The dove keeper

Mohammed Yassin was expelled along with over five thousand other Muslim families from the Jaffna peninsula. He talks about the day that changed his life and his return to his hometown. Photography by Kannan Arunasalam.

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  • Kannan Arunasalam says:

    I headed for Moor Street. I knew that once a thriving Muslim community had lived there when Jaffna was home to some 5,500 Muslim families.  All that changed when on October 30, 1990 the Tamil Tigers decided to throw them all out. An estimated 75,000 Muslims were evicted from the northern parts of Sri Lanka.
     
    Today, there were signs of life again in the Moor Street area.  Muslims had begun to trickle back. The dusty roads were flanked on both sides by abandoned houses. I found two men chatting by the roadside. I asked them whether they knew anyone who had experienced the expulsion and who had come back to Jaffna.  These men were recent arrivals, traders who shuttled back and forth from Colombo. The men pointed me in the direction of Mohammed Yassin’s house just a little way down from the Moor Street mosque, now done up.
     
    A jolly man, Mr Yassin welcomed me into his home. We talked about the day he and his family were forced out of Jaffna. Afterwards, he gave me a tour of the house. His father had run a successful bakery business from here and Mr Yassin showed me where the kiln had once been, at the back of the house. That was the past and Mr Yassin had clearly moved on. He wanted to tell me about his brokering business, selling houses in Jaffna and Colombo. Was I interested? Finally, he showed off his prized doves. As I watched Mr Yassin feeding the birds, contented, I thought that even after everything he and his family had been through, he remained hopeful. But then, he was home now.

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  • Helga De Silva Blow Perera says:

    Thank you for sharing. Wonderful, courageous family. No winge, no wallow, just moving on in spite of all. The only way.

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  • Nancy Fernando says:

    Well let’s look at the positive side of this brave family, they have come home, like their pidgeons. God bless them.

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  • Nelum Gamage says:

    No viciousness in him for what happened to him and his family long years ago! Wish him luck!

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  • (@iam_project) (@iam_project) says:

    Marking the month of Ramadan. Narratives of Muslim elders. Listen to Mohammed Yassin http://t.co/mfyoBub4 #lka http://t.co/edCl7h7A

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  • Meera Selva (@TheMeeraSelva) says:

    RT @iam_project: Mohammed Yassin was expelled along with 5000 Muslim families from Jaffna. Listen to his story http://t.co/XsXhFvYN #lka http://t.co/hUIHmGsV

    Reply
  • (@iam_project) (@iam_project) says:

    “Still we don’t know what for we were chased from Jaffna”. Listen to Mohammed Yassin’s story http://t.co/lBAfa3L6 http://t.co/Tlwg2EvB

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  • Girish says:

    “You can’t take jewellery or cash” That’s the saddest part. How is a person supposed to re-settle without money? “They took our jewellery and cash…Each family they gave 1,000 rupees”. I wish you could cover more about his life. Excellent photographs to go with the story. That last photograph says it all.

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  • (@iam_project) (@iam_project) says:

    More news from Jaffna: the Yassin family is very excited about a wedding. Original 2010 portrait: http://t.co/lBAfa3L6 http://t.co/QTBTD85P

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  • Fazli Sameer says:

    There’s always hope that will carry us back home, sooner than later.

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