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Tamils protest against Sri Lankan navy land grabs in Mullivaikkal

 

Tamils protested on Wednesday against the Sri Lankan navy's attempt to acquire 617 acres of land in Mullivaikkal, forcing officials to suspend surveying of the land.

Holding placards and banners Tamil families marched towards the officials surveying the land ahead of the planned acquisition and handed a petition of protest.

 

"Our houses are still there but we aren't allowed to go see them," one woman who owns three acres of land within the navy camp told Tamil Guardian during the protest.

"We want our land back. We won't allow the illegal occupation [of the land] to be made legal."

 

 

 

 

 

Sri Lankan military personnel were seen photographing the protestors, as they made their way towards a navy base at Nandikadal Lagoon which has been built on private land adjacent to the Vadduvakal bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the Tamils gathered blocked the bridge in protest, causing traffic to build up behind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Families were joined by Tamil politicians from the Northern Provincial Council (NPC), Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF).

"We aim to stop the surveyors from entering the area," the TNA MP Shanthi told Tamil Guardian.

"The land owned by the local people must be returned. The navy has been occupying this land since 2009. They tried to survey the land in 2014, but were stopped by protestors then."

"The military later agreed to give all possible land back, only keeping some for the navy, with the ministry of defence's additional secretary Wasantha Perera saying they will return as much as they can and keep some state land - during a visit earlier this year."

 

 

 

 

 

Notice issued regarding planned land surveying and acquisition

 

Gajen Ponnambalam of the TNPF said the attempted land grab was further evidence that the current government was no different to the last on the Tamil issue.

"The government has been giving assurances to the international community that it will demilitarise and it will also deal With accountability and political solution," he explained. "These are the important commitments they have given and it is on that basis many countries have taken a favourably position, but we have been saying unless the government is bound in some way the regime change will only be personality change."

"This 617 acre land grab is another proof that it is only a personality change," he said, adding, "giving unconditional support is no longer tenable."

"The people must pressure their elected leaders that they ensure that they hold this government to account rather than saying any pressure on this government would be tantamount to putting Rajapaksa back in to power".