In reference to the letters sent by the District Secretariat to IDPs of Palaly area offering them lucrative compensations for their which are to be acquired permanently by the Army. This drew fire from the IDPs and other factions.
The CM of the Northern Province has addressed a letter to the GA, Jaffna that, his writing letters to the IDPs without consulting NPC amounts to sidetracking the NPC to please the Army. The army cannot decide that they are going to occupy our areas forever and ever. The civil administration has taken over and it is the civil administration and the people themselves who decide what is best for the people, he had said.
The full text of the letter is given below:
Dear government Agent!
Lucrative Compensation for Lands to be acquired by Army
I saw a letter addressed by you to an IDP. In fact Major General Mahesh Senanayake made a passing reference to three categories of such IDPs possessing lands – one owning Lands entitled to go back immediately, another with Lands who will have to wait for some time to go back and the third category being those whose Lands are to be taken over by the military and handsome compensation to be paid. I believe you are giving effect to what he said by these letters.
The Following matters need to be taken into consideration
1.Consultations have not preceded with the NPC with regard to concurrent subjects of Land, rehabilitation and resettlement. The decision to hand back or withhold lands and houses cannot be a top to bottom unilateral exercise. The NPC as representing the people must have the right to examine and consider the need and necessity for such an exercise and the feasibility of what is being suggested. We are no more in war Times.
The civil administration has taken over and it is the civil administration and the people themselves who decide what is best for the people. There cannot be any unilateral decisions by the Defence Ministry without consulting the NPC. After all we are discussing security, right to return, right to development and livelihoods (within the existing internationally accepted human rights principles and values of our people.
- In fact we are entitled to question the need for such large acreages of land to be retained by the military in the aftermath of the war balancing state security and human security. We could suggest alternative sites to station the Army camps. While deciding their situation we can bring in expert evidence to prove the choice of the Military is not based on proper Military considerations but extraneous reasons. Besides, these issues have been raised with UNSG during his recent visit in relation to September 2015 UN Geneva Resolutions including security sector reforms which relates to downsizing of Military to aid war to peace transition.
- Your writing letters to the IDPs without consulting us amounts to sidetracking us to please the Army.
- We like to know why certain lands are to be returned only at end of 2017.
- Major General Mahesh told me they need about 1,000 acres maximum to situate their camp. If so 3,500 acres can be immediately returned. The reasons for not returning have not been given. I do not in any event accept 1000 acres are needed for a peacetime Army to occupy. However, it should be borne in mind, that even to decide to retain 100 acres, considering issues raised under points 1 and 2 above, requires consultation and study and evaluation.
- Furthermore, the army cannot decide that they are going to occupy our areas forever and ever.
We have been asking for the withdrawal of Military in toto and replacement by adequate Police forces.
Without consideration of all these matters simply confusing our people with such letters and dangling lucrative compensation does not seem proper and guided by good Governance and humanitarian considerations.
I shall thank you to call up an Emergency Meeting of Defence Ministry Officials and the NPC and your Department without delay to take up all these matters.
Meanwhile please desist from taking any steps that would geopardize the interests of the IDPs.
Await your kind acknowledgement.
Copies to: 1.Commander, Security Forces, Jaffna.
- Secretary to Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Colombo -07.
- Hon. Governor, Northern Province.
- Hon. Minister of Prison Reforms, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, and Hindu Affairs,
Colombo – 03.
- Hon. R.Sambanthan, Leader of the Opposition.