THE DESTROYED LAND, LIFE, AND IDENTITY OF THE TAMIL PEOPLE IN SRI LANKA

THE DESTROYED LAND, LIFE, AND IDENTITY OF THE
TAMIL PEOPLE IN SRI LANKA

THE DESTROYED LAND, LIFE, AND IDENTITY OF THE TAMIL PEOPLE IN SRI LANKA
Findings for this report were compiled Anuradha Mittal with support from
Andy Currier, and are based on field research conducted by a team of
Oakland Institute researchers in Sri Lanka. We are grateful to individuals
who assisted with field research, who remain unnamed to ensure their safety.
Thank you!
Design: Elijah Allen
Cover Photo: Police warning unities protesting in front of an
army camp demanding release of their
land in Keppapulavu, Mullaithivu.
Publisher: The Oakland Institute is an
independent policy think tank bringing
fresh ideas and bold action to the
most pressing social, economic, and
environmental issues.
This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution 4.0 International
License (CC BY-NC 4.0). You are free to
share, copy, distribute, and transmit this
work under the following conditions:
Attribution: You must attribute the work
to the Oakland Institute and its authors.
Non Commercial: You may not use this
work for commercial purposes.
Translations: If you create a translation
of this work, please add the following
disclaimer along with the attribution:
This translation was not created by The
Oakland Institute and should not be
considered an official Oakland Institute
translation. The Oakland Institute shall
not be liable for any content or errors in
this translation.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
All queries on rights and licenses
should be addressed to:
The Oakland Institute
PO Box 18978
Oakland, CA 94619 USA
info@oaklandinstitute.org
The Oakland Institute, 2021
The ethnic conflict that erupted after Sri Lanka’s independence from Britain in 1948
escalated into an armed conflict in the 1980s. The war ended in May 2009 – when
the Sri Lankan military violently crushed the decades’ long armed struggle led by
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) against the governments of the majority
Sinhalese Buddhist. The conflict killed over 200,000 people, displaced more than
a million, destroyed infrastructure, and left behind wanton destruction of lives and
property of the population of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
In December 2014, the Oakland Institute conducted field research to investigate the
post-war situation for this population. Based on this reseach, the Institute’s 2015
report, The Long Shadow of War: the Struggle for Justice in Postwar Sri Lanka
exposed ships and tragedies faced by people in the hawkish military environment.
Moreover, it shed light upon the intensifying land grabbing executed by the
government through various strategies in the North and East. The report exposed the
nexus between land grabbing and militarization and uncovered the continued use of
old strategies for land grabbing such as irrigation projects and violence, along with
new methods including setting up of Buddhist temples, creation of archaeological
preservations, high-security zones, and special economic zones to Sinhalize the
North and East – the Tamils’ traditional homeland.
The regime led by the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa – accused of war crimes
and crimes against humanity – ended with the January 2015 presidential election.
Maithripala Sirisena, who was a minister in Rajapaksa’s government, was elected
President with the support of the opposition. Then, the United National Front for
Good Governance (UNFGG) led by the United National Party (UNP) won the August
2015 parliamentary elections, and Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected Prime Minister.
President Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe formed the national government with
the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
Although the UNFGG won the support of the Tamil and Muslim population with
promises of peace, coexistence, devolution of power to the ethnic Tamil and Muslim
communities and good governance, it failed to deliver on these during its tenure.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Massive public rally against land grabbing by Mahaweli Authority in Mullaithivu in 2018.
3
Former Secretary of Defense ministry, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who contested on behalf
of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) – a new party founded by his brother
Mahinda Rajapaksa – won the November 2019 presidential election. Mahinda
Rajapaksa was sworn in as Prime Minister and his party won a landslide victory in
the August 2020 parliamentary elections with a hardline stance towards the ethnic
Tamil and Muslim communities.
This report examines the main trends and scale of changes in land grabbing and
related human rights violations in the Northern and Eastern Provinces over the past
five years.
Whereas land colonization and Sinhalese settlements have taken place in Sri Lanka
under the guise of development since independence, this new research points to
an increase in land grabbing in recent years. Thousands of acres of land have been
confiscated to allow the settlement of Sinhalese in traditional Tamil areas. Meanwhile,
not a drop of water from the Mahaweli River has been brought to the Northern and
Eastern Provinces under the so-called “irrigation development project” in the last
seven decades. In particular, large scale Sinhalese settlements are taking place in the
border areas of Vavuniya and Mullaitivu Districts through the Kivul Oya and Malwattu
Oya irrigation projects under the Mahaweli ‘L’ scheme of the Mahawali Authority.
This is being facilitated by the military and different government departments
such as the Housing Authority, Forest Department, Wildlife Department, and
Archaeological Department. Large-scale deforestation is also taking place to enable
these settlement projects. The main objective of this colonization is to increase the
number of Sinhalese population in the North and East to change the demographics
of the regions. One clear tactic has been to divide the geographically and ethnically
connected Northern and Eastern Provinces and erase the homeland doctrine of the
Tamil people. In the 30 years prior to 2009, these areas were under LTTE control that
prevented land grabbing.
The government’s intention to eradicate the history and culture of the Tamil people
is made clear by the activities conducted through different departments. The state
machinery is in full swing to convert historic lands, monuments and places of worship
of the Tamil people to Buddhist temples, Buddhist culture, and practice – at a greater
pace than it was in 2015. The government is expropriating private and state land for
www.oaklandinstitute.org 4 stribution to Buddhist temples through gazette notifications. In
the Kuchchaveli DS Division of Trincomalee District, 340.33 acres of land were leased to seven Buddhist institutions for religious tivities through a gazette notification issued on October 2, 2020.
Land grabbing under the guise of archaeological excavations has lso increased in recent months throughout the North and East.

In the Mullaitivu District, the Forest Department has expropriated 2,110 acres of land and the Wildlife Department claimed 23,515 cres. The Archaeological Department has seized 202 acres and
the Mahawali Authority has taken 4,368 acres. Also, more than 5,000 acres of land have been expropriated for the formation of he Manalaaru/Weli Oya Sinhala DS Division. Since the end of the
war in 2009, 67 Buddhist temples (viharas) have been set up in the Mullaitivu District alone under the Archaeological Department.

The cemeteries of the LTTE cadres have been levelled; military amps have been set up and war victory symbols erected.

Another issue examined by the report is the extent to which the military has usurped land in the North and East. 12 years after the end of the war, large numbers of troops remain in the region.
In the Mullaithivu District alone, the military has acquired more than 16,910 acres of public and private land. There are at least even Army camps and five naval bases located just 15 kilometers
from the village of Alampil to the village of Kokkilai in Mullaithivu.

Military camps, buildings, and restricted areas are found in various places where no vistor to the North and East can travel freely, despite the absence of war.
Five of the seven Sri Lankan Army’s Regional Headquarters are
located in the North and Eastern Provinces. According to our
estimates, there is a ratio of one soldier for every six civilians
in the North and East. While the Sri Lankan government has
repeatedly stated that the LTTE poses no more threat to national
security,2
the massive military presence provides security for
Sinhalese settlements while facilitating the Buddhization process
and keeping the population in the North and East under constant
repression and intimidation.
The report also observes the lives of people under military
occupation. The Long Shadow of War revealed the plight of people
living under military occupation. The continued presence of
military threatens human rights, livelihoods, and everyday life
of the people. The Army, which is stationed on civilian lands,
cultivates and harvests these lands and sells the produce to the
landowners. The military continues to run resorts and multiple
shops. At the same time, there are a number of high security zones
under military control, which prevent the resettlement of Tamil
population displaced during the war. In particular, Valikamam
North of Jaffna District, which has been allowed for resettlement,
continues to have large military camps and bungalows on private
land, and people have been denied access to many areas. Ancient
temples and churches have been demolished. Students have to
pass through military fences to go to schools. The port of Myliddy,
which in the 1980s produced one-third of Sri Lanka’s total fisheries,
has seen the output fall by 90 percent.
Finally, the report examines the extent to which resettlement of
war-displaced people has taken place and how the military’s
expropriation of civilian lands has affected the resettlement
process. The life of displacement and living in IDP camps that
started 30 years ago still continues for the people of Valikamam
North. In the Jaffna District, 23,000 people are still waiting to be
resettled in their native lands. More than 1,300 people are still
living in 22 camps while thousands live with their relatives or rent
houses.
This report demonstrates that the government’s activities align
with the characteristics of an ethnocratic state aiming to maintain
the supremacy of the Sinhalese nation across Sri Lanka. Activities
to create this ethnocratic state have gained momentum since the
Rajapaksa regime took office in 2019, thereby creating a situation
that is detrimental to the country’s stability, reconciliation, human
rights, and peace.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 5
In a major twist, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government announced
in February 2020 that it would withdraw from co-sponsoring
the 2015 UN Human Rights Council resolution (30/1) to
promote accountability, reconciliation, justice, and peace. The
former-President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe were not interested in implementing the
resolution under the co-sponsorship.
The new government’s move to deviate from its international
obligations of human rights and accountability, and the use of
the military and government departments to expropriate the
lands of Tamil and Muslim population on the basis of ethnicity
and to severly impact their human rights and livelihoods, should
garner the immediate attention of the United Nations and the
international community. The new President’s announcement
that Sri Lanka does not have an ethnic issue is a blatant lie, which
denies a manifest policy of colonization and marginalization of
minority ethnic groups that he is leading himself.
Land grabbing and associated human rights abuses have led to
tension and insecurity among the Tamil and Muslim minority
populations. Under this premise, the international community
has a responsibility to take appropriate action to ensure that these
conditions do not escalate the conflict. There is an immediate
obligation on the part of the UN and international community to
innovate a safety mechanism to monitor, protect, and promote
the human rights of ethnic Tamil and Muslim communities. This
includes the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on land rights for
Sri Lanka and establishment of Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) field presence in the country to
monitor and record ongoing human rights violations in the North
and East.
Against the backdrop of the findings of this report, the Oakland
Institute welcomes UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Michelle Bachelet’s report on Sri Lanka released in January 2021.
High Commissioner Bachelet has stressed the need not only to
ensure accountability for past human rights violations in Sri Lanka,
but also warned of possible future violence and conflict in the
country and stressed the international community’s proactive role
to stop and prevent them. The Commissioner’s urging of member
states, such as asset freezes and travel bans on Sri Lankan officials
accused of human rights abuses and steps towards the referral of
the situation in Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court are
timely and essential to upholding justice and human rights.3
The Zero Draft Resolution on Sri Lanka, presented at the
46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, launched on
Februray 22, 2021, by members of the Core-Group on Sri Lanka,
however, deviates from the recommendations made by the High
Commissioner Bachelet and the recommendation made by four
former High Commissioners, nine former Special Rapporteurs,
and all members of the UNSG’s Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka, who
have jointly stated that the matter should be referred to the ICC.4
The Zero Draft Resolution fails to deliver justice and to address the
root causes of the the ethnic conflict. It does not lay the ground for
accountability and lasting peace.
The Oakland Institute urges the Core-Group on Sri Lanka for the
UN Human Rights Council, which includes UK, Canada, Germany,
Montenegro, and North Macedonia to include High Commissioner
Bachelet’s recommendations in the final resolution. In addition,
we also call on the Core-Group countries to emphasize on the
immediate cessation of land grabbing, planned settlements, and
demilitarization of the North and East in the Resolution, given the
detrimental impact of these issues, as evidenced by this report.
Reconciliation, human rights, and peace is not possible in Sri Lanka
unless the situation is handled in accordance with international
law, international justice mechanisms, and morality.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 6
INTRODUCTION Following the release of The Long Shadow of War: The Struggle for Justice
in Postwar Sri Lanka in May 2015, the Oakland Institute has continued to
monitor the human rights situation in the North and East of Sri Lanka
and published the following reports: Waiting to Return Home: Continued
Plight of the IDPs in Post-War Sri Lanka (2016), Justice Denied: A Reality
Check on Resettlement: Demilitarisation, and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka
(2017) and Driving Dispossession (2020).
Since these releases, the regime changed with presidential elections in
November 2019 and parliamentary elections in August 2020. Former
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother and former secretary of Defense
ministry, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, contested on behalf of the newly formed
SLPP formed by Mahinda Rajapaksa and was elected President, while
Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as the Prime Minister.
This new report is based on the Oakland Institute’s continued engagement
with human rights activists, journalists, politicians, and civil society
representatives in the North and East of Sri Lanka. Information was
also obtained through monitoring of national and international media.
Oakland Institute’s researchers opted for several research methods
for data collection, including key informant interviews, focus group
discussions, and participant observation.
The major findings cover six themes that are drawn from information,
testimonies, and data collected. First, the report reveals that under
the guise of “development projects,” Sinhalese settlements continue
to expand within Tamil-dominated areas to change demographics
and deprive Tamil communities access to their land. Additionally, the
aggressive government-led effort to replace Tamil culture and history
with victory monuments dedicated to the Sinhalese domination and
Buddhist temples, continues on the ruins of the Tamil homeland. The
report exposes that the military continues to occupy vast amounts of
land in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu, Vavuniya, and Batticaloa. While
civilian resettlement has been allowed in some areas of Valikamam North,
these areas remain under extreme militarization, severely impacting the
livelihoods of the local population. The military continues to occupy the
North and East at an extreme degree – with roughly one military member
for every six civilians. Finally, the report follows up on the thousands of
people who have been displaced since the end of the war in 2009 and
shows how delayed resettlement continues to undermine livelihoods
and recovery.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 7
825 acres of land confiscated under the Mahawali ‘L’ scheme after the end of
the war in 2009 at Kottaikkeni, Mullaithivu were handed over to 25 Sinhalese
families in 2018, including relatives of some of the ministers during the SrisenaWickramasinghe regime.
After the independence of Sri Lanka, agriculture and irrigation schemes
were used as a pretext to relocate Sinhalese peasants to Tamil areas.
This process, known as Sinhalization, has irrevocably changed local
demographics and was a key factor that escalated contention and
violence during the war. The Long Shadow of War detailed the history
of several such schemes. For instance, the Gal Oya project launched
in 1950, created 40 million acres of land for landless peasants, leading
to the creation of a dozen Sinhalese-majority villages in the Tamil
dominated Eastern Province. In the 1950s and 1960s, numerous
irrigation development projects in Trincomalee became instruments
for increased Sinhalization in the region. The Mahaweli River
Scheme, launched in the 1970s as the largest irrigation project in the
country, created new Sinhalese settlements on the border between
the Northern and Eastern Provinces, specifically to destroy the
possibility of a merger of two Provinces by the Tamils. These so-called
“development schemes” led to the loss of at least one thirds of the
land in the Eastern Province to the Sinhalese – a population reduction
from 76 percent in 1827 to just 39 percent in 2015.5
This same tactic was used to intensify activities in the North and East
to acquire lands and establish Sinhalese settlements. Many areas that
were under LTTE control for 30 years, and could not be annexed under
the Mahaweli authority, are today easy targets given they are under
the control of the military. The ‘L’ zone in the Tamil areas, under the
Mahaweli scheme has not received any water to date, the lands were
acquired and the Sinhalese settlements have been established.
CONTINUING SINHALESE SETTLEMENTS UNDER
THE GUISE OF DEVELOPMENT
8
Sinhalese settlements in the forests of
Ootrukkulam in 2019 under the Nedunkerny
divisional secretariat area, Vavuniya. Photo
credit: https://www.ibctamil.com/
The Kivul Oya (Kivul River) Scheme is being actively implemented in the bordering areas
of Mullaithivu and Vavuniya Districts. The Oakland Institute’s researchers witnessed
first hand the massive deforestation in Vavuniya and Mullaithivu Districts in order to
settle Sinhalese population from the South under the Kivilu Oya project. Many other
areas under the Nedunkerny divisional secretariat area in Vavuniya District, including
the Vedivaiththa-kallu GN division, have been deforested and an estimated 2,000
Sinhalese have been settled in the past few years. Steps are being taken to settle 3,000
more Sinhalese in these areas and 2.5 acres of deforested land is being provided to
each person. Incentives of up to 800 rupees [~US$4] per family per day are provided
to prevent the settled people from returning to their native places.6
Similarly, more
than 4,000 Sinhalese were settled in the Weli Oya Divisional Secretariat between 2012
and 2017, and 11,639 acres came under the control of the Divisional Secretariat.7
9
Unauthorized Sinhalese settlement set up with the assistance of the Department of Civil Defense and the Housing Authority
in the Tamil villages of Malanur (12th block) and Eramadu (10th block) in the Kuchchaveli Divisional Secretariat Division,
Trincomalee.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 10
Illegal settlement of Sinhalese fishermen in Kokkilai – land confiscated from a Tamil man.
Police station set up to protect Sinhalese settlers in Kokkilai, Mullaithivu.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 11
Sinhalization of Vavuniya and Mullaithivu Districts is being
further extended under the guise of the Malwatu Oya
irrigation projects. To implement this scheme, the Mahawali
Authority has acquired 1,100 acres of land, and as a result
450 Tamil families live with the fear of displacement from
their native place at any time in Cheddikulam Divisional
Secretary area in Vavuniya. The local communities informed
the researchers that although alternative lands were to be
provided to them at Kappachchi Kulam in Vavuniya, the land
was degraded and could not be used for anything.8
Likewise, under Mahavali ‘L’ Zone Kivilu Oya irrigation
project, over 3,000 acres of land were expropriated by
the government through the gazette notification in 1988
and 2017 in the ancient Tamil village of Thenaimaravadi
and other close-by villages in Trincomalee District, which
geographically connects the North and East.9
Efforts are
also being made to establish two new Sinhalese colonies
in the vicinity of Thenaimaravadi with the support of the
troops.
Massive public rally against land grabbing by Mahaweli Authority in Mullaithivu in 2018.
Massive public rally against land grabbing by Mahaweli Authority in Mullaithivu in 2018.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 12
Since the end of the war in 2009, large numbers of Sinhalese
have settled illegally in Nayaru, Kokkilai, Kokkuttoduwai,
and Karunattukkeni of Mullaithivu District connecting
the Eastern Province with the Northern Province. Tamil
politicians allege that the Mahaweli Authority has illegally
issued land permits to the settlers.10
In November and December 2020, Tamil livestock farmers
in the border areas of Mayilaththamadu and Madhavanai in
the Batticaloa border villages faced the expropriation of their
pasture lands. Farmers from 540 families of Eeralakulam
Grama Niladhari area of Eravur Divisional Secretariat area
have raised livestock on these lands for generations. Many
farmers were forced to move their livestock into the forest
because of inaccessibility to the pasture lands. Some of
the 200,000 livestock are reported to have been left astray
without food while farmers’ milk production fell sharply by
80 percent, harshly impacting their daily lives.11
Batticaloa District has not received any water under the
Mahaweli project to date, but 12,000 acres of grazing land
in Madhavanai and Mayilathampatti were acquired in 1979
under the system ‘B’ of the Mahaweli Authority. As these
areas were formerly LTTE–controlled, Mahawali and other
state institutions could not access these pasture lands.
Since the brutal end of the war in 2009, several attempts
made to resettle Sinhalese in these areas were blocked by
legal action undertaken by human rights activists. With the
change of government in August 2020, under the leadership
of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the resettlement of Sinhalese under
the guise of maize cultivation is being executed by state
institutions with the support of the Governor.12 According
to K. Kurunathan, the former Eastern Province Land
Commissioner, lands are being given to the Sinhalese in
these grazing lands for maize cultivation in violation of
gazette of 1979 No. 41 and schedule 9, rule 1, appendix
2, article 2.5 of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Accordingly, the law that the allotment of Mahawali should
be given in proportion to the national ethnic ratio, was not
followed.13
Available grazing lands are shrinking for Tamil herders in Batticaloa.
620 acres of land cultivated by Tamil population in Sakalaatruveli, Mullaithivu have been confiscated under the Mahawali ‘L’ Zone.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 13
Apart from the changing demographics in
the North and East, The Long Shadow of War
documented an aggressive government-led
effort to replace Tamil culture and history
with the establishment of victory monuments
and Buddhist temples dedicated to the
Sinhalese domination on the ruins of the Tamil
homeland. Since the end of the war, numerous
land seizures have been recorded, particularly
for the construction of Buddhist viharas and
monuments and the general replacement of
Tamil culture. Seven notices were given in the
gazette of October 2, 2020 under State Land
Regulation No. 21(2), which refers to a total of
340.33 acres of land in 11 different locations in
the Kuchchaveli DS Division of Trincomalee
District, to be leased out to seven Buddhist
organizations for 30 years.
This gazette notification to lease the lands
is unconstitutional, lacking the approval
of the Eastern Provincial Council. It came
months after President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
established the Presidential Task Force for
Archaeological Heritage Management in the
Eastern Province. Tamil parliamentarians
accuse the President of creating the task force
to encroach the native lands of the Tamil under
the guise of archaeological preservation.14
Although 11 places in the villages of
Tennamarawadi, Thiriyai, Kumburupiddi
East, Pulmoddai, notified by the gazette are
mentioned as state lands, some of them are
private lands owned by Tamil and Muslim
families and are rich in ancient historical
monuments of the Tamil. Just as the Tamil
village Manal Aru (Weli Oya) was brought
under the Mahaweli System L since 1983 and
Sinhalese settlements have been established,
local populations expressed fear to the
Institute’s researchers that the villages of the
Kuchchaveli DS Division will also be brought
under the Mahaweli System L and soon the
Sinhalese population will be resettled.15 A case
against this gazette notification is pending in
the Trincomalee High Court.16
Meanwhile, the Archeological Department
is accelerating land grabbing operations in
various parts of the Northern Province. On
January 18, 2021, Vidura Wickramanayaka,
Sri Lanka’s State Minister for “National
Heritage,” accompanied by Army soldiers and
Archaeology Department officers – placed a
Buddha statue on the site of an ancient Hindu
temple (Athi Aiyanar temple), located at
Kurunthoormalai in Mullaithivu District.
A Trident, divine symbol of Hindus, placed
in the site of the temple was removed and
excavations were to take place. Although
Buddhist monks have been trying to occupy
the temple area and erect a Buddha statue
since 2018, it had not been possible due to
strong opposition from local communities.
The court ruled in 2018 that no changes
should be made in the area and stated that
the Archaeology Department had abused its
power in allowing Buddhist monks to survey
the area.17 But, in defiance of the court order,
the National Heritage Ministry, the Army, and
the Archeology Department placed a statue of
Buddha in the area.18
Sri Lanka’s Minister for “National Heritage,” accompanied by Army and Archaeology Department, led an event at Kurunthoormalai placing a new statue of
Buddha at the Athi Aiyanar (Hindu) temple. Photo credit: https://www.tamilguardian.com/
GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS AT WORK
TO TRANSFORM TAMIL CULTURE & HISTORY
www.oaklandinstitute.org 14
A Buddhist temple (vihara) built by monks in Kokkilai, Mullaithivu, after expropriating private land belonging to four Tamil families. The military provides
security for the Buddhist monks who live in the vihara.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 15
“MANY OF THE BUDDHIST TEMPLES (VIHARAS) IN THE NORTH WERE BUILT AFTER
THE END OF THE WAR IN 2009. THE GOVERNMENT SAID IN 2017 THAT THERE
WERE 67 TEMPLES IN MULLAITHIVU. BUT BEFORE 2009, THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE
TEMPLE IN MULLAITHIVU. IF THERE WERE 131 TEMPLES IN 2017, THIS NUMBER
WOULD HAVE INCREASED EVEN MORE IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS.”
Unauthorized Buddhist temple (vihara) in Neeraviyadi Pillaiyar temple complex, Mullaithivu.
– Thurairajah Raviharan, Former Provincial Councilor20
Statistics provided by the former Minister Akila Viraj
Kariyawasam during a question and answer session in
Parliament on May 3, 2017 show the extent of Buddhization
in the North and East, in the guise of archaeological
preservation. According to the Minister, there are a total
of 131 Buddhist temples (viharas) in the Northern Province
under the Archaeological Department.19
Likewise, the Wildlife and Forest Departments are using their
mandates to acquire land for the government under the guise
of “conservation.” The Forest and Wildlife departments do
not follow procedures or approval processes when seizing
lands nor do they consult local authorities and Provincial
Councils.21 Their arbitrary land acquisition supports
Sinhalese colonization and undermines the livelihoods of
the Tamil population.22
www.oaklandinstitute.org 16
Lands confiscated by the Wildlife Department in Kokkilai, Mullaithivu under the guise of a sanctuary.
According to Thurairajah Raviharan, a former member of the Northern
Provincial Council, 32,110 acres were grabbed by the Forest Department
in Mullaithivu alone.23 Meanwhile, the Wildlife Department has acquired
23,515 acres of land in Nanthikkadal and Nayaru area through a gazette
notification. This acquisition would prevent people from using resources
from the lagoons for their livelihoods in the near future.24 According to the
data obtained from Mannnar District Secretariat,25 the Wildlife Department
has acquired 12,154 acres in the District. Out of this, 4,449 acres are used
by the local population and belong to 818 people. Similarly, the Forest
Department has acquired 12,275 acres, out of which 2,570 acres are used
by the public, which belong to 1,485 people, who hold one of the following
documents: Land Development Ordinance Permits, Annual Permits,
Deed, Grant and/or Title Plan. The Archaeological Department has seized
202 acres and the Mahawali Authority has taken 4,368 acres. Also, more
than 25,000 acres of land have been expropriated for the formation of the
Manalaaru/Weli Oya Sinhala DS Division.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 17
“My name is . The military has
largely confiscated our lands in the Vattuvagal area.
They have erected fences in the areas where we do our
livelihood activities. More than 400 acres of civilian
land have been expropriated for the Gotabhaya Naval
base in Vattuvagal. Although we have held many
demonstrations requesting to release our lands, they do
not seem to release our lands. The Wildlife Department
has also brought the Nanthi Lagoon area under its
control and has earmarked it for a bird sanctuary.
5,500 families, however, live around the Lagoon. This
has severely affected fishing, agriculture, and other
livelihood activities. If we go down to the lagoon to
catch fish, they hit us with a stick and intimidate us.” 26
“My name is . The entire Nanthi
Lagoon is under the control of the Wildlife Department.
The Wildlife Department should release the Nanthi
Lagoon area for the livelihood of the people. They
should also release our field lands. My Grandfather
had 6 acres of field land near Nanthi Lagoon. Me, my
brothers, and my children have a share in this land.
But we are unable to cultivate this land as it has been
expropriated by the Wildlife Department. The Wildlife
Department should release these lands to the public.” 27
LAND UNDER MILITARY
OCCUPATION
www.oaklandinstitute.org 18
Information gathered by the Oakland Institute researchers shows
more than 100 military army camps have been set up in the
Mullaitivu district. There are a total of 33 camps located on the way
from Mullaithivu town to Nayaru (15 km), Thaanduvan (15 km),
Oddusuddan (26 km) and Pudukudiyiruppu (17 km). There are
at least seven military camps and five naval camps between the
villages of Alampil and Kokkilai located at a distance of 15 km in the
Mullaitivu district.
According to the District Secretariats of the North and East, around
30,000 acres of private land continue to be occupied by the Army
in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu, Vavuniya, and Batticaloa.28
According to the Oakland Institute’s estimates, a total of 16,910
acres of land has been confiscated by the military in Mullaithivu
District alone. Military camps set up in the jungle are not included
in this statistics.29 The statistics obtained from the Secretariat of
Mullaithivu, however, claim that only 679 acres of private lands and
3,178.75 acres of state lands were occupied by the security forces in
Mullaithivu as of end of 2019.
The Oakland Institute researchers have confirmed the numbers to
be much higher through field work in Mullaithivu. According to a
document forwarded to the Northern Provincial Council Members
by the District Secretariat of Mullaithivu on December 7, 2015, the
Army acquired 13,546 acres of land in Mullaithivu.30 Additionally, it
acquired 3,312 acres in Kokkavil for its cantonment.31 Moreover, the
military seized 170 acres in Kokkuthoduvai for its deep penetration
Unit, along with 39 acres in Alampil Kanadiyan Road,32 8,000
acres in Ottusuttan Ambagamamn for the Air force,33 617 acres in
Vattucagal for Gota Naval base34 and 75 acres in Puthukudiyiruppu
Road.35 These statistics reveal the stark truth about the extent of
land occupied by the military in contrast to the statistics provided
by the District Secretariat of Mullaithivu.
The LTTE cemetery on private land in Alampil in Mullaitivu District
has been demolished and the 24th Battalion of the Sinha Regiment
Headquarters has been established on the site. The Army has set
up a “multi shop” for civilians near the camp. The army also runs
a resort on the beach, Green Jackets Resort, a short distance from
the camp. The 19th Battalion of the Gemunu Watch is located
in Nayaru village, about three kilometers from Alampil, with two
camps. A Buddhist vihara has been set up adjacent to one of these
camps. The 593 Brigade has also set up an Army base including a
Buddhist vihara in Nayaru. In Kokkuthoduvaai North, about three
kilometers from Nayaru, is a large military complex located at the
junction of the roads leading to Manalaru / Weli Oya and Mullaithivu
/ Kokkilai. This is where the headquarters of the 19th Battalion of the
Gemunu Watch is also located as well as a canteen and fuel station
operated by the military. Closest to the camp is the 2nd Battalion
of the Special Forces, which also runs a training school. The 19th
Battalion of the Gemunu Watch Camp is located in the next village,
Karunaaddukerny, one kilometer from Kokkuthoduvaai. A camp
belonging to the Army’s Deep Penetration Unit is located near the
Koombaai junction in Kokuthoduvai area. Lands cultivated by the
Tamil, under the permits issued by the government, have been
confiscated for these camps.
Kokkilai Lagoon area reserved by the Wildlife Department.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 19
The 7th Battalion Army Camp at Thaiyiddy village border with the Kankesanthurai and the Urani Primary school attached to it.
As mentioned earlier, the Forest Department has acquired 32,110
acres and the Wildlife Department has acquired 23,515 acres in
Mullaithivu District.36 Therefore, all together it is over 80,000 acres
of land in Mullaithivu that were grabbed by the security forces and
the government departments in the District. Overall, Mullaithivu is
comprised of 621,917 acres, out of which 420,300 acres form the deep
forest. Only 201,617 acres are available for public use.37 According to
this calculation, more than 40 percent of the land available for public
use is controlled by the military and other government agencies.
Of these 80,000 acres of land, over 30,000 acres were acquired by the
Forest Department, the Wildlife Department, and the Archaeological
Department during the Srisena–Wickramasinghe regime between 2015
and 2019. These statistics show that during the Mahinda Rajapaksa
regime before 2015, more land was expropriated directly to military
camps and high security zones, while government departments were
used for land grabbing in more recent years during the Srisena and
Wickramasinghe era.38
Over 4,000 acres were released from Army’s possession between
2015 and 2019 in the areas under Valikamam Divisional Secretariat.39
However, 3,300 acres of civilian land remains in the possession of
the military in the Division. A local official, alleges that attempts to
The case of Mullaithivu is the acid-test that reflects the gravity
of the situation in the North and East, when it comes to land
grabbling through various forms.
meet with the current Jaffna District Army Commander to discuss
the release of these lands have been futile.40 Since then, the military
stationed in the areas where land was released for resettlement, were
relocated to more land in other places and still remain in the Northern
Province.
Although the military has allowed civilian resettlement in some areas
of Valikamam North, these areas remain under extreme militarization.
This has severely affected the everyday life and livelihood activities of
the people. The situation was incredibly dire when the research team
visited the three neighboring villages of Urani, Thaiyiddy, and Myliddy,
which were allowed for resettlement in Valikamam North in 2017 and
2018.41 The rough map (Figure 1) shows the military camps in these
three villages and the extent to which they have disrupted the daily life
of the civilians.
Gamunu Vihara, a Buddhist temple, has been set up near a Hindu
temple, Murugan Kovil, on the Thaiyiddy village border with the
Kankesanthurai. The Buddhist temple is located on a plot of land
belonging to the Hindu temple. The 7th Battalion Army Camp
is located on ten acres of public land, about one kilometer from
Gamunau Vihara. A small Buddhist temple, Thaiyiddy North Viharai,
is built inside this Army camp. Touching the 7th Battalion Army Camp
is the famous Urani St. Anthony Church and Urani Primary School. A
military police camp is located on approximately 15 acres of private
land, about one kilometer from the 7th Battalion Army Camp.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 20
There is a Buddhist temple, Tissa Raja Maha Vihara, in Thaiyiddy.
However, on January 30, 2021, Sri Lanka’s Army Commander General
Shavendra Silva laid the foundation stone for construction of the
stupa, 100 ft in height,42 despite strong objections of Jaffna District
Parliamentarians at a District Coordinating Committee meeting on the
expropriation of private lands and the augmentation of the vihara.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 21
The military camps, military buildings, and Buddhist temples constructed only at Urani, Thaiyiddy, and Myliddy are mentioned
in the map (Figure 1). The most spacious 10th Field Engineers Headquarters are located at Myliddy Junction, about 500
meters from the military police camp. It is part of the Palaly Army Headquarters. The total surface of the Army camp, which
stretches from Myliddy to Palali, is over 2,000 acres – of which, an approximately 1,000 acre camp is located in 8 GS Divisions
of Myliddy. The two centuries old Myliddy Kalimakal School is located adjacent to the 10th Field Engineers Headquarters.
Students are only able to enter the school through a gate fitted in the fence of the Army camp.
The camp set up on a massive scale, occupies many more adjoining villages in the East and South, up to Palaly; only the area within the Myliddy area of the 10th
Field Engineers Headquarters is pictured.
Figure 1. Map of military camps, military buildings, and Buddhist temples only at Urani, Thaiyiddy, and Myliddy
www.oaklandinstitute.org 22
A Commando Bungalow of the Army is set up on around 60 acres of land owned by 400 people on the beach side of the
road, opposite the 10th Field Engineers Headquarters in Myliddy. The 400 year old Hindu Temple, Varasithi Vinayakar, and
200 year old St. Mary’s Church, located in the Commando Bungalow area have been demolished. No evidence remains that
the temple and church ever existed.
Commando Bungalow Built On Public Land In Myliddy, Jaffna.
1980s photo of the Varasithi Vinayakar temple and St. Mary’s Church, which were demolished for the construction of the Commando Bungalow in Myliddy, Jaffna.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 23
Fishing boats of Sinhalese fishermen engaged in deep sea fishing docked at Myliddy Harbor. Photo credit: https://www.koormai.com/46
Community members and the people’s representatives that the research team met feared that
the situation would be worse in the Palaly area, which has not yet been allowed to resettle, as
militarization is at its peak in these three villages that were allowed for resettlement after 28 years
in 2017 and 2018.
The harbour located in Myliddy is very popular for fishing. According to a local official,43 during
the pre-war 1980s, one-third of Sri Lanka’s total fishing was done in Myliddy,44 but today fishing
production has dropped by 90 percent. The local official blames this on heavy militarization and
the complete loss of fishing equipment and resources of Myliddy fishermen. In one generation, the
community has lost its traditional fishing livelihood, due to 28 years of continued displacement.
Local fishermen expressed concern that the Myliddy harbor is currently being used extensively by
southern Sinhalese fishermen with the help of the military.45
www.oaklandinstitute.org 24
MEASURING MILITARIZATION
The Long Shadow of War estimated that in 2014 – five years after the end of the war – approximately
160,000 soldiers – mostly Sinhalese – remained stationed in the North and East. This accounts
roughly to one soldier for every six civilians. Little appears to have changed in recent years.
The Sri Lankan Army has seven Regional Headquarters, of which five are located in Jaffna,
Kilinochchi, Mulaitheevu, Vavuiniya, and Trincomalee in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.47
According to the Report of the UN Human Rights Commission48 on Sri Lanka, every Army
Division consists of 10,000 to 20,000 soldier, and two – four Brigades.49 Each Brigade consists
of two Battalions,50 with 1,000 soldiers each.51 The table above illustrates the Army’s numbers
in the North and East as per the minimum criteria.52
Table 1: Military presence in the North and East53
www.oaklandinstitute.org 25
There are 44 Brigades in the North, with 89 Battalions under them (according to the Army, 56th division
consists of two Brigades, with five Battalions under them).54 Thus, there are at least 89,000 soldiers
are stationed in the North. According to the 2012 census the total population of the Northern Province
is 1,058,762.55 Therefore, the level of militarization of Northern Province is at one soldier per every 12
civilians. 11 years after the end of the war, this high ratio of military amidst the civilians makes the
Northern Province of Sri Lanka an extremely militarized place. And this calculation is based on the
minimum criteria, as detailed above.
Furthermore, the Air Force, Navy, Special Task Force, and Special Commandos are not considered
in this calculation. If these statistics are included in the calculation, the Northern Province remains
militarized at a level of one soldier per every six civilians, even today. A 2017 report by the Adayalaam
Center for Policy Research and PEARL estimated that between 45,500-78,000 Army personnel are
based in Mullaithivu District alone, suggesting a ratio of one soldier for every two civilians.56
www.oaklandinstitute.org 26
Although stated otherwise by the Sri Lankan government, military occupation is not about ensuring
security. For years, the Army has engaged in numerous non-military activities – large-scale property
development, construction projects, and business ventures including travel agencies, farming,
holiday resorts, golf courses, restaurants, and innumerable cafes. This has adversely affected the
livelihoods of the local Tamil population and the resettlement of the IDPs.
LIFE UNDER MILITARY OCCUPATION
Army run Green Jackets Resort at Chemmalai Beach, Mullaithivu.
Army Canteen run by the 593 Brigade in Nayaru, Mullaithivu. Photo Credit: https://pearlaction.org/
www.oaklandinstitute.org 27
The widespread presence of military
personnel across the North and East
– including their overt penetration
into all aspects of civilian life and local
economies – hinders the livelihoods
of the local people. During the field
research, Army personnel from the
Mullaithivu Army Headquarters were
seen engaging in cattle breeding
and production of milk and yogurt.
Military officials occupying lands
in Kepapulavu harvested coconuts
from local trees to sell them. Navy
personnel in Vadduvagal cultivated
spinach in their camp and sold it at
local markets.57 Sivasakthi Ananthan,
a former parliamentarian from the
Vavuniya District, expressed the
same concern: “Every day we see
many buses carrying families of the
occupying military on the A9 road to
the North. These families stay at Army
Hotels and military settlements and
shop at army shops. The Army also
cuts valuable trees in our forests and
sells them.”58
A canteen set up by the Army on Iranaipalai
Road, Pudukudiyiruppu, Mullaithivu. Many
products are sold here, including vegetables
and cigarettes.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 28
Green Jackets Multishop – military-run business built on the site of an LTTE
cemetery destroyed by the Army in Alampil, Mullaithivu. Photo Credit: https://
pearlaction.org/
Salons, cafes, hotels, and other tourist spots continue to be run by the military. The Thalsevana Resort is run by the military, with no efforts
made to hide the reality behind this seven star resort.59 A new luxury military mansion was constructed recently about one kilometer away from
the Talsevana Hotel. Public access to the area is prohibited. At least five additional hotels and resorts are run by the military in Mullaithivu
alone,60 including the Green Jackets Resort, which has seized vital beach areas from fisherfolk who depended on it for their livelihoods.
Researchers also witnessed Army engagement in building of cement blocks, used for construction. Similar to the Army’s involvement in
agriculture, this creates competition with local traders and other small businesses, taking important income and work from those trying to
reestablish their livelihoods in the post-war context.
Troops of the 59th Regiment stationed at the Mulliyawalai Army
Headquarters produce and sell cement blocks. The resort is run by the 24th
Singha Regiment of the 593rd Brigade in the 59th Regiment. The military
already operates a variety of industries, including agriculture, dairy, fishing,
restaurants, and resorts.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 29
It shows the ironic reality of the military looting the
economies and livelihoods of people devastated by war
and the need for the demilitarization in the North and
East. However, with the military budget increasing to an
astounding Rs.355 billion [~US$1.83 billion] in 2021 from
Rs.214 billion [~US$1.1 billion] in 2009,61 the government’s
will to demilitarize the region appears absent.
For the past ten years, the military has been pumping drinking water every day through a number of heavy water tanks from a public tube well in
Thanneerootru in the Mullaithivu District. As a result, the drinking water wells of the local communities in the area are deteriorating.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 30
According to the the Statistical Handbook of 2020 of
the Jaffna District Secretariat, over 23,000 people await
resettlement in Jaffna.62 In 2015, The Long Shadow of War
exposed the plight of the displaced people of Valikamam
North at the Neethavan Camp, located in Mallakam and the
Sabapathippillai camp located at Chunnagam in the Jaffna
District.
Six years later these two camps still exist, and the researchers’
visit revealed that the same plight continues. Today 60
families live in Neethavan Camp, and 79 families live in
Sabapathippillai camp.63 A total of 1,304 people are still living
in 22 camps in the areas of Valikamam and Vadamaratchi in
Jaffna District for over 30 years without the ability to return
to their own homes.
DISPLACEMENT, RESETTLEMENT,
AND LIVELIHOODS
Faucet for the use of the residents of Camp Sabapathippillai.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 31
Camp Neethavan
Inside of a hut, Camp Neethavan.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 32
A five-day rally (From Pottuvil to
Polikandy) against the government’s
repression including land grabbing
went from Pottuvil in Ampara
District via Batticaloa, Trincomalee,
Mullaithivu, Vavuniya, Mannar, and
Kilinochchi, to Polikandy in Jaffna
District in February 2021. The Sri
Lankan troops and police took
repressive measures to disrupt the
protest and intimidate the Tamil
and Muslim participants in the rally.
Photo: https://www.tamilguardian.
com/ and http://athavannews.com/
www.oaklandinstitute.org 33
Since 2015, communities in Sampoor in Trincomalee in the
Eastern Province have engaged in hunger strikes, demanding
the return of their land after it was declared a Special
Economic Zone for a 500-megawatt coal power plant for an
Indian company that covered 504 acres. These plans were
overturned in 2015, raising expectations that families would
soon be resettled. However, the creation of this Special
Economic Zone was not degazetted, and the conditions for
resettlement were not created. Moreover, 1,100 acres of land
were declared a High-Security Zone, which has not been
degazetted. Consequently, the displaced were not allowed to
fully resettle in the area. Today, the government still controls
these lands, with families still displaced and waiting to
return home. The military has planted coconut trees on the
land and is allegedly reaping the harvest.64 In an insidious
move in July 2019, the government gave cabinet approval
to Japan’s Electric Power Development Company (J-Power)
to set up two 300 MW coal power plants65 in the resettled
areas of Soodaikkudaa and Koonithivu in Sampoor,66 with
the financial assistance of the New Energy and Industrial
Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) of Japan.67
Steps were taken to survey the land in July 2019 to give the
Japanese corporation 240 acres of land including fields,
temples, and ponds. While the project has been temporarily
abandoned due to strong public opposition, communities
continue to await the return of their land.68
Women from Sampoor protestsing the Indian coal power plant.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 34
In a nearby Sampoor beach in Trincomalee, a Navy camp sits
on 85 acres of land. The officers from the Muthur Divisional
Secretariat made the families sign papers in 2015, stating that
this would provide them with an alternative land. These papers
were used as “proof” that the landowners willingly ceded their
lands to the Navy for the construction of the camp.69 However,
no alternative lands have been provided and the families
remain displaced.
The government has additionally made secret arrangements
to hand over approximately 3,000 acres of land under the
control of Land Reform Commission (LDC) in Pallai, Jaffna
to a Chinese company and Sinhalese investors. This includes
the 287 acres of coconut plantations owned by the National
Land Development Board near Pudukkottai Junction in Pallai.
According to former Parliamentarian and Leader of EPRLF,
Suresh Premachandran, work for allotment of these lands has
been completed:
On January 18th 2021, the Cabinet approved a proposal to involve Sinosoar-Etechwin
Joint Venture from China to install “hybrid renewable energy systems” in Nainativu, Delft
or Neduntheevu, and Analaitivu, located in the Jaffna Peninsula. Locals have strongly
opposed the project, protesting that the move was made without their consent.71
“All work to relocate the Northern Provincial LDC office
in Jaffna to Anuradhapura in the North Central Province
has been completed in order to facilitate the process of
handing over the lands of the LDC in Pallai to a Chinese
company and Sinhalese investors. We cannot accept
this; this is vicious. Also, two army officers have been
appointed to operate the Northern Provincial LDC office
from Anuradhapura. Although many traders in Jaffna
have demanded that the coconut lands be given to them,
the government has taken steps to hand over the land to
a Chinese company and Sinhalese traders.”70
12 acres of land allotted to a Chinese company in Deflt, Jaffna.
www.oaklandinstitute.org 35
Sri Lankan military intimidates people by taking pictures and video of them protesting in front of the Army camp to liberate their lands confiscated by the Army in
Keppapulavu in the Mullaithivu District between 2017 and 2019.
People protesting in front of an
Army camp in Keppapulavu in the
Mullaithivu District demanding the
release of their lands.
At Keppapilavu, the community members have been protesting for over two years requesting the return of their land.
Simultaneously, some land was released in a piecemeal fashion, while 350 acres remain under the control of the Army.72
Communities continue to demand the release of this last parcel of land, engaging in what some have called the longest
protest over the lands in the country. The Army has openly threatened the locals that they would remain permanently
displaced if they did not accept the alternative lands and compensation that were offered to them.73
www.oaklandinstitute.org 36
CONCLUSION
Through irrigation schemes, seasonal cultivation, military camps
and settlements – which declared the Tamil lands as archaeological
reservations, wildlife sanctuaries, and forest reserve and special
economic zones – land grabbing in the North and East has
accelerated in recent years. All these activities aim to immediately
or gradually establish Sinhalese settlements, Buddhist temples, and
geographical fragmentation of the North and East Tamil homeland.
Government institutions such as Mahaweli Authority, Archaeological
Department, Forest Department, and Wildlife Department, were
organized to facilitate these racially oppressive operations. These
activities are carried out in a well-planned and structured manner
behind the slogans of “democracy,” “one country-one law,” and
“constitutional law.”
The information and evidence gathered in this report aligns with
recent studies showing that the land grabbing measures by the
Central government of Sri Lanka in the North and East, reflect the
characteristics and intentions of an ethnocratic state.74 Although
ethnocratic states present themselves as democracies, their aim
is to establish an “ethnicization of contested territory and power
apparatus.” Oren Yiftachel and Asad Ghanem defined ethnocracy
as “a regime facilitating the expansion, ethnicization, and control
of contested territory and state by a dominant ethnic nation.”
Ethnocratic states exercise selective openness and have a range of
partial democratic features. The data from our report confirms that
Sri Lanka has all of the following characteristics of an ethnocratic
country.
Ethnocratic countries often experience ethnic tension, which causes
instability.75 Sri Lanka’s history, over the last several decades has been
marked by deep ethnic divisions and instability, culminating in a 30-
year brutal civil war.
The information revealed in this report and others – including the
recent report by High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle
Bachelet,76 demonstrates that Sri Lanka has been moving towards
rigorous ethnocratic structures and activities since the end of the
civil war in 2009. It heralds further escalation of racial tensions,
instability, and human rights abuses. As rightly pointed out by High
Commissioner Bachelet, the situation in Sri Lanka represents “clear
early warning signs of a deteriorating human rights situation and a
significantly heightened risk of future violations, and therefore calls
for strong preventive action.”
Ethnicity, not citizenship, is the criterion for allocating power
and resources. Minority populations are only given partial rights,
leading to consistent ethnocratic-civil tension.
1.
A dominant ethnic nation handles the state structures to control
and determine the country’s political system, institutions,
economy, and geography.
2.
Ethnic segregation and socio-economic stratification are carried
out strictly.
5.

  1. Political boundaries are not clearly defined to maintain dominance
    over the co-minority races.
  2. Ethicized politics.
    www.oaklandinstitute.org 37
    Reconciliation, human rights, and peace is not possible in Sri Lanka
    unless the situation is handled in accordance with international law,
    international justice mechanisms, and morality.
    This perilous situation poses a serious challenge to the efforts of
    the international community to promote peace, reconciliation,
    and coexistence in Sri Lanka in the post-war situation. Meanwhile,
    the Rajapaksa regime’s withdrawal in March 2020 from the UN
    Human Rights Council’s resolution 30/1, which was co-sponsored
    by the previous Sirisena government in 2015, further jeopardizes
    reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in Sri Lanka.
    High Commissioner Bachelet has stressed the need not only to
    ensure accountability for past human rights violations in Sri Lanka,
    but also warned of possible future violence and conflict in the
    country and stressed the international community’s proactive role
    to stop and prevent them. The Commissioner’s urging of member
    states, such as asset freezes and travel bans on Sri Lankan officials
    accused of human rights abuses and steps towards the referral of
    the situation in Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court are
    timely and essential to upholding justice and human rights.77
    The Zero Draft Resolution on Sri Lanka, presented at the 46th
    session of the UN Human Rights Council, launched on Februray
    22, 2021, by members of the Core-Group on Sri Lanka, which
    includes UK, Canada, Germany, Montenegro, and North Macedonia,
    however, deviates from the recommendations made by the High
    Commissioner Bachelet and the recommendation made by four
    former High Commissioners, nine former Special Rapporteurs,
    and all members of the UNSG’s Panel of Experts on Sri Lanka, who
    have jointly stated that the matter should be referred to the ICC.78
    The Zero Draft Resolution fails to deliver justice and to address the
    root causes of the the ethnic conflict. It does not lay the ground for
    accountability and lasting peace.
    The Oakland Institute urges the Core-Group on Sri Lanka and the
    member states of the UN Human Rights Council, to include High
    Commissioner Bachelet’s recommendations in the final resolution.
    The Core-Group countries should also emphasize on the immediate
    cessation of land grabbing, planned settlements, and demilitarization
    of the North and East in the Resolution, given the detrimental
    impact of these issues, as evidenced by this report. Additionally, we
    call on the Human Rights Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur
    to investigate and report on the ongoing human rights violations in
    Sri Lanka with special reference to land grabbing and militarization
    in the North and East.
    www.oaklandinstitute.org 38
    “There are 131 temples in the North.” Tamil Mirror, March, 2017. http://www.
    tamilmirror.lk/195965/- (accessed February 16, 2021).
    Thurairajah Raviharan. Op. Cit.
    Karthirgamathamby Kurunathan. Op. Cit.
    “Maithiripala ‘coordinates’ relentless land grab at massive-scale in
    North-East.” Tamilnet, July 28, 2018. https://www.tamilnet.com/art.
    html?catid=79&artid=39142 (accessed April 12, 2019).
    Interview with former Northern Provincial Council (NPC) Member Thurairajah
    Raviharan on April 3, 2019 and January 23, 2021.
    Ibid.
    Based on the statistics prepared by the Mannar District Secretariat.
    Oakland Institute’s interview with a villager from Vattuvakal, February 21, 2021.
    The name of the villager is withheld to ensure protection.
    Oakland Institute’s interview with second villager from Vattuvakal, February 21,
  3. The name of the villager is withheld to ensure protection.
    Statistical Hand Book – 2017: Mullaitivu District. Mullaitivu District Secretariat.
    Available at Jaffna University, Library Catalogue DDC classification: 315.493.
    Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research. Normalising the Abnormal: The
    Militarisation of Mullaitivu. 2018. http://adayaalam.org/wp-content/
    uploads/2018/01/Normalising-the-Abnormal-The-Militarisation-of-Mullaitivu.
    pdf (accessed December 8, 2020).
    Oakland Insitute researchers verified the information in this document.
    Field visit in March, 2019. The details of the local authorities who provided the
    information are withheld for security reasons.
    Ibid.
    Ibid.
    Ibid.
    Ibid.
    Thurairajah Raviharan. Op. Cit.
    Ibid.
    Retrieved from gazette notifications and documentary analysis.
    Chapter 8- Resettlement. In Statistical Hand Book 2020 – Jaffna District. Jaffna
    District Secretariat. pp.169-174.
    Interview on January 5, 2021.
    Field visit on February 2, 2021.
    Sri Lanka Army. “General Shavendra Silva Lays Corner-stone for Construction
    of New ‘Stupa’ at Tissa Viharaya.”Press Release. January 30, 2021. https://www.
    army.lk/news/general-shavendra-silva-lays-corner-stone-construction-new-
    %E2%80%98stupa%E2%80%99-tissa-viharaya (accessed February 2, 2021).
    Phone Interview on January 3, 2021.
    “Myliddy harbour and lands released after 27 years of military occupation.”
    Tamil Guardian, July 3, 2017. https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/myliddyharbour-and-lands-released-after-27-years-military-occupation (accessed
    February 17, 2021).
    Field visit, February 2, 2021; S. Sukirthan, Chairman, Valikamam North,
    Divisional Council. “Sinhala fishermen in Myliddy.” https://www.youtube.com/
    watch?v=L-a9f5XUdX0&feature=emb_logo (accessed February 14, 2021).
    This map was prepared based on data collected by Oakland Institute
    researchers’ filed visit to Myliddy, Thaiyiddi, and Urani during January 2021.
    Sri Lanka Army. “Field Formations.” https://www.army.lk/ (accessed
    December 23, 2020).
    Mittal, A. The Long Shadow of War: The Struggle for Justice in Postwar Sri Lanka
    The Oakland Institute, 2015. http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/longshadowwar (accessed November 25, 2020).
    “No truth in extremist threats to Sri Lanka – Defence Secretary.”News First,
    May 19, 2020. https://www.newsfirst.lk/2020/05/19/no-truth-in-extremistthreats-to-sri-lanka-defence-secretary/ (accessed February 17, 2021); “No
    threat to national security: Army Commander.” Daily Mirror, August 16,
  4. http://www.dailymirror.lk/134733/No-threat-to-national-security-ArmyCommander (accessed February 17, 2021).
    United Nations Office of the High Commissioner. “Sri Lanka on alarming
    path towards recurrence of grave human rights violations – UN report.”
    Press Release. January 27, 2021. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/
    Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26695&LangID=E (accessed January 29,
    2021).
    TGTE. “Human Rights Council Must Refer Sri Lanka to International Criminal
    Court (ICC) – Zero Draft Delivers Zero Justice.” EIN Newwire, February 22,
  5. https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/535727420/human-rights-councilmust-refer-sri-lanka-to-international-criminal-court-icc-zero-draft-deliverszero-justice-tgte (accessed February 24, 2021).
    Mittal, A. The Long Shadow of War: The Struggle for Justice in Postwar Sri
    Lanka. Op. Cit.
    Field visit in October, 2020. Documents verified.
    District Secretariat, Mullaithivu. “The Resource Profile and Statistics.” 2018.
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JQd_K-DZ32VTxB5KQF18e41xQf4ABg9x/
    view (accessed April 25, 2019).
    Field visit and documents research. October, 2020. Identities of the
    interviewees are withheld for security reasons.
    Right to Information Act (RTI). February, 02, 2019. Ref No: 69. Divisional
    Secretariat, Kuchaveli.
    “Mahaweli Authority violates court order for illegally settled Sinhalese.”
    Vierakesari Newspaper, August, 22, 2018. http://www.virakesari.lk/
    article/38961 (Accessed December 29, 2020); “Sinhala settlements violates
    Sri Lanka-India agreement.” Vierakesari Newspaper, August 20, 2018. http://
    www.virakesari.lk/article/38789 (accessed December 29, 2020); People for
    Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL). Sinhalization of the North-East: Kokkilai.
    October 16, 2019. https://pearlaction.org/2019/09/21/sinhalization-ofkokkilai/ (accessed January 7, 2021).
    “ Livestock Farmers Left High and Dry in Mylathamadu.” Ceylon Today,
    December 12, 2020. https://ceylontoday.lk/news/livestock-farmers-left-highand-dry-in-mylathamadu (accessed January 7, 2021).
    Field visit on December 15, 2020.
    Interview with former Land Commissioner Karthirgamathamby Kurunathan
    on January 2, 2021.
    “ Wigneswaran: Mark My Words, the Ides of March are Around the Corner.”
    TMK Media, March 9, 2020. http://thetmk.org/en/wigneswaran-mark-mywords-the-ides-of-march-are-around-the-corner/ (accessed January 8, 2021).
    Letter written by Akhila Ilankai Tamil Mahasabha to the Land Commissioner
    General on November 11, 2020.
    “Initial Victory For Sumanthiran’s Advocacy Group.” Colombo Telegraph,
    November 12, 2020. https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/initialvictory-for-sumanthirans-advocacy-group/ (accessed February 14, 2021).
    “Mullaitivu court allows Sri Lankan Archaeology department to construct
    sentry point.” Tamil Guardian, September 12, 2021. https://www.
    tamilguardian.com/content/mullaitivu-court-allows-sri-lankan-archaeologydepartment-construct-sentry-point (accessed February 14, 2021).
    “Sri Lankan minister leads Buddhist landgrab of Tamil temple”. Tamil
    Guardian, January, 18, 2021. https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/srilankan-minister-leads-buddhist-landgrab-tamil-temple (accessed January 23,
    2021).
    Jaffna: 6, Mannar: 20, Vavuniya: 35, Kilinochchi: 3 and Mullaithivu: 67;
    19
    20
    21
    22
    23
    24
    25
    26
    27
    28
    29
    30
    31
    32
    33
    34
    35
    36
    37
    38
    39
    40
    41
    42
    43
    44
    45
    46
    47
    2
    1
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    9
    10
    11
    12
    13
    14
    15
    16
    17
    18
    ENDNOTES
    www.oaklandinstitute.org 39
    Mudugamuwa, M. “Environment at risk: Multiple coal power projects
    proposed.” The Sunday Morning, October 6, 2019. http://www.themorning.
    lk/environment-at-risk-multiple-coal-power-projects-proposed/ (accessed
    October 6, 2019).
    Karthirgamathamby Kurunathan. Op. Cit.
    Interview with former Member of the Eastern Provincial Council, Nageswaran
    on February 28, 2019.
    Interview with former Parliamentarian and Leader of EPRLF Suresh
    Premachandran on February 18, 2021.
    Field visit and interview with local community members. February 3, 2021.
    “Keppapilavu residents demand their lands.” Sunday Observer, January 27, 2017.
    http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2019/01/27/news/keppapilavu-residentsdemand-their-lands (accessed November 29, 2020).
    “ Keppapilavu villagers protest, despite military threats.” Tamilguardian,
    January 25, 2017. https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/keppapilavuvillagers-protest-despite-military-threats (accessed November 28, 2020).
    Yiftachel, O. and Ghanem, A. “Understanding “Ethnocratic” Regimes:
    The Politics of Seizing Contested Territories.” Political Geography, 23 (4),
    647–76. 2004. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/
    S0962629804000423 (accessed February 13, 2021).
    Yiftachel, O. and, Ghanem, A. Op. Cit.
    United Nations Office of the High Commissioner. “Sri Lanka on alarming
    path towards recurrence of grave human rights violations – UN report.” Op.
    Cit.
    United Nations Office of the High Commissioner. “Sri Lanka on alarming
    path towards recurrence of grave human rights violations – UN report.”
    Press Release. January 27, 2021. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/
    Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26695&LangID=E (accessed January 29,
    2021).
    TGTE. “Human Rights Council Must Refer Sri Lanka to International Criminal
    Court (ICC) – Zero Draft Delivers Zero Justice.” EIN Newwire, February 22,
  6. https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/535727420/human-rights-councilmust-refer-sri-lanka-to-international-criminal-court-icc-zero-draft-deliverszero-justice-tgte (accessed February 24, 2021).
    United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Report
    of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL). September 16, 2015.
    Ibid.
    Ibid.
    “Eelam war I: The Wimalaratne factor GR on transformation of SLA.”The
    Island, June, 18, 2013. http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=articledetails&page=article-details&code_title=81592 (accessed April, 21, 2019).
    Sri Lanka Army. “Field Formations.” Op. Cit.
    This table was prepared based on information obtained from the military
    website, media reports, NGO and civil society reports, and research papers.
    Sri Lanka Army.“Field Formations.” Op. Cit.
    Sri Lanka Department of Census and Statistics. Census of Population and
    Housing 2012. http://www.statistics.gov.lk/ (accessed December 25, 2020).
    “Normalising the Abnormal: The Militarisation of Mullaitivu.” Op. Cit.
    Field visit. March 2, 2019.
    Interview with Mr. Sivasakthy Ananthan, Tamil National Alliance Former MP
    for Vavuniya (EPRLF) on April 11, 2020.
    Thalsevana Resort. “Homepage.” http://www.thalsevanaresort.com/
    (accessed December 14, 2020).
    Normalising the Abnormal: The Militarisation of Mullaitivu.” Op. Cit.
    Parliament of Sri Lanka. “Presentation of the Appropriation Bills.” October
    20, 2020. https://www.parliament.lk/en/budget-2021/presentation-of-theappropriation-bill-2021 (accessed December, 22, 2020).
    Satistical Handbook 2020. Op. Cit.
    Field visit in December, 2020.
    Field visit in November, 2020.
    “Cabinet approves four coal power plants, moves to reduce PUCSL’s authority.”
    Sunday Times, June 28, 2019. http://www.cebeu.lk/cebeuw/daily-mirrorcabinet-approves-four-coal-power-plants-moves-to-reduce-pucsls-authority/
    (accessed February 12, 2021).
    “Colombo wants to grab lands once again for power plants in
    Champoor.” Tamilnet, July 14, 2019. https://www.tamilnet.com/art.
    html?catid=79&artid=39512 (accessed February 14, 2021).
    48
    76
    77
    78
    49
    50
    51
    52
    53
    54
    55
    56
    57
    58
    59
    60
    61
    62
    63
    64
    65
    66
    67
    68
    69
    70
    71
    72
    73
    74
    75
    www.oaklandinstitute.org 40

The Oakland Institute PO Box 18978 Oakland, CA 94619 USA www.oaklandinstitute.org

endless-war-web.pdf

About editor 2674 Articles
Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply