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Government uses lifting of emergency to facilitate land grab

Citing the removal of emergency regulations, the Sri Lankan government has ordered the dismantling of the Ministry of Resettlement and announced the intended aquisition of private lands within High-Security Zones.

Rauff-Hakeem, the Justice Minister who made the announcement, explained that if in some areas, the HSZs were needed, the Government would acquire the land legally. He is reported to have said a security assessment would be made before deciding which areas were needed to be retained as HSZs, situated mainly in Vadamarachchi, Valikamam and Thenmarachchi.

The dismantling of the Resettlement Ministry, whilst no doubt insignificant in terms of resettlement productivity, serves to undermine the on-going IDP situation over two years after the government declared peace.

Moreover, it diminuishes the plight of remaining IDPS, whose right to return to their original lands appears increasingly precarious and their right of appeal, hopeless. 

In Sampur, where the proposed coal plant will result in over 900 families losing their homes, the Governor Rear Admiral Wijewickrema has threatened that any IDPs who refuse land offered to them by the government will no longer be deemed 'displaced'.

See our earlier post 'IDPs branded 'squatters on state land'.

These moves are the latest in a draft of measures that expidite the aquisition of private lands in the North-East, with no room for appeal.

Early this month the government issued a directive that Diaspora Tamils must reapply for new land deeds in the North-East.

See here.

See also 'Sri Lanka replaces lifted powers for military'.

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