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Free People from Fear and Oppression

| by Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda & Fr. M. Sathivel

(September 21, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The phenomenon of ‘Grease Yaka’ first appeared in Kahawatta, causing death to several elderly women. Then it was thought to be a ‘Ghost’. Subsequently it spread to the hill country and later to Puttalam and to the North and East of the country causing anxiety and a feeling of deep insecurity among the population. A number of deaths were reported from Hatton and Puttalam. In Jaffna hundreds were assaulted and later arrested and about 7-8 were hospitalized on the orders of the magistrate.

People living in the areas where ‘grease devils’ operate do not sleep at night; instead they patrol their villages to assure security to their fellow human beings. The children are unable to engage in their studies as they lack peace of mind. In this climate it is the women who suffer most.

It is rather unfortunate that people in the North and East areas who suffered a heavy toll due to the war during the last 30 years, have to face fear and oppression again.

The occurrence of such events is extremely detrimental to the whole country now that it is journeying towards peace and justice, and specially to the people living in those parts of the country.

Strangely these incidents were reported to have occurred in the high security zone. The villagers report that when people attempted to capture the ‘Grease Yakas’, who had been operating in their villages, they had run into the army camps for refuge. It was also reported that whenever the ‘Grease Yakas’ appeared and the security forces failed to arrest them or take control over them, people became restless and even violent. This is a very natural reaction.

Undoubtedly the security forces have the responsibility to intervene in such circumstances to control the reaction of the people if it goes to extremes. After all haven’t the security forces acquired and developed special skills and even experience to do so ?

But these same security forces have no right to enter the houses at the middle of the night and assault and even break the legs and necks of the occupants. Unfortunately that is what has happened and that was no doubt a violation of human rights.

Against such a background it sounds strange that those in authority say that the story of ‘grease devil’ is merely a myth and a conspiracy of the LTTE sympathizers and the Tamil diaspora intended to drive away the security forces from the North. Such a puerile response will bring no relief to the people who have really experienced the attacks of the ‘grease devils’.

After these incidents have been reported, the soldiers are often seen again patrolling on the streets supposedly to control the ‘grease devils’. This scene has its negative impact on the civilians, increasing their fear and suspicion.

However it is the government that has the abiliy and the responsibility to indentify the culprits who pose as ‘grease devils’ and provide security to the fear stricken people.

We as the Christian Solidarity Movement wish that the government would undertake that responsibility unreservedly and fulfill it without fail.

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