Memorandam on war id ps and land grabbing


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Land Grabbing in North and East in Sr lanka

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Memorandam on war id ps and land grabbing

  1. 1. 2013 Praja Abhilasha Network, No.10, Malwatta Road, Negombo, Sri Lanka. + 94-31 2239750 8/25/2013 People’s Memorandum on War IDPs and Land Grabbing
  2. 2. Background 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 development. 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
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. 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.
  5. 5. Restricted 24 GN Divisions Areas of Jaffna Peninsula ,GOSL accured 6381 Acres Land from 9995 families.
  6. 6. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Jaffna District as at 05/03/2013 © 2007 - 2013 Sri Lanka - Ministry of Resettlement. Powered by Web Genius Page: IDPs' in Jaffna - Last Updated: 27th April, 2013 | Site Map No Name of Divisional Secretary/ Assistant Government Agents Division No of Open Welfare Centers IDPs Living in Open Welfare Centre IDPs Living with Friends & Relatives Families Person Families Person 1 Delft - - - 13 60 2 Velanai - - - 8 34 3 Kayts - - - 11 41 4 Karainakar - - - 18 75 5 Jaffna - - - 187 638 6 Nallur 1 9 22 734 2398 7 Sandilipay 5 34 130 430 1585 8 Chankanai - - - 107 346 9 Uduvil 11 332 1230 812 2603 10 Thellipalai 6 276 978 672 2134 11 Kopay 5 223 885 1023 3508 12 Chavakachcheri - - - 304 1088 13 Karaveddy 2 18 59 274 979 14 Point Pedro 7 303 901 605 2075 15 Maruthankerny - - - 51 185 Total 37 1195 4205 5249 17749
  7. 7. 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.
  8. 8. 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
  9. 9. 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 recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) says? Tamil and Muslim families who lost land due to HSZs 6.13. In the Mannar district's Mullikulam village, (Musali DS Area) 150 families have been displaced due to a newly created Navy installation. The Bishop of Mannar informed the Commission that 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 land.
  10. 10. one of the school buildings of Mullikkulam has been using by Navy purposes. Present view of Mullikkulam village ,
  11. 11. 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. In 26th 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 August 2013. 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 know anything.
  12. 12. 4. At Valigamam north in Jaffna peninsula, the military is engaging in agriculture in lands which where were cultivated by the displaced communities earlier. 5. Through Gazette notification, the GOSL showed its withdrawal from the High Security Zones. However, the people are still unable to go to those places. 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 tour. 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. Our Demands  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.
  13. 13.  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 occupation.  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 displacement. Mullikkulam people silent march for their village Mullikkulam people at Mangkadu without basic facilities