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Soldiers intimidate Keppapulavu families demanding release of land

Over 100 displaced families from Keppapulavu, Mullaitivu today moved their ongoing protest to outside the military camp sited on their occupied lands. 

Security forces filmed and photographed the families from within the site however, as security was increased with a heavy deployment of police and military personnel. 

The families had warned they would move the protest to this site if the government's failed to release the land by today, and despite the intimidation from the security forces the families remain defiant, determined to continue their ongoing protest here. 

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. 

Keppapulavu families began their prolonged campaign for their homes in March 2017. Today is the 697th day of their continued demonstration for land. 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. 

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. 

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, 2019, 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.

According the Jaffna based organisation, Adayaalam Center for Policy Research (ACPR), 30,000 acres remain under occupation in Mullaitivu.