Sri Lanka president urged to release 16,000 acres of occupied land

Disputing the Sri Lanka president’s claim that a large area of land taken over by war had been returned, a Tamil legislator has called for the release of 16000 acres in the Tamil north still under military occupation.

President Maithripala Sirisena had announced earlier that 80% of military occupied land had been returned to their traditional owners.

Surprised by the claim, a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian has provided the president with details of 16000 acres of residential and agricultural land held by the security forces in the north alone.

“Owing to this, several people have lost their livelihoods,” writes MP Charles Nirmalanathan.

“Further, the forces have built luxury hotels in certain lands in the Northern Province”.

While army and navy camps have been built on 3500 acres of land, 7500 acres are being used as residence for military families, says TNA MP Nirmalanathan.

The remaining thousands of acres in the north are being utilized for agro business ventures.

EU requested to engage

Meanwhile, expressing displeasure on the slow pace of releasing of civilian lands occupied by the armed forces, Opposition Leader R Sampanthan has requested the European Union to "engage with the government constructively" on delivering much delayed commitments.

“People are only demanding the release of their own lands to which they have an attachment, delays in this matter has caused disappointment and frustration among the people,” the opposition leader has told Paul Godfrey, the EU  Political representative in Sri Lanka.

Last May, the EU granted duty free access to more than 80% of Sri Lankan exports to the European market.

Former TNA parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran addressing a public meeting in the northern town of Jaffna claimed that the total land area under military occupation is 35,000 acres.

No more release

Earlier, the Sri Lanka military had announced it would not release any other land in the north and east to its traditional owners.

Tamils in the north and east demanding the return of their land are on a continuous protest for more than ten months.

Latest figures released by the Sri Lanka government reveals that over 40,000 war displaced are yet to be resettled.

The government is yet to release any official figures of land held by its military.

© JDS

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Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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