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Oct-08-2011 19:44printcommentsVideo

Sri Lanka Joins Israel in Naval Attacks on Unarmed Fishermen

There is strong criticism of Sri Lanka Navy's practices by the Tamil Nadu Prime Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who calls Sri Lankan attacks on Indian fishermen an 'Act of Aggression'

J. Jayalalithaa
J. Jayalalithaa

(SALEM ) - Sharing a spot on the world stage with Israel as one of the only navies in the world that attacks unarmed fishermen, Sri Lanka's military is falling under the increasing scrutiny of politicians in neighboring India. Jayalalithaa Jayaram, Chief Minister of the state of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, said such assaults on Indian citizens should be viewed as "an act of provocation and aggression against India."

We've been reporting the events off the Gaza coastline for years; Israel's navy routinely attacks Palestinian fishing boats out of Gaza with everything from live fire to fire hoses, reserved for colder days.

It has been nothing less than amazing that Israel gets away with this activity, though it doesn't look like Sri Lanka will have the same luck.

The country's military is the subject of mounting war crime charges connected to the Genocide of Tamil Sri Lankans just over two years ago, where up to 100,000 or more people were slaughtered along with most of the records, in the country's northern coastal region. They're also in big trouble for alleged rape and rampant sexual assault in Haiti, where Lankan troops were based as part of a UN relief force. The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has a soiled reputation in the world.

Jayalalithaa Jayaram said, "Incidents of apprehension and assault of fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy should be viewed not as an assault on Tamil fishermen, but as an assault on Indian citizens and should be viewed as an act of provocation and aggression against India by Sri Lanka, similar to firing across the borders of India by neighbours such as Pakistan and China."

Ranjan Mathai

The Times of India reports today that Jayalalithaa's strong sentiments were conveyed to foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai, who called on her here ahead of his three-day Colombo visit.

A state government release quotes her as having told Mathai that 16 similar fishing boat incidents have taken place since May, and she says the attacks should be viewed as a national issue and not as an isolated problem in Tamil Nadu alone.

Most of the incidents involved detention and harassment have happened in the last month, Jayalalithaa says, and have occurred off the coastal districts of Ramanathapuram and Nagapattinam.

"As the boats sailing out of Sri Lanka are under the close surveillance of the Sri Lankan Navy, there is every likelihood that these incidents took place with the knowledge of the Sri Lankan Navy," Jayalalithaa said.

She also suggested that Mathai should take up the matter with the Sri Lankan authorities on his next visit there. It seems logical that Sri Lanka would have intense interest at this time as another political black eye is the last thing the government of President Majinda Rajapaksa needs right now.

End Israel's Unwarranted Murder of Kids

Sri Lanka Navy Tamil fishermen for more video reports

Kidnapped in Gaza By Vittorio Arrigoni


Vik Arrigoni documented Israel's military attacks on
Gaza's unarmed fishermen. - Christian Peacekeepers Team

There was a time in history, not so long ago, that this would have been major world news. Today there is so much much constant conflict and strife that we tend to overlook the severity of crimes at sea, though we should not. I sometimes wonder if officials in India are so keenly aware of Sri Lanka's military aggression, that they allow it to take place without interference due to fear.

One of his life goals of the late Vittorio 'Vik' Arrigoni of Italy, a friend and writer for who was Murdered last April, was to see Israel end its attacks on fishermen trying to earn a living.

This abuse of humanity in Israel leads to boats being sunk, frequently damaged, and often confiscated. The Palestinian fishermen of Gaza have 20 miles of sea to operate in, but Israel illegally limits the distance to three miles, where the fish are few.

Only when we as a world follow the role of Vik Arrigoni, are we succeeding as a human race. Resistance and media are key, and those who participate in anything even remotely resembling state terrorism should be publicly admonished. But they aren't, and that is why Jayalalithaa's words are so important at this time.


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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.