Praja Abhilasha Network,
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Negombo, Sri Lanka.
+ 94-31 2239750
People’s Memorandum on War IDPs and Land Grabbing
The GOSL plans to develop the country under the Mahinda Chinthana manifesto
into one of the Wonders of Asia. In this context, the GOSL is introducing and
implementing various policies and projects which are not appropriate to the
nation, especially to the north and east people in Sri Lanka.
In post-war SL during the past four years since May 2009, the SL people
experienced serious human rights violations, challenges to freedom of expression,
erosion of rule of law, Land grabbing, and degradation of minority rights and
democratic rights of the citizens in Sri Lanka. The oppressive mechanisms
implemented during the war have been continued and sometimes intensified in
many areas in the north and the east as well as in the south. The voice of civil
society was not heard and the recognition of CSOs was seriously limited. Their
continuous cry for improvement of human rights and ensuring democratic space
for citizens, along with clamour for the rights of the ethnic minorities including
early yet standard resettlement of the IDPs, and securing livelihoods and safety
for the women-headed families and the children were revelations that the GOSL
certainly did not want to hear.
The GOSL attempted to save its face and show development by implementing
number of mega development projects both in the N/E as well as south.
Infrastructure development programs were carried out with the loans from
various countries, mainly from China. The Norochcholai/Sampur coal power
plants, Hambantota commercial harbour, Mattala Rajapaksha International
airport, extension of Colombo harbour with land reclamation, southern express
high way, Upper Kotmale hydro power project, Moragahakanda reservoir
construction, Express way from Jaffna – Colombo, and initiation of tourism
facilities in 15 tourism zones around the island are some of the examples of this
However, the GOSL boasted of two grand development programs - the
Nagenahira Udanaya[Awakening East] and Uthurata Wasanthaya[Spring to North]
in the north and east of Sri Lanka – which the people in the areas considered
unimportant. People in the N/E underwent a brutal war in the past 3 decades and
what they expect is peace and harmony, decent living, absence of fear and
insecure situation, enhancement of their livelihoods, resettlement in their original
home and land, income and protection and for the children and women who lost
their breadwinners in the family. The situations of those women and children
have not improved even after 4 years of ended war. The Resettlement program
was not in strict compliance with international standards, per testimonies of IDPs
from Sampoor, Mullikkulam, Valigamam, Myletti, and Thilippalai DS division
areas. People claimed they were relocated and not resettled even as the GOSL
promised so during the UN Human Rights Council.
When the UN representatives, Rapporteurs and Diplomats visit to Sri Lanka, they
would be taken to the guided tour by the GOSL. Therefore, there is no access to
bring out the real situation to the international community or UN council. At the
same time, affected communities would be threatened if they come to the streets
to voice out their issue when Diplomats visit. The GOSL utterly controls all the civil
societies, trade unions as well as Religious groups who attempt to voice out the
human rights violation and land issues. President Mahinda Rajapaksha and his
brothers continue to accumulate powers at the expense of democratic
institutions. Calls to restore the independence of the National Human Rights
Commission and other government commissions that President Rajapaksha
marginalized via the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which passed in
2010, went unheeded.
Attempting to trigger the quest for the truth, this Memorandum hereby presents
the general situation of IDPs and North/East marginalized people.
Case One: Valikamam North (Jaffna, Northern Province)
Since the early 1990s, large areas of the Jaffna peninsula have been designated
high-security zone (HSZ) and closed to the public for use by the military or as
military buffer zones, leading to the displacement of an estimated 65,000 to
70,000 people. Most of those displaced had lived in Jaffna’s largest HSZ centred
around Palaly airbase and covering 43 GN divisions in Tellippillai and Valikamam.
Other areas in Jaffna have seen the release of some private property previously
occupied by the army and some of the long-term displaced have begun to return.
Nonetheless, sixteen (16) GN divisions in Tellippalai have still not been approved
in order to resettle all returns, and many thousands remain displaced. Accurate
information on how many remain displaced from HSZs in Jaffna is difficult to
come by, with government officials making conflicting claims and providing no
clear policies about the future of those areas still closed. Owing to the High
Security Zone established by the military in Valikamam North division (especially
around Tellippalai) of the Jaffna peninsula in 1990, within the 24 GN divisions,
there are 9,995 displaced Tamil families consisting of 33,353 individuals according
to the government’s own statistics, which are not published though we were able
to gather them. These people are living in the welfare centers which have not
been managed by the government since 2010, while the others stay with host
families. The HSZ also includes 18 Km of coastline between Naguleswaram and
Mylitty. These Tamil families, who were traditionally dependent on farming and
fishing for their livelihood, face severe hardship. The Mylitty fisheries harbour is
occupied by the navy and not accessible to civilians. The Catholic churches in
Kankesanthurai, Mylitty and Urani are inaccessible for worship and pastoral care.
Restricted 24 GN Divisions Areas of Jaffna Peninsula ,GOSL accured 6381 Acres
Land from 9995 families.
Case Two: Sampur (Trincomalee, Eastern Province)
Sampur was initially declared as a High Security Zone, and later re-gazetted as a
Special Economic Zone for the construction of a coal-power plant and industries
owned by Indians. More than 1000 houses were destroyed and the Muslim and
Tamil owners are prevented from access to their former agricultural lands and
fishing areas. The areas proposed for their resettlement are of poor quality for
farming and other livelihood activities. Iralkulam is marshy land, which floods and
remains inundated for prolonged periods during the rainy season. There is not
even 100 acres that is suitable for paddy cultivation. Access to water remains a
significant issue in Iththikulam. There are 971 families still in four IDP camps
namely; Kilivetti-350F, Pattiththidal-150F, Manatchenai-60F and Kattaiparichchan-
411F. The government is not mentioning Kattaiparichchan as an IDP camp. GOSL
is highlighting this camp people as they are living in their relatives’ houses even if
the camp exists. Herewith, Nawarathnapuram and Koonithivu people were
resettled in their original places due to the pressure of International communities
on LLRC recommendations but resettled without any basic facilities.
Case Three: Mullikulam (Mannar district, Northern Province)
Mullikulam village is located in the Musali divisional secretariat area, in Mannar.
district. The first settlers of Mullikulam village can be traced back to 1800 A.D.
They are 100% Tamil by ethnicity and of the catholic faith. Agriculture and fishing
are their primary means of livelihood. People have permanent title deeds for
agricultural lands, mainly paddy fields. The village consists of up to 1200 acres of
land. These fields are rain fed through 5 tanks and water provided with major
irrigation schemes. There is one tank in the village. Fishing was the other major
occupation for most of the villagers. The brutal war
that lasted for three decades caused serious damage
to social, economic, cultural, environmental and
political rights of the Mullikulam community.The
displacement of the Mullikulam people happened for
the first time in 1990. They were displaced till 2002,
when the peace agreement was signed between the
GOSL and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
They returned to Mullikulam, but were able to live
there for a period of only five years. They were
displaced again in 2007. When the final war began, the
government’s military approached the people and
asked them to vacate their homes immediately,
without taking anything with them. The promise was
given to them that they could return home within
three days. This was the justification for asking them
not to remove any of their belongings. On the 7th
September 2007, they vacated their houses with
empty hands. Since then, for nearly six years, they
have lived in many places around Mannar. There were
more than 400 families living in Mullikulam when they
were evicted. Most of them moved to Thalvupadu,
Valkaipetrankandal, Thalaimannar, Nanattan,
Madukkarai; some also lived in Mannar town . They
attempted to get back to their own houses with the
support of the Bishop of Mannar, the parish priest of
Silavathurai and other priests of the diocese, talking to
many other officials including the district secretary,
the divisional secretary and the navy area
commanders etc. Finally, the Bishop of Mannar
together with other bishops approached the president,
expecting to find a solution.
What do the
the Lessons Learned
Tamil and Muslim
families who lost land
due to HSZs
6.13. In the Mannar
village, (Musali DS Area)
150 families have been
displaced due to a newly
installation. The Bishop
of Mannar informed the
occupation of land by the
military should be an act
of last resort, and in
each such case of land
loss, alternative lands
should be given in
consultation with the
affected families. With
the establishment of
peace, most people
yearn to return to their
one of the school buildings of Mullikkulam has been using by Navy purposes.
Present view of Mullikkulam village ,
Two hundred and six (206) households have temporarily settled in the forested
area of Manangkadu at the junction of Marichchikattu; while 54 families are living
in Kayakkuli village. These households lack decent shelter, sanitation, potable
water and livelihoods in both areas.
December, 2012 the Secretary to the defense ministry, Gotabaya
Rajapaksha, visited with Cardinal Melcome Ranjith, Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu
Joshep to solve this problem. Secretary promised that he would release the land
from Mullikulam church away 750m. But the GOSL has not released the land for
resettling until now. Herewith, GOSL is renovating the Mullikulam church and
they proposed to inaugurate on 26th
August 2013. At the same time, there were
26 houses built by Navy at Manangkadu to hand over the houses to some of
Mullikulam people on 27th
August 2013 in order to show international
community, specially Human Rights Commissioner of United Nations Hon.
NAVANETHEM PILLAY, who was visiting Jaffna on 27th
How has the GOSL been functioning/performing?
GOSL addressed at the UN Council on 27th
February 2013, said, that it would
resettle the Sampur, Mullikulam as well as Jaffna IDPs on their original places with
all the basic facilities.
Though, the reality is:
1. GOSL is saying that Sampur people have been resettled but GOSL resettled
the Navaratnapuram and Konithivu villagers only. However, the people
have been living without basic facilities. They were not resettled according
to the adequate standard of International norms.
2. The GOSL says that Mullikkulam people will be resettled according to the
LLRC recommendations but the GOSL is planning to resettle them at
Manangkadu area. Herewith , Military has built 26 houses at Manangkadu
which is proposed to be handed over to the 26 families on 27th August,
coinciding with the visit of HRC of United Nations (Hon.Navanitham Pillay)
in the north.
3. GOSL is withholding information to know the situation in the above
mentioned villages in Jaffna district. The villagers themselves do not even
4. At Valigamam north in Jaffna peninsula, the military is engaging in
agriculture in lands which where were cultivated by the displaced
5. Through Gazette notification, the GOSL showed its withdrawal from the
High Security Zones. However, the people are still unable to go to those
6. People are living with fear and unable to complain for their issues or unable
to express their real feelings. Those who agitate about their issue either
dissappear or get killed, as the recent example in the Weliweriya Water
Issue in Gampaha District in Western province shows.
7. Leaders who work on the peoples’ rights cannot work normally because of
threats by the CID intelligence unit or military personnels.
8. Herwith, the representatives of United Nations, foriegn Delegates,
Diplomates who were visited to Sri Lanka, have been taken to the guided
9. The GOSL is formulating a legislation to grab lands.
10.The GOSL is engaging in infrastructure-focused Development projects but is
unable to fulfill the people’s basic needs.
Immediate shelter, livelihood and infrastructure assistance must be
provided to ‘old’ and ‘new’ IDPs in the Northern and Eastern provinces,
especially women-headed households.
The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and international
standards on long-term housing and property restitution to be adhered to
by local, provincial and central government authorities at all times.
All the final recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation
Commission should be implemented, including on demilitarisation,
impartial land dispute resolution mechanisms, and the devolution of
power to the provinces.
Military presence should be teminated in the resettlement process.
The GOSL needs to stop threatening innocent people who agitate in order
to gain their rights. The right to assembly must be upheld.
Civil administration should be established as early as possible while
withdrawing military presence in civil administrative structures.
The women headed families should be provided necessary livelihood
assistance to revive their livelihoods which leads to better living condition,
health and education for their children,
Farmers should be allowed to return their agricultural lands in order to
build their food security and livelihood security through their basic
Coastal lands which are occupied by military and also declared for special
economic zones should be given back to the people who were owned the
land before the war.
There should be recognition that there are IDPs living in Sri Lanka and
further assistance be provided until they fully recovered from the
Mullikkulam people silent march for their village Mullikkulam people at Mangkadu without basic