Eight Tamil journalists who went from Jaffna to Tha'n'ni-mu'rippu reservoir in the south of Mullaiththeevu district on Saturday to witness the Sinhalicisation, which is stepped up there through the militarization of occupying Sinhala Army, were subjected to severe harassment. The journalists, who were documenting the scale of Sinhalicisaton and militarisation of the irrigation tank of Tamils were stopped by the ‘Sri Lanka’ Army soldiers, who brought a higher-ranking officer from the nearby military camp. The SLA officer was attempting to confiscate the cameras of the Tamil journalists claiming that he wanted to inspect the equipment citing ‘national security’ concerns. The journalists refused to hand over their equipment. In the meantime, Sinhala policemen who arrived from Mullaiththeevu intervened deleting the photos and videos recorded by the journalists at the spot.
The journalists were also visiting Ottaik-kal-malai, where archaeological remains have been altered or subjected to plunder by the SL military and SL Archaeology Department, the journalists said.
The target of the trip to Tha'n'ni-mu'rippu reservoir was to document how the Sinhalicisation was being taken forward by the Sinhala military, which was chasing away Tamil fishermen and farmers from accessing the reservoir.
Sinhala colonists from Ma'na'l-aa'ru (Sinhalicised Weli-Oya) and Padawiya, have been fishing in the lake, which is the major tank used by Tamil-speaking farmers to irrigate their paddy fields during the cultivation periods.
Despite the objection from the administrative officials at the Divisional Secretariat and at the District Secretariat of Mullaiththeevu, Sinhala encroachers have been engaged in illegal fishing activities at the reservoir. The Sinhala military was assisting the colonists and was chasing away the Tamils for several months.
After the incident on Saturday, the SL military intelligence was also harassing the local journalists in Mullaiththeevu who have been in contact with the visiting journalists from Jaffna.
The delegation of jouranlists from Jaffna comprised of K. Selvakumar, S. Baskaran, T. Pradeepan, T. Vinojith, V. Kajeepan, S. Nitharshan, K. Hamsan and K. Sabes.
Colombo claims that freedom of speech has been restored in the island. But, as far as the Tamil journalists are concerned, the situation remains same as during the times of war, the journalist said.
The SL police officials who had come from Mullaiththeevu were in civil clothes and were taking the side of the Sinhala military. They declined to document their identity. As the standoff prevailed for some time and the journalists were refusing to hand over their equipment, the policemen documented their identity, the journalists said.
The journalists said the photographic evidence documenting the scale of Sinhalicisation and militarisation of the reservoir were deleted citing ‘national security’ of the occupying Sinhala military.