Uprooted Tamil families from Keappaa-pulavu in the predominantly Tamil north-east province of Mullaiththeevu have accused the Sri Lankan military of genocide for depriving them of their land.
Following a series of protests by Tamils, who face systematic discrimination and oppression, Sri Lankan President Maithiripala Sirisena was supposed to release 234 acres of lands to Tamil families last month as a temporary measure.
However, only 142 acres are set to be released. Also, the best agricultural land will not be released. The Sri Lankan air force has stationed itself on the most fertile lands.
Sri Lankan military intelligence has tried to deploy divide-and-conquer tactics to undermine the protests. However, with protesters standing firm, a planned visit by Sirisena was postponed and later cancelled.
In the meantime, Sri Lankan Forestry Department, which comes under Sirisena’s ministerial purview, has begun claiming the disputed lands belong to it. However, the department was unable to proceed with its claim as the uprooted people hold clear documentation of their legal ownership.
The uprooted people are holding a continuous protest outside the air force camp.
The military has been trying to dump the uprooted families onto alternative lands by creating a so-called model-village settlement. In reality, the model-village has become a slum.
“The Colombo government, its military and all government officials under them are deceiving us each time,” 34-year-old Gowsalya Sathees, an uprooted mother from Keapppa-pulavu, told TamilNet. “They are asking us to wait. We are not prepared to wait anymore.”
[Abridged from Tamilnet.]