Manik Farm, the "Mahathalithagama" of the Mahavamsa.

Most people have only a vague idea of the location and where abouts of these IDP camps with names like "Manik Farm, Kadirgaamar Village etc. How many such camps are there ? How many people are there in these camps?

By "Gam Vaesiya", Ontario Canada

(September 21, Ontario, Sri Lanka Guardian) Now that the military effort against the LTTE is over, most of the concern is directed to the IDP camps. Many dignitaries and concerned people have visited the IDP camps, sometimes with axes to grind, and sometimes with a genuine mission of humanitarian aid. The most recent visitors have been the English Catholic Bishops, and then we have had the United Nations Under Secretary General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe. The latter was also interviewed on the usually somewhat anti-Sri Lankan "As it happens" program of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Mr. Pacoe did not come out in support of the dire, inflammatory claims of the Tamil Diaspora which is still beholden to the fallen LTTE. The Bishops echoed the position of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka which has been calling for sending the IDPs home, and claiming that these are "prison camps".

Well informed Tamil Christians like Sebastian Rasalingam have discussed
the dilemma faced by the church which has to echo the views of the
upper class Tamils.

The UN under secretary did not make the kind of knee-jerk remarks made by
the Bishops. His reports fitted in with two earlier reports
by individuals who are not VIPs. Here I like to select two
interesting reports which appeared recently in the Island newspaper.
First is that of Lilini Jayatilake (Island Feature on August 02) which gives a detailed
report of their visit to the IDP camps known by the names Manik Farm,
Chettikulam, and other camps like Sumathipuram, Dharmapuram and
Veerapuram and Komarasankulam camps. She presents a relatively positive
picture, especially of the children who "tore around the back garden in
bursts of high spirits", and also records that the people were clean and
well fed, although many yearned for the freedom of going out of the
camps. An earlier report was that of Sebastian Rasalingam (Island
Feature, 13th July 2009) who also came out with a positive report which
went onto assert that many of the dire claims of the Diaspora are

Most people have only a vague idea of the location and where abouts of
these IDP camps with names like "Manik Farm, Kadirgaamar Village etc. How
many such camps are there ? How many people are there in these camps?
What is the historical background of the places where the camps are
located? How were the camps named?

The location of the so called Manik Farm, or Maenik Farm, is particularly intriguing
from a historical perspective. This is an area already noted by the
Archaeological Department for the existence of ancient ruins (1983 report
by the Asst. commissioner Mr. Somasiri) as this has been a theater of war
since the earliest days of Sri Lanka's recorded history. The
Mahathalithagama of the Mahavamsa is very likely to be in this area. In
fact, it is most likely that this IS Mahathalithagama. The Chulavamsa
records that the Pandyan king Sri Mara Sri Vallabha, when he invaded Sri
Lanka (9th century CE), first captured the Uttaradesa (i.e, effectively,
north of the southern limit of the Vanni, i.e., Vannimava which is
today's Vavuniya). Sri Vallabha is supposed to have destroyed the
Uttaradesa and its people, and encamped at Mahathalithagama. He then
defeated the army send by king Sena I. The Sinhala king, hearing of the
route of the Uttaradesa and the defeat of his army, retreated to the
hills. Meanwhile, Sri Vallabha is said to have collected his troops and
some of the dispersed indigenous Tamils at Mahathalithagama - an IDP camp
of the 9th century! Some of the other towns of the region, e.g.,
Pampaimadhu, Thanndykulam, Poonthddam etc., have been discussed by
toponymists and some attempts to surmise their ancient names have been
made (see

In the attached map we have indicated the Manik Farm which today has four
major zones. The largest of these Manik farm zone-2 is home to some 69k (i.e,
69 thousand) people according to the 26-June-2009 data released by the UN
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Colombo. The Zones
1,3 and 4 have some 47k, 44k, and 43k individuals who are mainly from
people displace from the Vanni region (Mannar to Mulllativu). We have
also shown the other camps in the attached map, together with their
probabale ancient names, as far as we can ascertain them.

Manik Farm Aruviaru Sivanantha school 1k
Manik Farm Zone 1 47k
Manik Farm Zone 2 67k
Manik Farm Zone 3 44k
Manik Farm Zone 4 43k
Menik Farm Zone 5 5k
Menik Farm camp (Kathirkamarnagar village) 19k
Nelukkulam transit center 3k
Cheddikulam school 2k
College of education, Poonthoddam 6k
Vavuniya Sivapirakasa Ladies College 3k
Thandikkulam School 1k
Adiyapuliyankulam School 1k
Vavuniya Puthukkulam 2k
Va/Komarasankulam School 2k
Va/Sooduventhapualvu Muslim School 2k
Veerapuram Transit Site 5k
Sumathipuram Transit Site 5k

Thus these camps held some 260k persons, according to the figures
released at the end of June 2009. This number has now shrunk by
about 20,000. Hence the continuing claim of 300,000 detainees is
not based on available figures.

In naming the IDP villages, the government has simply resorted to the
names of old Tamil leaders like Arunachalam, Ramanathan etc., as well as
the welcome addition of the name of Kadirgamar. It should be noted that a
Tamil dissident writer (Sebastian Rasalingam, Island Feature
30-January-2009; ) had in
fact objected to the use of names of old Feudal Tamil leaders like
Ramanathan who had led several delegations to the Colonial Secretariat in
London to demand that the caste system be enshrined in the constitution
of Ceylon. Indeed, most of the Vanni IDPs of today who are lodged in the
Ramanathan Village would be regarded as low-caste individuals of "no
importance" by Ponnambalam Ramanathan who always chose to emphasize his
Brahmin status.

The attitude that one takes towards the existence of these camps (still
only a few months after a 30 year long war) seems to be based very much
on one's political prejudices than facts. Thus some writers have ignored
the fact that these camps are in reality a resounding success, and a
cause for national pride. when total chaos of the sort What happened in
New Orleans (after Katrina) in the USA could have easily occurred here
since the numbers and circumstances are more horrific. Instead, judging
by all reliable reports, the IDPs have been safely stationed and three
wholesome meals are provided to them. There has been an amazing
outpouring of help and concern from the people of the south as well as
from some sections of Sri Lankans who form the so-called Diaspora. Over
200 doctors and some 1000 nurses are attending to the IDPs. Indian and
French medical teams are also working in these camps.

We need to also enlist the good will of school children of the south who
could go to these camps and organize sports and musical activities,
language exchange etc., as means of establishing a better mutual
understanding of the problems of the country.

Unfortunately, the positive aspects of how the IDPs have been helped have
been ignored by many outside observers. The faces of children peering
thorough the barbed-wire fences have been shown all over the world. The
government claims that these are simply children who crowded along the
fence to watch the helicopters which brought the newsmen and television
crews to the IDP camps. However, the picture shows that we need to move
beyond "holding and shielding" to "renovation and resettlement".

Undoubtedly, it is not in the interests of Sri Lanka to hold these people
in camps. They should be used for the reconstruction of the North. Once
the basic infrastructure of the villages is in place, with de-mining
completed, the people would need houses as well as sustainable economic
activity to exist in their villages. If the people are provided with
basic building materials, they can supply their labour and their
ingenuity to build their own houses and establish their own agricultural
activities. That is, these IDPs become creators of economic wealth and
join in the process of rebuilding the North, instead of being individuals
dependent on State aid or charity.
-Sri Lanka Guardian