Situation of Civilian Population in Jaffna Continues to Deteriorate

Full Text of Press Release, issued by National Peace Council of Sri Lanka:

The abnormal conditions in Jaffna make it unlike any other part of Sri Lanka.There is no road link to Jaffna with the closure of the A9 Highway. Those fortunate to travel by air are photographed and given Temporary Entry Permits after being photographed. On the return journey they surrender these permits and are photographed again before they board the return flight. While in Jaffna they are checked often and while many soldiers display courtesy towards civilians there are others who experience undue harassment.

There is also a continuing shortage of foodstuffs and other essentials for living. There are constraints on livelihoods, especially fishing. In addition, abductions, killings and arrests are regular features even during curfew hours and in places designated as high security zones. According to Amnesty International over 20 people disappeared in August alone.The culprits are not found. These are some of the concerns of the people that the government needs to give its priority attention to and speedily resolve.

The implementation of new security regulations is adding to the abnormal conditions under which the people are being compelled to live. The new regulations require all residents of Jaffna above the age of 10 to obtain special military identity cards. The people are expected to carry these identity cards with them at all times in addition to their national identity cards. There is also a new requirement of family registration which includes children to obtain photographs, fill in registration forms and obtain certification from relevant government officials. Mobile phones and bicycles also need to be registered. The logistical and financial expenses of these exercises are considerable, especially as documents have not been provided in the Tamil language.

The burden placed on families to ensure that their young children carry their military identity cards with them is an indication of the militarization of society that has resulted from the government’s strategy. The administration of Jaffna is increasingly under the military instead of civil administrators. The National Peace Council calls on the government to reassess its current strategy of governance in Jaffna and place more emphasis on civil administration rather than military administration which appears to be giving priority to security concerns rather than the rights and well being of the people. This strategy will in no way contribute to winning the hearts and minds of civilians living in Jaffna.

Executive Director
On behalf of the Governing Council

National Peace Council of Sri Lanka
12/14 Purana Vihara Road
Colombo 6
Tel: 2818344, 2854127, 2819064
Tel/Fax:2819064
E Mail: npc@sltnet

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