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Tamils denounce ‘Sinhalisation’ of ‘Mahaweli L Zone’ in Mullaitivu

Former Northern Provincial Council member Thurairasa Ravikaran denounced attempts by the Sri Lankan government to pursue the development of the Mahaweli L Zone adding that it will alter the composition of an all-Tamil region by creating Sinhalese settlements.

Speaking at a media briefing in Jaffna earlier this month, Ravikaran told reporters that Tamil residents in Mullaitivu have met with the Northern Provincial Governor P.S.M Charles and have lodged their complaint against the forcible encroachment. 

“Over 200 Tamil families are already living in these areas, they have been for more than 50 years,” he said. “I’ve come to know that a portion of the land which was privately owned has been sold. The new owners are now trying to evict the Tamil villagers.”

“The livelihoods should be protected, and their land rights secured. The district and divisional secretariat must intervene.”

He said that the governor of the Northern Province has been briefed in length on the impact of ceding part of Mullaitivu to the Mahaweli Authority as part of System L will have. “Nearly 25 acres within this zone have been lost to the Sinhalese people, while Tamils do not even have the land rights to farm.”

In a research paper for the Cambridge University Press, researchers Thiruni Kelegama and Benedikt Korf found the Mahaweli Authority brought over nearly 3000 Sinhalese families to settle in this heavily militarized zone. 

‘We have a long-term plan here (System L). With the war finished, we have to make the Sinhala man the most present in all parts of the country,” confided a military official to Kelegama (military official, 3 April 2017). 

The research paper found here cites that colonization schemes such as Mahaweli L have been central to the Sri Lankan government’s pursuit and development of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism for decades. They add that Sinhalese settlements were brought to the area clandestinely including landless Sinhalese from the fiefdom of Mahinda Rajapaksa. 

Several Tamil politicians including member of parliament Charles Nirmalanathan, Mavai Senathirajah, and Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam have spoken both in parliament and outside to call on the Sri Lankan government to halt the colonization activities. 

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