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Keppapulavu families continue protest for land in front of army camp

Tamil families in Keppapulavu continued their protest demanding the release of their land from Sri Lankan military occupation on Sunday.

Over 100 displaced families from Keppapulavu in Mullaitivu began their protest on Saturday, with Sri Lankan security forces deploying police and military personnel in the area and photographing the families from within the camp in apparent acts of intimidation.

The intimidation had continued on Sunday, with soldiers seen taking photographs of the protesting families, many of which included young children.

The protestors continued their demonstration regardless, which takes place even though the Sri Lankan police filed a court order trying to prevent it from taking place. The Mullaitivu Magistrate court however ruled that the demonstration could go ahead, though protestors must keep 75 metres from the army camp entrance, which is situated on their lands.

Although almost ten years have passed since the end of the armed conflict the Sri Lankan military continues to control and occupy vast swathes of land in the Tamil homeland, forcing families to remain displaced.

In October, the president, Maithripala Sirisena promised to ensure all occupied land in the North-East would be released by December 31, 2018. Following this unfulfilled deadline, families attempted to enter the army camp on their lands on January 1, however faced dozens of police officers halting the entry.

Keppapulavu families began their prolonged campaign for their homes in March 2017. The campaign, which has seen widespread support among Tamils across the North-East and diaspora worldwide, has reached out to several international bodies, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.