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Sri Lanka’s occupation of the Vanni threatens local communities – STP report

The Sri Lankan military’s continued occupation of land in the Vanni is threatening traditional livelihoods in local communities said a new report launched by the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) and the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) in Mullaitivu.

The report, entitled “The Vanni: Civilian Land under Military Occupation”, states that “although the war ended nine years ago, the military in the Northern Province still occupies vast stretches of land and is using it for economic purposes, among other things, with serious consequences”.

“Countless people are still unable to return to their ancestral land, while many have lost their traditional livelihood as farmers or fishers,” it added.

The report also highlighted protests by Tamil last year throughout the Vanni, calling for the release of occupied land. “In certain places, the protests were successful and occupied land was returned,” the report noted, but added “however, the inhabitants came back to completely destroyed infrastructure and often, in rural areas, a lack sufficient water for agriculture”.

“Despite numerous promises from the authorities, many people are still waiting for the release of their land and, in two places, protests continue to this day.”

The report concluded with the STP and the NAFSO urging the Sri Lankan government to demilitarise the Vanni by reducing the military presence and ordering the cessation of all commercial activities, ensuring land rights for all displaced people by releasing all occupied areas to the public and resettle all displaced families on their traditional land and ensuring unrestricted access to land and water for local Tamil communities in the Vanni.

See the full text of the report here.