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Former NPC calls for sanctions against southerners ‘allowed’ to violate Mullaitivu travel ban

Former Northern Provincial Council member T. Ravikaran called for Sri Lankan state forces to take accountability and impose sanctions on those who are repeatedly violating COVID-19 protocols by travelling from the South to the North-East.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions still in effect in Mullaitivu, there are still several incidents of illegal fishing, sand mining and southerners violating the travel ban. 

The militarised COVID-19 crackdown in the North East has pushed Tamil families in Vavuniya to starvation, have given Jaffna police power to drag Tamils into forced quarantine and caused the unlawful detention of Tamil priests in Mullaitivu despite religious prayers without public attendance allowed under the travel ban.

Ravikaran noted several incidents of southerners violating these restrictions without repercussions. He claimed southern fishermen were illegally fishing in Kokkilai and sand miners in Mullaitivu were destroying the coastlines, even with the presence of police officers. Ravikaran questioned how the illegal sand miners were even able to present permits. “Are these exploits essential during this time? Who gave this authority?,” he asked.

In the North-East the militarised COVID-19 response has seen increased incidents of intimidation, surveillance and harassment of Tamils. Many human rights advocates fear that state forces have used the virus as a guise to target, harass and surveil Tamil communities, while remaining ignorant to actual perpetrators.

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