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War affected communities and Indian Trawler issue continue.....

I had an interview with one of a leading Tamil news paper once I visited Jaffna last week. The news article appeared in the Veerakesari news paper was translated in to English and up load the same in my blog as follows. Thanks to Nirosh, the media journalist who interviewed me and share with me the Tamil article. See the Interview Below; Mr Herman Kumara the National Convener of National Fisheries solidarity Movement [NAFSO] and special invitee of world forum of fisher peoples’ says, as the affects of encroachment of Indian trawlers is the important problem the Tamils in northern province face, the government should understand, that they can’t solve this problem, keeping the fisheries organizations in the north marginalized. He said so when he was interviewed by Veerakesari during his visit to Jaffna, this week, to study the affect faced by the northern fishermen. The details of the interview are as follows: Question: At the time where there will be a negotiation on the encroachment of Indian trawlers, how the affects of these trawlers on the fisherman would be? How do you expect the solutions to be? Answer: The danger of this problem must be viewed in different ways. In one hand the resources of fishermen are destroyed by the encroachment of trawlers, their livelihood is affected, and the resources are affected that is the sea resources are destroyed by the trawlers. This creates an environmental issue and destroys the future livelihood of the fisher communities. On the other hand it destroys the fishermen’s fishing gears like net, engines, boats and other gears. This is how the affects continue and that is why we see this as a serious problem. In the past we talked about this and showed our protest. We noticed that people in power were not ready for action then. As the affects of encroachment of Indian trawlers is the important problem, the Tamils in Northern Province face, the government should understand, that they can’t solve this problem, keeping the fisheries organizations in the north marginalized. There should be space for fishers in multi layer discussions to be held in the future. It should be experienced and concerned people in the negotiation tables. Respecting each others issues there should be a mechanism adopted for long lasting solution. For that, there should be a structure form to monitor the respect or violation of the agreements. This was we came up with the agreement when we conducted Fisher People to Fisher People dialogue between TN fishermen and Northern SL fishermen in August 2010. Question: You have pointed out that they can’t solve this problem, keeping the contribution of Northern Province fishermen who faced problems of trawlers, marginalized. Now there is an accusation that northern fisher people’s were not properly absorbed in the government approach. How do you see this? Answer: First of all we are happy that government is taking some action. We welcome the moves of the governments of both countries. Any way there are experienced fisheries leaders in the north who have faced this problem for the past ten years. It is regrettable that the experiences, sacrifices and suggestions of such people were not accommodated. Marginalising the leaders who have experience in the problem of encroachment of Indian trawlers and accommodating the people preferred by government will set the trend of losing the chances of properly solving the controversy. We question whether the action now taken would find solution to the problems faced by the northern fishermen. So we suggest the Government to absorb the group that is energetic and has experience in the problem of fisher folks. We see a victory in this long standing controversy as the minister who refused for a negotiation among the fisher groups, now decided to have discussions among some fisher groups. We see this as victory. Question: For a negotiation on the problem of Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen the minister of fisheries has gone to India. The matters on talk and the agenda were not released before the visit. The northern fishermen are making an issue on this as they were not informed on the talks. Do you believe in the reliability of this? Answer: There are Indian and Sri Lankan mechanisms in place in many matters. We see Indian dominancy in them all in the past. We have a doubt whether this too have the same fate. There is an unexpected opposition against the Government in the south as they were arrested. Hundreds of southern fishermen were arrested in the problem of crossing border. If the Minister makes use of this discussion only to get released these people, this would be an unfortunate situation. The reason for the doubt is, if the theme of the discussion is the encroachment of Indian trawlers, discussion should have been with the northern fishermen. But it is not so. The media reported minister and the team visit to New Delhi for discussion over Indian Trawler issues. But, we do not see this was in the agenda as media reported only the release of fishermen, though we do not deny as important. Because southern fish workers are also suffered lot in Indian jails and Minister of fisheries washed his hand when the boat owners and family members agitated and after met the minister in December 18th. Question: Five years are passing after the war, as you are serving with fishermen in national level, what do you say about their state of occupation? What do you think of the Government’s occupational development? Have the people affected by war been regained life? Answer: The so called postwar developmental activities affect the local fisheries sector. Encroachment like tourism activities are working against fishermen. Foreign giant ships are [Though the authorities say they are not permitted] fishing in our waters. They do business even by unloading the fishes in the ports here. This affects the fisheries sector and decrease the fish prices. Due to this the locals couldn’t engage in their occupation. The catch cannot be marketed in doe prices. The war affected fishermen were not allowed to go back to their own places. Mailitty, Mullikulam and Sampoor are some examples. They have constructed roads, but no houses for labourers. They were not helped on this. Nothing was done for their families, education, health, safe living and for their livelihood. This was reflected in the voting of the election. This shows that there is no spring prosperity in the north. If the development was in full scale, that would be useful. Question: Were the fishermen compensated for the losses incurred due to the natural disaster or due to the encroaching trawlers? Answer: No compensation was paid for the damages to the people due to the encroachment of trawlers. Facilities for regaining life were not made for the labourers. We couldn’t see any relief given in disaster. No proper projects to nourish the families.


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