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Forgotten Muslims of Sri Lanka

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    Forgotten Muslims of Sri Lanka Thousands of Muslims in northern Sri Lanka were ordered to leave their properties by the LTTE in 1991. They were only
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2007
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      Forgotten Muslims of Sri Lanka
       
      Thousands of Muslims in northern Sri Lanka were ordered to leave their properties by the LTTE in 1991. They were only allowed to take minimum of their posessions and limited amount of cash. Everything else got confiscated by the Tamil Tigers. This act is described by some as ethnically cleansing the North. Tamil Tigers later apologised to Muslims after it was heavily criticised by human rights activists. 'Tigers say Tamils are discriminated against by Sinhalese. But they did the same thing against Muslims,' said a senior peace envoy from Norway to the BBC Sinhala service.
       
       
      © BBC By Elmo Fernando in Puttalam
      Colombo correspondent, BBC Sinhala

      Forgotten Muslims
       
      The refugees were evicted from northern
      areas by the LTTE in 1991
      Muslim refugees at the Norochcholai Alamkudah Mullaitivu B refugee camp are doubtful of a fresh start of a new life in Wanni.

      MS Abdeen, a refugee in Puttalam camp, said there future is uncertain as there is no civil administration in LTTE-controlled areas.

      'You can take action against police if they beat us here. But can you do anything against the LTTE?'

      Adambava Fausul Haq recalled how the LTTE took everything they had after ordering them to leave homes within three days.

      'Leave in three days'

      Thousands of Muslims in northern Sri Lanka were ordered to leave their properties by the LTTE in 1991.

      They were only allowed to take minimum of their posessions and limited amount of cash. Everything else got confiscated by the Tamil Tigers. This act is described by some as ethnically cleansing the North.

      Tamil Tigers later apologised to Muslims after it was heavily criticised by human rights activists.

      'Tigers say Tamils are discriminated against by Sinhalese. But they did the same thing against Muslims,' said a senior peace envoy from Norway to the BBC Sinhala service.

      Future
      The Norwegian envoy met Muslims evicted by LTTE for the first time
      Adambava Fausal Haq another refugee from the camp feared whether the Muslims will be able to return to their homes in Kilinochchi.

      "Tigers say Wanni is Tamils' land. I don't think we'll be able to have a
      normal life there."

      The Muslim refugees however were hopeful that the future wouldn't be bleak after all.

      "The LTTE should try to improve the relations with Muslim people," MS Abdeen said.

      After a visit to the camp Norwegian peace envoy Erik Solheim announced that the Muslims will also be included in the proposed joint mechanism for tsunami reconstruction.

      That was the first time Norwegian envoy visited Muslim war refugees evicted from northern areas by the LTTE in 1991.

      Joint mechanism

      However, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader strongly criticised the lack of consultation with the Muslims.

      ' LTTE does not allow Muslims resettling in Mannar and Jaffna to get back to their usual work,' Hakim told BBC Sandeshaya (BBC Sinhala) after meeting Solheim on Wednesday.

      Muslims who are goldsmiths and scrap metal collectors are prohibited by the LTTE in getting back to their traditional trading practices, he said.

      The apex body of the joint mechanism consists of a member each from the Sinhala Tamil and Muslim communities.

      Hakim alleged that they were however informed of the proposals only on Wednesday.

      "We were denied the opportunity to make more constructive input," he said.
       
       


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