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Land grabs escalate in Tamil village linking North to East

Land cordoned off by the Civil Defence Force

The Sri Lankan government has been forcibly acquiring land in the village of Thennamaravadi, an area that links both the Tamil dominated Northern and Eastern provinces, with over 270 acres of land owned by Tamils acquired by the state and Sinhala settlers.

Thennamaravadi, located on the border of the Mullaitheevu and Trincomalee districts, has had almost 22 acres of land taken by Civil Defence Division and Civil Security Department members, despite deeds to the land being held by Tamil inhabitants of the village, according to sources on the ground.

Sources also told the Tamil Guardian that 250 acres of land used for paddy cultivation has been acquired by Sinhalese farmers from Singhapura and Gayapapura, following harassment from Sri Lankan security forces, who coerced Tamil farmers into selling the land far below their market value.

A canoe provided by the Western Provincial Council to Sinhalese settlers

In addition, the newly settled Sinhalese are receiving aid from the Government of Sri Lanka in the form of canoes and other support, reportedly handed out through the Western Provincial Council, hundreds of miles from the village.

Further reports detail that the Panikkarvayal kulam irrigation tank has also had its flow diverted towards the land that has now been encroached by the Sinhalese settlers, denying the much needed water from flowing to some 45 acres of cultivation hand that is still held by Tamil villagers.

The reports come as land grabs by the Sri Lankan state drew international condemnation with a resolution having been presented to the US Senate this week outlining “ongoing concerns regarding landownership and property restitution” and an international conference on the issue being held earlier this month in London.

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