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Keppapulavu protestors attempt to take back land on Sri Lankan president's release deadline

Tamils protesting for the release of their lands in Keppapulavu in Mullaitivu, attempted to enter their land in defiance of the Sri Lankan military forces occupying them, causing tension between protestors and dozens of police officers.

Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena proclaimed earlier this year that the Sri Lankan military would release all occupied civilian lands by December 31.

As military forces engaged in a publicity campaign claiming that sections of land in the North-East were being rapidly released to fulfil the president’s edict, the people of Keppapulavu who have been protesting since March 2017 had still not been given any indication that their lands would be released.

On Monday, as the president’s proclaimed deadline arrived, and the Keppapulavu villagers reached day 671 of their protest, they attempted to enter their occupied lands.

Dozens of police officers were deployed at the scene to prevent the protestors from entering their lands, which the Sri Lankan army had blocked off as camp premises.

Confrontations between police and protestors ensued as protestors called for army officials to come out and name the date that their land would be released.

Police told protestors that army officials would not come out to speak with them, and instead called local government officials from the district and divisional secretariats to attempt to pacify the protestors.

After lengthy discussions, protestors said they would return to their protest spot outside the army camp until January 25, following which they would restart attempts to forcibly enter their land.

“Even if the army shoot us, we will take our land back,” one protest representative told the local government officials.

While army officials failed to speak with the protestors, several photographed and filmed them.

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