12/12/2009, 00.00
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Sri Lanka: Negombo fishermen protesting against government and police

by Melani Manel Perera
On the Day for the Defence of Human Rights 500 members of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement and other associations in the fisheries sector have demonstrated against illegal fishing and the inaction of government and police. For them Colombo’s policies encourages the logic of profit and the development of tourism at the expense of small fishermen.

Negombo (AsiaNews) - The small fishermen of Negombo lagoon are protesting against illegal fishing, which destroys fish stocks in the area and weighs on their activities.  

Five hundred people, including several fisherwomen (photo), demonstrated December 10 near the beach of Negombo, 40 km north of Colombo. The initiative, organized by the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (nafso) in collaboration with the Negombo United Lagoon Fisher People's Organization and the newspaper Meepura, gathered together fishermen from Munnakkaraya, Pitipana, duwa, Basiyawatta, Thalahena, Kuran, Katunayake, Munhena and Mankuliya.

The protesters submitted to the leaders of the administration and the local police two memorandums asking especially for the enforcement of the law, in vigour since1996 and upheld by the Supreme Court in July of 2009, which prohibits invasive fishing techniques.  

NAFSO and other groups complain of systematic violations of basic rights of fishermen to favour the profits of large companies and the development of tourism. All this happens with the connivance of the police force, which ensures the continuation of lawlessness, and the inaction of the central government after the war against the Tamil Tigers had promised aid to the fishermen which however never arrived.

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