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LLRC session in Kuchchaweli: 146 Complaints

Land ownership issue

by Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon

(December 06, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Critical The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s (LLRC) session at Kuchchaweli, Trincomalee, reiterated the importance of solving the land issues in the Eastern province. During the sessions a large number of people, including the Chairman of Kuchchaweli Pradeesheeya Sabha, A. Thoufeek, complained that people are prevented from going back to their lands by government authorities who have reserved large areas of lands for religious premises and hotel projects.

The commission received 146 submissions at Kuchchaweli, 53 on missing persons, 46 on detained family members, 31 on abductions and 16 other complaints. While missing persons and abductions dominate the LLRC outstation sessions not addressing the sensitive land ownership issue will easily lead to resentment among the people.

The fact that the Chairman of Kuchchaweli Pradeesheeya Sabha declared that the government is allocating land for tourism projects without any regard for the sentiments and livelihood of the local residents is a clear indication that people of the area are not so keen to embrace the vision of development advocated by the government.

However like in the Muttur sessions a large number of individuals accused "The Tamil Group" of abductions and demanding money for the release of those who are abducted. Many welcomed the fact that the Chairman of the Commission CR de Silva immediately requested the police to look into the matter and a lot will depend on whether action is taken against those who are named by those who appeared before the LLRC.

CHR believes that more would have come to the sessions if not for the heavy rains which would have made it extremely difficult for the displaced living in temporary shelters to travel. This might have also played a hand in Muttur where the heavy rains had made travel virtually impossible from KInniya Kanthale roads. Both roads are 'roads in name only' and the commissioners had to use pickup trucks to travel to Muttur.

The LLRC has repeatedly promised to address the land issues in its final report which is to be handed over to President by May, 2011.

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