“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.”
Ordinary folk such as S. Sivanesan, a teacher in a government school in Jaffna, says, “We will vote for candidates who are willing to speak on behalf of the Tamil people and their causes. They should be able to help people affected by the war and not able to resettle in their respective land. That’s our immediate need. It has to be done.”
Enabling resettlement in Akkarai village, Sri Lanka The inhabitants of Akkarai village on the northern side of the Jaffna peninsula were displaced from their small fishing village in 1986. The Sri Lankan Army (SLA) advanced from the west and set up a camp to defend against LTTE attacks from the east, forcing the 105 families to abandon their homes, boats and livelihoods. In 1990, the families were allowed to return to the area, but when one man lost his leg in a mine accident people were once again displaced and the land surrounding it was again occupied by the Army. This land then became part of the military High Security Zone which covered the northern coast of the Jaffna peninsula. – See more at:http://www.halotrust.org/node/908#sthash.80e0Q8ZB.dpuf
Land has a central place in the post war debates involving resettlement, reconstruction, development and the search for a political solution. With the ten year anniversary of the tsunami nearing and more than five years after the end of the war, many questions regarding land issues persist including continuing challenges to individuals being able to fully enjoy, access and use their lands and reside in their homes, due to restrictions placed in the name of security and development. Furthermore, Sri Lanka has a complex framework for legal and possessory rights, covering both State and private land. This framework is meant to provide tenure security for individuals residing and using the land and safeguards to prevent arbitrary displacement and eviction. The legal and policy framework, despite its shortcomings and the need for reform in specific areas, is a basic starting point of a governance system as well as constituting recognition of the rights of those owning and in possession of land. Unfortunately, present practices and recent policy decisions undermine the framework in place and demonstrate a deliberate disregard and/or ignorance of what is in the books. These challenges are highlighted in the present brief with recommendations provided for immediate reform.