Journey through landless people.... Let's voice out for voiceless people who displaced by war,Natural disaster , Mass development activities and Human & Elephant Co-Existence issue and Plantation workers of Sri Lanka
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Small scale fishermen condemn in arresting fisher leaders.

Written By Joining Hands Network on Monday, November 29, 2010 | 12:58 AM



Two leaders of Alliance for Protection of Negombo Lagoon distributing a leaflet on Negombo Sea Plane issue were arrested by Negombo Police yesterday accusing that they were Provoking people on false fact as well as launching anti government activities.


Arrested two leaders had been distributing a leaflet for educating general public on current sea plane project which is to be established on Negombo Lagoon. Arrested Marcus Fernando is a fishermen who leads the “ Negombo Lagoon Fisher People’s Organization works as a partner organization of Praja Abhilasha Network. Aruna Roshantha is the Chair person of “ All Ceylon Fisher Folk Trade Union”. Both they were playing vital roles against current sea plane issue as it does n’t help neither lagoon fishermen nor their lives.

So, the police wanted to put them in jail with those charges.
But, the lawyer who appeared at the police argued and later police HQI agreed to remove the charge under article 113, and produced the additional magistrate at Negombo and gave them the Police Bail. The court case will be on 14th December.

Fisher people say that, this act as an oppressive mechanism of the government and strongly condemn them. With all these incidents, people will get more organized and united to go forward to fight against the Seaplane project at Negombo lagoon.

"This is a temporary victory again, WE WILL CONTINUE OUR STRUGGLE TILL WE RECEIVE PERMANENT WIN"

Written By Joining Hands Network on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 | 10:10 PM






Concerned Authorities Said, “We will continue the Seaplane project at any cost. Disperse from the site immediately, unless face the consequences. I have given the orders to Navy.”
But, people said, “We never leave without removing the Barge and dredging machines and halt the digging operations at Lagoon.”

Finally, what people demanded were achieved.

Today, the fisher people who are the dependent on Negombo Lagoon had staged forceful protest at Negombo Lagoon against the Sea plane issue. Thousands of boats gathered at Lagoon and above 7000 fisher people vehemently protested against the Seaplanes to Negombo lagoon today.

While protestors were stage their protest at the Lagoon, the ground Navy staff members tried their best to make the protest a peaceful one and avoid any confrontation. At the same time they were trying with their senior staff to contact any authorities concerned through them.
Finally, Navy staff could contact Gotabaya Rajapakse, the defense secretary and the younger brother of President Mahinda, and were able to convey the message through a progressive priest who were with the protestors.
“You, catholic priests are the responsible to bring the fisher people to agitations. We will continue this project at any cost. You need to disperse from this site immediately. We have given the orders to Navy to put the force and disperse people. Unless you disperse immediately, face the consequences.”
This is the response from the authorities. And the whole gathering did not want to disperse with out having any solution.


While the fishermen are protesting at the lagoon, the women and their families were at the Katunayake junction, protesting at the Negombo-Colombo high way in solidarity with the fishermen. So, the whole group around 8000 fisher folk blocked the road and continued their protest till evening.
After 7 hours of protest, a representative of Navy commander, an Admiral approached the leaders of the Alliance for Protection of Negombo Lagoon and conveyed that the fisher people’s demands are met.
· Dismantle the system and Remove the Barge from the lagoon.
· Stop Immediately the excavations of lagoon bank for construction of platforms.

A discussion on permanent halt the Seaplane project with the top most politician or President Mahinda Rajapakse.
So, people went back to the Lagoon and stayed till late evening around 7.30 pm until the Barge and other equipments to remove from the Lagoon. This is a grate victory of the Negombo Fisher People with the interventions of Alliance for Protection of Negombo Lagoon.One of the conveners' of the APNL said, "It is very clear the genuine demand of the fisher people. They do not want Seaplane to come to Negombo lagoon.
This is a temporary victory again, we will never give up till we find a permanent solution for the issue."

Media Briefing about Sea Plane Issue

People received a temporary Victory over Sea Plane Issue at Negombo Lagoon

Written By Joining Hands Network on Thursday, November 11, 2010 | 8:55 PM







"We need development in our country. But, we do not want to disturb the lives and livelihoods of the lagoon fisher people". So, we need to find an alternative as we want to develop our country too.We promise to stop temporary this sea plane project in Negombo lagoon and the excavations going on at the lagoon. There should be a dialogue between fishermen and Hon. President, to find an alternative." Said Dayasritha Tissera Hon. Deputy Ports and civil aviation minister who attended the meeting with fishermen at Negombo Town Hall today.People were delighted to hear this message from the dep. minister Daysritha, though the other dep, minister Sarath Gunaratne was not happy with this announcement. Even Nimal Lansa, the Provincial Council Tourism minister did not emphasis the project at the meeting though the other deputy minister played a role against the people.

Alliance for Protection of Negombo Lagoon, organized protest staged against the decision taken by the Rajapaksha Government for landing sea plane on Negombo lagoon today. There were thousands of fishermen and women gathered at Negombo Town Hall this afternoon to discuss their issues they face due to implementation of Sea planes at Negombo Lagoon. There are 3500 fishermen directly depend on lagoon for their livelihoods which include 10,000 households from 35 villages around the lagoon. Civil Aviation ministry has proposed sea planes to boom tourism industry in which provide luxury facilities for 2.5 million tourist to be expected by 2015.
As the deputy minister got delayed, the people who were anxiously waited at the Town Hall and started agitations displaying plakards, and voice out slogans demanding to protect the lagoon.

Ranjith Fernando, the chair person of Negombo Lagoon Management Authority very strongly opposed the ongoing excavations at Mada Bokka [Mud Bay], "Mada Bokka is one of the most rich prawn breeding ground. Who ordered to dig this area? In 2006, it was dug because the Navy wanted to use high speed boats for security reasons. Now there is no such threats and need not to disturb and destroy our lagoon any more. We are totally against this destruction and urged strongly to stop this."


People are really disturbed and opposed vehemently against the project. Even catholic priests were not able to control the situation. Dep. Minister Sarath Gunaratne worked up and started blagarded to the gathering and said, "this behaviour is a shame to Negombo.
We came here to discuss the issues related to fishermen. We can not continue this dialogue any more, if the people behave like uncivilized."
However, dep. Minister could not stop the people as they did not want to listen to his roaring voice against them. People did not stop their voice even, the dep. minister Gunaratne openly ordered to Police to find who are behind the shouting.

Some women were also came forward to voice out against their un justices.

Shirani Fernando, a fisher woman leader of Sri Vimukthi Fisher Women Organization, very strongly and with tears in her eyes said, "We all are depending on our Lagoon. If our lagoon disturb or destroy that is end of our life. We educate our children through the little income we earn through lagoon. Any body want to destroy our lagoon, first destroy us and do it. We do not want any sea planes to Negombo Lagoon."

There were various fishing gear type fishers attended the meeting. The stake and Net fishery is one of the most traditional and historic fishing type in Negombo lagoon. Joseph Peter, a Stake net fisherman addressing the gathering said, " We are living simply with what we earn from the lagoon. We educated our children from the income. Even, we speak today with the strength we gained from what we earn from lagoon. We need not to go beyond this. Our simple way of life is enough for us. But, please do not put us down with disturbing our mother which is our Lagoon."

Responding to the people's agitations in side of the town hall, the Arch Diocese Vicar General Rev. Patrick Joseph said, we all are human beings. We can solve our problems with discussion. So, no point of voice out and agitate unnecessarily. Let us have a committee appointed and meet Hon.President to solve this sea plane issue. We are always with the fishermen who the majority are catholics."

Rev. Fr.Lester Nonis, the Fisheries Chaplain for Arch Diocese has convened the meeting upon request of Hon.Dep. Minister Dayasritha Tissera, had said that, "I am not in a position to organize a committee to meet Hon.President as people very clearly delivered their message to you all. People say no to Sea Planes at Negombo Lagoon. What else we talk to Hon.President.? You are our representatives and you can deliver this message to President. You all can see the people's voice. They will throw me out too."

As a result of the strong agitations by the people, and strong request to stop the digging the lagoon, Hon.Dep. Minister agreed to stop temporary the project till permanent solution will find after discussion with the President.
People realized this is a temporary victory and need to continue their agitations further till people get a permanent solution.People dispersed with high moral as they were able to halt the project temporary and to continue their agitations vigourously.

Police set fire to Muslim village and chase away 54 families: Governor’s (Brigadier) order

Written By Joining Hands Network on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | 7:57 PM




(Lanka-e-News, Nov04, 2010, 11.10PM) Last 31st Sunday, a group of policemen have arrived at dawn and set fire to a Muslim village Kandalkadu and a Muslim mosque in the Kinniya District and chased away 54 families who were resident there.

The victims say that the police has told them that this suffering was inflicted on the poor villagers by the Governor of the East Brigadier Mohan Jayawickrema.

These unfortunate Muslims are long time residents of Kandalkadu village, and they have registered deeds which they received in 1933 and 1945.There are over 130 families who were displaced due to the war resident in this village and had taken up residence in Kandalkadu. They have gone to their homes after the Trincomalee District Secretary had given written permission to them to stay.

Though these victims have shown their deeds and the letter given to them by the District Secretariat, the police have not heeded any of their pleas. The police had said they have no right to be in those places and questioned how they came into those jungles. After saying that they should obey what they say, the Police have set fire to the houses.

The mosque that was also set fire by the police had been built in 1972, the Kandalkadu residents say. These victims are refugees in the Kinniya Al adhan Vidyalaya.

The Governor, Brigadier Jayawickrema Mohan had arranged for a meeting with these Muslim victims yesterday, he has later postponed it.

A report had been asked from the Kinniya Grama niladhariya. The Grama nildhariya has reported that the victims are resident for a long time ; they have the janasaviya and samurdhi reliefs ; and they are registered even in the electoral registers.

When Lanka e news tried to contact the Governor over the phone regarding this issue, a person answering the call told,Jayawickrema has not come to office today.

When Ranjith Silva’s office was contacted, an officer answering said, the District Secretary had gone to the Kinniya District Secretariat.

The pictures depict the raging fire engulfing the houses; a house that has been completely burnt down; a family which is rendered destitute after the fire waiting with their remaining implements and wares; and the police guarding the place burnt down preventing anybody from entering the area.

A Kalapu Charika was great success

Written By Joining Hands Network on Wednesday, November 3, 2010 | 10:14 PM

A Kalapu Charika has been organized by the Alliance for Protection of Negombo Lagoon today. There were more than 3000 people gathered at the "Kurulu Kele" St. Jude Thadewus's Church at Seeduwa. The people who joined the lagoon tour displayed placards and registered their protest against the proposed Sea Planes project at Negombo lagoon.


Marcus Fernando, the chairperson of Negombo Lagoon Fisher People's Union at Pitipana said, "If government says they will bring Sea Planes to Negombo lagoon at any cost, we say, we will not allow it to happen at any cost. Politicians should bring Sea Planes on the lives of 3500 lagoon fishermen of Negombo lagoon. Our Lagoon is our mother. We totally depend on the lagoon for our survival. If lagoon face any problem, we won't tolerate at all."


People were registered their anger and protest against the proposed Sea Plane site while gathering at the St. Jude Church.
Fr. Lester Nonis gave very inspiring sermon to unite in faith and work hard till the people win. Needless to say that the way we should work. People and the lagoon are in a stage of danger with destruction. So, the people should come forward. Need to protect the Mud Bay, Coconut pillar bay, Kirala Bay where the most richest prawn breeding and feeding grounds of Lagoon. I am son of a fisherman. I know the importance of Mangroves. Sea weeds, prawns and bio diversity of Negombo Lagoon. We need not to allow any one to destroy our precious resource which is the lagoon, added Fr. Nonis.




"When we meet our Fisheries Minister yesterday, Hon. Dr. Rajitha Senarathne, he said he can not do anything about the sea planes project and go to President and ask for a solution. Why do we need a fisheries minister unless he attend and solve the issues faced by fisher people.? We need to go and talk to our father and not to go to any other person to share our difficulties, fears. But, there is no power for fisheries minster too. It is the power is in the hand of few in the country. This is an issue of democracy. We need not the top to bottom development approach any more.
Subhasinie Kamalaneshan, the coordinator, Sri Vimukthi Fisher Women Organization said after the gathering at the press.


Aruna Roshantha, the president of Eksath Dheewara Sangamaya, Pitipana said "We are concerned about the life and livelihoods of the 10,000 families. More than 3500 fishers alone depend on the Lagoon. Where do we go, if some thing happen adversely to Negombo Lagoon. Who cares? What are the plans for the families who will loose their only livelihood of Lagoon Fishing? We all are concern about it. This should not to be allowed to happen added Aruna at the press briefing.


"There more than 25,000 landless people in Negombo alone. We saw News paper advertisement mentioning that there are land sales. Each purchase will exceed RS. 75,000 and the landless poor become more vulnerable with tourism. We as landless group know the consequences when the tourism come in. We are totally against this situation."
Ramesh Nilanga narrated at the protest today.


We will continue this struggle till we win. It is not only youth & adult come together to prevent them from the displacement with "Sea Grabbing". There should be women also come with children and to come forward to see the progress today. We would see how all of the others come to a work with the determination.

Main Activities

01. Conducting Research.
02. Pressurizing for land rights.
03. Mobilizing the landless people.
04. File court cases regarding land issues.
05. Networking the affected communities.
06. Providing Trainings for leaders.
07. Conduct workshops.
 
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