Keappaa-pulavu protesters question silence of foreign diplomats, challenge ‘TNA optics’
[TamilNet, Sunday, 19 February 2017, 11:38 GMT] Tamil women-led protesters in Keappaa-pulavu on Saturday questioned the silence on the part of the diplomats from the international community who have been to Keappaa-pulavu on ‘field trips’ in the past. The Head of Keappaa-pulavu Women’s Development Organisation Ms S Chandraleela told TamilNet on Saturday that in addition to releasing their occupied lands, the SL military should be withdrawn from the roads used by their children from their village to school. The people on the struggle are concerned of retaliatory abductions from the SL military, which is engaged in surveillance against the protesting families. In the meantime, SL Air Force remove the paragraph of shoot-at-sight warning from the notice boards it had put inside the lands, a day after the threat was exposed by media with photographic evidence.
“For us, this is second Mu'l'livaaykkaal and we are even prepared to die in our struggle to free our lands and secure a decent future to our children without military presence,” Ms Chandraleela told TamilNet in a video interview on Saturday.
Around 350 people belonging to 84 families are waging the struggle. 30 of 84 families are female-led families. There are 54 school-going children from Grade 1 to Ordinary Level, she says.
Welcoming the support received from religious leaders who visited them from South, the protesting women leaders said Mr Sampanthan and Mr Sumanthiran were hiding in Colombo collaborating with the SL regime, which was elected to power after the duo were begging Tamils to vote for Maithiripala and the UNP alliance.
The ITAK leaders of Sampanthan and Sumanthiran polity have not visited the protesters while even religious leaders, including Buddhist monks, were visiting them from South.
“Perhaps Mr Sumanthiran would twist this as a conceptual decision,” a university student at the protest site said. “Mr Sumanthiran was speaking at a lawyers forum in Jaffna a few days ago and he was proud of not visiting India for demanding Tamil rights. It was important to truly collaborate with the leaders of the current regime in Colombo to convince the Sinhala South that Tamils were not using external actors to put pressure on Colombo. Likewise, he would be defending the absence of Sampanthan in Keappaa-pulavu,” the student who did not want to be named told TamilNet.
Gowsalya Sathees, another women leader from Pilak-kudiyiruppu, who in her earlier interviews revealed how the SL military had dumped them into the so-called ‘model village’ and destroyed their lives, had vowed to go to the extent of self-immolation to free the land. On Saturday, she said the university students from Jaffna had urged her not to commit suicide. The students were assuring mass uprising through the University community and other civil groups in Jaffna, she said. “I have only postponed that decision,” she said.
Meanwhile, informed sources in Jaffna on Sunday said the student community in Jaffna was actively working behind the scene to launch a mass uprising in the following days.
NPC Chief Minister Justice C.V. Wigneswaran has also received flak from the protesters as he had failed to secure the release of their lands. The Chief Minister had visited the protesting families and promised to discuss the matter in person with SL President Maithiripala Sirisena, the protesters said.
The protesting families say they are not associated with any political groups.
The TNPF led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and the EPRLF led by Suresh Premachandran have been involved in the protests supporting Keappaa-pulavu people since the very first day they were dumped at Vattaap-pazhai school during the times.
During the regime of Rajapksa, the people were unable to stage protests without the presence of political parties due to the level of direct military threat from the Air Force and the Army of occupying Colombo.
But, even today, the SL military threats continue to prevail in different forms. The SL military is waging a shadow war against the protesters and is operating against those expressing solidarity with them.
But, the people were however able to mobilize without having any political group beside them. They only want to get release their lands released and ensure security for their children without having to face the hostile military in their day to day life. They are particularly concerned of the security of their children who have to walk for more than five kilometres between their school and residence.
The school children are staying with the families both day and night throughout the 19-day protest.
A couple of days ago, Sinhala Air Force personnel had put up death threat inside the seized lands warning the protesters that those entering the lands without permission would be shot at sight.
After the death threat was exposed with photographic evidence in the media, the SLAF has modified the warning, removing the shoot-at-sight warning paragraph from the notice board on Saturday.
“This is the road I have put up and this piece of land belongs to me,” says Vivekananthan Selliah, who has been uprooted from Pilak-kudiyiruppu in Keappaa-pulavu.
“The Air Force put up a noticeboard, which was there yesterday saying those entering the land would be fired upon. Now they removed the death threat part from the notice board. But, the board still says that the lands belongs to them. This is my piece of land,” Mr Vivekananthan says.
Gowsalya Sathees said the leaders of SL regime should visit Keappaa-pulavu. “We are not going to Colombo. They should come and meet us right here where we are languishing for 19th day with our children and release our lands.”
Chandraleela adds: “This struggle would only conclude when our lands are released”.