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Former parliamentarian urges Sri Lanka government to end navy harassment against Tamil fisherman in the North

Former parliamentarian Selvam Adaikalanathan, called on the Sri Lankan government to take action against the intense harassment by navy officers towards Tamil fishermen in the North.

Adaikalanathan, leader of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) and a member of the Tamil National Party (TNA), asked the Sri Lanka President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa to “take necessary action” to stop navy officials from unnecessarily harassing fisherman under the guise of security in the Mannar.

He stated the increased navy presence has only impeded the fisherman’s ability to earn a living by limiting accessible fishing time and the liberty to freely do their job.

Adaikalanathan released the statement, following the navy assault of a group of Tamil fishermen in Mannar on Tuesday, which left one man hospitalised with severe injuries and insisted “such incidents should not continue.”

He highlighted how “Sri Lanka’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has enabled the increased navy presence” in the coastal areas of the North-East, despite repeated calls to stop the intrusion and surveillance into the daily life of Tamils.

He added, “increasing checkpoints" and "navy personnel carrying out numerous intense search operations” are only threatening the livelihoods and personal safety of these fishing communities.

Earlier this month, Adaikalanathan issued an ‘emergency letter’ to the defence secretary, Kamal Gunaratne urging him to consider the issue of increased military checkpoints in the North. He emphasised the “untold hardships to the general public” caused by the increased militarization in Jaffna, highlighting the disproportionate effects on the “farming & fishing community.”

Read the full letter here

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