Security forces personnel who were confined to barracks in the northern province have returned to their outposts and are back on the streets after visiting UN Envoy Navi Pillay left the area, according to eyewitness reports from the region.
While the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights travelled extensively in the north including the former LTTE stronghold of the Wanni, the heavily garrisoned province was somewhat bereft of armed forces personnel who have become part and parcel of the scenery post-war in the north.
The Elephant Pass checkpoint that was dismantled ahead of the UN High Commissioner’s visit has also been restored, sources told the Colombo Telegraph. “Troops are out on the roads again in Jaffna,” the sources said.
Reports are also emerging about military intelligence officials threatening Tamil civilians who demonstrated for their disappeared loved ones and held discussions with the UN Envoy. These claims cannot be independently verified at this time.
Militarisation of the north has been a hot button issue on the international agenda against Sri Lanka, because the heavy presence of soldiers in the former battlezones are seen as being an impediment to the resumption of normal civilian life in the region. The Government has repeatedly pledged to downscale the military in the north prior to the Northern Provincial Council elections but residents claim no such move has been made so far.