Sri Lanka: Northern province oppose moves to colonise Tamil lands

The Northern Provincial Council unanimously adopted a resolution urging President Maithripala Sirisena to halt settling Sri Lanka military families in a newly constructed village in the Tamil speaking north.

Supporting the resolution adopted on Thursday (24), Chief Minister CV Vigneswaran said that the central government should not make any decisions regarding land and resettlement of outsiders in the northern province until the country has a new constitution.

State plans to establish the village named as ‘Sanhindiyawe Sathvirugama’ (Sathvirugama village of reconciliation) was brought to the notice of the provincial council by ruling Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Councillor Kandiah Sarveswaran, who strongly opposed moves to colonise the north.

Addressing the assembly, Chief Minister Vigneswaran said that the military and the Mahaweli Authority are spearheading moves to change the demography of the region.

The new constitution should be based on federalism, in order to enable Tamils to find solutions to issues in their traditional lands, he said.

Already, over four thousand families from outside have been settled in the north, he told the council.

Village of Reconciliation

Sri Lanka defence ministry on Wednesday (23) unveiled plans to hand over 51 houses built in Kokeliya village, in the Vavuniya district  to military families on the 3rd of April.

The houses will be handed over by president Maithripala Sirisena to ‘Tamil woman soldiers, soldiers married to Tamil women and vice versa, a soldier with seven children, and next of kin of the rape victim, Vidhya who was murdered several months back’ Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi told journalists in Colombo.

He expressed hope that the project ‘would help heal the wounded hearts of Tamil populace to some extent’.

Village for ‘war heroes’

However, according to the Sri Lanka Army’s Sinhala website, the village will be dedicated to military families.

‘The new housing project was initiated at the beginning of last year to express gratitude towards 'war heroes' and heroic families of those killed in the war’ it says.

The report reveals that the families of soldiers belonging twenty-one regiments and units will benefit from the project.

Meanwhile, the Sinhala language website of the state owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation also confirmed the report, stating that 'the project cost will be covered by the 'Api Wenuwen Api Fund'. According to its' official website 'the Fund is a collaboration between the the Ministry of Defence and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to build 50,000 houses for the serving Tri-Service personnel.

16,500 acres cleared

A Sri Lankan environment watchdog had earlier released photographic evidence of the military and Mahaweli Authority clearing sixteen thousand five hundred acres of forest land in the North and East to establish settlements.

In Vavunia alone, the Army, Civil Defence Force and the Mahaweli Authority was clearing 5000 acres of forest land, said the Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) last November.

Meanwhile, the minister in charge of resettlement says that 11,000 of internally displaced people (IDP) in the north are yet to be resettled.

However, military camps in the north occupying vast areas of land will not be vacated, Minister MLAM Hisbullah told journalists on Wednesday.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.