Sri Lanka refuses complete return of military occupied land

Sri Lanka's top defence official refused to return the full amount of land under military occupation in the north and east back to their rightful owners.

Attending a state sponsored event in the northern Jaffna district on Saturday (25) to hand back a little over two hundred acres in Valikamam north, the country's defence secretary said that only the private land not needed for 'military requirement' will be returned to civilians.

"We are going to analyse the military requirement here. That will be done very scientifically. And then will see what is the land  required for security purposes. Other land we will release. That exercise will take time," Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi told journalists.

The elected chief minister of the northern province was notably absent from the event in the Kankesanthurai high security zone (HSZ) organised by the security forces.

Three thousand acres

Seven years after the government declaring an end to the war, the defence secretary failed to provide an answer to journalists who requested him to tell the extent of land to be released.

He said that the 'landless' will 'immediately' be given state owned land while returning land to original owners 'will take time'. But he further said that he is unable to provide a time frame for the resettlement of the war displaced.

The foreign ministry has directed the defence establishment to complete the task by 2018.

Three thousand acres of land in the country's north is under military occupation, according to government calculations.

"From 29,000 acres of occupied land in the Jaffna area, we have now come to about 3000," said the defence secretary.

However, figures released by Colombo based think tank Centre for Policy Alternatives in March this year estimated that 12,751 acres of land in the north alone are held by the military.




Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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