Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Tamil MP slams Sri Lankan claim that '90%' of land in East has been released from occupation

(File Photo)

Sri Lanka's State Minister Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon claimed "90% of lands" in the Eastern Province previously under army occupation had been handed back to locals, as he responded to a question raised by Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi (ITAK) parliamentarian Shanakiyan Rajaputhiran Rasamanickam in parliament, who told him that he was "incorrect" and to "come and see for yourself".

“In the eastern province, the tri forces owned 44,980 acres of land," said the minister. "Of this, 37,955 acres, 90 percent, have been given back to residents of that area. The forces have only 7,379 acres under their control now. Of these, lands owned by private citizens amount to 37.08 acres, while state land amounts to 7,342 acres.”

He added that out of the 37.08 acres owned by citizens, plans are afoot to hand over 8 acres this year. He told the house that the army was not only stationed in the North and East but had camps in the South, West, and Central provinces as part of its defense strategy.

ITAK MP Rasamanickam queried the Minister concerning the BT/PT/ Kurukkalmadam Kalaivani Maha Vidyalaya in Batticaloa where part of the school’s playground is still under the occupation of the Sri Lankan army. 

“It has been 15 years since the end of the war, you claim that this land is not under army occupation but it seems you have been given incorrect information. You must come and see for yourself. If you are asking for land, a school playground right in the middle of town to serve as an army camp, we cannot accept it,” Rasamanickam told Parliament. “Everywhere the President goes, he says that the land will be returned to its rightful owners, but you are saying something else. Whom should we believe?”

Tennakoon refuted the claim asking the MP not to turn the land issue into an ethnic one. He claims the school was moved following the 2004 tsunami and the playground exists outside of the camp’s vicinity.

Rasamanickam responded by saying “You can move the school but you cannot move the ground.”

Despite the minister’s claims, tens of thousands of Sri Lankan soldiers remain disproportionately stationed in the North-East, making it one of the most militarised places in the world per capita.

Vast swathes of lands continue to be occupied by the Sri Lankan military, including cemeteries that housed the bodies of LTTE fighters.

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.