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Sri Lankan military continues to occupy Tamil land despite president’s pledges

Though one month has passed since Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena announced the release of land in Jaffna back to civilian ownership, the Sri Lankan military continues to deny Tamil villagers access to their land.

Mr Sirisena held a grand ceremony last month, where he announced the release of over 700 acres of land at Nadeswara College in Kankesanthurai, Jaffna. Ahead of his visit, the barbed wire fencing that ringed of the area had been moved back, in a sign that the military may be ready to release land back to its rightful owners.

However, despite the promise, Sri Lankan military checkpoints remain across the college and gaining access to the land has become no easier.

Armed soldiers continue to man checkpoints, including one prominent post by the Kankesanthurai cement factory, say villagers. Access to an entertainment club, which itself is run by the army, is also restricted, they said, stating that all entrants must pass through another military check post.

Meanwhile, other areas of land that have reportedly been released continue to house military bases said sources from the Tellipalai Divisional Secretariat.

The issue of release of lands occupied by the Sri Lankan military has been a longstanding Tamil grievance, with a recent report highlighting that over 12,500 acres of land remained occupied by the Sri Lankan military.

See our earlier posts:

Britain highlights lack of land release as 'major source of discontent' (07 Apr 2016)

Occupation of land will ‘never lead to reconciliation’ warns Chief Minister (15 Mar 2016)

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