May 10, 2017

‘Military decides return of north-east land’ Featured

The government claims the north-east land taken over by the military is being returned to the civilians, but it is up to top military officials in the respective areas if they are allowed to take up permanent residence in their traditional land, according to the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement.

NFSM secretary Herman Kumara has told that after seizing the land on the pretext of national security, the government and the military continue holding them saying the land is fit for tourism, but not for residential purposes.

Successive governments have lied to the international community that so much of land has been returned, but when they go to take up residence, the owners are told by the administrative or military officials that the land was yet to be released, he charged.

The government hesitates to release the land in order to appease the Sinhala people and the military, according to Kumara.

He went onto say that hundreds of fisher families at Valikamam in Jaffna remain in displaced camps since 1990.

The plight of the people of Sampur in the east is no different, with the military ordering them to vacate land adjacent to the power plant there, he said.

Daya Gamage plans tourism in seized Panama land

Even the land belonging to the Sinhalese at Panama is not being released despite a cabinet decision on 11 February 2015 and a pursuant order by the court of appeal, said Kumara.

Lahugala divisional secretary L.A. Liyanarachchi insists nothing will be done until the court case is withdrawn, he said.

The National Fisheries Solidarity Movement secretary said according to information he had, minister Daya Gamage is planning to acquire the land for tourism.

Furthermore, north-east fishermen are not allowed to engage in their livelihood, he said, blaming it on the military and certain Sinhala fishermen who encroach on their territory.

There are fishermen from the south who organize themselves and poach in the north-east seas, sometimes using banned equipment, and with the protection of the military, he alleged.

People of the north-east, including students of universities and schools, have been staging protests demanding the return of their land.