500 families in 2020.

END OF WAR

On May 19, 2009 the war between LTTE terrorist and Sri Lanka government forces came to an end with the killing of LTTE terrorist leader and his armed cadres including all senior leaders.

RESETTLEMENT INTENTION & EFFORTS

As the war ended, around 4000 Jaffna Muslim families returned to Jaffna to explore the possibilities of resettlement. They found their houses, properties, business establishment, masjids, schools and all were destroyed. Roofs, windows, doors of 95% of the buildings were removed, from the building structure of their homes. Further,   masjid were found demolished.

The ruins of masjid, schools and houses, diminished the hope of resettlement to many families and they returned with pain.

WILLINGNESS TO RESETTLE

Around 2000 families have expressed their willingness to resettle in Jaffna. They temporarily sheltered at school buildings, masjids and other locations expecting the government helps to repair and reconstruct their houses, masjids and schools.

BARRIERS

As certain government official from Tamil community did not like the resettlement of Muslims in Jaffna, they put many barriers. The Conditions they implemented to block the resettlement process are as follows:  Returnee family should come and live in their damaged houses, Muslim settlers  should repair themselves the houses and then only government will reimburse  resettlement amount of Rs.25000/-, However Rs.25,000/- was paid to only 40 families.   No other amount is paid to repair their houses for four years. 1,950 families were not  paid any compensation. Thereby, Returnees faced a lot of problems at the temporary shelters. Schools needed to be opened to restart the educational activities. Therefore all families were asked to vacate the school promises.

When days turned to months, no assistant to repair their houses were given to the families. Temporary shelter problems, earning problems, job problems, water problems, food problem, heavily affected these families.

On the other side, authorities and resettlement project officers have been putting more and more conditions without any payment to reconstruct and repair their houses. This barrier  let to disappointment in resettlement hope of returnees.

Days turn to months, months turned to years and from 2010 to October 2020, nearly 200 families have been given with the reconstruction and repair compensation from the Indian housing project  and other resettlement fund allocated by Norther Task Force. The reconstruction amount was paid only  after many demonstrations, hunger strike and struggles. This 200 families are  amounts to only 10 % of the total number of families applied for the resettlement.  

However, it is learnt that remaining 1952 families will not be given the house reconstruction compensation by the administration in Jaffna. 

PRESENT SITUATION OF  JAFFNA MUSLIMS

Out of the 18 Masjids destroyed in the aftermath of expulsion of Jaffna Muslims, 16 Masjid have been reconstructed in the Jaffna District. Two Masjids need fund to reconstruct out of which one Masjid in the Shafi Nagar area should be reconstructed in parallel to a housing scheme to at least 50 Muslim Families which needs nearly 60 Million rupees. 

Building blocks of Osmaniya College have been reconstructed and renovated except one building. Further main building still need a substantial amount of fund for certain works. Osmaniya College is in need of a building for staff quarters purposes which needs a fund allocation of  8 Million rupees.  

Reconstruction works of Jaffna Hadeeja College has been completed and declared open in January 2020 .    Osmaniya College is having nearly 380 students while Hadeeja College is having around 120 students. 

Out of the 400 Muslim Traders in 1990, nearly  100 Traders have opened shops in Jaffna Town and engaged in business activities. Many resettled Muslim men  are engaged in old iron business, and cattle business and few engaged in odd jobs. 

Former Minister Rishad Badiudeen has allocated  fund to reconstruct School Buildings when he was the Minster of Resettlement. 

Jaffna Muslims are also thankful to Minister M.H. A. Haleem who conducted the National Meeladun Nabi celebration in Jaffna. Minister Haleem has allocated 9 Million rupees for development works at 15 Masjids. 

However, till 2020 October 30th , reconstruction and repair works of nearly 200 houses are still pending due to barriers. These barriers need to be removed and funds should be given to all such families to reconstruct houses. Further,  two Masjids still  to be reconstructed in order to accommodate more people to Jumma sermons.  

In October 2020, nearly 640 Muslim families have resettled in Jaffna. However nearly 200 families are floating between Jaffna and other districts, as the housing assistance have not been given to them to reconstruct their houses. Altogether nearly 2000 Muslims are residing in Jaffna in 2020 (and in 1990 it was 18000 people).   24 families have resettled in Mankumban in the velanai Divisional Secretariat Area. 8 families were settled in Chavakachcheri. Certain number of Muslim traders have resettled in Point Petro and Masjid there also operated by them. 

WE NEED ACTION

All votes of Jaffna Muslims were given to the President Maithreepala Sirisena with the hope that Maithree - Ranil collision will do their best to resettle them.  But no remarkable steps have been taken up  by the government of good governance.  On the other hand, these Muslims have been affected by the barriers laid down by  the administration in Jaffna who have hierarchical power in their hands.

To resettle Jaffna Muslims nearly 1, 250 Million Rupees should be allocated to Jaffna Muslim for their compensation, reconstruction and resettlement works by any NGOs or by the government. 

MEETINGS & CONFERENCES

Jaffna Muslims have had many meetings since 2010, with  the Divisional Secretary, Government Agent, Jamiyathul Ulama, Ministers, Member of Parliament and many other prominent people. But so far neither a house is reconstructed for the remaining 1952 families nor their problems solved. 

However, it is noted that a large amount of funds allocated for reconstruction of houses has been left unutilized and ultimately returned to treasury.  

We wonder why tamil parliamentarians are silent on the resettlement barriers those are forced on the Jaffna Muslims.  

THE END


3 கருத்துரைகள்:

இதுவெல்லாம் ஒரு முட்டாள்தனமான, கோழைத்தனமான கட்டுரைகள்,
உரிமை பறித்தவர்களுக்கு எதிராகவே போராடி புரியவைக்கவேண்டும்.

இதை பிரபாகரன் இருக்கும்போது எழதியிருக்கவேண்டும், இப்போ who cares?
இப்போ, 2012 யிலிந்து சிங்களவர்கள் கற்பனை காரணங்களுக்காக ஊர் ஊராக அடிக்கிறார்கள், இறந்த உடல்களை எரிக்ககிறார்கள். எழுதுங்கள் பார்க்லாம். அதுக்கு பயமோ பயம்.

50 வருடங்கள் கழித்து இதைபற்றி எழுதுவீர்கள் போல.

i withdraws above my statement

First I have to mention that LTTE are not terrorists

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