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‘Homelands’ – Images of displacement

Thousands of Tamil families remain displaced from their land as the Sri Lankan military continues to occupy vast swathes of territory in the North-East. 

Singapore-based photographer Amrita Chandradas travelled to the North-East last year, where she captured images of displacement, conflict and a yearning to return home. 

“Jaffna and other North-Eastern provinces suffer a quiet unrest even in the aftermath of the civil war,” she says. “Many Tamils have been displaced for 26 years, their once promising lands were ravaged over the years and the Sri Lankan military have utilized the land for farming, training, turning the Tamils houses into barracks and as their base camp area. The displaced Tamils wait quietly in hope to see their houses one last time before they die.” 

“The ratio of army personnel up in the northern province is 5 army officers to one Tamil individual.” 

She travelled to Tellipalai, Vasavilan East and Pallali in 2015, where a small section of land was being released from Sri Lankan military occupation for the first time in 26 years. 

“Overgrown plantations, bullet holed structures, snake pits and broken fragments are the remains of the houses that stand silently in these high security zones. Unexploded shells lie in waiting; while children weave in between to see how their grand parents or parents lived for the first time. Everyone remembered exactly how their houses were, the roads and the community they once belonged to years ago.” 

“Many cry the moment they see the land of their houses, even if nothing existed at all under the watchful eye and powerful control of the Sri Lankan military.”

“It made me realize the importance of a home.”