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Sri Lanka releases landmine-laden lands to Tamils in Jaffna

Tamil residents have been barred from entering their lands located at Tellippalai in Jaffna after it was revealed that nearly 55,000 square feet of the land that was reportedly “released” by the Sri Lankan government, is still laden with landmines. 

The Sri Lankan government recently released 234 acres of land in Tellippalai, however, the District Secretariat issuing a communique has warned residents not to re-enter the lands since it was not cleared of landmines. 

Tamils have been waiting for years to return to their lands which have been under the control of the Sri Lankan military. Though the end of the armed conflict ended in 2009, Jaffna has been under the control of the military since 1995.

The Jaffna District Secretariat said that it will take steps to clear the land of landmines and a solution that will enable the landowners to return to their land. However, the Secretariat added that technical studies will need to be conducted and the sections of land will need to be demarcated first before demining activities can take place.

The 234.83 acres of land include divisions within Vasavilan East (J/244), Vasavilan West (J/245), Palali North (J/254), Palali East (J/253), Palali South (J/252) which were released for agricultural activities. 

Despite more than 15 years since the massacres at Mullivaikkal and almost 30 years of occupation in Jaffna, the Sri Lankan military continues to occupy vast swathes of land across the Tamil North-East. Tens of thousands of troops remain stationed in the region, which continues to be amongst the most militarised in the world. Tamils have been long demanding a lasting solution that includes their lands being returned and demilitarisation of the North-East, but the occupation has continued.

When the government has released land, homeowners have returned to find their houses in ruins, with roofs off houses and roads being built through their homes.

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