Need for the national seminar on development displacement
Build up a National Platform on Land Issues while bringing all possiblepeople who are affected due to Development Displacement in SLNational Seminar on Land Issue of Development Displaced Communities aroundSri LankaRationale:The post war Sri Lanka’s aim is to be “wonders in Asia” by coming decade or so. The GOSL istaking all possible steps to make this aim to a reality with various types of developmentactivities. Infra structure development, power generation, development of communicationsystems, provide more facilities to investors for mega scale agriculture, fisheries, tourismdevelopment which proposed by Ranil Wickremasinghe regime in 2002 at the regaining SriLanka, which reaffirmed and launched in an intensive way during post tsunami developmentprogram in 2005 proposed by Task Force for Rebuilding Nation[TAFREN].In the name of patriotism and rebuilding after war, Mahinda Chinthanaya, 2005 and MahindaChinthana Way Forward 2010, are also carrying out the same development program whichproposed in 2002 in Regaining Sri Lanka development program. However, all these so calleddevelopment schemes to develop tourism, launch mono crops cultivations with clearing forests,use coastal areas for mega scale development caused serious displacement of the communitieswho are dependent of farming, fisheries and forests. It is not only those people in rural, coastaland agricultural areas but also among the urban poor communities who are living in the slumsfor decades. It is necessary to evict the poor from the cities and clean them to make a pleasantplace for tourists. Some people say these slum dwellers are illegal settlers. But, they have thevoting right, electricity, water provided by the government authorities. Then, how those peoplebecome illegal?However, most of those affected people, whether they are in the cities, coastal or in rural areasfacing the challenge of displacement for government’s so called development program. But,they do not have courage to come forward and fight as they are oppressed in many ways in thepresent oppressive regime. The reality in SL society today is that no body takes a stand to fightfor their rights saying there is no success in fighting with the regime. Also, most of the peopleare scared even to open the mouth against the present oppressive actions.In our experience is that, if there is a movement with strong, continuous, bold actions by thepeople with out giving up we could succeed and win. In Negombo Lagoon Fisher People’sStruggle against Sea Planes gave this message. Also, at the Private Sector Pension Bill, the FTZworkers gave the example. If we fight with utmost commitment and creativity, we could
succeed in any battle. This is what we learnt from those two struggles of most unorganizedsectors in SL.So, it is clear if we take strong actions as a social movement, we could succeed in the land issuetoday. But, who is ready to take the responsibility to tie the bell on the cat’s neck? Some bodyshould take the risk and do it. Some body should take the leadership. As, we all in the FoodSovereignty Network in Sri Lanka facing this challenge with the communities, we all need totake the lead and fight for the rights of these displaced communities due to land grabbing in SriLanka. It is not only the coastal communities, but also agricultural workers, famers, urban poorcommunities, workers and all the vulnerable groups need to bring together. What we areattempting is to coordinate the vulnerable groups and bring them in to a platform where everyone could feel strong with mutual support and cooperation.The situation push us to take an initiative and do the ground work in order to link the affectedcommunities. Now, various groups who are affected with the so called development are readyto come forward and to build the platform of poor, landless, evicted people. We expect theaffected people would take the leadership with commitment when they feel mutual strengthand the conducive environment where they could fight for their rights.Our Objective of the Land Forum and the National SeminarBring the vulnerable groups, victims, CBOs and groups fighting against land grabbing anddisplacements, and also the NGOs who are supportive to the communities, to identify themechanism in which we could work together as a national platform of land issues and fight toretain the land rights of the affected people.Target groups to bring the National Platform of Land and the National Seminar The coastal communities from Kalpitiya, Panama, Negombo, Rathgama, due to tourism projects launched by the private and government, The community at Sampur, Trincomalee, affected by Special Economic Zone at Trincomalee, The communities at Panama, Vakarei and Mullikulam who are affected due to land grabbing for security reasons, The communities affected due to mega scale mono crops such as banana, sugar cane cultivations in Moneragala, Somawathiya etc. The communities of Uma Oya movement, The communities evicted from Colombo slum areas and urban poor communities,
Any other movements which could suggest by various NGOs, CSO in the process of organize the work.Expected Out Come of the National Seminar: • Identify leaders from various communities who could be the basis of the land platform • Build up land platform and decide who could be the leading figures of it. • Identify various NGOs, supportive media, TU, Political groups, Scholars, researchers who could support the Land platform, • Decide a continuous flow of information back and forth and keeping the close connection with the groups who are fighting in the field. • [More to decide by the team]Proposed Actions: Preparatory meetings with affected communities, Meeting with NGO activists, Community Leaders and Trade Unions, scholars to organize and plan out the future direction,[ Proposed to meet on 26th August at 10.00 am at OXFAM Australia office at Colombo] Preparation of basic documents of each of the subject areas, Visit community groups in order to brief the National Seminar and share the responsibilities, [17/18 August, Herman and Raajan is visiting these communities.] A preparation of a video documentary on land issues in Sri Lanka,[Some body should take the lead to prepare this. Nalaka Rosairo will attend to this. Prepare cases to distribute which people engaged in land issues and the victories,- [Negombo –Sea Plane, Kalpitiya- Tourism, Jaffna-IDP]- Raajan will follow up this.Structure of National Seminar Seminar will be structured in to 4 sections: • “Emerging Land Grabbing & Land issues in Sri Lanka”.-[30 min]- Herman Kumara • High light Various Land issues emerging in the communities,[90 min]- Proposed Leaders for address the seminar.
Kalpitiya- Leader of Uchchimunai community /A. Pathmanadan Panama • Farmer Community Rev. Hamudurvo [TBC] • Lagoon Fisher – K. Somasiri[To be confirmed] Sampur- TBD after meeting them on 17th August, Rathgama-Dulip Rangajeewa/ Gnanadasa[TBC] Polonnaruwa- Sujeewa/Manoj[TBC] Negombo- Aruna Roshantha[TBC] Vakarei-Husain [TBD] Mullikulam- Darshanie[TBC] Uma Oya- Hemantha Vithanage[TBC] Slum Dwellers in Colombo- [TBD] • Open session to Q/A [30 min]-Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda/ Rev. Budhiyagama Chandrarathana/ Sr. Sharmindanie Fernando/ [TBC] • Proposed Actions and Plan to work as Land Platform, [30 min]-We need to propose actions as well as a structure to go forward.- Sandun Thudugala[TBC]Structure of Land PlatformThis should be discussed and agreed by the platform membership. We expect the potentialparticipants could be identified by the end of the national seminar and the structure will bediscussed at the next stage. We want to bring the identified leadership to a work shop to designthe future of the platform.Collaborating Agencies to work on Land Issues [Up to now] • NGOs- NAFSO, Savistri, MONLAR, Environmental Justice Foundation, SL Nature Forum, CPD, R2L, RN, APWLD, • INGOs- FSNSA, Tourism Concern, Tim Team, ECSR-Net • Media- Asia News, Meepura, Samabima,
• Scholars- Some Scholars agreed to provide inputs,[We have contacted some of them] • Religious groups- Some religious groups are in a dialogue • Trade Unions- ACFFTU, UFL, UFFC, • CBOs- Organization for safe guard the rights of Kalpitiya and Island People, Panama Lagoon Management Committee, Uma Oya Protection Movement, SFO-Galle on Rathgama Lagoon, Sri Vimukthi Fisher Women Organization on Negombo Lagoon Fisheries issues, • Net works- PHM, Praja Abhilasha,Coordination of the work: 1. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda, Human Rights Piyesa, Ekala, 2. Herman Kumara, Convener, NAFSO, No.10, Malwatta Road, Negombo Sri Lanka. 3. Francis Raajan, Coordinator, Praja Abhilasha Network, No.10 Malwatta Road, Negombo, Sri Lanka. 4. Ms. Subhashinie Kamalanathan, Sri Vimukthi Fisher Women Organization, Negombo. 5. Ms. Melani Manel Perera, Asia News, 6. Ms. Geetha Lakmini Fernando, NAFSO,Action Committee for preparatory work: 1. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda, 2. Sr. Sharmandanie Fernando, 3. Sr. Noel Christine, 4. Dr. Jayampathy Samarakoon, 5. Prof. Senevi Epitawatta, 6. Mr. Sirimal Peiris, PHM 7. Ms. Padma Pushpakanthi,Savistri,
8. Mr. A. Pathmanadan, PDFS,9. Mr. Dinesh Suranjan,- All Ceylon Fisher Folk Trade Union,10. Ms. Melani Manel- Asia News,11. Mr.Sajeewa Chamikara,- SLNF,12. Ms. Hema Munipura,Praja13. Mr. L.C. Nanayakkara-MONLAR14. Ms. Subashinie Kamalanathan-SVFWO15. Mr. Nalaka Rosairo, NAFSO16. Mr. Laksiri Fernando, NAFSO,17. Ms. Geetha Lakmini, NAFSO18. Ms. Milina Kumarie- SVFWO19. Mr. Francis Raajan-Praja Abhilasha,20. Mr. Herman Kumara, NAFSO