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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 81

More rural suicides in Sri Lanka

[b]More rural suicides in Sri Lanka[/b]

By G.G. Senaratna – World Socialist Web Site

Four tragic suicides by farmers in the north-central province of Sri Lanka during the lead-up to the presidential election have highlighted the plight of many small farmers, who face mounting debt, rising costs and insecure incomes. Despite efforts by the candidates of the two major parties to win rural votes with various promises, hostility towards them on the part of the rural poor is growing.

Three of the four suicides took place in September; the last one in early November. All but one of the four lived in remote villages on the edge of the northern war zones, which have been ravaged by two decades of civil war. Many farmers are poor Sinhalese settlers who have been used as a buffer by the military during its fighting against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). They live in some of the most impoverished areas in the country.

* M.P. Jayasinghe, 44, from Aralaganvila took his life on September 24. He was burdened with a 90,000 rupee loan ($US900) and could not redeem his one hectare paddy field, which had been mortgaged to a private money lender during the last two planting seasons. His wife Nalini Malkanthi told the WSWS that he had been in mental agony over his impossible financial situation. Jayasinghe had become a sharecropper on his own land, she explained angrily. He cultivated the land, but a big share of the crop went to the money lender. She is now living with her parents, who are in their 80s.

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