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Reconciliation through economic dependence: Sri Lankan soldiers plough the fields of impoverished Tamil farmers

As frustrations grow about the unabating levels of militarisation in Tamil areas, the Sri Lankan Army has created a new scheme in which soldiers plough the fields of impoverished Tamil farmers.

The scheme was launched at an event entitled 'prosperity through reconciliation' in Thirunelveli, attended by Jaffna commander Major Gen. Darshana Hettiarachchi and local government officials.

the first phase will be rolled out in five divisions in the Jaffna district, with soldiers using military tractors to plough around 80 acres of cultivation land belonging to 55 Tamils living below the poverty line.

Local civil society and international experts have stressed the importance of demilitarising the North-East.

"Strengthening the military’s control over the economy does not address or alleviate poverty issues," the Jaffna-based think-tank Adayaalam and Washington based NGO PEARL said in a recent report on the militarisation of Mullaitivu.

"Instead, it makes the population economically dependent on the military and, thereby, more vulnerable."