Tamil Diplomat

International community turning a ‘Nelsonian eye’ on Sri Lanka which backtracking on promises, accuses Oakland Institute

California-based think tank Oakland Institute which has again published a report on Sri Lanka placing serious accusation that, the Sri Lankan Government has not fully fulfilled its promise to return the lands of people, thousands of people are waiting to return to their own lands, military occupation is continuing, uncertainty still remain in obtaining justice and has said that, at a time when truth and reconciliation is most vital, important international players like the United States are turning a blind eye to President Sirisena’s backpedaling.

A research report under the title of, “ Waiting to return home: Continued Plight of the IDPs in Post- War Sri Lanka” was published today, Tuesday, by Oakland Institute in response to a request from Valikamam North people who are living displace in Sri Lanka to help them to return to their own laces. It is also notable that the same organization published another research Report under the title, “The Long Shadow of War: The Struggle for Justice in Postwar Sri Lanka”  last year. The current report has been prepared on the basis field studies and Interviews.

The report examines the  various pledges  made by President Sirisena to return land. It  reveals vast inadequacies including resettlement on lands that are not fertile; have been used as stone quarries; are covered in  decades of brush growth; or lack the basic infrastructure  for proper resettlement. Several are located beside military camps evoking fear and anxiety in communities, while the Ministry of Defence continues to  run  luxury resorts and other business ventures  on the IDPs’ land.

While insisting that, Internal Investigation is useless and the international Community including the US should ensure that Independent investigation held, this report has insisted that the International community ensure the commencement of Peace Process.

“Given the events of the past year, it is vital that the international community ensure that these processes occur. International leaders, including Secretary of State John Kerry, must make it clear that an internal war crimes investigation would be a mockery, that an independent and international process must be struck, and that returning land to its rightful owners, to allow the displaced to rebuild their lives and livelihoods is imperative” the reports emphasises.

This report which said that, even in the released areas there are no infrastructure facilities and the lands are not in a suitable state for cultivating them and although the Army has vacated certain areas and handed over the lands to the people, they have again put up their camps in close proximity the handed over lands and this is posing much threat to people’s life.  It further underscores that this situation prevails not only in recently released Sampur, but also in other areas of North and East.

The Report pays its special attention on peoples’ suffering without basic facilities in the released lands in Sampur. The report has published several photographs in evidence, revealing the difficulties the people are undergoing in the lands released recently by the Navy, for water and sanitary facilities.

“It was shocking but also humbling to be petitioned directly by communities displaced from their   homes and lands,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute.  “After  exhausting  all  possible political and legal channels,  the    IDPs were so desperate after  nearly 30 years of  displacement that they came to us – an international  civil society organization. This is true testimony  to  just how insufficient  the new administration’s actions have been to address these  injustices.”

Waiting to Return Home also raises questions about the changes in the posture of the international community, including the United States. “One   and a half year  into President Sirisena’s term, Sri Lanka still desperately needs full resettlement and a true reconciliation process,” continued Mittal.

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Released land in sampoor 1

Resettled Sampur IDPs clearing the area to put up temporary huts. © The Oakland Institute

Released land in sampoor

A bundle of wood placed across an old destructed well to prevent people from falling. © The Oakland Institute

Released land in sampoor 2

Toilet facilities for the resettled IDPs at Sampur. © The Oakland Institute