Tamils protest outside the army camp in Aanaikkoddai (Photo: Tamil Guardian)
Tamil land owners protested outside a Sri Lankan army camp in Jaffna, demanding that the land on which the camp was built be returned to them immediately.
Residents said the army camp, situated in Aanaikkoddai within the Jaffna peninsula, was built on land seized by the military.
Earlier this month, the government issued a gazette notification, declaring that the camp of the army regiment’s 11th Battalion will be made permanent on this day, denying the Tamil families any possibility of return to the land and houses they own.
Due to objections by the land owners the government had temporarily halted the permanent transfer of the land to the military, however refused to return it to its rightful owners, said protest organisers, the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF).
“The government’s continued appropriation and occupation of Tamil land by the Sri Lankan military is unacceptable. Although they have cancelled the permanent appropriation for now, the houses and land of these people are still inaccessible to them,” TNPF General Secretary, Selvarajah Kajendran told the Tamil Guardian.
“The owners demand the dismantling of the army camp and the immediate return of their land and homes,” he added.
The TNPF's Selvarajah Kajendran (right) with police officers looking on (Photo: Pathivu)
Councillor Ananthy Sasitharan of the TNA said that several affected Tamils refused to attend the protest due to the presence of the military and intelligence officers.
“There were about 15 intelligence and police officers, videoing us and taking pictures, along with the military personnel from the camp,” Ms Sasitharan said.
“The government has changed, but it does not appear to have had an effect on the threatening nature of the security forces in the North-East.”
The gazette notification (Photo: Tamil Guardian)