“We want our land back as we are also citizens of Sri Lanka”

| Published on August 14, 2012 at 11:08 pm

What is the meaning of resettlement in Sri Lanka

Report of the Field visit of NAFSO/ Praja Abhilasha Network / Rights Now/ PCHR team at Northern Province of Sri Lanka. 

When you read the field visit report of the resettlement of the Internally Displaced People[IDPs] you all will realize the reality of the so called

War displaced

resettlement scheme of the country. Uduppitty, Moor Street, Mullikulam, displaced camps as well as so called Thiru Murugandi, and Sinnaveli resettled camps are the places where we visited in this field work.

“It is well planned revenge against us.” This is some of the complains we heard from various community members in the northern province and which is an unfortunate situation. It is justifiable criticism of the northern province IDPs when the government is not take care of those people, their needs and fulfill their reasonable aspirations with due respect and care.

Some of the people in those camps said, “Government act deliberately forgetting there is a remaining group of IDP like us to resettle in the country.”

The government very firmly says that there the most of IDPs have been resettled and there is only very small number of people are remaining to resettle in the north. The general public in the south of Sri Lanka also trust highly those media reports without any doubts. There is a big question mark about the free media as well though this is not the time to discuss it.

The brutal war which ended up more than 3 years ago. The GOSL military forces defeated LTTE through arms and GOSL very proudly says, there is Peace prevailing in the country. But, there is a question mark about this peace as whether this is a sustainable peace or not. As almost all the politicians say, is the development is the only challenge in front of the country? There are number of challenges in front of us. There are so many errors, mistakes on the resettlement process of the IDPs., accountability of the war, building up ethnic harmony and reconciliation, building sustainable peace and also infra structure development are some of the challenges ahead of us.

The brutal war caused to serious damage to the uncompromised, undeniable rights of people’s security, human dignity, freedom, and independence. This was a structural collapse and break down of values in our society. As it see, the conflict has been solved now. But, the root cause of the conflict is still remains. Have we addressed any of the root causes? There is no any trust for success of the activities for find solutions to the conflict unless we take measures to address the root causes.

We were observed numerous complex areas of the resettlement of the IDPs. Though we report the ethnic minorities in the country, the Tamils and Muslims are the majority in the North and East of the country. During the war, those people were the worst hit and directly affected due to war. Even

The long road home

LLRC report mentioned, that when a bomb blast in a bus in the south, there were rain of shells on the heads of the people who were lived in the N/E villages. So, those people vacated their own lands searching for their safety. Protect their children from shells, bombs, attacks from both the sides. How can we justify the situation of the people when they are living in the IDP camps up to today?

In this context, some of the people are living in temporary welfare camps more than 20 years by now. They do not have any land to settle today. But, the same people had some land for their living as well as agriculture for their livelihood. Some of the families have extended more than one family during this period. Even though, they were given their previous land, this is not adequate as number of families have been increased. At the same time, the land which were belong to those people have been captured by powerful people. Otherwise, their lands become ruined and abandoned lands. However, we were able to study the impact of Palali high security zone on lives of IDPs in the temporary camps in the northern province. We admit there should be measures for national security. But, even without giving any alternative, keeping the people in the welfare camps is unjust and unethical situation. There is a big ethical question in front of the Sri Lankan society today. It is debatable, how ethical that the grabbing the freedom of people, pressurizing the free will of people to live in a place where they are willing to live.?

There were several difficulties observed in the IDP camps. Difficulties to provide food for the people, lack of water facilities, poor security facilities, break down of children’s education, poor health and hygienic facilities, issues of housing and land, the poor conditions of the existing houses, as well as the environment of the camps for physical and mental health of the affected communities. Some of the people are living under tents. They are cooking under the trees. The Mullikulam people are one of an example of such community in our country.

Is it the meaning of real resettlement that the dropping of the people in their original village? No. However, Thiru Murugandi is one clear example of it. Some of the families among hundreds were taken to their original village and call it resettlement scheme. The area is covered with forests and people’s properties become ruins. Is it the real resettlement, without providing any house, also lack of any infra structure for basic requirements, no education, no hygiene facilities and dropping people in a jungle.? IDPs were taken to a land, where there is land with only the boundaries and it is in the jungle, can we say it is resettlement?

However, we as a nation can go forward if we can voice out for the grievances of the other people who are affected, if we are committed to the issues of the poor and needy. However, it is not happening today. It is a fact that our society is not caring others grievances. Our society is polarized seriously. In such situation, how do we expect that our country will move forward with strong base of humanity?

Read the full report below

What is the meaning of resettlement in Sri Lanka 

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Human Rights

War displaced

“We want our land back as we are also citizens of Sri Lanka”

What is the meaning of resettlement in Sri Lanka Report of the Field visit of NAFSO/ Praja Abhilasha Network / Rights Now/ PCHR team at Northern ...