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Thousands of displaced Tamil families demand Sri Lankan president returns land

Over 2,500 families have requested a meeting with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe before January 2023, regarding the release of military occupied land in Jaffna.

According to a report in The Morning, land in Myliddy and Palaly, in Valikamam-North, Jaffna, continues to be occupied by the Sri Lankan army, more than 30 years after it was first seized.

“The Myliddy Harbour can be utilised by the fisherfolk for livelihood, and lands in Palaly can be utilised by the families who engage in agriculture, but only if the lands are released for resettlement,” said Arunasalam Gunabalasingham, president of the Valikamam-North Resettlement Committee. “We appeal to the relevant authorities to release these lands to us in order to survive, since the economic crisis that has hit the entire country has affected us as well. We believe that we can strengthen our livelihoods if these lands are released.”

According to the Valikamam-North Resettlement Committee, around 6,500 acres of land was ‘confiscated’ by the Sri Lankan military in 1990.

Gunabalasingham said that although 3,500 acres of land that was reportedly released to its rightful owners, some 500 acres of land in the Kankesanthurai, Keerimalai, Varuthalavilan, and Kattuvan still remain under the control of the army.

The remaining 3,000 acres remain fully occupied and the organisation is demanding all of it be returned.

“We appeal to President Wickremesinghe to provide us with the opportunity to meet him in person to explain our grievances,” said Gunabalasingham. “There are 700 fisherfolk families from Myliddy and around 2,000 families from Palaly to be resettled.”

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