Tamils push back bid to legalise Sri Lanka military landgrabbing

A group of war displaced Tamils  have prevented state authorities from officially validating the illegal occupation of private owned land in the Jaffna peninsula by Sri Lanka security forces.

Government surveyors who arrived at a village in the northern islet of Kayts, to chart an area for a permanent navy installation, had to turn back after meeting with stiff resistance from the original owners and their neighbours.

Almost 30 families from the Paruththiyadaippu village have been displaced for more than a decade.

Government Surveyor ET Yogatheepan had earlier informed Jaffna District Surveyor Yogaratnam Kadirgamanathan that he will conduct the demarcation on 25 January to establish a sentry point for the Kanchadeva naval base as authorized by Minister of Lands Gayantha Karunathilake.

The letter seen by JDS dated 10 January 2018 had been copied to local government authorities and the commander of Kanchadeva camp.

Alarmed by the surveyor’s visit, the legal owner of the land, Pushparaj Sujeewarasa had informed local authorities that he had no idea of the demarcation.

Devious scheme

Villagers who rushed to the scene in protest, are wary of a devious government scheme to gradually legalise the military occupation.

"Our land will be  surveyed bit by bit and officially handed over to the navy permanently."

Traditional Paruththiyadaippu residents believe that the officials backing off was temporary as local government elections are due to be held on 10 February.

"They can come back once the elections are over," a displaced villager told journalists.

"The navy should vacate forever and allow us to live in our land peacefully."

Vacating military occupied land, release of political prisoners, revealing the fate of disappeared and accountability for war crimes have been the key demands of a majority of Tamil political parties campaigning in the north and east.

According to Tamil politicians, at least 35,000 acres of land in the predominately Tamil north and east, is under military occupation.

© JDS

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Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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