Sri Lanka: Tamil and Muslim protests intensify

The Sri Lankan military has confiscated Tamil land in the island's north-east.
Monday, May 1, 2017

For more than two months, displaced Tamils have been camped outside a military base at Keappa-Pulavu in northern Sri Lanka. They are demanding the return of their land, which was taken over by the Sri Lankan armed forces.

On April 24, Tamilnet said the Sri Lankan military has offered to return 30 acres of the 482 acres originally taken, while also giving the displaced people 90 acres of jungle.

Protestor Arumugam Velauthapillai responded: “We are not prepared to give up the protest until all our lands are released.” 

This is just one of the many struggles for the return of confiscated land in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka. 

There have also been many protests by families of those who have disappeared after being taken away by the army or police. On April 14, family members and supporters marched through the streets of Vavuniyaa, a town in northern Sri Lanka.

The Muslims of eastern Sri Lanka, though speaking the Tamil language, have traditionally seen themselves as a separate group, distinct from Tamils. But they too have protested at the Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism of the Sri Lankan government.

The government has allowed Sinhalese Buddhist monks to place Buddha statues and Buddhist temples in traditional Tamil and Muslim areas, often without the permission of the landowners.

On April 20, Muslims from the village of Varip-Paddaang-Cheanai blocked heavy vehicles and equipment intended for use in construction work on a nearby hill, where a Buddha statue had already been placed. The protest succeeded in preventing the work from going ahead.

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