Friends from Pakistan visited NAFSO. Azra of Roots for the Equity lead the rural farmer workers team. The team visited Sri Vimukthi Fisher Women Organization and Munnakkara fishing village as a part of the field experiences.
At the Solidarity meeting at Liyanagemulla today we got a message from Sugath a trade union activist in the team saying there is a group of people who conducted a protest today against the refilling Dehiyagatha area got a threat from around 20 motor cyclists who came to one of a protestors home.
The people who threat to the protestor is known to the villagers and they have made a complaint immediately.
This reminded the group that the era of Mahinda Regime as the "threats of gangsters" and "white van syndrome" against any one there is a dissent in the society. We as concern citizens urge all relevant authorities not to allow this to happen anymore as these are symptoms of the ill governance of the country.
Sri Lankan UPR -2016/7 CSO report preparatory process began today with 35 organizations with 68 participants from all over the country. The participants are consisted with wider geographical coverage, sectoral and issue wise representation.
At the meeting there are 24 sections identified to report in the UPR report this year. Last term in 2012, it covered 18 sectors representing 31 organizations while another 06 sectors added to that list this time.
* Food Producers issues
* Indian refugee returnees issues
* Environmental issues
* Pakistani and Afgan asylum seekers issues
* Land related issues
* Religious freedom
Are added as new areas of concern this year.
PriyalalSirisena an attorney at law set the audience hopes high with his presentation on Why? & What UPR and it's importance. Also,
Sampath Pushpakumara also attorney at law presented the 164 recommedations of various diplomatic missions and 60 accepted recommendations of GOSL in HRC in Geneva, at 2012.
The participants got together based on their sectors and had planned and shared the process, resource generation, set the deadline to submit sector report by 10 February.
The main responsible agency and the responsible person/s were also assigned the report preparation.
Final date for compilation and validation would be 15 February while there will be a training organized on 16/17 February to deepen the knowledge of the new comers to UPR.
Herman Kumara set the objectives at the begining and presented Way Forward at the end while highlighting how the CSO collective would facilitate the regional and sectoral processes.
The fisher representatives of N.M. Alam, Chair of the Northern Province Fisher People's Unity[NPFPU], S. Subramaniyam, Secretary of the NPFPU, M. Mariyarasa, Treasurer of the Unity, and T. Francis from Poonagari fisheries cooperative society were attended the dialogue and strongly objected to the request of the Indian counterpart. These were agreed at the prior NPFPU meetings with the consultation of the fisheries coops and other relevant parties who are supportive to the small scale fisher people's struggle.
So, this stand was not only those fishers but a collective decision of the fishing communities in the North.
The NPFPU has come up with set of demands and the stand against the bottom trawling since the inception. The Unity was formed in March, 2011 after the second people to people dialogue conducted in August 2010. The Unity has grown as a people based organization and involved many struggles in relation to Small Scale Fishers in the north. So, the demand of the Indian counterpart to continue to bottom trawling was not difficult task them to reject outright as the team represent the oppressed masses.
However, the high level meetings followed by the fishers meetings were successfully concluded and in favor of Sri Lankan fishermen and India agreed to ban bottom trawling.
The Daily Mirror news paper published an article on this matter as follows;
This is a great win today which brought the moral strength to the small scale fishermen who were fought against the Purse Seine nets. There are thousands of fishermen who fought against 53 license holders in Kandakuliya, Kalpitiya won the court case today at Magistrate court Puttlam.
23 Small Scale Fishers' were summoned to the Puttlam magistrate court today alleging the violence committed by them against Purse Seine net operators last 20th at Kuringgnampitiya. The 23 fishermen including Rev. Bandiwewe Diyasena thero the chief incumbent of Samudrasanna Viharasthanaya Kandakuliya, Kalpitiya were brought the attention the destruction caused by the purse seine nets at the courts today.
The Purse Seine operators, 53 in number got the legal support from the Department of Fisheries. The lawyer appeared on the court on behalf of the department of fisheries who had issued permits to the Purse Seine operations, argued why the permission need to continue under the existing law.
The Police ASP of Puttlam argued that the continuation of permits to Purse Seine operators will raise tensions between purse seine operators and SSF hence necessity to ban the purse seine operations in the sea.
The counsel of SSF argued the enormous destruction from the purse seine and the lack of monitoring system though the department of fisheries argued the justification of the issue license hence need to ban the purse seine operations in the area.
After hearing all the sides, the magistrate ruled out the purse seine operations of 53 permit holders until the court case is over. At the same time, Magistrate advised to the SSF to get the banning order from the high court for a
This is a great victory of small scale fishermen and we congratulate the fishermen, Rev. Diyasena Thero as well as three counsels appeared in the court today, Mr. Sampath Pushpakumara, Mr. Priyalal Sirisena and Ms. Raveendra Sumathipala.
A fresh round of fishermen-level talks between a delegation of Sri Lankan fishermen and their Indian counterparts over the nagging issue of fishing in the Palk strait on Wednesday have ended in a stalemate. At the discussions held in New Delhi Wednesday, the Sri Lankan fisher leaders rejected a demand from their Indian counterparts for a three year phasing out period from Sri Lankan waters, The Hindu reported.
"There were no agreements during the talks. We have clearly articulated our position at the dialogue that we will not tolerate any illegal poaching in our waters?Not even for three minutes forget about three years," said V. Thavachchelvam, president of Fishermen Cooperatives Societies Federations at a press conference here. An 11-member delegation of northern Sri Lanka fishermen and 12 fishermen association members from Tamil Nadu met at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The discussions were held after a gap of nearly one and a half years, with all previous rounds of negotiations related proving futile. However, this was the first meeting in which high-level government officials from both sides were also present. Fishermen leaders of the two countries had their first round of talks in Chennai on January 27, 2014. After making some progress, they had the second round of talks in Colombo on May 12, 2014 but failed to break the impasse.
The Sri Lankan fishermen earlier have flatly rejected the Indian fishermen's proposals to allow them to fish in Sri Lankan waters on any grounds. They want their Indian counterparts to stop engaging in bottom-trawling, a fishing practice known to harm the marine ecosystem. Indian fishermen on Wednesday demanded they be allowed to do fishing for 85 days per year for the next three years following which it will withdraw the fishermen completely, A. Mariyarasa, President of Rural Fishermen Society Federation said.
"But we strongly put forth our position that we will not release any single vessel arrested by us without following due procedures," said N. V. Subramaniyam, former president of Jaffna Fishermen Societies, who led the 10-member Sri Lankan delegation. Since 2014, Sri Lanka has refused to release over 100 seized trawlers, deterring Indian fishermen from venturing deep.
The Sri Lankan fisher leaders demanded "compensation for the losses incurred" due to alleged fishing by Tamil Nadu fishermen in their waters before "moving forward with further dialogue." The Sri Lankan fishermen alleged that Tamil Nadu fishermen "illegally hatch fisheries stock" causing huge losses to them.
Foreign Ministers of India and Sri Lanka, along with Sri Lanka?s Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare ? also in-charge of fisheries ? will now meet here on Saturday for the first time to possibly develop a joint strategy to tackle the fisheries conflict. "But we will not change our position," Mr. Thavachchelvam said. The fisheries issue was also raised by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena in Goa recently, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.