“What has happened to the land of the people? Why is there a navy camp in Mullikulam? Why are the people of Mullikulam displaced? What is the environment? Are the displaced people of roughly a 100 families in the contested area actually destroying the forest? Or are they helping in nurturing it? Whose environment are we talking of?: that of people in Colombo and other urban areas or that of the displaced? Why aren’t we asking these questions? ”
“There is a) an urgent need for a national policy on resettlement of the displaced, a solution acceptable to the people b) a need to check the retrenchment of military bases that has taken land away from the people, c) and the need to focus on the concerns of co-existence of the people of the area. The rights of the Tamils of Mullikulam who have been displaced by the establishment of a large navy camp, the inalienable right to return of Muslims of Musali South and the landing rights of seasonal fisher people, mostly Sinhala, from places such as Chilaw and Negombo, have to be reinstated and reassured.”
‘During the war, many Tamils fled the north and settled abroad or in other regions of the island. Since the end of the war, many of them have wanted to return and reclaim their land. However, the army has other plans: the appropriated estates have become
Military Camps, High Security Zones (HSZ) or Special Economic Zones (SEZ).’
“Anthony Quinn lost his home to the Sri Lankan army at age 17. He’s now 45. He badly limps in injury from shelling during the long war that ended with the government forces crushing the separatist Tamil Tigers. Ever since the military seized his family’s house near the airport of Jaffna, the provincial capital of the north where the fighting raged, Quinn has lived in assorted crude encampments – no privacy, no sanitation. In this one with its barking dogs and corrugated tin walls, he raised four children.”
As many as 2,175 internally displaced Tamil families in Jaffna and Trincomalee districts are set to receive a financial assistance of Rs. 38,000 per family for resettlement with the Cabinet of the Sri Lankan government sanctioning Rs. 16 crore Lankan.
Austin Fernando, Governor of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province, has strongly refuted criticism made in certain quarters about the Colombo’s decision to resettle internally-displaced people (IDP), mostly Tamils, in Sampur town.
For the people of Sampur the benefits of peace are yet to be fully realized. Community members speak about living in a no man’s land between war and peace, where their lives are governed by ‘military rule.’ While other parts of the country are able to enjoy peace dividends, including security and opportunities for economic growth, in Sampur there has been little progress over the last few years. This article follow a visit we made to Sampur last weekend and highlights what we term the ‘Sampur Model’, its implications for communities, post-war reconstruction and reconciliation, and identifies areas requiring urgent attention and action.
As Sri Lanka gears up for a presidential election five years after the end a long separatist rebellion, the country, especially the war-scarred North, faces a raft of unresolved chronic problems. Analysts regard many of them as long-term drivers of conflict.
The front-runners in the January poll are incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is seeking an unprecedented third term (thanks to a constitutional amendment passed by the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), and his former minister of health, Maithripala Sirisena. Both are southerners.
Neither candidate has released his campaign platform. In Sri Lanka’s former war zone in the North, there is widespread apprehension that post-war issues are unlikely to take top-billing.
“VALIPUNAM, Sri Lanka, Jul 7 2014 (IPS) – The village of Valipunam, 322 km north of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, occupies one of the remotest corners of the country’s former war zone. The dirt roads are impossible to navigate, there are no street lights, telephone connections are patchy and the nearest police post is miles away, closer to the centre of the battle-scarred Mullaitivu district.”
“La semaine dernière à Genève, le Conseil des droits de l’homme des Nations unies a adopté une résolution visant à faire la lumière sur des crimes de guerre commis entre 2002 et 2009 au Sri Lanka. Entre autres, l’extermination de 40 000 à 70 000 civils, selon les estimations de l’ONU, très majoritairement des Tamouls, par l’armée gouvernementale durant les derniers mois d’une guerre qui a ensanglanté ce pays de l’océan Indien durant plus de vingt-cinq ans, un massacre que le gouvernement de Colombo a toujours nié.”
Elaborating on the challenges, he pointed to militarisation as a major impediment to governance. Many families that were internally displaced during the war were yet to be resettled. The Sri Lankan army, he said, had taken over private land and in some cases even agriculture. “Locals have to purchase produce from their own land cultivated by the army,” he said, adding that women and children suffered periodic intimidation by the army.
The occupants — some of whom were displaced to the Vanni and other parts of the country during the brutal war — returned only to find out they could go nowhere near their land. Once their home, it had now become an exclusive domain of the army. “We don’t even know if our homes are there or have been demolished,” said A. Kunapalasingam, president of the Vali-North Rehabilitation and Resettlement Committee.
“The issue of assistance is definitely one of the current dominant problems to addressing the IDP [internally displaced persons] problem,” said Mirak Raheem, who recently authored an extensive research study on protracted war displaced in Sri Lanka. “Donor financial support has played a crucial role in humanitarian work and now it will be incumbent on the government to fill the gap.”