29 September, 2022


Muslim Secretariat Welcomes Cabinet Decision To Release Military Occupied Lands

The Secretariat for Muslims welcomes the statements made by key figures in the Government declaring the Government’s commitment to release lands held by the military to their rightful owners. In particular the cabinet’s decision to release land in Valikammam North (Jaffna) and Raigamwela (Panama) is an important first step. While expressing support for this measure, the SFM would like to highlight the impact of occupation of civilian-owned land by the security forces and to call for further releases.

Maithripala Digana 20122014 My3 FBFor persons whose land have been occupied, it has meant that even though they are citizens of this country, there has been a denial of their rights and a delay in effectively restoring normalcy in their lives some six years after the war. The failure to release their lands has obstructed their ability to reconstruct their homes, fully revive their livelihoods, regain access to ancestral religious and cultural sites and and rebuild their lives. This restriction on land and rights serves as a source of animosity and insecurity that polarizes ethnic relations and is hampering Sri Lanka’s transition from war to lasting peace. The military occupation of land owned and used by civilians is a problem that particularly impacts the Tamil community in the Northern Province, but also affects other communities in other parts of the country.

Further releases of land in a phased manner will help build confidence among communities in this Governments’ capacity to bring about a more sustainable peace and to ensure that rights are upheld. It will also serve as a first step towards reconciliation and will demonstrate the Government’s commitment to treating all communities equally. SFM, while acknowledging there are a number of areas that need to be released, is highlighting three such sites where the Muslim community is currently unable to regain full access to their land. We ask that the Government take immediate steps within the 100 Days to release such lands.

1)  Ashraf Nagar, Ampara District: In November 2011 the military moved into the village of Kashankerni in Ashraff Nagar and demanded that the 69 Muslim families in the area vacate, to make way for an army camp. While some families moved unwillingly, nine families refused and have continued to live in their homes. A few of them sought redress from the Supreme Court (SC/FR/NO. 192-2012) and their Fundamental Rights application is pending. These families have faced significant problems including harassment and they are unable to cultivate their lands on which they rely for their livelihoods. The army camp should be moved out and the land restored to these families.

2)  Silavathurai, Mannar District: Silavathurai was the most prominent town in the Musali division prior to 1990. In 1990 the approximately 280 Muslim families from Silavathurai were expelled by the LTTE along with the entire population of Northern Muslims. Some families returned following the ceasefire agreement of 2002 but were forced back into displacement in 2007 when the war recommenced. When the area was opened for resettlement after the end of the war, residents of Silavathurai found that what used to be the heart of the town was a navy camp. Key public buildings including the post office, the Pradeshiya Sabha building and the main mosque are off limits, as most of the residential neighbourhoods and shops. While small portions of land on the perimeter have been released over the past few years, much of Silavathurai remains restricted to civilian access and use. Similarly the Tamil village of Mullikulam is now used as a navy camp and in Marichchakatti village the mosque along with some houses are cordoned off by the navy. The security forces need to take steps to release these private properties and public buildings in the Musali division so that war affected people can attempt to rebuild their communities.

3) Karumalaiootru, Trincomalee District: Situated on Dead Man’s Cove, this village suffered both as a result of the war and the tsunami. While the community was able to build back after the tsunami on land away from the beach, this largely fishing community continued to maintain their access the beach and the mosque which is set on a small hill by the beach. The mosque is old and the community has legal ownership of the land, dating back to at least the British colonial period. In November 2009, the area adjoining the beach was cordoned off by the military. In August 2014 the mosque was demolished by the forces. In the lead up to the presidential election residents were allowed to finally visit the site where they noticed a temporary building had been constructed in place of the mosque which they are now allowed to use. The ziyaram or shrine linked to the mosque is still off limits. The area where these villagers were living has not been released for their occupation. The SFM calls for the release of the village and the mosque (including the shrine) in its entirety so that villagers can have full access to their lands.

*SFM Statement on the Release of Land held by the Military

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Latest comments

  • 8

    Dear President, Maithreepala Sirisena, Please arrest past corrupts first. Shasi granted bail 15000rs. What the hell your Yahapalanaya. You got the post not to protect the Mahinda and Co. but the justice.

    • 5

      Dear Mr. President,

      RE: Muslim Secretariat Welcomes Cabinet Decision To Release Military Occupied Lands

      Good, make steady progress in correcting the destruction brought about by LTTE, Mootal Veer VP and Mootal and Crook, CRC, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

      Yes, we need Yaha Palanaya, but understand that Rome was nor Built in a Day..

      So Sri Lanka will not be Re-built in a day. Convey that, but the people expect steady progress.

  • 3

    Amarasiri- After a long time you have said some thing, worthy. It is a
    disgrace to the nation if the military holds onto the peoples lands in peace time and owners held in refugee camps. As you said Rome was not built in a day and Tamils will have to wait patiently until the govt. undo the wrongs done by the successive govts. in the past. Their impatience is understandable as the successive govts.cheated on them but things have changed to wards the better with the change of former regime .People of all walks of life now prefer unity and peace in the country and the govt. is in the hands of decent people and cheating is
    not on their cards.

  • 0

    The army should also be withdrawn from Navaladi junction in the east. It is certainly ugly and gives an extremely bad impression to the guest approaching Passikudah too see such a hollow camp. Furthermore, this camp along with intelligence representatives stationed within the Valaichenai Paper Mill have continuously harassed people and prevented them from building in their own lands or fencing their paddy land borders to protect from stray cattle or digging agrowells to cultivate after the Maha season.

  • 0

    The Secretariat of Muslims do not talk about the Jaffna Muslims resettlement. Those who have returned are living in appalling conditions. Muslim leaders have done nothing to alleviate their plight.
    What is the use of the Secretariat?

  • 0

    the mostly affected tamils welcome the resolution.but it must must not be fake in practice.for example within 6500 acres of private lands encroached in valikamam north by army they going to release 1000 acres only,and all displaced going to be packed in this piece of land with tiny patches .for what ?is it for the propaganda as to say that we have released private lands and resettled the displaced people?
    that was a thriving busy agricultural land with so many place of worship and ports.but now it is used by army for farming for business(see army website)for hotels,golf clubs and recreational areas (as swimming pools)
    what is important? so are you considering tamils as srilankans with equal rights ?
    Not only here but in sampur ,mullaitheev every where the same story .the army camps in north and east are situated in unnecessarily in a vast stretch of lands (mostly by consuming private lands by threatening
    (example acchuvely town camp ,pallai camp > 50 acres). will they give it.The Sampur is a specialcase nearly 32000 acres,several sqare km of land have been forcibly taken for a navy camp and the proposed thermal power plant.(but in fact nearly 500 acres is enough for the plant as it was told ).still the displaced people are in tin sheet refugee camp in kanguvely( for time to time they were threatned to accept tiny patch(10 perch) of land in a low lying which often getting flooded.also No compensation promised .their dry rations also cut by the ex army GA .THIS IS THE PLIGHT OF TAMIL CIVILIANS in this country. I understand and accept that present GOSL need time to stabilize it . but yet the start is not giving much hope

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