Image Credit : Ishara Danasekara 

15th January, 2019

Dear President,

On the 4th of October 2018, the Presidential Media Division reported that “President Maithripala Sirisena instructed the authorities to complete the process of releasing the lands in the North and East Provinces to their original owners, before the 31st of December, after resolving all the issues,” at a meeting with the Presidential Task Force to monitor development projects conducted in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Displaced persons from the north and east, and other concerned persons and organizations, wrote a letter to you on 27th December 2018, appealing to you to honour your promise.

But, to date, there was has been no response to our letter, and large tracts of lands remain inaccessible to their residents, who remain displaced, many for over a decade.

Therefore, we are once again writing to you to keep your promise to complete the process of releasing lands in the North and East, – and in this case, we are referring specifically to the village of Keppapulavu in the Mullaitivu district. In December 2017, some parts of the village was released, but acres of lands remain occupied by the Army. This includes, residential lands located in close proximity to their livelihood of fishing in the nearby lagoon, agricultural lands, and a village school, church, Hindu temple and cemetery.

The villages have been engaged in a day and night continuous peaceful protest outside the entrance to the Army camp, for more than 22 months – demanding the release of their lands. They have also been holding multiple discussions with officials and politicians.

In the past, a village leader had threatened to engage in a fast unto death till their lands were released. We are concerned that they may resort to drastic action, if the promise you made, is not kept, and all lands not released.

Prior to such an eventuality, we again demand that you honor your promise and release all remaining lands still occupied and not accessible to these residents.

Yours sincerely,

The People’s Alliance for Right to Land (PARL)

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