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MUSLIMS OF MUTUR GIVEN 72 HOUR EXPULSION NOTICE

Civil Society Condemns Threat of Ethnic Cleansing

On May 29th 2006 handbills were circulated in Mutur, Trincomalee demanding that the Muslim Community vacate the area within 72 hours. The handbills issued under the name of a group that calls itself Tamil Eela Tayaham Meetpu Padai (Tamil Eelam Motherland Retrieval, Force) state that regaining Mutur will be the first phase of the Fourth Eelam War and that the Muslims should not be an obstacle to the liberation of Thamil Eelam.  The handbills also condemn what they term the community’s collusion with the armed forces and paramilitary groups.  

LTTE Political Wing Leader for Trincomalee, Elilan, has issued statements that the LTTE is not responsible for the handbills, but is not on record as condemning the expulsion notice or taking concrete steps to avert the crisis.  The Muslim Community has attempted to clarify the situation through multiple means and to devise ways of ensuring calm and security.  The Muslim political leadership, the Peace Secretariat for Muslims and community leaders have called on the LTTE and the President to take immediate steps.  The President Mahinda Rajapakse has assured security for the Muslim Community, through increased police and armed forces presence. As of noon the 30th there were no signs of mass flight by Muslims from Mutur, but the deadline is fast approaching.

This expulsion notice takes place in the context of a spiralling crisis of violence in the peace process.  In Trincomalee the situation has steadily deteriorated, especially in April with bomb attacks, ethnic riots, claymore attacks, aerial bombardment, abductions and gruesome killings.  Civilians from all three communities – but especially Tamil civilians- have become victims of the violence. The security environment in Trincomalee, like much of the North East, has become murkier with more actors reportedly becoming involved in the violence.  In addition to the alleged involvement of the LTTE and the Security Forces in the violence, the Karuna Group has been blamed for attacks within LTTE controlled areas in Trincomalee and the handbills make unsubstantiated claims that Armed Muslim Youth are operating as paramilitaries. The violence has created an environment of fear, suspicion and hostility that has divided the ethnic communities and reportedly led to more civilian on civilian killings.  An area where different ethnic communities have coexisted for centuries has been torn apart by the presence of armed actors with vested interests.  The state parties and the LTTE, using violence in the name of the people, have failed to ensure their security and have been complicit in victimising civilian populations and exacerbating ethnic tensions.  In the climate of increased violence and impunity there have been multiple forms of mass displacement.

The call for Muslims to leave, made in the language of ethnic cleansing, marks a critical point in the upsurge of violence since the latter part of 2005. As the handbill makes clear the call is not meant as a precautionary humanitarian measure to ensure the safety of the Muslim community in the event of a full fledged resumption of war. The handbill must be understood as a part of a much wider political and historical context.  The Muslims of Mutur have undergone a long period of violence and intimidation, as well as the LTTE’s efforts to drive them out during the conflict and in peace times. The expulsion has a local historical precedent when in 1987 they faced a similar threat. For the Muslim Community of the North East as a whole, this handbill and its implications are horrifically reminiscent of the expulsion of October 1990 carried out by the LTTE when over 90,000 Muslims of the Northern Province were forcibly evicted from their homes and communities.  These communities still struggle for recognition and redress from both the LTTE and the Government. Yet another ethnic cleansing of Muslims must not be permitted under any circumstances. In this context, the LTTE’s apparent unwillingness to condemn the handbill is most disturbing.

Over the last year a number of People’s Fronts have been involved in violence. The LTTE has claimed it has only trained them but in the Geneva Agreement committed to taking all necessary measures to prevent them engaging in attacks.  The brief period during which the LTTE did contain the violence demonstrates its ability to reign in the current escalation when desired.  Thus, it is in the LTTE’s power to prevent a repeat of its “historical blunder” of 1990 taking place in Mutur.

We, the undersigned denounce this attempt at ethnic cleansing and urge all parties to take immediate steps to ensure that the crisis of expulsion is averted and that measures are put in place to create conditions of normalcy and security in Mutur.  We welcome the joint announcement by the Government and the LTTE of their willingness to attend talks in Oslo, as a stepping stone for further negotiations and urge all parties to take concrete steps to address the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the North and East.

We call upon the LTTE

To immediately condemn the expulsion notice.

To immediately engage local Muslim leaders in dialogue along with local Tamil leaders so as to restore confidence and security.

To take all necessary measures to prevent acts of this nature as they only serve to heighten the insecurity and vulnerability of the Muslim Community.

To desist from and to prevent all forms of violence, especially the targeting of civilians.

We call upon the Government

To ensure it provides security for the Muslim Community

To ensure and coordinate adequate flow of relief supplies to all displaced communities.

To take adequate steps to prevent and desist from all acts of violence, that have targeted Tamil civilians and seriously endangered the lives of Muslim and Sinhala civilian populations in the North and East.

We call upon the Government of Norway

To communicate directly with the LTTE at the highest level to urge the LTTE to take steps to distance itself from the expulsion notice and take immediate steps to restore confidence in the area.

We call upon the Muslim Peace Secretariat and the Muslim political parties

To maintain channels of communication with the LTTE and the Government to prevent further escalation of the situation in Mutur

To ensure that the Mutur community’s perspective is adequately represented to the Government, the LTTE and the International Community

To maintain links with civil society organisations that can help raise awareness of the issue at the international level.

Signatories

  • Asha Abeyasekera-Vandort

  • Azra Abdul Cader

  • Lakmali Alwis

  • Harini Amarasuriya

  • Anushya Collur

  • Dr.Malathi de Alwis

  • Dr Neloufer de Mel

  • Dr. Jani De Silva

  • Sunanda Deshapriya

  • Rohan Edrisinha

  • Iffat Fatima

  • Rossana Favero-Karunaratna

  • Bhavani Fonseka

  • Dr.Mario Gomez

  • Anberiya Hanifa

  • Farzana Haniffa

  • Dr S.H. Hasbullah

  • Sanjana Hattotuwa

  • Ameena Hussein

  • Fareeha Jaleel

  • Sunela Jayewardene

  • Ahilan Kadirgamar

  • Dr.Alan Keenan

  • Lisa Kois

  • Uvindu Kurukulasuriya

  • Dr.Sumanasiri Liyanage

  • Dr.Dennis McGilvray

  • Lorna McGregor

  • Dilshan Muhajarine

  • Robert Muggah

  • Tamara Nanayakkara

  • Dr.Suppiriamanium Nanthikesan

  • Dr.Anita Nesiah

  • Dr Devanesan Nesiah

  • Dr Vasuki Nesiah

  • Dr. Jehan Perera,

  • Sam Perera

  • Nimanthi Perera Rajasingham

  • Ranil Pieris

  • Mirak Raheem

  • Dr. Darini Rajasingham-Senenayake

  • Nirmala Rajasingam

  • P. Rajanayagam

  • Praveena Rajkopal

  • Kumudini Samuel

  • Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

  • Dr Muthukrishna Sarvananthan

  • Ambika Satkunanathan

  • Professor N. Shanmugaratnam

  • Sumathy Sivamohan

  • Dr.Yasmin Tambiah

  • Minna Thaheer

  • P Thambirajah

  • Krishna Velupillai

  • Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda

  • Faizun Zackariya

Editor – SLDF Newswire   – http://www.lankademocracy.org

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June 3, 2006 - Posted by | Media Journalism, News and politics, South Asia, World News

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