JAFFNA, Sri Lanka, Jun 26 2015 (IPS) – It is an oasis from the scorching heat outside. The three-storey, centrally air-conditioned Cargills Square, a major mall in Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna town, is the latest hangout spot in the former warzone, where everyone from teenagers to families to off-duty military officers converge.
ELLIPALLAI, 19 June 2015 (IRIN) – As a young girl, Kasthuri Udayakumaran’s grandmother would tell her of a house where birds chirped as the morning sunlight streamed through the thick foliage of a peaceful village. It seemed like a fantasy, a world away from her home in the northern city of Jaffna where soldiers manned checkpoints and claymore mines exploded on dusty streets.
Jaffna is the capital city of the Northern Province, and it is also the administrative headquarters of the Jaffna District located on a peninsula of the same name. At one time Jaffna’s population exceeded 85,000. However, by today the number has been reduced to 60,030 and the total population in the Northern Province, which once showed as 734,000 (1981) at present stands at 614,428, according to the Jaffna District Secretariat.
After the end of the war against the LTTE in May 2009, the government began its mega development programs in the Northern Province and the Security Forces also left most of the lands which they were using during the operation period.
As many as 2,175 internally displaced Tamil families in Jaffna and Trincomalee districts are set to receive a financial assistance of Rs. 38,000 per family for resettlement with the Cabinet of the Sri Lankan government sanctioning Rs. 16 crore Lankan.
On 24th April 2015, the Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association (JUSTA) arranged a discussion of the book Palmyra Fallen: From Rajani to War’s End, written by its member Rajan Hoole, in the Library Auditorium. The Vice Chancellor (VC) with the backing of some senior academics banned the discussion. JUSTA was left with no honourable alternative but to defy this blatant attack on academic freedom.
“The UN Human Rights Commission’s decision to investigate violations and the huge loss of life during the last months of the war concluded in 2009 was a significant victory for the victims. The dignity of the victims required that the truth must be told without fear or favour, and processes of justice and restoration set in motion. And the wrong was not all on one side. Dignity also demands that we await the verdict of the judges with restraint and reverence for the name of justice.”
“Thousands of Tamils protested in Jaffna this morning, calling on the UN Human Rights Council to release the report looking into mass atrocities committed against the Tamil people, the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) report, next month as planned. Rejecting the any domestic inquiry conducted by the Sri Lankan state, protesters questioned how those responsible for mass atrocities can conduct a credible, independent investigation. The protest, organised by the Jaffna University civil society, including students and teachers, was unanimously endorsed by Tamil political parties and civil organisations in the North-East. Some even travelled from the East to take part.”
“Sri Lanka will Celebrate its Sixty-seventh Anniversary of Independence from the United Kingdom this Wednesday. The country then known as Ceylon obtained full freedom from the British on February 4th 1948.Independent Ceylon/Sri Lanka / has faced many challenges and problems in the past 67 years. We have had military coup attempts, communal riots, pogroms, armed revolts, external military intervention, assassinations of heads of state, terrorist violence and above all a long secessionist war that threatened to tear apart the country.”
President Mahinda Rajapakse says the people living in welfare centers in Jaffna for 24 years will be resettled soon. The President pointed out although the government attempted to resettle these people with parallel to the programme implemented to resettle the families who were displaced from terrorism, certain political leaders averted it. President Rajapakse also said although those groups are attempting to exaggerate the matter as an issue that should be given international attention, it is entirely an internal matter. He pledged that a solution will be provided for the matter as soon as he emerges victorious at the upcoming presidential election. The President made these remarks when he met the people who are living in welfare centers in Jaffna last evening. These groups of people are living in welfare centers since year 1999. At the meeting they pointed out the welfare centers are submerged when heavy rains occur. Responding to the matter the President directed governor of northern province
G.A. Chandrasiri to provide required facilities for them. Minister Douglas Devananda was also present at this occasion.
How then must the opposition campaign? How does a Sinhala dominated opposition allay the fears of the Sinhala community that the opposition campaign—a cause for which there will be critical but overwhelming Tamil support—will harm the Sinhalese? Equally, how must a responsible Tamil opposition express its positions to the Tamil people credibly, without undermining Mr. Sirisena’s ability to attract Sinhala votes?
Cheered by tens of thousands of people, a train decorated with banana trees and colorful flower garlands arrived in Jaffna, the capital of Sri Lanka’s northern Tamil heartland, 24 years after the ‘Queen of Jaffna’ was suspended due to a bloody civil war.
‘Yarl Devi,’ as it is known in Tamil, was once a popular mode of transport between the ethnic Tamil-majority north and the Sinhala-majority south.
It was scaled back in 1990 because of the heightening of the war between the government and the Tamil Tigers, who were fighting to create an independent state for the country’s ethnic minority Tamils.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2790750/the-queen-jaffna-train-rides-24-years-suspended-sri-lankan-civil-war.html#ixzz3G9ZYZfjt
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Despite lingering issues, the railroad may well move the country toward greater unity, said Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, an analyst with the independent Centre for Policy Alternatives in Colombo.
“Let’s hope that politics will follow infrastructure,” he said.
The iconic Yal Devi Express from Colombo to Jaffna will resume its run on October 13, some 25 years after the link was suspended during the height of the Sri Lankan civil war.