The Urban Development Authority has promised to stop the seizure of lands in Wanathamulla, strong resistance from a residents’ movement which filed action against the UDA at the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka.
Attorney at Law Sunil Watagala who appeared for the residents, said that the UDA had promised before the Commission that it would not demolish 12 homes in the area after the residents filed a petition against the move.
Several attempts had been made by Defence and Urban Development Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to intimidate and coerce the residents into permitting the forcible eviction and illegal demolition of their homes.
Following an exchange of words with Rajapaksa, one of the residents Sunil Samaradheera was abducted allegedly by the security forces, but was ultimately returned after angry residents of the area stormed the streets and demanded his release.
Watagala said the UDA had no answers against arguments made on behalf of the residents at the Human Rights Commission, that if land was to be seized it had to be done in accordance with the law of the land.
UDA officials gave assurances in writing at the Commission that it would cease the attempted demolition.
The forcible eviction of long time urban communities in Colombo has been a major problem in the city for several years. Cases filed in the Supreme Court have failed to offer redress, after the Rajapaksa administration’s de facto Chief Justice Mohan Peiris was installed at the helm of the judiciary. The Wanathamulla case is the first of the attempted evictions that have gone awry for the regime after residents refused to back down and hand over their land.