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‘We want our land!’ – Tamil villagers protest land grab by Sri Lankan mining company

Tamils in Kokkilai rallied through the streets on Saturday, as they demonstrated against attempts by a state-owned mineral company to appropriate land for the construction of an ilmenite mine.

Locals report that the state-owned Lanka Mineral Sands company, formerly known as the Ceylon Mineral Sands Corporation, has begun surveying land that it had already fenced off and seized from its rightful owners.

44 acres of land owned by Tamils in Mullaitivu was fenced off for the construction of an ilmenite mine in East Kokkilai in 2018. Locals fear not only that more land will be grabbed by the Sri Lankan state, but also that the environmental consequences of an ilmenite mine in the region could be catastrophic.

Whilst the protestors marched to the seized land, joined by activists and local politicians, plainclothes Sri Lankan security officials photographed participants.

Despite calls for the release of the land, which is owned privately by at least 16 local Tamils, the state has refused.

In addition to land grabs, Lanka Mineral Sands Ltd (LMSL) has also previously been accused of fraud and corruption.

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