The Civil Society Coalition for Internally Displaced Persons yesterday called upon President Maithripala Sirisena and the Government to withdraw Gazette notification No. 2011/34 signed by the President while touring Russia on 24 March 2017.
In a statement, the coalition said: “The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) forcibly evicted the entire Muslim population of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka in 1990. This has been recorded as the worst ethnic cleansing exercise ever in the history of Sri Lanka. These unfortunate Muslim victims of the LTTE were forced to leave their homes, valuables and their livelihood because they refused to support the quest for Eelam by the LTTE. As patriotic citizens of Sri Lanka, they resisted the pressure to divide the nation and were all expelled with two hours’ notice in the case of the Mannar Muslims and the rest were given less than 24 hours. They were allowed to take out only Rs. 500 with them.
“The Government of Sri Lanka resettled the 300,000 IDPs immediately after the final battle with the LTTE in 2009. The Muslims, who had been languishing in IDP camps for over 25 years as refugees, were not resettled during this period. In 2013, the Presidential Task Force for Northern Resettlement, through the Divisional Secretariat, began allocating lands to some of the returning Muslim IDPs. Buddhist extremists started a campaign against this resettlement of the IDPs in their original homes. Later, some environmentalists, who claimed that these IDPs were being settled within the Wilpattu National Reserve, joined them. The President himself was misled to believe that the IDPs were encroaching on the Wilpattu National Reserve, which he later withdrew and declared that ‘not an inch of Wilpattu land’ has been encroached.
“Unfortunately, once again, anti-Muslim forces have managed to convince the President to declare large extents of private and permit lands of Muslim IDPs as a forest reserve. This is a total violation of the ‘Right of Return’ of these patriotic citizens whose only crime was opposing the division of the country by the LTTE.
“We, the Muslim Civil Society call upon His Excellency, President Maithripala Sirisena, and the Government of Sri Lanka to withdraw the Gazette notification No. 2011/34 signed by the President while on a tour of Russia on 24 March 2017.”
President clarifies Gazette on declaration of forests reserves near Wilpattu Sanctuary
President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday issued a clarification regarding the Gazette on the declaration of forests located near the Wilpattu sanctuary as forest reserves.
The following is the brief statement.
Some interested parties with personal or political agendas carry out disinformation campaigns and falsely state that the Muslim religious places, villages and houses would be acceded to the Government and the Wildlife Department under the said Gazette Notification.
These forests have been declared as Reserves under the Gazette in order to protect the forest areas adjacent to the areas released for the people as settlements to further ensure their security.
This is to inform that none of the Muslim religious places, villages or houses in which the people live and have legal rights would be acceded to the Government.”