A Tamil fisherman who took part in the Pottuvil to Polikandy (P2P) protest rally last year, is one of at least 89 Eelam Tamil refugees being held at a US naval base at Diego Garcia, reports Jacob Goldberg for Novara Media.
The rally, which spanned the breadth of the Tamil homeland across the North-East, saw tens of thousands of participants. However, the Sri Lankan state has repeatedly harassed, intimidated, arrested and even attacked participants of the rally.
Meera’s husband was one of those who attended the protest, she told Novara Media. “People in our area disappear from time to time,” she said. “My husband said if one day anything like that happens to him, what will happen to our family?”
Last year, her husband joined other Eelam Tamils and fled from refugee camps in Madurai and Thiruchirapally in India as they sought to make their way to Canada. They had to be rescued at sea and are currently being detained on the occupied island.
Radha, another woman whose husband is on Diego Garcia, said he too was subjected to Sri Lankan state intimidation. ““The army always comes and harasses us,” she said. “One time, they took him in for questioning for three hours and then released him.”
“We’ve suffered a lot. These men who are stranded have suffered so much hardship,” Radha added. “With the men gone, we have no income. I hope they will be brought to a good, safe country and be able to support their families.”
“The human rights situation in Sri Lanka is deteriorating. People are more fearful now that the Rajapaksa brothers are back in power,” said Rebecca Lim, international advocacy coordinator for the International Tamil Refugee Advocacy Network (I-TRAN).
“If you’re a poor Tamil villager, you can be scrutinised and picked on anytime.”
Read the full piece on Novara Media here.