Echoing longstanding fears of Tamil grassroots activists and politicians, the Catholic leadership in Sri Lanka’s north and east has raised the alarm over endless state sponsored efforts to alter the ethnic makeup of the war-torn region.
While visiting the north, the Swiss Envoy to Sri Lanka was told that the government has launched a concerted effort to change the demography of the Tamil majority Trincomalee, Mullaitivu and Mannar districts by settling Sinhalese from other areas.
This rare declaration by the Catholic hierarchy was made in unison at a meeting with Ambassador Dominik Furgler in Jaffna.
Four Bishops, Dr. Fidelis Lionel Emmanuel Fernando of Mannar, Justin Bernard Gnanapragasam of Jaffna, Christian Noel Emmanuel of Trincomalee and Joseph Ponniah met the visiting diplomat on Wednesday (10) at the Jaffna Bishops House.
18,000 yet to be resettled
Tamils who are the majority of the region are further frustrated with the government due to its seizure of Tamil owned land to create Sinhala colonies, Ambassador Furgler was told.
He also heard the government being accused of abandoning development work in the north and the east while obstructing Indian assistance.
A day after the Swiss envoy’s meeting with the Bishops, Tamil National Alliance MP Sivagnanam Shritharan told parliament that war displaced 14,000 from Jaffna and 4000 from Kilinochchi are yet to be resettled despite the end of war 12 years ago.
“Seized land has not been returned to Tamils. Meanwhile it is bringing Sinhalese from outside to annihilate another nationality,” said the lawmaker from Jaffna.
According to data collected by local activists, the military, forest department, wildlife department and the archaeology department are the main government institutions actively involved in grabbing land in the north and east.