The first sitting of the People’s Tribunal, a forum promoted by fishermen’s organisations to hear the sufferings faced by fishermen in the State, especially at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy, would hold its first sitting at Rameswaram in December, according to Henri Tiphagne, Executive Director of People’s Watch, a human rights organisation, supporting the initiative.
The fishermen of the State are subject to continued attacks and harassment by the Sri Lankan Navy even after the island nation announced that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been wiped out. A team of theology students from St. Paul’s Seminary in Tiruchi have undertaken a field study in the coastal districts of the State to document instances of firing, harassment and cases of fishermen gone missing in recent years. The study has documented 37 cases of firing and deaths, 254 cases of torture and 20 cases of missing fishermen, all of which had taken place over the past 10 years.
These and other cases would be taken up by the People’s Tribunal, Mr. Tiphagne said and added that the session would be attended by eminent jurists, researchers and journalists from the country. Based on the hearing, a report would be submitted to the State and Central governments, he said addressing a press here on Saturday.
Mr. Tiphagne also called for the immediate intervention of the State and Central governments to put an end to the attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy against fishermen from the State. The fishermen community is fast losing faith in the State and Central governments and this could have dangerous repercussions, he said.
Students who participated in the field study narrated various instances, as narrated by the fishermen and documented by them, of attacks and torture against the fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy.